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Watch 'The Least of These' Online, Free

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The Least of TheseThe documentary The Least of These had its world premiere at SXSW in March. This film is about the Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, where undocumented immigrant families are detained -- sometimes for months -- before the government decides whether they can enter the country or must be deported. In 2006, when the center opened, many critics thought it looked like a jail and the families have complained that they were treated like prison inmates. Lawyers and activists stepped in to try to make changes, if not close the center outright.

This is a compelling film that I'd really recommend watching. You can read Jenn Brown's drive-by review too. Fortunately, you don't have to wait for the next film festival or wonder when The Least of These will get a distribution deal. SnagFilms, a website where you can view full-length documentaries for free, premiered the film online right after its first screening at SXSW. This means that all you have to do to watch The Least of These is to go to the bottom of this article (after the jump) and click.

Watching the Chronicle's Raucous Film Fight III

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Over at the Austin Chronicle film blog, Picture in Picture, Kimberly Jones and Josh Rosenblatt are engaged in their third Film Fight. The back-and-forth discussions are great fun to follow. This film fight is about "Writers in the Movies" and today, they're comparing screenwriters Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation) and George S. Kaufman (A Night at the Opera). I am squarely on Josh and George's side on this one, especially after hearing that "Kim Jones just admitted that she'd rather watch Funny Farm than a film by Billy Wilder." Oh, dear. That makes me sad, although if the film in question was Sabrina (I like the remake better, shut up) or Irma La Douce I would understand entirely.

One of my favorite images of writers in the movies is the sequence in Baadasssss! when Melvin Van Peebles is trying to write his script. Some gorgeous imagery there, and it felt very personal and believable. To tie this whole thing into local filmmaking, I'm trying to think of a good Austin film that portrays writers, but it's early in the morning and I'm at a loss -- suggestions? Does Baghead count?

Visit the Picture in Picture blog regularly to keep up with the sparring bloggers (they have an RSS feed, which helps, although it isn't full-text). You can comment on the Film Fight entries, and vote daily on who you think is winning the debate. Usually there's an in-person discussion near the end of each Film Fight but I haven't heard any details on such an event this time. Maybe they'll brawl after the AFF screening of Charlie Kaufman's latest film, Synecdoche, New York.

Following Austin Film on Twitter

I don't know how many of you are using Twitter, the Web-based application you also can use with your phone's text-messaging service for microblogging, social interaction, and internet whatnot. I may be describing Twitter all wrong. Omar Gallaga has a good article about it here. It's one of those newfangled Web trends the kids are all crazy about. Except that in this case, it's not only "the kids" using Twitter -- lots of Austin film groups, festivals and online publications are sharing interesting bits of info via Twitter.

Here's a list of Twitter accounts (after the jump) that you can follow if you want to keep up with Austin film news and events and gossip. I'm only including publicly accessible accounts, not the private ones. If I missed anyone, please feel free to add your Twitter info in the comments.

Another Austin Movie on Hulu: 'Slacker'

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Just a quickie to let you know that now you can watch the film that inspired the name of this website, Richard Linklater's indie sensation Slacker, on Hulu.com. In addition, Hulu's blog includes a tribute to the film from filmmaker Kevin Smith.

Cinetic Media is responsible for Hulu getting posting rights for Slacker -- former Austinite and SXSW Film director Matt Dentler now works in their digital-rights management division. So I'm sure we have Matt to thank at least partially for this free treat.

Quick Snaps: Fantastic Fest Photos on Flickr

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 The lobby

I finally posted a Flickr set for my Fantastic Fest photos from 2006 and 2007. After this year's Fantastic Fest, I'll update the set with more photos, and this time I'll try to be speedier about it.

My favorite photo in the set is probably this one from Fantastic Fest 2007, of Wiley Wiggins and Tim League. I used a compact point-and-shoot digital camera for both years of the fest, and while it fits great in a purse and can take lovely photos in the sunshine, it totally sucks for dark theaters. That's why you see so many dim and poorly focused shots -- Richard Kelly is at least recognizable, but George A. Romero and Paul Thomas Anderson are barely more than blurs.

That's not happening this year, now that I have a digital SLR camera. I'm still learning the basics, but even with everything on automatic settings I can snap a far better photo in low-light than I ever could with my itty-bitty camera. If you don't believe me, check out my set of photos from the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards earlier this year. Morgan Fairchild and ZZ Top are not blurs (Mike Judge comes close, but he barely stood still). If the Fantastic Fest screening of Zack and Miri Make a Porno includes a red-carpet event, hopefully I can snap some photos of Kevin Smith and compare them to my first red-carpet experience. Links to more sets of Fantastic Fest photos after the jump.

