About The Dallas Film Society

The Dallas Film Society is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting film, filmmakers and film education through our annual events, the Dallas International Film Festival and The Art of Film, through membership events and screenings, and through our educational programs: Summer Film Camp, the High School Roundtables and High School Day.



Liener Temelin

In 2006, Liener Temerlin and Michael Cain formed the vision for the the Dallas Film Society. Temerlin, an advertising and consulting guru has always been a champion of creativity and passionate about his love of movies. Mr. Cain is a film producer with more than 50 commercials and music videos to his credit, including Director of the award winning documentary, TV JUNKIE.

With Temerlin’s ties to the American Film Institute and Cain having graduated with a Masters Degree from the AFI Conservatory, the two men felt it only natural to bring the organization’s name to the table to help create the largest international film festival in the Southwest. Thus, the AFI DALLAS International Film Festival was born with the Dallas Film Society as the overarching non-profit entity.

Mr. Temerlin is recognized as the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Dallas Film Society and Mr. Cain as its Founding Artistic Director.

The largest cinematic event in Texas, the Dallas International Film Festival presents 11 days of independent and studio films each spring. DIFF’s panel discussions, conversations with inventive and award-winning filmmakers, elegant galas and thrilling world premieres bring thousands of people to the event each year.

The Dallas Film Society has hosted nine Festivals—three under the AFI Dallas name (2007–2009) and five as the Dallas International Film Festival (2010–2015). Since 2007, the Festival has:

  • Hosted more than 1,500 filmmakers in Dallas
  • Awarded more than $740,000 in cash/pro-bono prizes
  • Received more than 11,133 film entries from more than 50 different countries
  • Screened 95 world premieres and 31 U.S. premieres
  • Shown 804 features and 883 shorts

Each year, the Film Society and the Festival present the Dallas Star Award to individuals who have made a significant impact on the art of film.

Dallas Star Award Honorees and special guests at the Festival have included: William Friedkin, Sherry Lansing, Laura Linney, Glen Keane, Bernie Pollack, Gabourey Sidibe, Pete Docter, Wally Pfister, Frank Darabont, Peter Bogdanovich, Steve James, Kathryn Bigelow, Adrien Brody, Robert Towne, Henry Selick, Helen Hunt, Todd Wagner, Eric Pleskow, Chris Wedge, Charlize Theron, Lauren Bacall, David Lynch, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Guillermo Arriaga, John Lee Hancock, Ann-Margret, Sydney Pollack, Marvin Hamlish, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Peter Fonda, Josh Brolin, Bill Paxton, John Hawkes, Simon Pegg, America Ferrera, Dennis Quaid, David Gordon Green, Jeremy Renner, Val Kilmer, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, John Kricfalusi, John Wayne (posthumously), Blythe Danner, John Landis, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, and L.M. “Kit” Carson (posthumously).


The Art of Film, a benefit gala held annually each fall, shines a spotlight on the art of cinema and the filmmaker’s craft with an intimate conversation with the honoree. This conversation about filmmaking, moderated by Elvis Mitchell, continues the next day with screenings and a Q&A session of the honoree’s films. Art of Film Honorees include Robert Duvall, John Lithgow, Val Kilmer, Lee Daniels and Marisa Tomei.


Education programs are a vital component of the Dallas Film Society. During DIFF, more than 400 teenagers from around North Texas attend High School Day where they hear from various industry speakers and learn about different aspects of filmmaking. High school film camp workshops are held each summer to teach various topics, including storytelling and screenwriting, production techniques and stop-motion animation. The High School Roundtables program meets bi-monthly and offers students hands-on experience into what goes on in the film industry. Students visit and interact with production and music facilities, live sets and companies associated with film and video production located in Dallas. In addition, the Society offers area college students internships in our marketing, sponsorship, and programming departments throughout the fall, spring, and summer.


