Too much of anything is not good, except maybe it can be. Starbuck is a lighthearted comedy that explores a fresh take about the serious side of what it means to be a father through the lens of someone totally unprepared not just for one child, but for 143 of them.
David Wozniak (Patrick Huard) is a perpetual screwball who has never managed to make the right choices in life. In his forties, working as a delivery driver for his father's butchery, with thugs shaking him down for $80,000 in unpaid debts, David learns of his girlfriend's pregnancy. At the same time, he is confronted by a lawyer with some surprising news.
The lawyer represents a fertility clinic where, during his twenties, David was the most prolific donor, having made deposits over 600 times. It's explained that he has very high-quality sperm, and the doctor who operated the clinic was a little crazy and thus used David's material in the impregnations of over 500 women. Now 142 of his progeny have gathered to form a class-action suit to force the clinic to reveal David's identity.
Until the case is settled, they've prepared profiles of themselves, because they want "Starbuck" (the alias under which the donor is listed) to know something about his children. Faced with a choice between continuing his irresponsible ways or taking control of his life with his girlfriend and new(est) child, David finds himself unable to resist the urge to involve himself in his other children's lives, and thus learn the extent of his own strength.
Ken Scott and Martin Petit have written an extraordinarily original script that is both charming and hilarious, and Scott's direction displays a flair for comedic timing that brings the story to life. From the opening shot, he sets up a scene just enough for the audience to get comfortable with a situation before pulling the rug out from under them to hilarious effect. It's a surprising and effective tool Scott wields when the mood grows too serious.
When you hear "crowdfunding for film," you may automatically think about producers and directors raising money for a movie they want to make. Or perhaps even post-production costs to finish the film. But plenty of other fundraising endeavors cover film distribution, exhibition and other aspects of the film world.
For example, you might have seen local filmmaker Stephen Belyeu's drama Dig at Austin Film Festival a couple of years ago, where it won the Narrative Feature award. Texas Independent Film Network also screened the movie (which I moderated locally, which is why I remember). But one does not simply walk up to studio reps and magically land a distribution deal. Belyeu is ready to seek distribution for his film and there are costs involved: transferring the film into a high-resolution format, creating the materials to send to industry reps, paying legal fees.
So Belyeu has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to make Dig distribution-ready. The perks include DVDs of the movie, posters, sneak peeks at the filmmaker's new project ... and for enough money, an Executive Producer credit. The campaign has a little more than two weeks left and hasn't yet reached its goal.
By Marcelena Mayhorn
Tuesday night not only marked the opening night of the highly anticipated Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, but also the first festival that I get to attend as press. I arrived early, around 5:30, to get my badge and ticket to the opening-night film, Blancanieves.
In an effort to kill time, I met up with my friend Samantha Lopez for a drink and early dinner. Sam has screened films for CLAIFF for some time now, and filled me in on what to expect. The best part, she said, is not knowing what to expect, as each film was as different as the next. And with each of the films only screening once, one must choose wisely.
The screening kicked off with an encouraging speech from CLAIFF Executive Director Eugenio del Bosque Gómez, explaining what the team had planned and some small changes implemented this year. Film Program Director Jean Anne Lauer then joined him on stage to say how she knew that the movie we were about to see was their opening-night film immediately upon watching. I think this gave the audience and myself hope for what we were about to encounter.
Delaware-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema have teamed up again for the sixth annual Off-Centered Film Fest (Debbie's 2012 coverage). Beginning Thursday night, the three-day beer and food feast -- with a hip-hop theme this year -- will feature a sing-along, rap battle competition, DJs and a short film competition. Most events are at Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane, and proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Texas Craft Brewers Guild.
The homegrown festivities kick off with a 6 pm screening at Republic Square Park of Friday, a movie so ripe with wisdom and wit it'll make you say "daayymmnn!" The Ice Cube, Chris Tucker-fronted stoner comedy tells the day-long adventure of two neighborhood buddies in L.A.
Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Debbie's interview with Calagione), and Tim League, Alamo Drafthouse co-founder, have added more hip to their hops with Friday's first ever Jiggy Crunk Sing-A-Long. Calagione and League will both be in attendance throughout the festival.
Homegrown cinema will get its chance in the sun during Saturday's short film competition event. The competition's top films will be screened theatrically and the top three winners will receive their awards.
By Marcelena Mayhorn
The Capital City Event Center was abuzz last Wednesday night with Austin Film Festival's Conversation in Film with Brian Helgeland, writer and director of 42, which hit theaters two days after the event. Moderated by AFF Executive Director Barbara Morgan, the conversation focused on Helgeland's career as a writer. I'll admit I'd seen many films Helgeland wrote but never realized he was the man behind the curtain.
Helgeland opened the conversation by letting the audience know he started his career by writing horror movies, his most notable (in his opinion) being 976-EVIL. It was through horror films that he began to get involved with other writers, eventually working on some television series episodes as well.
The screenwriter then jumped into the process of adapting L.A. Confidential, which I was astounded to hear took three whole years to write. His biggest challenge was trying to transform a 496-page book into a two-hour film, the plot of the film ultimately being much different than the book. Helgeland won an Academy Award (along with director Curtis Hanson) for the adapted screenplay in 1997.
