Los Angeles Film Festival Loves Austin (and John Merriman)

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The Los Angeles Film Festival has a heavy dose of Austin in its lineup this year. Not only that, but I've counted at least three films involving local actor John Merriman (pictured above with Kerri Lendo at AFF 2010). Is there some sort of conspiracy afoot? Is he becoming the Austin version of Dick Miller? Along with the films playing at LAFF, I've been on set visits this year for two upcoming movies with Merriman in them, and he was in one of the SXSW bumpers this year. I think someone needs to look into this before something tragic -- or very funny -- happens.

Merriman aside, here are the Austin-connected features and shorts popping up all over LAFF in June:

  • In the narrative competition, the latest feature from Mike Akel (Chalk), An Ordinary Family, is premiering. The locally shot movie is set at a family reunion where one man shows up with his new boyfriend. The cast includes Chalk cast members Troy and Janelle Schremmer, The Happy Poet filmmaker/actor Paul Gordon and yes, Mr. Merriman.
  • Akel's competition in this category includes a film from Steve Collins, the former Austinite whose previous feature, Gretchen, won him the LAFF Target Filmmaker Award in 2006. You Hurt My Feelings, also havings its world premiere at LAFF, is about a man who becomes a nanny to show his ex-girlfriend that he would make a good father. The leads are three actors who starred in Gretchen -- Courtney Davis, Macon Blair and ... John Merriman. You Hurt My Feelings is produced by Anish Savjani, who produced Gretchen as well as a number of other Austin films.
  • The Summer Showcase category at LAFF includes two Austin films: Natural Selection (Debbie's review), which swept the SXSW narrative feature competition awards this year; and the documentary Where Soldiers Come From (my review), which won an editing award at SXSW for Kyle Henry and filmmaker Heather Courtney.
  • Two Texas shorts from SXSW will screen at LAFF: Dallas filmmaker David Lowery's lovely film Pioneer, which premiered at Sundance (our SXSW coverage); and Austin animator Eric Power's cool short Jeremy Messersmith, "Tatooine", which you can watch below.

Jeremy Messersmith - Tatooine from Eric Power on Vimeo.

  • Another Austin short featured at LAFF is Sleep Study, which Jenn Brown enjoyed at Austin Film Festival last year. The comedy was written and directed by Kerri Lendo and -- no points for guessing -- John Merriman, and the title is fairly self-explanatory. Sleep Study just aired on KLRU as part of the third episode of AFF's On Story series, which means you can watch the film online.

[Photo credit: Kerri Lendo and John Merriman at AFF 2010, by Jenn Brown]