Other highlights of Dallas Film Society’s programming include many membership and free screenings. For three years, DFS has hosted The Screening Room, a series of classic film screenings and discussions led by The Dallas Morning News film critic, Chris Vognar. DFS Membership Premiere Series invites local audiences to catch the best in independent cinema before its release with screenings and Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. Recent screenings include UPSTREAM COLOR with director Shane Carruth, YOUR SISTER’S SISTER with director Lynn Shelton, and EPIC with screenwriters James V. Hart and William Joyce. DFS also partners year round with many of the local arts district organizations to host free outdoor screenings at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Klyde Warren Park, the Dallas Museum of Art and the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

DFS Leadership

The organization is overseen by a 21-member volunteer Board of Directors, the President & C.E.O and the Artistic Director.

Mark Denesuk
Chairman of
the Board

Mark Denesuk is the founder of advertising agency Commerce House. He brings with him a load of experience both professionally and personally. His nonprofit involvement has included serving on the boards of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas, the Promising Youth Alliance and the Thanks-Giving Foundation, as well as such committees/advisory boards as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Junior League of Dallas, March of Dimes, the Cattle Baron’s Ball and the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.


Lee Papert
President & CEO
Dallas Film Society

As the head of the Dallas Film Society, Lee Papert is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Dallas’ largest film festival. With a focus on the business side of the operation, he strives daily to raise the funds, build the relationships, and lead the effort to raise the awareness of and appreciation for not only film as art but also Dallas as a film center.

Prior to the Film Society, Papert served the Trinity River and Dogwood Canyon Audubon Centers as director of marketing and development. For the 10 years before that, he was a constant presence in the development of the burgeoning Dallas Arts District. He served as executive director of the Arts District Friends, a marketing/membership organization charged with supporting and creating awareness of Dallas’ truly unique downtown Arts District. He then joined the staff of the Dallas Wind Symphony as their first ever director of development. During his tenure, the nation’s only professional wind band saw an elimination of their ongoing operational deficit, multiple years of a bottom-line surplus, and three successful CD recording projects.

Papert has volunteered extensively throughout Dallas and is a past board member of the Dallas Architecture Foundation/Dallas Center for Architecture, the Leadership Dallas Alumni Association and the advisory boards of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He is a past president of the Shakespeare Dallas Board of Directors and a past member of the St. Mark’s School of Texas Alumni Board. Additionally, Papert is a graduate of the Dallas Chamber’s Leadership Dallas program and the Business Council for the Arts’ Leadership Arts program.


James Faust
Artistic Director

Dallas Film Society Artistic Director, James Faust, began as the Festival’s Senior Programmer at during its inception in 2006 and was instrumental in the formation of both the film festival and the Dallas Film Society.

A graduate of Cinema Studies at SMU, following Telecommunication & Theatre degrees at Texas Tech University, Faust began his film career as a grip on ARMAGEDDON and once locally produced television Walker Texas Ranger. After working his way up to being a commercial producer, Faust started a local production company for which he won a local Emmy.

One of the founding members of the Deep Ellum Film Festival, Faust worked as Associate Programmer, Managing Director, and Programming Director during that festival’s seven year run. He has served on film festival juries and panels all over the world, speaking about film festival management, programming and marketing. Faust has also performed programming duties with the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, The Austin Film Festival and the Texas Black Film Festival, where he was honored by that festival as Filmmaker of the year in 2009. He he also resides on the Board of Directors for Arts Fighting Cancer, an arts organization that raises funds and awareness for cancer relief.




DFS Members receive invitations to year-round films and events, reserved seats at screenings with our cultural partners and exclusive benefits at the Dallas International Film Festival.

Your support helps the DFS bring filmmakers to Dallas, offer year-round programming and provide educational events for future filmmakers.

We have a membership level for every budget. JOIN NOW! »

2017 DIFF

Filmmaker interviews, photos and stories from the Festival!

Visit #DIFF2017 here! »

2017 DIFF

Filmmaker interviews, photos and stories from the Festival.

Visit #DIFF2017 here! »


Your support helps the Dallas Film Society bring independent films and filmmakers to Dallas, and educate the next generation of filmmakers.


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