Debbie Cerda's blog
Texas singer-songwriter Buddy Holly was immortalized onscreen in Steve Rash's 1978 movie The Buddy Holly Story, brilliantly played by Gary Busey (pictured above). The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz presents a special screening of a new 35mm print for this week's Music Monday as well as an additional screening Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday at Alamo Village, Cine Las Americas presents Anita as part of their Signature Series, co-presented by the Austin Jewish Film Festival. Anita is a young Argentinian woman with Down syndrome who lives with her mother Dora (Academy Award nominee Norma Aleandro) until tragedy strikes nearby. Anita must then fend for herself as she ventures out across Buenos Aires and encounters other survivors of the deadliest bombing in Argentina's history. After viewing the opening clip, I can't wait to see what happens next.
Elizabeth already covered the Stateside Independent special screening of Academy Award foreign film nominee War Witch on Monday but I want to reiterate -- don't miss this powerful story about a young female child soldier.
The Austin Film Society's Essential Cinema presents the Turkish film Toll Booth on Tuesday at the Alamo Drafthouse Village. Introverted toll booth officer Kenan may seem to live a humdrum life but his imagination more than makes up for it in this darkly humorous drama.
I was quite excited to hear that one of my favorite music documentaries at Sundance Film Fest was coming to SXSW 2013: Sound City, directed by Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. This film was a perfect fit for Austin, with Grohl's focus on the human element of music as well as the vanishing technology and places that built and supported music for decades.
Grohl delivered an inspirational keynote at SXSW Music Festival -- which you can watch on NPR Music -- that expanded on some of our conversation just before the SXSW premiere. Grohl was joined by fellow members of the Foo Fighters, Lee Ving of Fear, and the Sound City Players. Find out what he had to say, as well as see other famous rockers who were on the red carpet, after the jump.
There's never a short supply of well known actors at SXSW Film Festival promoting their feature-length movies, but it's not often that you'll find stars representing short films. However, this year one short film stood out for its female-driven story supported by strong performances from familiar faces Anna Camp and Ashley Williams -- Sequin Raze, directed by former reality television producer and writer/director Sarah Gertrude Shapiro. The film won an Honorable Mention jury award for narrative shorts at SXSW.
Sequin Raze takes viewers behind the scene of a hit reality TV show as jilted contestant Rebecca (Camp) attempts to leave with her dignity while battling producer Rebecca Goldberg (Williams), who must get the "money shot" for ratings. The pair engage in a psychological battle from which only one woman can emerge victorious -- but at what price? This riveting film made such an impact on me that I'll never look at reality television in the same way. I spoke with stars Camp and Williams as well as writer/director Shapiro at SXSW earlier this month about Sequin Raze.
Slackerwood (to Shapiro): What can you tell us about the background and realization for Sequin Raze?
Sarah Gertrude Shapiro: Legally I can't be super-specific about what the inspiration was, but it was inspired by a moment in my life. I did work in reality TV, so there's obviously those parts of my life informed it a lot. I think it was a really poignant moment that kind of folded into the layers of all that and encapsulated all the struggles that I had during that time, and a lot of specific scars that I'm left with and I still struggle with based on that experience. It was more than a specific incident that I built off. It was all of these themes, ideas and feelings that I deal with in all of my work. It just became the perfect place to explore them.
Ghost Ghirls is a new online comedy series presented by Yahoo!Screen that follows two young female ghostbusters as they solve mysteries of paranormal phenomena. Portrayed by comedians Amanda Lund and Maria Blasucci, the pair emulate Shawn and Gus of Psych more than Sherlock Holmes and Watson as they attempt to convince their clients and local law enforcement of their legitimacy as investigators.
Ghost Ghirls was created by Jeremy Konner, Lund and Blasucci, who also serve as executive producers -- seen above with fellow executive producer Jack Black. Konner, who is best known for his Drunk History series on Funny or Die, also directed Ghost Ghirls.
An exclusive sneak preview of two episodes of Ghost Ghirls was presented at SXSW 2013, featuring hilarious cameo appearances by Dave Grohl, Val Kilmer, Molly Shannon and numerous other celebrities. I thoroughly enjoyed the witty writing and well paced storylines, and look forward to more adventures with the paranormal pair. Following the screening, Lund and Blasucci along with Black and Konner hosted a Q&A as comical as their on-screen performances. The audience was then treated to an intimate performance by Black's band Tenacious D.
See more photos from the event after the jump.
Marathon-length viewing of 30 Rock episodes laid the groundwork for my fandom of Second City and Saturday Night Live alum Tina Fey, but it was her witty insightful book Bossypants that set my admiration of her in stone. I was a bit conflicted about reviewing the dramedy Admission both due to my bias as well as being skeptical about an onscreen romance between Fey and co-star Paul Rudd. Although Rudd is no stranger to being a romantic lead, the combination of these actors who often portray rather quirky characters left me wondering how well they would mesh. The result is a light-hearted vehicle to explore chemistry between Fey and Rudd, with veteran comedic actress Lily Tomlin stealing scenes with her portrayal of a strong feminist.
Based on a novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz and directed by Paul Weitz (About A Boy), Admission focuses on Princeton University admissions officer Portia Nathan (Fey). Portia seems to be content with her prestigious and challenging job and stable live-in relationship with English department chair Mark (Michael Sheen). However, she finds that her life is not as perfect as she has thought, having to compete with colleague Corinne (Gloria Reuben) for the coveted position of head of admissions ... and her boyfriend leaving her for his pregnant mistress.