SXSW 2008: More Reviews and Photos

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Nerdcore Rising at ACC

Shameless self-promotion, you gotta love it. But if you want to get a better impression of SXSW than what you're reading here ... okay, it's still shameless self-promotion. Here's a list of the movie reviews and other features I wrote for Cinematical during SXSW this year:

SXSW 2008: Advice Before You Get Here

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If you're a filmmaker who is bringing a movie to South by Southwest (or any festival) this year, you really ought to read Film Festival Secrets, the website run by frequent Slackerwood contributor Chris Holland. Over the past week, Chris has posted a three-part series of helpful hints that are especially geared toward SXSW.

  • Part One focuses on last-minute preparation, and although I'm not a filmmaker I wish I'd read it earlier, because I completely forgot that I wanted a new set of business cards. (And I saw a really snazzy Moo card for Tulia, Texas this week that made me envious.)
  • Part Two offers good advice on improving your film's website, which I personally cannot agree with enough. It drives me crazy when I want to write about your film and I can't find any info or stills online. So then I pick another movie's stills to use instead. Get the hint?
  • Part Three tells you what to do before you leave for Austin, so go read it right now, before you get on the plane or in the car. Go! Now! He also links to some good guides to local restaurants, which I found helpful myself because I don't eat in that part of downtown very often.

Chris is also planning a Part Four, so keep an eye on his site this week.

Still More Austin Film Blogging and Photos

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In case you're not getting enough Austin film blogging here at Slackerwood, I thought I'd share some of my favorite recent photos and blog entries from other websites, all related to local movie stuff in one way or another.

  • Slackerwood contributor Chris Holland took some excellent photos during opening night at the Alamo Ritz. I'm having severe camera envy right now -- my delightfully small camera is incapable of taking good photos in movie theaters. The photo with the confetti is amazing.
  • Sarah (aka "sarah pants," "Sarah who's dating Henri," and "Sarah who's on a poster in my office for reasons too complicated to explain here") has blogged about Alamo's Blazing Saddles BBQ Tour. She also has a Flickr set from the event, as well as ­photos from Alamo's opening night -- I get the impression from these sets that she is fond of mac and cheese.
  • One more Flickr set from the Alamo Ritz opening? Please? This one's from Wiley Wiggins and features­ action photos of the fighting gorillas. (A brief aside: I feel like I'm always linking to photos of one Alamo event or another. I would love to feature photos from other local theaters, but apart from the occasional Paramount premiere, I can't find any online. If I'm missing something, please comment with a link.)

In Brief: Lady Bird, Fantastic Fest, and Summercamp!

A few bits and pieces of news from around the web:

  • The Paramount remembers the late Lady Bird Johnson, and Metroblogging Austin captures a photo. Wish I'd seen that in person.
  • Austin Movie Blog reminds us that the SXSW Film Conference is looking for panel ideas for 2008.
  • Austin School of Film is holding a free Open Screen Night on Sunday -- details are available on Austinist.
  • Austin's Fantastic Fest has joined a new alliance of American film fests devoted to sf/fantasy/horror/animation. I love Fantastic Fest and can't wait until late September.
  • Free online movie: The documentary Summercamp! from Austin filmmaker Bradley Beesley and Sarah Price, which I reviewed when it premiered at SXSW in 2006. If you like what you see online and want a higher-quality copy, you can buy the DVD. (via Cinematical)

Snakes on a Day ... liveblogged!

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Snakes on a DayLast week, I posted a news item at Cinematical about the Snakes on a Day event in Austin. Shannon McCormick announced his intention to watch the movie continually for 24 hours, and invited others to join him in this crazy film marathon.

I didn't realize until this morning that Shannon is liveblogging the event, as much as possible, on the Snakes on a Day site. Not only that, but Brian of Brian's Movie Blog (aka "that guy I see at damn near every Alamo event I go to") is joining Shannon and also liveblogging the event. According to Brian, there are about a dozen people taking the Snakes on a Day challenge, and they had the theater to themselves overnight between the public screenings.

Go read the liveblogging, it's a hoot. My guess is that Brian will make it through all 24 hours -- I've seen him pull all-nighters at Alamo and QT Fest movie marathons, and he's done the Butt-Numb-a-Thon a few times, so he's in good shape for that kind of event. (Me, I'd try BNAT once, but I can't imagine watching the same film for 24 hours in a theater, even if food is available.)

One more SoaP note: this morning's edition of the Austin American-Statesman included a color cut-out of a paper airplane that you can assemble. I don't need to tell you that the paper airplane has snakes on it. You can find and print an electronic version here.

UPDATE: Micah at Dumb Distraction is posting a cleaned-up version of Brian's liveblogging attempt, which is slightly easier to read. (By "cleaned up" I mean that he's edited punctuation and marked which post is for which screening, not that he's eliminated any profanity.)

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