Debbie Cerda's blog
So far, SXSW Film has been a whirlwind of panels, red-carpet premieres, films, interviews and celebrity sightings, with barely enough time to breathe and eat before the next "can't miss" event on my schedule. What's been most amazing is how comfortable and relaxed major stars and filmmakers have been at SXSW premieres, including Jean Pierre-Jeunet (Micmacs à tire-larigot) and Jay and Mark Duplass (Cyrus) hamming it up for the cameras. The biggest highlight by far has been Edward Norton, who I've seen several times over the weekend. He and Tim Blake Nelson were busy with the premiere of their film Leaves of Grass on Friday night at the Alamo South Lamar -- you can see him below on the red carpet for that film.
At our interview on Saturday afternoon Edward stated that he was looking forward to catching a movie while at the festival. Therefore, it was not a surprise to see him make a quiet and subdued entrance into the premiere of Cyrus on Saturday evening (pictured above).
Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds) was at Austin Studios last night to receive an "honorary Texan" award at the 10th annual Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards last night at Austin Studios. This event, hosted by Austin Film Society, is held every year the night before SXSW opens. The 2010 honorees included Michael Nesmith, Quentin Tarantino, Catherine O'Hara, Lukas Haas and Bruce McGill. Proceeds from the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards benefit the educational and artistic programs of the Austin Film Society, a 501(c)3 organization.
[Photo credit: Quentin Tarantino, by Debbie Cerda, on Flickr]
Known for The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, Paul Greengrass brings more nonstop action to the screen in the historical action drama Green Zone, inspired by the novel "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone" by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. From April 2003 to October 2004, Chandrasekaran was The Washington Post's bureau chief in Baghdad, covering the American occupation of Iraq and supervising a team of correspondents. He lived in Baghdad for much of the six months before the war, reporting on the United Nations weapons-inspections process and the build-up to the conflict.
Director Greengrass joins forces with Hurt Locker cinematographer Barry Ackroyd and re-teams with Bourne lead Matt Damon, who plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller. The story begins in the first month of the U.S.-led occupation of Baghdad in 2003, when Miller and his team are dispatched to find weapons of mass destruction believed to be stockpiled in various Iraqi locations, but come up emptyhanded. Everything points to the intelligence being flawed, but high officials stand by their source. Instead of searching for chemical agents, Chief Miller begins looking for the truth. Standing in his way is Washington's mouthpiece Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear), who is too intent on advancing his mission to rebuild Iraq as an American-style democracy.
Each year the SXSW Film Festival and Conference supports the Austin film community by hosting special screenings by local film-related nonprofit organizations. As part of the Austin Media Arts Committee (AMAC) series, Austin Film Society, Austin School of Film and Reel Women have each compiled two programs that showcase their members' work. All SXSW badgeholders and non-badgeholders are encouraged to come out and check out the showcases. Audiences will also have the opportunity to vote on their favorite Reel Women short, and the winning filmmaker will receive a special award package.
The Austin School of Film has not released their lineup yet for their screenings on Sunday, March 14 at noon and Monday, March 15 at 2 pm. The Austin Film Society and Reel Women have made their programs available. Here's the 2010 lineup:
Austin Film Society Program for Saturday, March 13 at noon (70 mins)
- Make a Wish, dir. David Ward
- Squeezed Out of Business, dir. Chithra Jeyaram
- The Alligator, dir. Jeff Marrow
- Seeds of Change, dir. Kelly West
- Big Hands, dir. Aaron Holloway
- Manos de Madre, dir. Greg Kwedar
- Platypus Rex in: ABC-Hole, dir. Bob Ray
- I Love You, Will Smith, dir. Bradley Jackson
- Never Do This, dir. Scott Rice
- To Do That, dir. Jason Brenizer
- Der Vater, dir. James Moore
- El Pez, dir. Brian Scofield
- Shades of the Border, dir. Patrick Smith
- The Shrimp, dir. Keith Wilson
In conjunction with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, SXSW returns to the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center with several events open to the general public. This year's evening events include:
- "Blacks in Technology" on Friday, March 12 (6 pm-9 pm) and
- "Latinos in Technology" Sunday, March 14 (6 pm-9 pm)
Carver will also host the Texas High School Shorts on Saturday, March 13 at 5 pm. This showcase serves as a preview of the next filmmaking generation, as Texas high school students present shorts of 5 minutes or less.
Also screening for free at Carver is The Work of Alan Govenar: Part 1, Sunday, March 14 at 2 pm, featuring:
- Little Willie Eason and His Talking Gospel Guitar (2005) takes the stage of the street and a House of God Church south of Miami to highlight the man who introduced the pedal steel guitar as an instrument to express his deep-seeded faith.
Although he hails from Baltimore, documentary filmmaker Mike Woolf is now firmly planted in Austin and no stranger to SXSW. In 2000, he started Beef and Pie Productions with renowned photographer/DP Andrew Yates and producer Karen Yates. Four of their short docs including Growin’ A Beard, The 72oz Steak, Tuesday Nighter and Life is Marbleous have premiered at SXSW. I caught Growin' A Beard at SXSW in 2003, and was amazed to see how the filmmakers made an engaging documentary based on an annual beard-growing contest in Shamrock, Texas.
