WATER WARS Wins Top Prize at Dallas International Film Festival

Water Wars Wins grand prize at DIFF
Courtesy photo

WATER WARS won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Texas Feature at the 18th edition of the Dallas International Film Festival that wrapped May 2. DIFF included screenings of more than 140 films curated from submissions received from nearly 90 countries.

WATER WARS is a feature-length documentary directed by Mario Mattei that had its world premiere at DIFF. It’s the story of a clash between West Texas ranchers, farmers, and billionaires in a high-stakes legal battle over water rights. From the unforgiving desert to the Texas Supreme Court’s chambers, this story ripples into the state’s future.

“Winning the Grand Jury Prize for Best Texas Feature at our world premiere at DIFF is a true honor. DIFF is a top-shelf festival with jury members I respect, so it really means a lot to all of us. I do wish that Laura Lynch could be here to enjoy this moment with us, too,” said Mario Mattei, director of WATER WARS.

Included in with the winning honor, the Grand Jury Prize winner of the Texas Competition category enjoys a camera rental package worth $30,000 or more for their next production, courtesy of Panavision.

Jurors for the Texas Feature Competition included Thaddeus D. Matula, Sara Madsen Miller, and Kerri Navarro.

“WATER WARS” Praised by Juror

“‘Water Wars’ is a testament to the power of documentary filmmaking, showcasing the complexity of a seemingly straightforward issue and revealing the human stories behind the headlines. Through masterful cinematography and even-handed storytelling, WATER WARS invites viewers to explore the intricacies of a legal battle that will have far-reaching consequences for the people of Texas,” said Thaddeus D. Matula: Emmy and Peabody Award-winner, 2x director of ESPN’s 30 FOR 30, Double Life Films.

The documentary takes an in-depth look at the colorful characters and political maneuvering that led to the 2007 Texas Supreme Court case Guitar Holding v. Hudspeth County, one of the most significant cases in Texas water law to this day. It examines the turmoil that erupts in small town Dell City, nestled in the “Valley of Hidden Waters,” over new water board rules when El Paso offers lucrative water deals to some landowners while others are locked out.

Dallas International Film Festival

DIFF 2024 was held April 25 – May 2, and included screenings of more than 140 films curated from submissions received from nearly 90 countries. DIFF also included Q&A sessions and panels with filmmakers and actors, nightly DIFF Red Carpets, and special events at Violet Crown Cinema in West Village Uptown and The Texas Theatre. DIFF was cited by Travel + Leisure Asia in naming April among “The Best Times to Visit Dallas for Sporting Events and Festivals.” The festival was also cited by MovieMaker magazine in naming Dallas among the “Best Places to Live and Work as a MovieMaker in 2024.”

Red Aces Productions, known as “Home of the Texas Thriller,” is based in Fort Worth. Its productions primarily focus on narrative feature films with a Southwest thriller/horror vibe and stories with poker and gambling-related twists. The production house is also in the non-scripted documentary space, focusing on true crime in Texas.

ONE CHAMELEON ENTERTAINMENT (OCE) is a production company founded by Jon Michael Simpson in 2014. The company focuses on creating character-driven and inspiring stories that showcase human perseverance. OCE has produced over ten narrative and documentary films that have won numerous awards. This includes a Children’s and Family Emmy® Nomination for the “Hi, I’m ____” series (MAX+, Magnolia Network). Their projects have premiered at festivals including SXSW, Tribeca, and more.

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