Updated March 10 with a new section on free non-SXSW screenings!
I've been getting a surprising number of email messages this year that run along these lines: "We know there are a ton of cheap and free concerts and parties with live music during SXSW, what about free movies?" SXSW has set up several screenings and film-related events that are free to the public this year. In addition, I've found at least one other free movie-related event happening during the fest that I can recommend. If I've missed anything, don't be shy about letting me know in the comments.
Remember that although these events are free, you might have to pay to park near some of the venues. Check out our Guide for Locals and Passholders for some parking and transportation tips.
Free Panels and Events
Women in Cinema's SXSW Panel: Wednesday, March 14, 7-9 pm, Studio 4D, CMB, The University of Texas
This event might have been perfect for the SXSW Film Conference, but is actually on the University of Texas campus and is sponsored by Women in Cinema, a UT student organization that supports student filmmakers. The group's brought together a powerhouse panel of female filmmakers and actresses who have films at SXSW this year -- a don't-miss lineup. UT instructor Kat Candler (Hellion) is moderating the panel, which includes Houston filmmaker Kelly Sears (Once It Started It Could Not End), Megan Griffiths (Eden), Amy Seimetz (Sun Don't Shine), Annie Silverstein (Spark), new-to-Austin Hannah Fidell (The Gathering Squall), producer Kim Sherman (V/H/S, Sun Don't Shine), and actress Anna Margaret Hollyman (Somebody Up There Likes Me, Gayby). I can't believe this event is free.
This year's SXSW Community Screening: Austin Film Society ShortCase will be held Saturday, March 10 at 11 am in the Canon Screening Room (aka Rollins) at the Long Center, and will feature short films by Central Texas filmmakers ranging from Richard Garriott to Bob Ray.
I was pleased to be invited to curate the ShortCase -- I've said for years that I'd love to help host a short-film festival. The response from AFS filmmakers was overwhelming, with over 100 short films submitted in a two-week timeframe. I cried, laughed, and screamed -- and even hit the Rewind button a few times to savor certain scenes. AFS Interim Artist Services Manager Austin Culp, intern Reid Connell and I worked together to select the 10 best films to fill the 90-minute screening time. It was a daunting task with so much wonderful content representing the talent of AFS filmmakers, but we somehow agreed on the final slate.
For filmmakers who didn't make the cut, we hope that you'll submit films for future ShortCase events -- I'm already formulating a cunning plan to get some of the content into a screening later this year. Feedback will be provided to filmmakers who requested it, and we encourage everyone to take advantage of the programs available to the AFS filmmaker members.
Without further ado, here are this year's SXSW ShortCase films.
Free is good. Good and free is better. So Slackerwood is making it easier for you to see the film The Artist for free next Wednesday night at the Regal Arbor.
There is a reason The Artist is getting so much buzz; it's simply one of the most delightful films I've seen in a long time. It's got all the charm of the classics from the 1920s and 30s from the leading man's mustache to the comic relief dog. George Valentin is a silent film star with the world at his feet ... only to have the world change on him. As George's career fumbles, his protégé's career takes off, and where does that leave George? The cast is fantastic and the score is delightful, and anyone who ever appreciated the structure and panache of vintage films will enjoy every minute.
So here's what you need to know:
I can't be the only one thrilled to hear the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) is holding its 2011 conference in Austin this week. If you're not thrilled, you don't know what this means: Fascinating and well-restored movies screening at the Paramount, all free to the public. The last time AMIA held its annual conference here was 2005, and for me it was as though the circus was in town. In fact I was tempted to run away with them and become an archivist myself, except a) I don't want to go back to school, b) I don't think I'd be good at it and c) it's not a profession with many job opportunities in Austin. (As opposed to film criticism? Well ...)
The fun kicks off tonight at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, with the AMIA "Reels of Steel" competition at 11:30 pm. Film buffs and archivists will be bringing all kinds of rare and interesting film and video clips from their personal collections to screen. Admission is free and first-come, first served.
