Special Screenings and Events

'The School of Rock' 10-Year Reunion with Richard Linklater, Jack Black and Mike White in Attendance

I was 12 years old when I first saw The School of Rock, about a cash-strapped, wannabe rock star who poses as a substitute teacher at a prep school. I saw it with a few of my cousins who are of similar age, and the Jack Black-fronted comedy inspired us to start our own short-lived Partridge Family-esque rock band. Those four years of piano lessons and my desire to be the next Stevie Nicks (the Fleetwood Mac years, before she started sounding like a goat) proved to be beneficial in both delighting and annoying my family members during holiday get togethers. This is the reason I'm now a writer. (Being a traveling musician would have worn too much on my mother's conscience, anyway.)

So, imagine my surprise when I heard about the AFS and Cirrus Logic-sponsored 10-year reunion of The School of Rock, which takes place at 7pm on Aug. 29 at the Paramount Theatre. Besides feeling really old, I'm debating whether or not I should dust off those ivories and re-think my career choice. (I knew I should have taken that college radio DJ up on his offer to play tambourine for an obscure traveling rock band instead of graduating with degrees in English and mass communication this May.) Maybe I should ask Jack Black what he'd do in my situation, since he's scheduled to be in attendance at the reunion along with the film's Austin-based director Richard Linklater, writer/co-star Mike White and some of the cast members who made up the fictional band. 

Slamdance Brings Its Best to Austin This Weekend

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Slamdance On The Road: AUSTIN Playbill

As I'd mentioned in my Sundance wrap-up, I was quite pleased to catch part of the concurrent Slamdance Film Festival while in Park City, Utah. You don't need to leave Austin, however, to catch some of the great films featured at the independent film festival this year, including some Texas shorts.

Slamdance hits the road this month with "Slamdance on the Road," a traveling showcase featuring 2013 Grand Jury award winners and local film shorts. The first stop is here in  Austin on Saturday night at the Stateside Theatre. It's a double-feature, starting with Slamdance 2013's best documentary Bible Quiz and Austin short Hearts of Napalm, and ending with best feature narrative The Dirties and Texas-made short Winkelmann, TX. Filmmakers will be in attendance for post-screening Q&A.

Local filmmaker and Slamdance alumnus Bryan Poyser (Lovers of Hate, The Fickle) will also participate in a "Slamdance On The Road Coffee With..." with writer/director and lead actor Matthew Johnson and writer/producer Matthew Miller of The Dirties, following the feature screening. I'm moderating this event and from my interaction with Johnson and Miller at Slamdance last month, I can assure an engaging discussion from the pair. Slamdance founder Peter Baxter and producer Mark Matukewicz will also be in attendance for this special event.

One of the most controversial films to screen at Slamdance, The Dirties revolves around two friends who are subjected to constant bullying while they're working on a movie for a high-school class project. As they create a revenge film around their real-life antagonists, fiction builds into darkly humorous and terrifying insights into the tragic effects of bullying in high schools.

Local short film Hearts of Napalm, written and directed by Andy Irvine, premiered at Slamdance last month and will precede The Dirties. Starring local actors Ashley Spillers and Alex Dobrenko, this film offers an intimate and humorous look at the efforts of two lovers seeking the ultimate satisfaction in bed.

BNAT1138: The End

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After BNAT1138: The Beginning and  BNAT: The Middle, we're coming to the end of Butt-Numb-a-Thon (BNAT). Don't panic. There's plenty to make it a very memorable ending.

Inappropriate Clip:  Apparently it's tradition to show something tasteless.  This year it's sumo-diapered men in a ring allowing themselves to be dry-humped by dogs, from a variety of angles, with a special guest (perhaps the MC?) wearing a penis'd afro wig.  The truly disturbing part was at least one of the men seemed to be enjoying it.

Special Presentation:  "AICN True-ish Hollywood Story."  Birthday wishes and wisecracks from JJ Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Damon Lindelof, Danny McBride, Michael Bay and Jon Favreau.  Favreau had a very special birthday/BNAT greeting, with an introduction to world premiere of the Iron Man 2 trailer. 

Trailers:  Iron Man 2, Fearless Frank, Animal Protector, The Return of Captain Invincible

Matthew Vaughn brought the not quite finished cut of Kick-Ass along with co-star Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

Texas Book Festival: Film Geeks Welcome

Texas Book FestivalAnyone else going to Texas Book Festival this weekend? I figure I haven't had quite enough fest madness with Austin Film Festival, so I'm planning to head down to the Capitol on Saturday and/or Sunday to shop for books, meet authors, and generally have a good time like the bookworm I am.

But since I'm also a film geek, I'm interested in a couple of movie-related events that are part of Texas Book Festival this year:

  • Austin Film Festival is co-sponsoring the "Survivin' Hollywood: Three Texas Movie Pros" panel on Sunday at 2 pm in Capitol Extension Room E2.014. The panel includes authors Robert Hinkle, Gary Kent, and Billy Taylor, three Texans who have recently written books about working in Hollywood. You may remember Kent's reading/signing event at BookPeople back in July. AFF co-founder Barbara Morgan will moderate. This looks like a hoot, and I'm hoping to be there.
  • Texas author Joe R. Lansdale, who wrote the story on which Bubba Ho-Tep is based, will speak on Saturday at 3:30 pm in Capitol Extension Room E2.016. Local author/film critic Rick Klaw will moderate.