With ten albums over almost 20 years, the Austin band The Gourds has been well established on the local scene with their raucous live performances. Kevin Russell formed the band in 1994 with fellow songwriter Jimmy Smith, and Claude Bernard on accordion, guitar and keyboards -- Keith Langford later joined the band on drums. It was the viral sensation of their cover of "Gin and Juice" that garnered them national attention, and has become their band's version of "Freebird" as the most requested song. Longtime fans of the band know that the magic of The Gourds truly comes from the communal live experience, whether witnessed at a jam-packed Thursday night show at Shady Grove or the memorable SXSW 2005 free show at Auditorium Shores with a sea of over 20,000 people.
Director and editor Doug Hawes-Davis captures the beloved band in his documentary, All The Labor, which premiered last night at SXSW 2013. Founder of the annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana, Hawe-Davis is no stranger to documentary filmmaking, having collaborated with editor Drury Gunn Carr on more than 30 documentaries.
They began filming The Gourds in August 2011. in an unconventional practice space -- an abandoned kitchen in a former mental institution in south Austin. The filmmaking team followed the alt-country roots rockers as they toured relentlessly in support of Old Mad Joy, their most recent album produced by longtime Bob Dylan sideman Larry Campbell. Interspersed is commentary with each of the members and behind-the-scenes footage in their favorite local spots and homes.
After several years in the making, Sean Gallagher's Austin-shot film Good Night debuted at SXSW -- find out more about the journey from Gallagher in Elizabeth's interview. The good news is that since this narrative provides glimpses of the past, the filmmaker was able to capture the main characters over a time span that could mirror the fictional narrative.
Good Night revolves around a young twentysomething couple, Leigh (Adriene Mishler) and Winston (Jonny Mars) Rockwall, as they gather with their closest friends to celebrate Leigh's twenty-ninth birthday. The guests enjoy casual conversation as well as controversial and current topics as they enjoy their dinner, until Leigh drops a bomb having a profound effect on them all. The guests, including Leigh's best friend Alice (Samantha Thomson), all react differently as they process the news. Through voice-overs and flashbacks we learn how each person became connected to Leigh.
Mishler is sweetly exquisite as Leigh, and Mars embraces the complexity of a husband who is frustrated by his inability to solve their problems. Good Night is also strengthened by its talented supporting cast, which includes Chris Doubek, Alex Karpovsky, University of Texas alum Todd Berger (It's a Disaster), Parisi Fakhri and Jason Newman (The Man From Orlando).
"The culture of drink endures because it offers so many rewards ... above all the elusive promise of friendship and love" -- Pete Hamill, A Drinking Life: A Memoir
The documentary Hey Bartender opens with this fitting introduction into the world of cocktails. The story introduces us to several characters in this lively and engaging film from director Douglas Tirola (All In: The Poker Movie). We are introduced first to Dunville's owner Steve Carpentieri, who is struggling to keep his small business alive in Westport, Connecticut. Cheap beer flows at this hole-in-the-wall where everyone does know your name, but fancy cocktails don't cross the bar here. Carpentieri ponders whether to throw in the towel after almost 20 years in the business.
On the other end of the spectrum is Steve Schneider, a young man trying to advance in the ranks at Employees Only (EO), one of the most prestigious bars in New York City. It can take years to succeed as an EO principal bartender -- starting as a stocker and then serving two years as an apprentice before consideration as a principal. Schneider is proud of his hard-earned apprentice jacket, perhaps a little too much after receiving well deserved press in the print media.
Just when you think it can't get any bigger, SXSW offers even more amazing content beyond its cornerstones of Film, Interactive and Music conferences. Continuing from 2012, this year's festivities include a SXSW Comedy program March 9-16 spotlighting stand-up comics, and SXSWedu from March 4-7, featuring content for educational innovation. The Tech Career Expo also returns March 8-9 in a new location at 311 East 5th Street, one block from the Austin Convention Center (ACC), open to those seeking careers in the tech and interactive media sectors.
Choosing among so many options can be difficult since the Film and Interactive conferences take place at the same time, from Friday, March 8 through Tuesday, March 12. The film festival starts on Friday as well and runs through Saturday, March 16. This guide will hopefully help you balance both Film and Interactive successfully, whether you have a badge for either conference or the Gold or Platinum badges that provide you access to both.
Quite a bit has changed over the last year in the Austin drinking scene -- thankfully more changes for the good than the bad. Sadly, the downtown Lovejoy's Taproom and Brewery closed and the Austin Ginger Man has transitioned to a more corporate model, but plenty of new watering holes are around to satisfy patrons, especially in the growing Rainey Street bar district. One of those is Craft Pride, a craft beer bar serving only Texas beer with regularly rotating selection on 54 taps and two cask engines, as seen above. The bar is introducing the "Texas-sized pints," with most beers served in 20-ounce pint glasses to allow appropriate head for proper presentation -- a novel concept created by owners J.T. and Brandi Egli, who are also local homebrewers. Step out back into the ample beer garden for tasty grub from the Bacon Truck.
In addition to the newest Austin breweries Rogness Brewing Company and South Austin Brewing Company, on the more diverse tap walls across town you can find Texas craft beer Deep Ellum Brewing Company and Lakewood Brewing out of Dallas and Guadalupe Brewing Company from New Braunfels. From hoppy ales with citrus and floral characteristics to barrel-aged milk stouts, these breweries are delivering beers worth trying.
Several well respected breweries from other states have taken notice of the explosive growth in Texas and have moved into the Texas market. Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Lagunitas Brewing are the latest and greatest to offer their award-winning beers here. Be sure to try the Fusion Series beer made exclusively for SXSW 2013, a hoppy ale created by local homebrewers Keith Bradley of the Austin Zealots and Bob Kapusinski of the Texas Carboys that they brewed with Lagunitas head brewer Jeremy Marshall.