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AFI Dallas opens with ‘Music’

Festival ends with debut of 'Away'

The AFI Dallas Intl. Film Festival has selected Steven Sawalich’s “Music Within” as its opening night gala presentation. Sarah Polley’s directorial debut, “Away From Her,” will close the fest, to be held March 22-April 1.

Skedded for AFI Dallas will be more than 200 screenings of about 190 features and shorts. Red-carpet galas, filmmaker panels and other special screenings also will be slated. Fest founder Liener Temerlin, who originated the popular “100 Years, 100 Movies” franchise for AFI, will serve as director and chairman.

Main sponsor, Target, will continue to award grants of $25,000 to the Target Filmmaker Award winners of the narrative and international documentary competitions. Helmers also will vie for a $10,000 prize from 2929 Entertainment for best HD feature.

Based on a true story, “Music Within” stars Ron Livingston as a hearing-impaired Vietnam vet who becomes a public speaker on behalf of Americans with disabilities. “Away From Her” stars Julie Christie as a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s, with her husband (Gordon Pinsent) struggling to cope.

Rest of the fest’s lineup includes “The Night of the White Pants,” with Tom Wilkinson and Nick Stahl; “The Go Getter,” a road trip pic starring Lou Taylor Pucci, Jena Malone and Zooey Deschanel; zombie comedy “Fido,” starring Carrie-Anne Moss; Joseph Greco’s “Canvas,” pairing Joe Pantoliano with Marcia Gay Harden; “Diggers,” a Long Island coming-of-age story starring Paul Rudd and Josh Hamilton; and Brad Gann’s “Black Irish,” featuring Brendan Gleeson and Michael Angarano.

A handful of films from this year’s Sundance lineup also will screen, including “Trade,” “Rocket Science” and “Eagle vs. Shark.”

Special screenings include Edgar Wright’s “Hot Fuzz” and David Lynch’s “Inland Empire.”

Additionally, the newly inaugurated AFI Dallas Star will be presented to Lauren Bacall, Jack Valenti, David Lynch, Laura Dern, Marvin Hamlisch, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Sarah Polley and posthumously to Gregory Peck, who served as the first chairman of the AFI’s board.

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