'Be Here to Love Me' Screening to Benefit Local Charity

Be Here to Love Me

Be Here to Love Me, by Austin-based filmmaker Margaret Brown, documents the life of Texas singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt through a series of interviews with family and friends along with his own home footage. This film screened at the 2005 SXSW Film Festival as part of the 24 Beats per Second Series. Several Texas musicians contributed to this film, including Guy Clark, Joe Ely, Willie Nelson, Kinky Friedman, and Lyle Lovett. I've not seen the film yet, but there's a great opportunity coming up to watch the movie and benefit a local organization.

The screening on September 10 at 7 pm at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is a benefit for Austin Bat Cave (ABC), a nonprofit organization that provides children and teenagers (ages 6–18) with opportunities to develop their creative and expository writing skills through their free programs. Their volunteers provide one-on-one afterschool tutoring and support local schools through programming.

This event includes a post-screening party and 'A Conversation with Filmmaker Margaret Brown' for attendees, so get your tickets online now before they are sold out.

Check out Joe O'Connell's review of Be Here to Love Me from the Austin Chronicle.

Enter 'Intelligent Use of Water' Film Competition

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Ruthie by Sophie DiehlAnyone who's visited my personal blog will notice that I have a passion for drinking water. As part of my "day job" working as a drinking water quality specialist at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, I'm reminded on a daily basis of the importance of water. With the Texas summer heat upon us, many water systems are instituting voluntary and mandatory water restrictions to deal with current or potential water shortages. Surprisingly enough, a look at the drought map indicates a high number of the affected systems are located in Central Texas.

With that said, I am quite pleased to have stumbled across the Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition. It's the third year for this film competition that features short films about using water wisely. This year's entries are due on August 15, 2009.

Rules from their website: "Films must run between 1-10 minutes (total or excerpted time) and not exceed 25 MB in size. Films must focus on the topic of responsible water use, exploring approaches and ideas to intelligently manage and efficiently utilize earth's most precious resource. Films may be narrative, documentary, animated, experimental and/or student-made productions."

Be sure to check out some of the great finalists from past competitions, posted to the competition website. I especially loved Rainwater Harvesting (2008).

[Image credit: "Ruthie" by Sophie Diehl, used with permission from the artist.]

Fur & Film Fete Looking for Sponsors

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Brotherly Love 5, by Jenn BrownAustin has a film fetish. From the municipality to the people who keep it weird, we love cinema. Emancipet, which has provided free and low-cost neutering and other services for Austin's pets for 10 years, is capitalizing on that with their annual Fur & Film Fete.

The Fur & Film Fete includes food, drink, music, animal-themed films and a chance to mingle with other film fans who care about their pets. Sweet Leaf Tea and Tito's Vodka are supporting the event, according to an Emancipet staffer's tweet.

Last year's event featured a series of kitschy old educational films, and the previous year included a retrospective on William Wegman. Austin Film Festival's Kelly Williams is involved, so there is considerable film and film programming knowledge behind the event.

Emancipet is facing critical funding shortages due to city budget shortfalls, and needs all the help they can get to keep performing between 1,200 – 2,000 neuter procedures a month. Yes, a month. Emancipet recently completed its 100,000th neutering procedure. Not neutering pets has a lot of hidden costs, both to individual owners and the community: unwanted pet pregnancies, which result in abandoned pets, overflowing shelters, and more.

Salvage Vanguard Theater's Micro-Cinema

Salvage VanguardSalvage Vanguard Theater (2803 E. Manor Rd) is hosting screenings of local films over the next three nights, including work from Kat Candler and P.J. Raval.

Each night will have two screenings, with Jumping Off Bridges (which played SXSW 2006) at 7 pm, screening with Candler's short, Quarter to Noon. The 9 pm show will be "Fusion Shorts", including Polar Ops, and "a cinematic carousel of entertainment brought to you by the collaborative efforts of filmmaker P.J. Raval and artistic terrorist Paul Soileau."

Soileau will perform live with the films on Sunday night, with Candler doing live commentary on Monday. Tickets for one screening are only $5, and $8 for both bills.

Check the Salvage Vanguard Theater site for more information.

Diary of a BNAT Survivor, Part Two

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When we last left my BNAT Diary, I had returned to Metropolis with the loud crazy 1980s soundtrack, feeling hungry but not too tired.

12:05 am: For reasons I cannot understand now, I order a steak sandwich. At midnight. I forgot that I'm not the kind of person who can munch steak sandwiches and fries with impunity in the middle of the night. Fortunately I am the kind of person who keeps antacids in her purse. (Note to Alamo: It would be really super-cool to offer cold cereal and milk after, say, 10 pm.)

12:15 am: Metropolis ends and Harry compares False Evil Maria to Sarah Palin. "So far this BNAT seems fairly rebellious." (This turns out to be a hint.)

Diary of a Butt-Numb-a-Thon Survivor, Part One

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Once again, I survived the 24-hour-long movie marathon known as Butt-Numb-a-Thon, earlier this month. I wrote a lovely news-like article about BNAT for The Circuit, Variety's film-festival blog. If you want to find out which films were shown, that's the place to look. But there are some details that The Circuit readers probably would rather not know, or don't care about.

This year I decided to take notes on BNAT in diary form. Here are the scribbles from my notebook, with some enhancements. I'm also including photos -- you can't take photos at BNAT, so I used photos taken earlier that morning, or used stills from the movies shown.

11:00 am: Arrive at Alamo on South Lamar. The Alamo folks have set up a registration/pick up/standby area in one of the vacant stores on the other end of the strip mall. I get my badge and giant swag bags, then run back to the car to store everything. Back at the car, I grab a blanket roll and an extra sweater.

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