One of the best films of the year is from Dallas filmmaker and “Next Linklater” Cooper Raiff

You often hear about young artists who could be the “next Taylor Swift”. There are many “next Leonardo DiCaprios”. Every once in a while you’ll hear rumors about a teenage rapper who might be “the next Kendrick.” However, you probably haven’t heard of a 24-year-old who could be the “next Richard Linklater”.

But that would be a perfect description of Cooper Raiff, a young filmmaker from Dallas who has won national awards and gone up against some of the biggest talents in the industry. Raiff’s second film as writer/director/producer/star, Cha Cha real smooth, screened in early May during the Dallas International Film Festival‘s spring preview at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater in the Cedars, earning a warm response from viewers.

Cha Cha real smooth tells a non-traditional story of family ties. Raiff stars as a character whose endearing and relentlessly empathetic personality didn’t require much action on his part. Andrew (Raiff) is going through a tough time. Although he graduated from college, he lives at home in New Jersey in the room of his little brother David (Evan Assante). Andrew’s mother (Leslie Mann) is bipolar and has frequent depressive episodes.

Andrew’s mother pushes him to apply himself and find a real job, but succeeds in a relatively endearing way. However, her stepfather Greg (Brad Garrett) is much tougher. He insists that Andrew is an adult and should start acting like one. He can’t just work behind the counter in their mall’s food court for the rest of his life.

Andrew can barely think of adult responsibilities like finding a job because he’s too busy trying to figure out his love life. Andrew’s girlfriend Macy (Odeya Rush) is studying abroad in Barcelona. He desperately seeks to join her and begins to fear that their relationship will never be rekindled. This gives him at least one goal: to save enough to pay for the expensive flight abroad.

However, a new development emerges in Andrew’s life when he takes his little brother to a bar mitzvah party. After getting a little too drunk, Andrew encourages the kids and adults to start dancing. He shows compassion for a sensitive young girl named Lola (Vanessa Burghardt), whose mother, Domino (Dakota Johnson), is impressed by Andrew’s sensitivity with her daughter. She hires him to watch the house and take care of Lola while she goes out at night.

It’s Andrew’s first real job, and he lands another new job the same night. After seeing how successful he is in hosting the event, the local bar mitzvah organizers hire Andrew as their “professional party starter”.

Raiff has always been interested in storytelling. While studying at Occidental College in Los Angeles during his sophomore year, Raiff borrowed (without permission) the school’s equipment to shoot a semi-autobiographical film titled Madeleine & Cooper with his friends. Raiff dropped the 55-minute film on social media and tagged indie producer Jay Duplass, daring him to watch the film. Less than 24 hours later, Duplass responded and arranged an interview with Raiff.

Duplass helped Raiff develop the concept further, expanding his feature to feature-length premise. It was Shit, Raiff’s first official film. Raiff wrote, directed and starred in the coming-of-age comedy-drama, which debuted at the SXSW Film Festival in early 2020. audience.

Raiff had suddenly moved into the big leagues, and Shit caused a stir during the year after being picked up by IFC Films. Raiff’s comedic and empathetic style of filmmaking has drawn comparisons with filmmakers like Noah Baumbach, Judd Apatow and of course, fellow Texan Richard Linklater.

It wasn’t just the public that saw Raiff as the next big thing. Fifty shades of Grey Star Dakota Johnson has reached out to Raiff, offering to finance her next film with her new production company TeaTime Pictures. Johnson insisted that Raiff co-star in the film alongside him.

Cha Cha real smooth debuted in January during the virtual edition of the Sundance Film Festival. Although it was not screened for live audiences, the film immediately won over the crowds. It won the audience award from the US Dramatic Competition. Best Picture Winner CODA won the same award last year before its unstoppable awards run.

Raiff’s comedic and empathetic style of filmmaking has drawn comparisons with filmmakers like Noah Baumbach, Judd Apatow and of course, fellow Texan Richard Linklater.

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Apple became the first streaming service to win the best Oscar with CODAand they could watch Cha Cha real smooth renew their success. After losing the historic sum of $25 million for CODAApple paid $15 million for exclusive distribution rights to Cha Cha real smooth.

The Dallas International Film Festival, or DIFF, is one of the most popular events for moviegoers in North Texas each year. Like all other festivals in the film community, it has had a turbulent few years adjusting to the constraints of COVID-19 closures and safety procedures. Although the festival usually takes place in late April and May, in 2021 it was postponed to the fall film season.

As this year’s DIFF will once again take place in the fall, the folks at the Dallas Film Society have whipped up a special treat for moviegoers and decided to preview some of the most exciting projects on their upcoming slate. The “Spring Preview Event” took place in early May and featured an exclusive lineup of films slated to premiere in the coming months.

In addition to Cha Cha real smooththe Spring Preview also organized screenings of Frank Marshall’s musical documentary Jazz Fest: A History of New Orleanswest Corsicahistorical drama Eventand indie bad ax. If you missed the event, you’ll still have the chance to attend the festival later this year. The full Dallas International Film Festival lineup will begin in October.

Of course, if you want to check Cha Cha real smooth, you won’t have to wait very long. The film is set to debut on Apple TV+ on June 17. Unless you’re already a Ted Lasso fan, you should be able to take advantage of a free trial over the summer to check out one of the best films of the year.

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