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In TOMATO REPUBLIC, Jacksonville, Texas is ripe for the pickin’

They’ve got something in the water down in Jacksonville, Texas, or rather, something in the tomatoes. With an intense mayoral election on the way, a flamboyant restaurateur, a good ol’ boy and a political newbie duke it out to see who will become leader of Tomato Republic. World premiering at DIFF 2014, this charming and suspenseful documentary wrestles with a thorny issue felt by small towns all across America: “how do we stay rooted in tradition while growing toward the future?”

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In these 4 DIFF films, ya gotta have faith

At the heart of these four films is a question of faith. Inspired by true events, HEAVEN IS FOR REAL tells the story of Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear), who comes to believe his 3-year-old son visited Heaven and spoke with angels after a near-death experience. In the documentary THE OVERNIGHTERS, director Jesse Moss wonders “how far can the ideal of ‘love they neighbor’ really go?” Then in BELIEVE ME, a group of college students create a fake Christian charity to make tuition money, while PRODUCE tells the story of a washed-up former baseball player who embarks on a special friendship. Regardless of what you believe, these outstanding films will lift your spirit.

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Everyday anti-heroes break the bank in DOOMSDAY PARTY

Amidst the chaos of an economic catastrophe, a group of strangers’ lives fatefully intertwine inside the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong. In director Ho Hong’s DOOMSDAY PARTY, five paths have led to one final climatic bank heist with an explosive conclusion. The film is a Hong Kong thriller at its best, blending top notch production value with intense suspense. Andccording to Hong, the situation reflects real life: “The difficulty our characters face is the epitome of Hong Kong situation. The clock is ticking, and there is no way out.”

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Shooting the Short: animated shorts draw their own conclusions

This year’s Animated Shorts Competition is a collection of six charming yet disarming films. Take Bernando Britto’s YEARBOOK, for example, where a man is tasked with putting together a yearbook of highlights for the entire human race. Winner of a Short Film Jury Award at Sundance, this animated short is a unique story that, according to the director, may not matter at all, really. “When I started to make it, I kind of realized that it didn’t really matter what I made,” Britto said. “Because on Earth everything is temporary. So I thought, if I was going to make a movie that eventually no one would remember, then I’m gonna make it about how we’ll all be forgotten.”

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Fantasy and reality collide in Leah Meyerhoff’s enchanting feature I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS.

Being a teenager and figuring out one’s purpose is difficult enough, but imaginative young Davina is faced every day with the challenge of being responsible for her disabled mother. There’s not much joy in Davina’s daily life, so her fantasy world, fueled by her vivid imagination, is her only means of escape. For director Leah Meyerhoff, the story is especially personal, having cast her own mother to play the character in the film. As a result, this dream-like coming-of-age story has a heightened sense of authenticity.

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Documentary shorts dig deep in Detroit, pursue perfection in Plano

They say dynamite comes in small packages. Having never gone shopping for explosives, that may or may not be true. But one thing’s for sure, this year’s Documentary Shorts pack a punch. With inside looks at guerrilla gardening in Detroit, the growing student loan crisis, and perhaps the greatest bowling story ever told, these quick and creative shorts are definitely a bang for your buck.

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DALLAS STAR AWARDS

With 175 films and an Oscar to his credit, John Wayne is considered by many to be not only a great actor, but the American archetype.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the first African-American President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and only the third woman to hold the office.

John Kricfalusi, the creator of Ren & Stimpy, is the recipient of the 2014 Texas Avery Animation Award presented by REEL FX.

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