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AFF 2011 Interview: Brian Hoffman, 'Deep In The Heart'

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The 18th Austin Film Festival is almost here. To help celebrate all the locally connected movies at this year's fest, we've reached out to a number of filmmakers to find out about their Austin and Texas-tied films screening at AFF, and to hear about what they're looking forward to doing during the festival.

Deep In The Heart, starring Jon Gries (Natural Selection, Real Genius) and Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), is premiering at AFF. Writer and producer Brian Hoffman (Corked) talks about the real-life story behind the script and his favorite spots in Austin. Hoffman is pictured above with director Christopher Cain on the set in Georgetown.

Slackerwood:  Describe your film for us, in a quick and dirty paragraph.   

Brian Hoffman:  It is the true story of a Texas man, Richard "Dick" Wallrath, whose personal demons caused him to hit rock bottom. After losing everything -- jobs, his family, hope -- Dick found faith, picked himself up and trudged on to eventually earn back the love of his children, build a successful window company and become the highest all-time individual donor to Texas 4-H and Future Farmers of America. Wallrath’s story proves hope is found Deep in the Heart.

AFF 2011 Interview: Brandon Dickerson, 'Sironia'

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The 18th Austin Film Festival is almost here. To help celebrate all the locally connected movies at this year's fest, we've reached out to a number of filmmakers to find out about their Austin and Texas-tied films screening at AFF, and to hear about what they're looking forward to doing during the festival.

Austin-based filmmaker Brandon Dickerson's feature film debut Sironia features music by Texas singer-songwriter Wes Cunningham, who also co-wrote the script with Dickerson and Thomas Ward. Dickerson, pictured above on the right with actress Amy Acker and Wes Cunningham, shares some very personal stories about how the story and the film began. Audiences may not recognize all the names of cast and crew, but may notice a lot of familiar faces onscreen. The cast includes Jeremy Sisto, Carrie Preston and Ryan Cartwright, not to mention Dallas-born actress Acker.

Slackerwood: Describe your film for us, in a quick and dirty paragraph.

Brandon Dickerson: I've had some folks describe Sironia as "Once meets Away We Go," which I'm cool with. Music plus love story. In simplest terms ... the film is inspired by the music of singer-songwriter Wes Cunningham.

Slackery News Tidbits, October 18

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Here's the latest Austin film news and info on upcoming screenings.

  • Andrew Bujalski's new film will put you in check. The critically acclaimed local filmmaker announced on the United States Artists website that his movie Computer Chess is expected for a TBA festival release in the first half of next year. Computer Chess revolves around chess players and computer programmers at a computer chess tournament in the 1980s. Bujalski scoured Austin not only for nerd look-alikes to cast, but also vintage computers. Omar Gallaga has a great story on Austin360 about finding equipment from the appropriate era. Computer Chess. The Austin film is a 2011 Texas Filmmakers Production Fund recipient and also raised more than $50,000 in crowdfunded donations through United States Artists.
  • Not attending AFF this weekend? Cinema East is kicking off its fall series at 8 pm Saturday with the indie movie Vacation!. Vacation! is the story of four friends from college who reunite for a week of sun, sand and murder. Brooklyn-based director Zach Clark will be in attendance.
  • Get ready to get your scream on, October 28-30 at the Paramount Theatre. Classic horror movies, such as, The Wolfman, Bride of Frankenstein, Night of the Living Dead and Re-Animator will be shown in all of their 35mm gory glory. Double the fright factor by visiting the Paramount's haunted house. Bagged candy donations for Austin children and/or attending incognito will score you a free macabre martini.

AFF 2011 Interview: Kelvin Phillips and Carla Jackson, 'A Swingin' Trio'

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The 18th Austin Film Festival is almost here. To help celebrate all the locally connected movies at this year's fest, we've reached out to a number of filmmakers to find out about their Austin and Texas-tied films screening at AFF, and to hear about what they're looking forward to doing during the festival.

Writer-director Kelvin Phillips and producer/partner Carla Jackson made A Swingin' Trio here in Austin. A Swingin' Trio is their first feature film.

