Jette Kernion's blog
For the second year in a row, I spent a lovely spring weekend in Fredericksburg for the 2013 Hill Country Film Festival. This is not one of those film fests where you get up early to get a good ticket reservation/spot in line and then proceed to watch four or five films, and then at 2 am collapsing in exhaustion (or going into overtime with karaoke) before getting up early to do it again, downing Red Bull and energy bars for sustenance.
This is a film festival where you watch a movie, and then go have some brunch, and then watch another movie, and perhaps go shopping, and enjoy cocktails with filmmakers, and maybe watch another movie or have a leisurely dinner, then go to a party and talk about the movies you watched while enjoying more cocktails. There was a screening in a winery (pictured above) on Sunday and yes, there was wine as well as sausages from Austin restaurant Frank. I took it very easy, which is why my dispatches are coming to you after the fest and not during.
Look for my capsule reviews/descriptions of many of the shorts and features I saw later this week. In the meantime, I thought I'd share some photos from my time at the fest.
The Marfa Film Festival is back after a hiatus of a couple of years, and several of us at Slackerwood couldn't be more thrilled. Yesterday, the fest announced most of the movies that will screen from June 26-30. The lineup includes several films with Austin and Texas connections:
- An Oversimplification of Her Beauty -- Dallas native Terence Nance's narrative film is about what happens when a young man is stood up. It will screen here in Austin at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz later this month.
- The Taiwan Oyster -- Don reviewed this movie about two Americans on a road trip in Taiwan when it screened at SXSW 2012. He said, "The Taiwan Oyster is a gorgeous and captivating film, a physical and spiritual journey in an exotic land. It has much to say about life, loneliness and death, and our eternal struggles with all three." Filmmaker Mark Jarrett is from Austin.
- The Passage -- Houston filmmaker Alex Douglas shot this documentary about the Panama Canal. The movie will have its world premiere in Marfa.
- Houston -- This German film was shot partially in the title city. A German headhunter is sent to Houston on a business errand and finds his life upended. Director Bastian Gunther is now living in Austin.
- See the Dirt -- This short documentary from local filmmakers Eric Mauck and Chelsea Hernandez is about a 14-year-old boy who collects and is fascinated with vacuum cleaners. It won the documentary short jury prize at Austin Film Festival 2012.
- Sahasi Chori (Brave Girl) -- Former Austinite Erin Galey made this short about a 13-year-old Nepalese girl traveling to her first job in the city. Brave Girl was one of the Austin Film Society ShortCase films this year -- see Debbie's article for more details and a short interview with Galey.
For this part of the photo essay, I'd like to thank Austin Film Society for sharing their photos from the event -- it was dark and I'm not a professional photographer. AFS has a Flickr set of Texas Film Hall of Fame photos where you can see more.
The above photo is from the red carpet -- Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez doing a quick interview. And next we have another red-carpet photo: actress Robin Wright, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame later that evening. I had been watching her the week before in a marathon viewing of House of Cards so it was almost uncanny to see her in person.
At long last, here are my (and others') photos from last month's gala Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards. I figure photos don't get stale and we'll all enjoy them just as much as we would have earlier -- even more than if I'd published them during SXSW. (I can always find an excuse.) It was a really lovely and fun evening and I know you'd rather see the photos than read about the event, so here goes. This is actually a two-part feature since I have so many photos to share.
These photos are mine and they're primarily from the red carpet before the awards ceremony. Let's start with the emcee of the evening, Austin actress and musician Dana Wheeler-Nicholson.
By the time you read this, I'll be in Fredericksburg for the Hill Country Film Festival. I love a film fest that's in one theater, where you get to know all the filmmakers and half the audience, and where short films prevail and celebrities do not. I wish the weather were less capricious, but you can't have everything. If you're in Austin instead, your best bet may be that fabulous new release about heroes who use their iron technology to assist mankind. Of course I mean the Austin documentary Trash Dance, which has a weeklong run at Violet Crown.
Hoping to get back in town Sunday in time for Alamo Drafthouse Ritz's Cinema Cocktails screening of the 1949 musical On the Town, a favorite of mine, screening in 35mm. Who couldn't love dance numbers from Gene Kelly, Vera-Ellen and especially Ann Miller, with a script from Comden and Green? And you can have a Manhattan while you watch.
On Monday, don't forget Stateside Independent is screening the delightful Austin food-truck-centric comedy The Happy Poet (Elizabeth's preview), with some cast members in attendance. Or you could head to Alamo Village for Austin Film Festival's screening of AFF 2012 documentary Spinning Plates (Debbie's review).
Slackerwood is giving you the chance to see The Kings of Summer next week, almost a month before it opens in Austin theaters ... and at no cost. This popular Sundance 2013 comedy will have a preview screening on Thursday, May 9, at 7:30 pm at Regal Arbor. Austin Film Society has offered us a limited number of spaces on a will-call list to give to Slackerwood readers -- each space is for two people (you and a guest).
If you're on the list, you and your guest will have "secured" space in the theater -- the theater isn't being overbooked, although specific seats aren't reserved for you. This means you won't have to stand in a long line wondering if you'll get in. However, I'd recommend getting there early anyway, in case there's a standby line for unfilled seats.
The Kings of Summer is a coming-of-age movie about three young men who run away from home and spend the summer building and living in their own house in a remote wooded area. The teens are played by Nick Robinson (no, not that one), Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias. The supporting cast includes Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Alison Brie.
Former Austin film critic Chase Whale reviewed the movie for Twitch when he saw it at Sundance under the title Toy's House. He praised the script and called the movie "an unforgettable coming-of-age comedy that's sweet, witty, and brings back the joys of being young and full of life."
Here's what you have to do to get on the list for this screening: Use the Slackerwood contact form to send me a message with your name and email address. I'll add your name to the list, which I'll send to Austin Film Society, and they'll have it at the Arbor that night. Check in at the box office when you arrive. The deadline to send me your info is 10 pm on Friday, May 3 so I can forward all the names to AFS in time for the screening.
So who else is going to see Hands on a Hardbody tonight at the Marchesa? Read Don's review to find out why so many of us are so pleased to see this 1997 documentary available again. Filmmaker S.R. Bindler will be there with one of the film's subjects, Benny Perkins ... I hear there will even be an actual Nissan Hardbody in attendance. If you're not interested (because you're crazy) you could head over to Blue Starlite and watch Dazed and Confused.
Austin Film Society's Best of the Fest series brings the movie In the Family to the Marchesa on Sunday and Monday nights. It's about a father whose partner dies and leaves their son to his sister, sparking a difficult custody battle. Writer/director/actor Patrick Wang will attend the screenings.
On Monday night, Alamo Drafthouse's Cinema Club series continues at the Ritz with a 35mm screening of Grand Hotel, the glitzy 1932 drama starring John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford. Author and University of Texas professor Tom Schatz will discuss the movie afterward. And if those aren't enough Monday night choices, you might also consider The Frames: In the Deep Shade, a documentary about Glen Hansard's band screening at Stateside.
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.
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.
Updated April 9, 2013.
Slackerwood was everywhere at SXSW Film this year. Here's the master list of all our guides, features, interviews, reviews and whatever else we wrote (or photographed).