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Short “Play Date” to Have World Premiere at Dallas International Film Festival

On April 28th, the Dallas International Film Festival will host the world premiere of “Play Date”, a heart-wrenching short film about grief, gun violence, and motherhood brought to life by a star-studded lineup of producers that includes Academy Award® Winner Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”), Emmy and Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominee J. Smith-Cameron (“Succession”), Tony, Obie, and Drama Desk Award Winner Reed Birney (“The Menu”, “MASS”), and 2024 SXSW Narrative Feature and Jury Award-winning Director Tracie Laymon (“Bob Trevino Likes It”).

The directorial debut of Amberlee Colson and Laura Campbell, who also star in the piece, “Play Date” tells the story of two mothers forging an unexpected connection on the one-year anniversary of a school shooting, as they relive the precious moments of their daughters’ final play date. This tense, subtly disorienting, and ultimately devastating short film is set against the backdrop of a girl’s eighth birthday party, with colorful balloons, sprinkled cupcakes and unicorns setting the stage for a heartbreaking exploration of loss. 

The film begins with a surprise knock at the door, as the party’s Host (Colson) receives a visit from an unexpected Guest (Campbell). Once best friends, their worlds were shattered by a school shooting in which one woman’s daughter survived, and the other’s did not. As the visitor leads her host through an uneasy reenactment of their daughters’ final play date, the film intricately explores lives forever altered, strained relationships and how individuals cope with profound loss

“Becoming a father changed everything about how I understand the world,” shared writer Gavin Broady. “Along with new heights of joy and love, our kids teach us new depths of fear. And in a country where mass shootings have become common, the agony of witnessing bereaved parents became so intolerable I would force myself to look away. Until one night, after a shooting in Santa Clarita, I chose to sit with that fear, anger and sorrow – and to write my way through it.”

 “Play Date” focuses on the quieter, more intimate moments in the aftermath of gun violence, delving into the necessity of empathy and human connection while coping with immense loss. Co-director and producer, Laura Campbell shares, “Play Date is about facing the unfaceable. It’s a window into the lives of people a year after a terrible tragedy, when the camera crews are gone and the rest of the world seems to have moved on.”

Co-director and producer, Amberlee Colson, shares how the film serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of empathy and understanding in the face of tragedy, “With this film, we want to give a face to the people left behind, specifically the mothers. We want to explore what it is to hold space for their grief, to be present with it, to be affected by it. Because maybe, if we do, it won’t be so easy to go numb.”

Audiences can see Play Date at the Dallas International Film Festival on Saturday, April 28th at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 29th at 1:15 p.m. at the Violet Crown Dallas. More tickets and information available at: https://bit.ly/PlayDateDIFF

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Dallas International Film Festival

Now in its 18th year, the Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) is the region’s most powerfully inclusive and equitable platform for diverse, emerging and underrepresented voices. Since its founding, DIFF has screened more than 2,500 widely diverse new films from 50 countries, provided more than $1.1 million in awards and hosted more than 100,000 filmgoers and filmmakers. The annual festival is presented by Dallas Film Society, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. www.dallasfilm.org