More free movies are screening all day long on Saturday, November 19 at the Paramount -- you could get down there early and stay all day, paying only for parking and a meal or two. At 9 am, they'll show Nicholas Ray's 1976 film We Can't Go Home Again. At 10:45, the 1966 film Passages from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. Grab some lunch and go back for a collection of home movies from around America at 1 pm. Then at 3 pm, you can see a restored version of the 1977 documentary Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives.
Over the years, Slackerwood has published a number of special guides covering free and cheap summer films and all manner of assistance for film festivals, including survivor guides, newbie guides and our food guides, which are so popular that for SXSW 2011 we collaborated with the fest on a printed restaurant guide. They're so much fun to write that we decided to make them a monthly feature. We're expanding the topics, too, to help Austinites and those who visit our city make the most of the Austin film scene. And what better way to kick off this new series than with one of Austin's best kept secrets: frequent free movies at many branches of the Austin Public Library.
I’m not talking only about arcanely obscure films; APL's diverse programming includes family fare, topical documentaries, classic foreign language films and even a series that celebrates bad movies. The selections are both old and very new, including 2011 releases. Next month APL is kicking off a new year of "Community Cinema," which starts with a local premiere of a documentary that won't air on PBS until October, and includes a special post-screening discussion with relevant community organizations related to each film in the series.
Most Austin Public Library film programs run weekly or in some cases monthly on the same time/day of the week, and programming is offered at different branches around the city. All APL programs are free and open to the public. And even better, some screenings include light refreshments, such as popcorn. Who can top that? Just remember that food and drink can only be consumed in designated areas per APL policy. Ratings have been included in our listings when available, but not all films have been MPAA reviewed, so keep in mind not all are appropriate for all audiences.
You may have heard or read about an on-demand platform for streaming movies called FlickLaunch, an alternative to traditional distribution that uses Facebook as its interface. FlickLaunch is promoting the platform through advance theatrical screenings of the horror/thriller The Perfect House, including a free screening here in Austin that includes filmmaker Kris Hulbert and actors Andrea Vahl and William Robertson in attendance. We have some reserved seats to give away -- keep reading to find out more.
Not surprisingly, Austin is the first city of the 30-city The Perfect House tour complete with a bus and a "reality-style tour." Why start with Austin? Co-director and writer Kris Hulbert said, "When we came up with the idea to hit the open road and host screenings around the country, the Alamo Drafthouse was immediately at the top of our list. The Drafthouse goes hand-in-hand with high quality independent entertainment and provides the perfect location to start our tour!"
The Perfect House is a horror anthology consisting of three separate stories ("The Storm," "Chic-ken" and "Dinner Guest"), which reveal that a young couple's dream house has a very dark past. It's every homeowner's fear that their ideal home will turn into a money pit, but in the case of The Perfect House, Hulbert's story turns it into a real nightmare.
FlickLaunch will allow filmmakers to capitalize on social media strategies, from promoting films through fan pages to allowing filmmakers to give away free views -- paid views will cost between $1-5. A FlickLaunch app has been developed for the iPad and plans are to develop apps for Android and iPhone.
Austin has a number of special screenings and events coming up in the next week or two, so I thought I'd list some of them here. I also recommend checking the Austin Chronicle's weekly Special Screenings listing (updated online on Friday mornings) as well as Austin Creative Alliance's Now Playing Austin site (which I wish would make film event listings as prominent as the other arts, hint hint).
Don't forget to check our Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies in Austin for a great listing of film series that will fit your budget.
- It's a Very Joe Swanberg weekend here in Austin. The Chicago indie filmmaker will participate in an AFS Moviemaker Dialogue on Saturday night at Austin Studios. On Sunday, Alamo Drafthouse Ritz hosts two Swanberg movies, Art History and Uncle Kent (both featuring actor Kent Osborne), with Swanberg attending. And on Monday night, he'll stick around when AFS Best of the Fests brings back SXSW 2011 selection Silver Bullets, also at Ritz.
