The Clay Liford feature "Wuss" was filmed at South Garland High School and in Lakewood.

The biggest film festival in Dallas is a little over a week away. The movies play all over town, but the Angelika at Mockingbird Station is the main box office this year, and most of the movies are showing there.

We’ve been scanning the schedule, and there are so many movies that we couldn’t decide which ones to see. So we called in a professional to help with our game plan for the March 31-April 10 fest.

East Dallas-based filmmaker Eric Steele wrote and directed the short “Topeka” (shot entirely inside the Gold Rush Cafe) and works on lots of films in Dallas. He is one of the partners in a holding company that took over the historic Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff last year. And he offered his top picks for the festival.

Check them out after the jump.

13 Assassins — I’m VERY excited … maybe a little too excited about the new Takashi Miike film. How about this for a synopsis: “A group of assassins come together for a suicide mission to kill an evil lord”. Uh … yep. I’m there. Fans of “Seven Samurai” will be in heaven. Kurosawa would be proud of you if you saw this.

8 – Lake Highlands resident Julie Gould and Daniel Laabs co-direct this beautiful short film about a young girl and her mother commemorating their dad/husband. It’s also beautifully shot by Bret Curry (another Dallas filmmaking star) and has images that I haven’t been able to shake since seeing a rough cut of it five months ago.

Being Elmo – I saw this film at SXSW and loved it (and I’m not just saying that because Elmo has been my hero since I was 4). It’s an inside look at Kevin Clash, the voice and spirit behind Elmo. What I didn’t expect was how emotional I would become watching it. Something about seeing a person with big dreams who perseveres gets me every time.

The Oregonian – “A woman leaves the farm and enters the unknown.” I’ve been obsessed with this film since hearing about it back in January. Calvin Lee Reeder’s new film (starring the brilliant Robert Longstreet among others) looks violent, creepy, and utterly perplexing. Also, 2011 has been Oregon’s year in indie film (“Meek’s Cutoff”, “How to Die in Oregon”). This is the only Oregon film playing DIFF so ya gotta see it.

Pioneer – Dallas’s own David Lowery’s “Pioneer” was quite possibly the best thing I saw at SXSW. It’s a short film but has the emotional depth of most features I’ve seen this year. Will Oldham plays a father telling his adorable young son the. Most. Epic. Bedtime. Story. Ever.

Wuss – Full disclosure here: I was a producer on this film, along with Texas Theatre partners Barak Epstein and Adam Donaghey and our executive producer Bala Shagrithaya. But I can tell you that Clay Liford’s new feature is a hilarious, dark, brutal comedy with some fantastic performances (Nate Rubin, Alicia Anthony, Alex Karpovsky, Chris Gardner, Arianne Martin and Tony Hale are near pitch perfect). The premise is a high school teacher named Mitch is ruthlessly beaten up by his students and decides to (ahem) take matters into his own hands. We are all wusses at heart, so come on out and unite.


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