Slackerwood: Describe your film for us, in a quick and dirty paragraph.

Kelvin Phillips: It's a film about a married couple who find themselves at an impasse. The wife, Trude Garçon-Moore, is at the start of an exploding career as a film producer. She's "busy, busy" as her husband, Homer Garçon likes to remind her. Homer is a "househusband" of sorts; he's a smart and talented writer, but it hasn't happened for him yet, and now he's frustrated and suspicious about his wife's activities. The movie is about what could happen in a marriage when one partner's success eclipses the other. Or when someone feels trapped in a situation (marriage, job, whatever) and how they can subconsciously sabotage things to free themselves.

AFF 2011 Interview: Mike Akel, 'An Ordinary Family'

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The 18th Austin Film Festival is almost here. To help celebrate all the locally connected movies at this year's fest, we've reached out to a number of filmmakers to find out about their Austin and Texas-tied films screening at AFF, and to hear about what they're looking forward to doing during the festival.

A few years ago the (mostly) Austin-shot Chalk was the talk of Austin Film Festival. Now director Mike Akel is back in town with his latest film, An Ordinary Family. Akel is now based in Houston, but there are still some recognizable Texas locations in his feature, along with some familiar faces from Chalk.

Slackerwood: Describe your film for us, in a quick and dirty paragraph.

Mike Akel: An Ordinary Family is Modern Family meets Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

An Ordinary Family is a humorous drama about one family, two brothers and a really big problem. Thomas Biederman is blindsided when his estranged brother, Seth, shows up unannounced to the annual family vacation ... with his boyfriend.

AFF 2011: Planning Your Casual Celebrity Encounters

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As much as we all like to think we're above celebrity watching, it's part of the fun at film festivals. And this year's Austin Film Festival has an eclectic mix of celebrities, both local and national. Below are the big names in attendance, and by no means a complete list of all guests in attendance at AFF this year.

Local filmmaker Mike Judge will be at AFF to present a special preview screening of a new edition of Beavis and Butt-Head on Sunday; the screening is open to the public (although badges and passes get priority seating). There will also be an exclusive premiere party for Producers Badge holders after the screening. If you were paying attention to TBA slots in the AFF Program Guide, that takes up one of the three slots; one is still unnnnounced and The Artist, a previously announced film, is taking the Tuesday, October 25 at 7 pm Paramount slot.

James Franco (pictured above from a previous Austin visit) will be back in town, attending a special regional premiere for his new film Sal on October 23. With only two premieres of this movie before AFF (including Venice Film Festival), this is a highly anticipated event at this year’s festival.

AFF 2011 Interview: Andrew Disney, 'Searching for Sonny'

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The 18th Austin Film Festival is almost here. To help celebrate all the locally connected movies at this year's fest, we've reached out to a number of filmmakers to find out about their Austin and Texas-tied films screening at AFF, and to hear about what they're looking forward to doing during the festival.

Searching for Sonny was filmed in the Fort Worth area by first-time feature director Andrew Disney, with a very recognizable cast including Jason Dohring, perhaps best known from his role on Veronica Mars. Disney and Dohring who will be in attendance at the film's AFF screenings along with cast members Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney. As Disney points out in the interview, Dohring isn't the only recognizable name or face in the cast.

Slackerwood: Describe your film for us, in a quick and dirty paragraph.

Andrew Disney: Searching for Sonny is an indie comedy mystery movie. It's a ride film that I hope feels like Big Lebowski and Rushmore had a baby. And that baby is on crack. We're a bunch of Texas filmmakers who tried to to create a big-looking Hollywood-feeling stylish flick with a very indie-sized crew on an incredibly indie-sized budget. Perfect film to watch with a beer and friends.

Review: The Thing

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The Thing

There's a funny thing about 2011's The Thing. A few things, actually. It's funny that the film is almost a carbon copy of its original, which itself was a remake of another film. Yeah, this is essentially a remake of a remake. Though it's marketed as a prequel, and we'll finally get to see what exactly happened to the Norwegians whose station lay abandoned in John Carpenter's class film from 1982, The Thing is still pretty much exactly the same movie from 1982. It's funny how when a movie like this is almost an exact replica of its original how much it makes that film almost unwatchable, but it does. If this film had any other name, it might have been an all right standalone horror film, but The Thing burdens itself with the weight of its predecessor, and it collapses under all that pressure.