He then went on to talk about writing and directing Payback, the 1999 adaptation of a Donald Westlake novel, starring Mel Gibson. Off all of his works, this seemed to present the most hurdles, the final straw being that he was fired as director by Gibson himself. Helgeland said after that he felt like he was in "movie jail" and the only escape was to write his way out.
He did just that, with the following year's A Knight's Tale putting him back on the map. This was perhaps my most favorite part of the talk, as he discussed the research he did for the film. The biggest obstacle? Finding people who could joust, and were also willing to do it!
After accomplishing attending Sundance Film Festival in January and SXSW last month, I thought for sure that I'd be burnt out on film festivals. However, my "one day on, one day off" approach to SXSW this year kept me rested enough to keep the pace going into my first Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF). I was only able to attend the first four days, but that was more than enough time to enjoy the hospitality and diversity of the Dallas film community. I also enjoyed seeing familiar Austin and Texas faces whom I met on the festival circuit before, including the Pit Stop crew of actor Richard Jones, cinematographer HutcH and director/co-writer Yen Tan (pictured above).
I was quite impressed by the overwhelming amount of enthusiasm and support from locals for the Dallas Film Society and DIFF. Well-dressed Dallas socialites calling out greetings across the theater to friends during seatings was rampant, a distinct contrast to Austin festival audiences. I also met and spoke with folks extremely active in the local film scene, including filmmaker and Dallas Producers Association (DPA) president Russ Jolly. The DPA offers frequent networking opportunities for its members such as "Third Thursday Breakfast" and mixers, as well as filmmaker conversations that are open to the public.
On April 6-8, Austin Film Society's Artistic Director Richard Linklater curated and presented a series of recent films by the groundbreaking avant-garde filmmaker James Benning. This showcase of Benning's work explored many different American landscapes (including skies, lakes, roads and the woods) through various mediums, including two 16mm presentations at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz. Austin Film Society Interns Hannah Jordan and Shane Henderson attended the events and covered these once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Ten Skies: Hannah Jordan
It's my first James Benning film experience and I walk into the theater ten minutes late. It's quiet enough to hear a pin drop with all eyes pointed straight at the screen, so I take the nearest available seat on the front row. I hate sitting on the front row, but I also hate people like me who show up to movies late, so I'll take what I can get.
I settle into the eerie calm and take in the scenery of Ten Skies, which was precisely 102 minutes of skyscapes. That's all, just sky. Dark skies, light skies, rainy skies, blue skies -- all laid out in 20-minute blocks with little to no audio. I sneak a quick peek at the audience behind me, and become acutely aware of their pristine movie manners. There are no chairs rustling. There are no jaws smacking. Everyone is sitting upright as a scholar; transformed into dutiful schoolchildren eager to see the hypnotic journey Benning is taking us on. The catch is, he doesn't want to take us anywhere. He just wants us to sit still.
The Austin Film Society kicks off a new Essential Cinema series tonight ... and at a venue that's relatively new to them, but which I suspect will become familiar to many of us this year: the Marchesa Hall and Theatre.
"Classic 35mm Treasures from the Janus Films Archive" is a seven-film weekly series including a variety of European and Japanese movies from the 1960s, many of which you may have seen or at least heard of before. Many Janus Films are now Criterion Collection disks -- but this is your chance to see 35mm prints of Zazie dans le Metro, The Wages of Fear, Tokyo Story (pictured above) and others.
It's a great way to inaugurate regular AFS programming at the Marchesa, which will officially become the home for Essential Cinema and other series and AFS events in May. "AFS at the Marchesa" seats 278 and will feature repertory, independent and arthouse fare. The theater is still in need of upgrades, however, and AFS plans to launch a fundraising campaign next month to get the venue in shape. We'll have all the details as they become available.
Homeland star and San Angelo native Marc Menchaca and Josh Barrett teamed up for their writing and directorial debut, This Is Where We Live, an intimate look at a family wrought with physical and emotional troubles. The duo were in attendance for the movie's north Texas premiere at the Dallas International Film Festival last week. During the post-screening Q&A, the filmmakers revealed that although the story is fictional, one of the main characters was inspired by Menchaca's close friend Thomas, who has cerebral palsy.
This Is Where We Live brings viewers into a small-town family's home, where every member of the Sutton family suffers, Diane (C.K. McFarland) ignores her own health issues to meet the demands of her full-time job as a stocker at the local supermarket and to take care of her son August (Tobias Segal), who suffers from cerebral palsy. Her husband Bob (Ron Hayden) is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and daughter Lainey (Frances Shaw) lazes about the house -- both of them distant from the rest of the family.
It's unfortunate that Austin Jewish Film Festival and Cine Las Americas International Film Festival overlap for four days this week, but you can treat yourself to a whirlwind of images, stories, music, and themes by jumping back and forth between the two. AJFF is already underway (my preview). Cine Las Americas starts tomorrow night and runs through Sunday with a full and varied lineup.
You can buy film passes and tickets from the fest's website, or individual tickets at the theaters before the screenings (space available). Films at the Mexican American Cultural Center are free; other venues (where you need tickets) include Stateside at the Paramount and Alamo Drafthouse Village.
As it has since the initiation of each festival, Austin Film Society is co-sponsoring films in both fests. For Cine Las Americas we are helping to present a fascinating elegiac documentary, Carriere: 250 Metros (Juan Carlos Rulfo, Mexico, 2011) at Stateside Theatre on Thursday, April 18 at 7 pm. The director should be available for a Skype Q&A after the screening.