This year's SXSW Community Screening: Austin Film Society ShortCase will be held Sunday, March 10 at 4 pm in Boyd Vance Theater at the Carver Museum, and will feature short films by Central Texas filmmakers ranging from science fiction to history, comedy to documentary. The screening is open to the general public (and free), but seating is limited so I suggest arriving early.
This year over 65 entries were submitted by AFS filmmakers. AFS Program and Operations Manager Ryan Long, AFS Marketing and Events Coordinator Austin Culp and I worked together to select the seven best films to fill the 90-minute screening time. We saw a lot of creative content representing the talent of AFS filmmakers, and we hope the SXSW audience will enjoy these films as much as we do.
For filmmakers who didn't make the cut, we hope that you'll submit films for future ShortCase events and take advantage of the programs available to the AFS filmmaker members.
Without further ado, here are this year's SXSW ShortCase films:
I'm passionate about short films -- as evidenced by my role as a programmer for Austin Film Society's ShortCase series -- and hope to see quite a few at Sundance this coming week. A record number of 8,102 short films were submitted for the 2013 Sundance Short Film program, with only 65 short films making the cut.
You don't have to trek to Park City to enjoy some of these shorts -- a dozen of the best are now available online in The Screening Room, a YouTube channel curated by Sundance short film programmers. Austin represents with local writer/director Kat Candler's Black Metal, starring Jonny Mars (Saturday Morning Massacre, Hellion) and Heather Kafka (Lovers of Hate). This short yet powerful and evocative piece leaves viewers wanting more of the story of Ian, a death metal rocker who must deal with the consequences of a fan's actions.
Watch Black Metal here after the jump.
Science fiction is an often under-represented genre in local film festivals, but this year's Austin Film Festival (AFF) has been quite the exception, especially with AFF Shorts Program 8 "The Future Now." This program boasts not only high quality filmmaking, but also features some heavy-hitting new filmmakers and recognizable cast members. I was amazed by the evocative nature of each film, whether the emotional reaction brought forth was laughter, awe or tears.
By far I was most impressed with HENRi, directed by Eli Sasich, which was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2010 for which Sasich continues to provide updates to his backers. Set in the future, a derelict spaceship controlled by Hybrid Electronic/Neuron Responsive Intelligence -- HENRi for short -- and powered by a human brain, has begun to experience disjointed memories of its original owner. Find out more about this film that pays homage to sci-fi greats such as 2001: Space Odyssey and Isaac Asimov's "Laws of Robotics" after the jump, as well as both local and international short films featured in "The Future Now" program.
What better way to wrap up Slackerwood's Fantastic Fest 2012 coverage than with a look at the two Austin-made shorts that screened during the festival, both of which I enjoyed? And what could be more fitting than to publish this article on the day that Fantastic Fest selection Sinister, written by an Austinite, opens in U.S. theaters? (I love it when I can find a reason that doesn't look like procrastination on my part.)
Dialogue is a very short short -- about one minute long -- from the Austin filmmakers pictured above. Christopher Palmer, Josh Johnson and Carolee Mitchell took a break from working on their upcoming documentary about VHS tapes, Rewind This, to shoot this unsettling conversation between a couple (Daniel Sergeant and Samantha Pitchel) about something unusual that's happening to one of them. The short film is set in a living room but it's not the setting that's creepy. It was a perfect fit for Fantastic Fest, is all I'm going to say. Johnson wrote and directed, Mitchell produced, and Palmer worked on post-production.
The City of Austin is looking for short movies for their Faces of Austin 2013 project. The shorts can be music videos, documentaries, narrative -- anything that depicts the vibrancy and diversity of our fair city. As in years past, selected entries will premiere during Community Screenings at the SXSW Film Festival, and then be shown at City Hall, on Channel 6 and in other showcases throughout the upcoming year.
Entries to this program must be made by a local filmmaker (or commissioned through an Austin organization) and filmed in Austin or about Austin-area topics and organizations. The short must be 10 minutes or less in length, and can't be selected by SXSW for any of its other short programs.
Well, this is a first. Slackerwood often publishes movie reviews from film-festival screenings. Even film conferences. But software conferences? Never been done -- until now.
chunky_bacon is a short documentary from Austin filmmaker Kevin Triplett. The film premiered earlier this month at the Lone Star Ruby Conference. Ruby is a programming language that's been the foundation for many of the so-called Web 2.0 sites that ushered in the age of the interactive and social web.
The doc recounts the work and ultimate death of the persona known as Why the Lucky Stiff, or just _why to his friends. _why was known throughout the Ruby community not only as a stunningly prolific programmer, but also an artist. His most famous creation was a free book called Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby. It's an odd, loopy software manual intertwined with strange narrative and punctuated by twisted Lynda Barry-like cartoons. It aims to teach Ruby programming to non-programmers -- you know, artsy types, not pocket-protecter-wearing, technical certification wielding, Microsoft-worshipping nerds.