During a routine expedition in Antarctica, a group of Norwegians come across a remarkable discovery, something that has never been seen before by human eyes. The man in charge of the expedition seeks out Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a young but surely experienced paleontologist. Upon arriving in Antarctica, it's clear that this is no normal discovery, but once they get their find back to camp, strange things start happening to the crew.

Review: Footloose

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Footloose

Director Craig Brewer has two critical hits to his name. Both Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan were exceptional works from a natural talent. Now, Brewer has taken on the challenge of remaking an 80s classic with Footloose, but the real challenge for him has been one of marketing a fantastic work that people are too ready to dismiss as a blasphemy without having even seen it. In fact, Brewer is perhaps the world's biggest fan of the 1984 movie that made Kevin Bacon a star. He has taken the film on the road, touring cities around the US and stopped in Austin a couple of weeks before Fantastic Fest to present the movie along with star Kenny Wormald. (see photos here)

Brewer has realized an updated yet timeless version of the story about a city boy who brings dance back to a small town paralyzed with grief. Fans of the original will find it hard to dislike this one. Footloose is the same movie in almost every way, but with a couple of background adjustments that result in a better presentation. Nothing revolutionary, but I won't spoil them. You may not even notice consciously, but the result is stronger character motivation and a better film.

Dennis Quaid is much more relatable as a grieving father than the unflinching fire-and-brimstone preacher portrayed by John Lithgow in 1984. This is where Brewer's vision departs from the original. This isn't a story about religious intolerance, and the script makes a pointed remark on that if it wasn't already clear. Kenny Wormald's Ren is a richer, more complex portrayal, still headstrong but more of a golden boy than Bacon's take on the role, and he has a strong relationship with his uncle Wes Warnicker (Ray McKinnon)

Footloose is a movie about dancing, of course, and the cast reflects that. Wormald has been dancing since the age of 6, is an instructor, and was previously seen in You Got Served. Costar Julianne Hough, who plays preacher's daughter Ariel Moore, is best known from Dancing With the Stars. It is Miles Teller's performance as Willard, however, that makes the biggest impression. Following up a strong dramatic performance in last year's Rabbit Hole, he shows breadth as the comic relief here in a very demanding physical role. In fact, the only weak character was Andie MacDowell's Vivien Moore, a part written with the belief in mind that a reverend's wife should be seen and not heard. In most scenes, she smiles and is silent.

Movies This Week: The Footloose Firefly Weekend Way

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Need to get your "free" on? The Whole Foods Sunset Supper Cinema tonight features Hook at the Lamar location. On Wednesday, Cine Las Americas presents Rosa blanca (White Rose) plays at the MACC as part of its free "Literature in Mexican Cinema" series. Plus, you can find free screenings during the week as part at various Austin Public Library locations.

You have one more chance to catch Austin Chronicle cover-story filmmaker Heather Courtney's Where Soldiers Come From (Jette's review), on Saturday at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz. If you haven't already seen it, it's another outstanding locally made film we can't recommend enough.

Cine Las Americas also presents Octubre at the Alamo Village on Sunday. While this movie isn't free, it did win the 2010 Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes. Check the Alamo website for more.

Movies We've Seen:

El Bulli: Cooking in Progress (pictured above) -- A documentary about the process of developing and delivering some of the most unique cousine at what was considered the world's best restaurant, as well as the imagination of chef Ferran Adrià. Read my review for more ... then go to dinner; you will be hungry. (Violet Crown)

Fireflies in the Garden -- This semi-autobiographical drama of family reconciliation was filmed in Austin, Bastrop and Smithville with an all-star cast. J.C. says, "Never judge a book by its cover and Fireflies in the Garden is a good example why." Read his review for details. (Cinemark Tinseltown)

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