7 movies you’ll want to see at this year’s Dallas International Film Festival

Screen shot of the 2024 documentary film Bastards of Soul, featuring the late Chadwick Murray, lead singer of the band. Photo: 7:37 Films, LLC

The Dallas International Film Festival kicks off its 8-day run on Thursday.

The annual festival showcases screenings from some of the world’s biggest film festivals. It also includes filmmaker panels, nightly red carpets and opportunities for filmmakers and audiences to gather and discuss film.

More than 140 films and shorts are on this year’s schedule, including a number of documentary films.

Here are our can’t miss picks.


What it’s about: In 2020 the Dallas band, Bastards of Soul, was on the cusp of international stardom. It all came crashing down when the group was hit with the sudden death of their frontman, Chadwick Murray. Having made his mark primarily as a bass player, Chadwick’s transition to lead singer was captivating, revealing a dynamism that few could have predicted. This film provides an intimate behind-the-scenes look at the band’s final recording sessions, their lives, and their resilience through loss.

When to see it: Saturday, April 27, 7 p.m. – Downstairs at the Texas Theatre
Q&A with members of the band follows the screening

Why you should see it: The concert footage and recording sessions are riveting, while the sequence of Chadwick Murray expressing his happiness at “finally getting it all” is absolutely heartbreaking. It all comes together to tell the perfect and tragic story of what might have been.

Water Wars (2024)

What it’s about: Nestled in the ‘Valley of Hidden Waters’ within the West Texas desert, Dell City thrives as a remote oasis. Yet, turmoil strikes as El Paso offers lucrative water deals to neighboring landowners. Dell City’s close-knit community faces division due to new water board rules, alleged to be influenced by billionaires, locking them out of these opportunities. Dell City’s ranchers embark on a legal battle against the influential water board, ultimately reaching the Texas Supreme Court. Water Wars narrates this small-town strife with statewide implications, prompting contemplation on the equitable sharing of life’s most precious resource: water.

When to see it: Sunday, April 28 at 12:15 p.m. at Violet Crown Theater – Auditorium 1

Why you should see it: If you thought a stressed power grid is the biggest challenge facing Texans in the coming years, you’d be wrong. Having enough water to meet future supply needs, and where to find it, is actually at the top of the list. This pressing issue sets the stage for this David and Goliath story that poses the question – who really owns the water? It features the late Laura Lynch, founder of The Chicks, who’s one of the ranchers at the center of the legal battle between ranchers, farmers and billionaires that went all the way to the Texas Supreme Court.


What it’s about: City of Hate reveals what Dallas was like 60 years ago when President Kennedy was about to visit the city. It’s told by people who lived through it, including the filmmaker, who saw Kennedy just before the assassination, a documentary 60 years in the making.

When to see it: Friday, April 26, 5 p.m. at Violet Crown Theater – Auditorium 2
Q&A with the filmmaker follows the screening.

Why you should see it: There are many documentaries, feature films and books about the assassination of President Kennedy but few address how Dallas became known as the “city of hate,” a moniker that would take decades to shake. Filmmaker Quin Mathews chronicles the acrimonious atmosphere in Dallas leading up to the President’s visit here and how the city healed after his death.

Still from the 2024 documentary film Porcelain War


What it’s about: Under roaring fighter jets and missile strikes, Ukrainian artists Slava, Anya, and Andrey choose to stay behind and fight, contending with the soldiers they have become. Defiantly finding beauty amid destruction, they show that although it’s easy to make people afraid, it’s hard to destroy their passion for living.

When to see it: Saturday, April 27, 2:15 p.m. and Monday, April 29, 1 p.m. at Violet Crown Theater – Auditorium 2

Why you should see it: This Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner metaphorically uses porcelain to represent the Ukrainian people. As Slava points out, “Porcelain is fragile, yet everlasting. It can withstand extreme heat and even after thousands of years of being buried it can be restored.” The delicate porcelain animals Slava and Anya create are part of their resistance against their oppressors because the stories they tell through their artwork ensure their culture will live on.

poster of the documentary film Inheritance. It features a close up shot of a 12 year old boy with brown hair and bangs.


What it’s about: Explores the underlying causes of the opioid epidemic in America through the life of one boy and five generations of his extended family over 11 years. Curtis, a bright and hopeful boy, grows up from age 12 to 18 surrounded by love and struggle while every adult in his family – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins — battles addiction. Curtis’ America is an America where people and communities are struggling with an epidemic of substance abuse, joblessness and a deteriorating sense of belonging.

When to see it: Sunday, April 28 at 3:30 p.m. at Violet Crown Theater – Auditorium 3 and Monday, April 29 at 9:15 p.m. at Violet Crown Theater – Auditorium 4

Why you should see it: In this direct cinema view of the opioid epidemic, filmmakers Matt Moyer and Amy Toensing explore whether it’s inevitable that a child growing up in an environment of the poverty, trauma and mental health issues will ultimately be an addict himself. Moyer and Toensing both have backgrounds in photojournalism having worked for National Geographic and other outlets. They’re able to capture intimate and often heartbreaking scenes with the family that make you feel empathy instead of judgement.

front page of Ulvade Leader newspaper. The words May 22, 2023 are white on a black background
Still shot from the film Print It Black


What it’s about: After the Robb Elementary school shooting in Texas, journalists from the local Uvalde Leader-News are the first on the scene to report the story. One of their own, reporter Kimberly Rubio, rises to national prominence as an advocate for gun reform after her ten-year-old daughter, Lexi, is killed in the shooting. Through the journalists’ reporting, we witness the social fabric of this small Texas town unravel as Kimberly and other victims’ families search for accountability from law enforcement and local leaders.

When to see it: Sunday, April 28 at 1 p.m. at Violet Crown Theater – Auditorium 5 and Monday, April 29 at 4:30 p.m. at Violet Crown Theater – Auditorium 4 – Q&A with filmmakers following the screening

Why you should see it: This film shines a light on the critical role local journalism plays. At a time when an average of 2.5 newspapers across the country go out of business each week, it’s important to remember that local newspapers are created by and for the people in your community.


What it’s about: Over her 89 years, Liz Carpenter was often front and center where history was unfolding, leaving her own indelible mark on some of the most vivid moments and movements that shaped the twentieth century. Journalist, vice-presidential advisor, White House official, author, humorist, political activist, and feminist leader—hers is the story of blazing professional trails while pushing forward an agenda for women’s rights, political engagement, and the environment that remains highly relevant today.When it’s showing: Friday, April 26 at 4:30 p.m. at Violet Crown Theater – Auditorium 1 – Q&A with filmmakers following screening. Why you should see it: This documentary is a great reminder that opportunities for women didn’t just magically happen. Trailblazers like Liz Carpenter made them happen. Archival film, photos and interviews with journalists and scholars not only tell Liz’s story but also document the climb for women’s equal rights. Visit Go See DFW to find even more events.The Go See DFW calendar is a partnership between KERA and The Dallas Morning News.Got a tip? Email Therese Powell at [email protected] Arts is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.