As we approach opening day of the Oak Cliff Film Festival, which begins Thursday, OCFF board member David Lowery — the East Dallas-based director of The Green Knight, A Ghost Story, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, The Old Man and the Gun, Pete’s Dragon and the forthcoming Peter Pan & Wendy — gave us a few minutes to pick his brain, a great honor considering his universally acclaimed directorial mind. (I say with full realization that he’s about to name Jackass his favorite comedy). Since Ain’t Them Bodies Saints took “buzziest screening of the Sundance Film Festival” in 2013, critics have collectively praised “his seminal skill of telling profoundly visual tales” (as one put it).
(Note: Check out our story about composer Daniel Hart, the Lake Highlands native who composed the scores for all the aforementioned movies).
Another note, Lowery’s answers came back by email because of his busy schedule, thus the lack of certain follow ups I would have posed (i.e. which one of you disliked Mother!? and what is the project you and Augustine are working on?)
Please name your favorite movie in each of the following genres:
And, movie that you are embarrassed to say you love but will now admit to? Burlesque.
Have you and your wife, Augustine Frizzell — a director talent in her own right — worked on anything together yet?
We are writing a movie for the first time right now.
Do you guys agree mostly on what to watch?
We mostly agree on everything, but we did get in a fight about Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!.
What does Oak Cliff’s Texas Theatre mean to you?
It is a union of three great things — civic pride, history and a love of cinema.
What Texas filmmakers do we need to be looking at right now?
Fernando Andres and Tyler Rugh made an amazing film about modern relationships called Three Headed Beast that just premiered at Tribeca and will be playing at OCFF. It’s really bold, refreshing and exciting.
The Green Knight was probably best as a theater experience — did it bum you out that it came out at a time when people were hesitant to return to theaters? And how are you feeling about the state of movie theaters post pandemic?
I think it came out at just the right time, when people were returning to theaters. I’ve heard from so many people who chose that movie to return to the cinema with — and for those who couldn’t or didn’t want to, I’m glad they didn’t have to wait too long to see it at home. Cinemas are a vital part of modern culture and I don’t think they are going away, even if streaming becomes a more viable distribution medium.
As a board member of the OCFF, what is your involvement with the festival — do you help choose the lineup?
I don’t participate in the film selection; I like to leave that to the experts. As a board member, I attend meetings throughout the year and look for ways to be involved in getting the word about the festival and its programs. I just participated in a two-day filmmaking class for Dallas high schoolers, and events like that are a really exciting way in which OCFF enriches the community beyond the festival itself.
(Note: OCFF in partnership with For Oak Cliff launched a series of free filmmaking workshops for high schoolers in Dallas who may lack access to filmmaking resources, OCFF ‘s Barak Epstein says in a follow up. The first workshop in May included lectures from Lowery and fellow filmmaker Nick Brooks. A mini-documentary of the workshop, which participating students attend free, screens Friday night during the Texas Students Shorts Screening at Texas Theatre.)
Your movies are dreamlike and often open to a lot of interpretation. Do you enjoy talking to fans about your intentions? Are your intentions always clear to yourself? Do you enjoy public appearances and Q&A type events?
I really am terrified of public forums and Q&As. Not my strong suit! I love talking to movie fans, but I don’t like talking too much about my own intentions, even though they’re crystal clear to myself. My own clarity might puncture someone else’s suppositions and I don’t ever want to do that. I’d rather talk about other [people’s] movies.
Lastly, a few quick hits about you, personally, based on the public knowledge that you’re a vegan, a marathon runner and a cat lover:
Where do you find the best vegan food?
There is vegan food everywhere now. It’s great. I love all the vegan Tex-Mex options in DFW now, like Casa Del Vegano and Nunos. And it’s crazy that a place like Project Pollo exists down the street from my house.
Do you still run? Even in Texas outside in the heat?
I still run (just did my eighth full marathon and am aiming to do one more before running Dallas again in December). I get up at 4:30 a.m. to do long runs in the summer.
How are the cats?
All five cats are still the primary focus of my life. I spend most of my time taking pictures of them.
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