[OCFF Interview]….’Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ Director David Lowery

OCFF feature for GST

This past weekend Dallas welcomed the 2nd Annual Oak Cliff Film Festival to the neighborhood, and with it, a special double feature event with local filmmaker David Lowery in attendance. Lowery introduced director Robert Altman’s Repertory film, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, followed by a “secret screening” that turned out to be Lowery’s latest feature film, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. 

Go, See, Talk caught up with Lowery in the Press room and quickly chatted about the local film community, his experiences growing up attending film festivals, and his involvement in them now.

Lowery, who grew up in Dallas and attended festivals like the USA Film Festival and the Dallas Video Fest when they were the only festivals around, is no stranger to the local film community. He says attending these and other festivals served as an exciting, educational experience for him, and later a source of putting his own films out into the world, so it’s only natural that Lowery feels compelled to give back to the community that helped him to launch his own filmmaking career.

Two years ago Lowery shot the short film, Pioneer, in Oak Cliff that later won him the Jury prize for Texas filmmaking at the Dallas International Film Festival in 2009.

“I know exactly how helpful it was for me as a filmmaker to get that award, and so it meant a lot to be able to give it to another filmmaker by being on the (DIFF) jury this year,” says Lowery.  “And then with the Oak Cliff Film Festival it’s a new festival, and I’m good friends with quite a few people that run it – every festival has its own identity and these guys have this sort of very awesome upstart identity, but they’ve very quickly banded themselves, and their playing a lot of really terrific films – so I’m excited to do whatever I can to bring audience out to see them.”

He’ll tell you time and again that Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller is one of his favorite films, and one Lowrey says greatly influenced Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Lead actor Keith Carradine, whose first acting role was in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, also attended the screening.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller was certainly a big influence on Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, and getting Keith in my movie was a major cue. For one because he’s a great actor – and also because it put a nice little lineage between that film and mine,” says Lowery. “He’s a joy to work with, one of the most gracious actors you’ll ever meet, and just a wonderful person to be around. It’s been great to hear the response to his performance, which is fantastic…Having him there, and getting to watch it with him will be a really wonderful experience.”

Following the screening, Lowery, his producers and partners at Sailor Bear, Toby Halbrooks and Jason M. Johnston, and the film’s composer, Daniel Hart, participated in a live Q&A with a packed house – the theater was standing room only. Lowery’s lyrical style of filmmaking, his willingness to lend a hand to other filmmakers in all areas of the filmmaking process (this year, on top of working on Saints, he also co-edited Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color and co-wrote Yen Tan’s Pit Stop), and his loyalty to Dallas has gained him a large following and many fans.

“I keep coming back to Dallas because of the comfort, but beyond that it’s just really easy to make movies here,” says Lowery. “I’ve been doing this since high school, so I know where to go, and there are all these studios and equipment houses run by really nice and supportive people who want to help filmmakers get their projects off the ground.”

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Ain’t Them Bodies Saints premiered at Sundance this year to rave reviews. If you somehow missed it’s Dallas premiere during the Oak Cliff Film Festival don’t worry – you’ll still have a chance to see the film this summer, which is due for release in August by IFC.