- The Paramount is going all John Hughes on us this weekend with a double-feature of Sixteen Candles and Some Kind of Wonderful on Sunday. If you're one of the first 100 people admitted to the 2 pm screening of Sixteen Candles, you get a free birthday cupcake. On Wednesday night, June 8, the theater is showing a Marlon Brando double of Last Tango in Paris and Burn! ... and no, they are not having any related promotions (would you really want them to?).
- The free Texas Rolling Roadshow starts tomorrow night in Fort Parker with The Searchers. If you don't feel like a long drive, Austinites can see The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in nearby Kingsland on June 4 and Blood Simple in Dessau Hall on June 5. If you want to spend a little money, VIP packages are available for the Chain Saw screening, and an after-party with The Derailers will take place after the Blood Simple screening. Finally, check out the gorgeous posters Jason Munn created for the tour; I really want the Giant one myself.
Check out our 2012 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies in Austin for the latest information.
Updated May 31 with specific films/dates for 101x Summer Cinema Series.
It's nearly triple-digit weather, and those icy-cold movie theaters are beckoning, often too tempting to resist. Unfortunately, sometimes your wallet has to resist, especially with prices for first-run 3D movies and concessions, especially especially if you're bringing kids along or paying babysitters.
So, for the third year running, Slackerwood is happy to bring you our guide to free and cheap summer movies in Austin. Some long-running free programs and series have started charging admission -- of a dollar or two. You can still find great deals on moviegoing in this town if you're on a budget. (And is it just me, or are half the summer movie programs in town this year screening Dazed and Confused? Not that there's any reason to complain about that!)
Some free series from previous years are gone: AMC dropped its Summer Movie Camp this year. South Austin restaurant Nueva Onda closed last month, which means the excellent indie-centric Nueva Onda Film Series is on hiatus until the programmers can find a new location. Movies in the Park is still around but it's not at Republic Square Park this summer; instead, head over to Fiesta Gardens for some free films. On the other hand, I had originally lamented the end of Cinema East, and just got a press release a couple of days ago telling me it's alive and well. We also have some new venues like the Blue Starlite Drive-In.
The Austin Film Festival pass is a steal at $50, as I pointed out this morning. For some people, that's still out of budget. However, that doesn't mean you have to sit at home and not see any movies except on your own TV or computer. Austin has a number of free/cheap options this week and next, whether you are short on cash, allergic to film festivals, or just want a variety of options to choose from. As a matter of fact, you could still see some of these movies while attending AFF. Just sayin'.
Austin Public Library Free Films. How film friendly is Austin? The libraries all over town run free movie series throughout the year. And several run today through AFF, just check them out below.
- Monday 10/18 -- Boo! Hiss! Hooray! Celebrating the Heroes and Villains of the Silver Screen is screening To Kill a Mockingbird (Hampton Branch at Oak Hill, 5125 Convict Hill Road.)
- Monday 10/18 -- Contemporary Latino Films featuring Edward James Olmos is showing My Family (Mi familia) and this one even has refreshments provided. (Cepeda Branch, 651 N. Pleasant Valley)
- Monday 10/18 -- Polish Cinema Series is presenting Hope (Nadzieja) based on Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Heaven, Hell and Purgatory" trilogy. (Spicewood Springs Branch, 8637 Spicewood Springs)
Cine Las Americas has been honoring both the 200th anniversary of Mexico's independence and the 100th anniversary of its revolution all year with a variety of film series. The latest is free, and perfect for the season, as it celebrates that famous masked superhero ... Santo.
If you're not familiar with the Santo legend, Santo was a professional wrestler in Mexico in the early 20th century. Santo was so popular he not only became a folklore icon, but spawned a series of 52 films from 1958 through 1982, with the most famous film being Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro (Santo vs. the Vampire Women), which was featured on MST3K. Locals who frequent the Alamo Drafthouse have probably at least seen some clips of Santos films as part of the Alamo pre-shows. But you can now see five of those films in their entirety for the hefty sum of whatever amount of fuel it costs for you to get to the Mexican American Culture Center (MACC) on River Street.
The Santo Superestrella series runs from October 18 through November 15. Best of all, it's free, and open to the public. All screenings start at 8 pm, and include English subtitles.