Ann Arbor Film Festival 2017
Yet another form of profound isolation is the basis for great yearning and wild creativity in Livia Ungur and Sherng-Lee Huang's film Hotel Dallas, screening March 26. The film probes the legendary soap opera Dallas's improbable effect in Romania, where it was the only Western program permitted during the rule of Communist strongman Nicolae Ceausescu. Huang and the Romanian-born Ungur explore Dallas as an aspirational fantasy for impoverished Romanians in a hodgepodge of documentary, narrative filmmaking, and autobiography. The film blends interview footage, a comically politicized reenactment of Dallas character Bobby Ewing's infamous death and resurrection performed by children, musical numbers, and even a recurring character played by Patrick Duffy, the actor who played Bobby on the original show. To call the film ambitious is an understatement, and it doesn't all necessarily work. But it does make for a spellbinding and singular approach to an already fascinating intersection between pop culture, politics, and personal struggle. The 55th Ann Arbor Film Festival runs March 21-26.
[Originally published in March, 2017.]
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