The Beef and Pie Productions team has now taken on their first full-length documentary, Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission, featuring a certain local entrepreneur and the first second-generation astronaut. I had the chance to sit down with Mike Woolf at the Draught House -- hence all the beer references -- to discuss his latest project. Here's what he had to say:
What attracted you to Man on a Mission and how did you get involved with this subject?
Both Brady Dial [producer] and I have known Richard Garriott through a mutual friend. We knew this wasn't just a $30 million vacation for Richard. We knew that he would be the first son of an astronaut to go to space ... that alone was enough to consider following him. We knew his dad Owen Garriott was involved in his mission, and we learned that Richard had basically pioneered private space travel to make this happen. Finally, Richard is a born storyteller -- that's what his games are about, his haunted houses and his mansion. Put that all together and we knew it was worth trying to make this project happen.
South by Southwest Film Festival and Conference is a particularly busy time for the folks over at Austin Film Society (AFS). Their biggest annual event is the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards, which is being held on Thursday, March 11 at Austin Studios. SXSW Film provides the opportunity for AFS to showcase several of their filmmakers' short films at the Austin Media Arts Committee (AMAC) special screenings at the Hideout. Many AFS Texas Filmmakers Production Fund (TFPF) award winners will also be premiering their films at SXSW, including Austin filmmaker Miguel Alvarez (Mnemosyne Rising).
These SXSW special events couldn't happen without two critical AFS staff members, Agnes Varnum and Bryan Poyser. Agnes has been busy for weeks in preparation of the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards, and is one of the featured panelists for "How to Rawk SXSW Film." Attendees learn from professionals in the industry how to make meaningful connections with all the independent film and new media professionals in town for the event. Bryan coordinates the AMAC screenings for AFS at the Hideout, hosts a Texas Filmmakers Production Fund Workshop, and as one of my favorite panel moderators is part of the "The Kids are Alright: Jay and Mark Duplass Plus" panel. Even more exciting, Bryan's film Lovers of Hate -- well-received at last month's Sundance Film Festival -- is also screening at SXSW. I caught up to this dynamic duo by email for an interview, and here's what they had to say.
Over 175 people attended the first VideoCamp Austin last Saturday, February 27, and the event was a rousing success. Co-organizers Talmadge Boyd and Weston Norton of Reel Social Media and Lights. Camera. Help. co-founder David Neff coordinated the event, which took place at The University of Texas at Austin's Jesse H. Jones Communication Center. Local aspiring filmmakers and videobloggers learned techniques and tricks of the trade from fellow attendees with years of experience.
VideoCamp Austin followed the barcamp model of the "unconference," in which a large piece of paper was taped to the wall with a handwritten schedule on it. Sessions were written on stickies and then placed in open time slots. Folks who showed up early to sign up had an idea of what they wanted to talk about, such as Arts from the Streets filmmaker Layton Blaylock's presentation on making a documentary. However, spontaneity was the main focus, as Rachel Farris of PetRelocation.com learned. She didn't have a presentation prepped, but used PetRelocation's Pup in the Air videos to demonstrative the effectiveness of "Using Online Video in Your Business." Air Sex World Championship host Chris Trew of The New Movement taught an "Improv Comedy in a Video and Filmmaking" session where a few of the attendees were pulled into the demonstration.
Based on the 1973 George Romero movie by the same name, the 2010 version of The Crazies, adapted by screenwriters Ray Wright and Scott Kosar, strips away the social and political aspects that were rampant in the original. Nowadays moviegoers don't need much convincing to believe that the military could seize a town and cover up bioweapons. Director Breck Eisner seems to pride himself on using as little exposition as possible to keep the plot cruising along. The result is a rollercoaster ride, as building tensions keep viewers on the edge of their seats and then out of them when the insanity and horror takes over.
The basic plot of The Crazies remains: Residents of the small Iowan town of Ogden Marsh are suddenly plagued by insanity and death after their water supply is contaminated. When the town drunk Rory Hamill (Mike Hickman) shows up to a high school baseball game with a rifle, he's shot dead by local sheriff David Dutton (Tim Olyphant) when he fails to respond and drop his weapon. It's assumed that Rory was heavily intoxicated -- only he's been on the wagon for two years and his blood alcohol content confirms it. While Sheriff Dutton along with Deputy Russell Clark (Joe Anderson) tries to find an explanation for Rory's strange behavior and also investigate reports of a plane crash in the local creek, his wife Dr. Judy Dutton (Radha Mitchell) attempts unsuccessfully to identify what's wrong with another resident. The man is almost catatonic, and later that night he sets fire to his house after locking his wife and son in a closet.
Last year, Slackerwood featured a Guide to Austin Summer Film Camps that listed local day camps for kids interested in making movies. Although Tuesday's snowfall might make you think that summer's far away, it's never too soon to enroll in these highly sought-after programs.
Here are a couple of Austin summer film camps that have already opened registration for this year ... for kids a bit older than the budding filmmaker pictured at right.
Austin Film Festival's Young Filmmakers Program is proud to present the eighth annual Summer Film Camp. The camp offers students unparalleled access to in-depth, personal instruction on screenwriting, filmmaking and claymation from local industry professionals. This year, the camp's workshops and panels will take place at Austin High School.