Come on a journey into a dream hour (80 minutes total really) devised by a filmmaking couple whose esoteric documentary reimagines Romanian life during Ceaușescu's communist regime.
When searching for information about Hotel Dallas online, make sure to add 'film' or 'movie' at the end otherwise you will find yourself possibly booking a spontaneous vacation to the lone star state. (There's your PSA for this article; you're welcome.)
Hotel Dallas is a hybrid doc, weaving fictional sequences with personal accounts reminiscing what it was like to grow up in Romania in the 1980s when the only television show they had access to was Dallas. When Dallas was not on, the airwaves were static--aside from, of course, the other hour of television filled with political propaganda and adverts. You could say it was the Sky News of Romania. Written, directed, and produced by husband and wife duo Livia Ungur and Sherng-Lee Huang, Hotel Dallas showcases the effect of J.R and co. on a country being oppressed during the regime. Consider yourself lucky to only feel restricted by Oyster top-ups.
After debuting at the 2016 Berlinale in the Panorama Documentary section, the buzz behind Hotel Dallas brought it to Raindance and Londoners should consider themselves lucky to get to experience this film. If you leave watching Hotel Dallas knowing exactly what filmmakers Ungur and Huang meant by every shot, framing and narrative choice then one, you're a better film critic than I am and two, you're probably lying.
It's a documentary like no other and one that blurs the lines between fact and fiction with surreal methods often seen in Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry films. The scene that dreamily mimics a camera obscura is a perfect example of that. Jonze and Gondry are famous for their irreverent set pieces but what makes their styles so distinct are the small touches. Ungur and Huang also have the same knack: original songs and children dressed in Pioneer (child communist movement) costumes recreating scenes from Dallas are more substantial nods. Smaller touches still also make their mark on the narrative, like the fourth wall being broken.
Prepare yourself to be surprised, enlightened, and have your opinion changed on how and where you want to be buried. If Hotel Dallas can reset the precedent for how the English history curriculum will be taught (really, it's all about the original songs), then consider me re-enrolled into the school system. Also, you will cry again for Bobby.
Raindance Film Festival runs from 21 September to 2 October 2016. Learn more about the festival here and read more of our festival coverage here. You can catch the next screening of Hotel Dallas on Friday 30th September. Tickets are available here.