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by Jen Scoville

Coming up on its 10th year, the 1997 Dallas Video Festival will take place at the Dallas Museum of Art the second weekend in January. There are still a few quick days before the new year is upon us, but it's not too early to make plans to journey up to the post-holiday event, especially since there are a number of familiar Austin faces with works in the program this year. Tommy Palotta's first feature film The High Road is one. The story of four young Texans on a drug-addled road trip across the state, The High Road premiered first at SXSW 1996, and then ventured north for a screening at one of Lincoln Center's Independents Nights and to participate in this year's Independent Feature Film Market (IFFM). The High Road is also set to open here at home very soon. Call the Dobie Theatre or check back for more information. Heyd Fontenot's video for Ed Hall's "Weirdo Song" will be featured in the Best of the Texas Show -- a sampling of the best locally produced works since the festival's inception. This year's Texas showcase includes The Box by Janet Inskeep, a video exploring one woman's relationship with a locked box; Fourth Quarter by Tamas Kovacs and Barna Kantor, the story of a dying mother and her young son living in an abandoned warehouse; and The Wedding Dress by Laura Hawkins, which humorously tracks the fascination unmarried women have with bridal attire. Call 214/651-8600 for a schedule; more information will be reported as the festival nears...

The regular Austin Film Society screenings will be on hiatus for a couple weeks during the holidays; Gangsters and Outlaws will be back on January 8 and The Masterworks of Satyajit Ray will begin again on January 14. The films of the legendary Indian director must be enjoying a resurgence, because ever since the AFS series started I've been reading his name all over the place. The latest news: The Stranger, Ray's last film about coming home to Calcutta (which he wrote, directed and scored), one that won't be shown in the retrospective, will be released on video by First Run Features in February. Also, according to Variety, the Satyajit Ray Society has presented a Hungarian director with the first-ever Satyajit Ray Award for "continuing the late Indan filmmaker's interest in humanity, values, and artistry"; the award was conceived to encourage new filmmakers to consider devotion to these qualities in their work...

The Texas/Mexico border has been a popular locale for fictional independent films of late, including favorites Lone Star, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Desperado; for a look at the real heritage and history of this culturally diverse part of our state, tune to Rio Grande: La Frontera, produced by Tom Spencer, which premieres on KLRU on Friday, December 20 at 9pm and repeats on Sun., Dec 22 (5pm) and Mon., Dec 23 (8pm). Narrated by folksinger Tish Hinojosa, the documentary covers ground from Laredo to the Gulf, recounting the stories of family legacies and the unique character of a land where a population exists between two worlds.

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