Then one day, _why decided -- for reasons unknown -- to commit digital suicide. He removed all traces of his creations from the web: the posts, the code repositories, the wonderful book. And then he died.
The 48 Hour Film Project competition happens this summer, and there will be a meet-and-greet on Thursday, July 19 for folks interested in taking part. Thursday's free get-together [RSVP here] will be held at Vuka Coop from 7-10 pm with music provided by DJ kidGorilla. Registration for August's project will be held at the event -- it's $140 until July 30 (when the registration price increases).
The project gives participants 48 hours (August 24-26) to complete a short film; more than 4,000 films are expected to be created through this year's international competitions. Screenings of the Austin-made films will be held on August 28-30, when the shorts will be scored by the audience and a special panel. The film that wins Austin's competition will then show at Filmapalooza, the annual awards put on by the 48 Hour Film Project, and could make its way to the screens at Cannes 2013.
By Sara Grauerholz
Going into The Show! I didn’t exactly know what to expect, but after reading that the evening would be filled with stand-up comedy, sketch comedy and short films, I knew I'd have to check it out.
Austin comedian Ramin Nazer acted as emcee throughout the night, which started with some stand-up comedy, and also introduced sketch team Spirit Desire. Several Spirit Desire video clips played on a large screen, and the group also performed live sketches. The group did some fake advertisements, including a reimagining of the characters from Peanuts in their adult years, living on the streets with Pig-Pen, the local drug dealer. Another bit imagined what it would be like if Ray Romano had a dinosaur for a child. These, of course, were all extremely funny, but let’s get into what we want to know more about: the films.
After all of the comedy that started the show, I assumed the films would be in the same style, but they were surprisingly serious. The first one up was Benny, which was a finalist in the Student Academy Awards this year and screened at a number of fests, including Austin Film Festival. Huay Bing Law shot the film while a student at The University of Texas at Austin.
By Zach Endres
Why did we name the planets after Roman gods?
There's probably a simple explanation, but I have my own theory. Like the Roman gods, the planets are larger-than-life empyrean bodies, and like the Roman gods these planets have an intimate relation with the tiny Earthlings who observe them. We at least subconsciously saw in these celestial bodies the tenants of ancient gods, who held a power too vast to be contained on Earth, yet were somehow able to fiddle with our lives on a day-to-day basis. The planet Jupiter doesn't actually come down from its cosmic Mount Olympus to lay with its lovers, but it does flex its influence in more ways than you'd expect.
For example, when I was a child I purchased a book at one of those book fairs that were set up in our elementary-school library. We always looked forward to these rare occasions for the sole reason that we were let out of class early to explore. The book I found was hefty, its cover bordered by a bland beige, but within that border was a picture that depicted a series of orbs, overlapping slightly and placed in a ring-like manner around a massive ball of fire. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and yes, Pluto, all huddled around Mother Sun in a factually inaccurate but artistically forgivable composition.
After finding this book, I spent many nights gazing at the pictures inside, fantasizing about the wide, star-ridden blackness that hung over my head and all that it contained: the red eye of Jupiter, the receding icy hairline of Mars, the rings of Saturn, the tilt of Uranus ... Although I knew I'd never visit them, I found a means to relate to them via that book as I sprawled in bed with a flashlight. They seemed so far away, but that book brought them closer to me, and they truly became my neighbors. Distant gods found their way into my life, and they weren't so distant anymore.
Just as I found a personal tie to the planets, a handful of experimental filmmakers took those seemingly far-off spheres and connected with them in their own ways. A collection of 12 experimental short films commissioned by Cinemad and Rooftop Films screened under the banner of "Orbit!" at the Fusebox Festival on April 30. If you missed the shorts, many are available to watch online.
The 2012 Cine Las Americas International Film Festival kicked off Tuesday night and runs through the weekend. This year's program includes four short films made in Texas -- in the fest's Hecho en Tejas category, naturally.
Two of the Texas shorts were also part of the City of Austin's "Faces of Austin 2012" project. All four films will show at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar over the weekend.
Sam Lerma's Lilia was produced in San Antonio. The film, which premiered at the 2011 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, focuses on a family after the father loses his job. How will he care for 5-year-old Lilia? This short screens before Hombre y tierra on Saturday, April 28 at 1:45 pm. Producer Ralph Lopez and actress Lauren Montemayor will be there.
In Open Your Eyes, an 11-year-old goes on a journey of self-reflection. Director Adolfo R. Mora will be in attendance when this short plays on Sunday, April 29 at 11 am (before In the Shadow, another Texas-shot feature).
Through Juan A. Izaguirre's Para Vivir, the viewer is shown a day in the life of Joel, a thirtysomething undocumented immigrant. Joel ended up in Austin because he has cancer and did not have access to medications in Mexico.