Austin Film Society
By Margot Newcomer
It was a successful night at the Friday night screening of Hands On A Hardbody a couple of weeks ago, presented by Austin Film Society and Texas Independent Film Network. The event kicked off with director S.R. (Robb) Bindler inside of a pickup truck, and long lines of people waiting to put their hands on the Nissan Hardbody parked in front of the Marchesa Theatre.
The documentary was first shown in Austin almost 15 years ago at the Dobie Theatre. Since then, the Texas-shot movie's been hard to find unless you were able to track down a VHS copy (often sold for around $200).
The excitement before the screening continued to build as guests in the lobby bought the new, remastered DVD (which is now available via the Hands on a Hardbody website). One woman enthusiastically traded her worn-out VHS tape for a brand new disc.
For this part of the photo essay, I'd like to thank Austin Film Society for sharing their photos from the event -- it was dark and I'm not a professional photographer. AFS has a Flickr set of Texas Film Hall of Fame photos where you can see more.
The above photo is from the red carpet -- Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez doing a quick interview. And next we have another red-carpet photo: actress Robin Wright, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame later that evening. I had been watching her the week before in a marathon viewing of House of Cards so it was almost uncanny to see her in person.
At long last, here are my (and others') photos from last month's gala Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards. I figure photos don't get stale and we'll all enjoy them just as much as we would have earlier -- even more than if I'd published them during SXSW. (I can always find an excuse.) It was a really lovely and fun evening and I know you'd rather see the photos than read about the event, so here goes. This is actually a two-part feature since I have so many photos to share.
These photos are mine and they're primarily from the red carpet before the awards ceremony. Let's start with the emcee of the evening, Austin actress and musician Dana Wheeler-Nicholson.
Before Before Midnight opens in Austin on May 23, Austin Film Society will host a special screening of all three of Richard Linklater's movies: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and the latest installment.
On Sunday, May 19 at Marchesa Hall & Theatre, you can view the trilogy in order. See Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet cute on a train in Before Sunrise (my Lone Star Cinema review), run into each other in a Paris bookstore and have trickier discussions in Before Sunset (my Lone Star Cinema review), and have far more personal talks about life and relationships while ambling around Greece in Before Midnight.
Tickets for either Before Sunrise or Before Sunset are $10 for AFS members or $20 general public. You can watch all three for $20 (AFS members) or $40 (general public) [more ticket info].
Individual tickets aren't available for the May 19 Before Midnight screening; however, there's a separate special event for the May 23 theatrical premiere of Before Midnight at the Violet Crown Cinema [ticket info]. At the VCC, Linklater, Hawke and Delpy will be in attendance and take part in the pre-screening cocktail party.
During the week between these two festivities, AFS and Ain't It Cool News have teamed up with local restaurants and bars offering special deals and themed specials. If you go to one of the spots (the list hasn't been released yet) and tweet a photo of you and your sweetie to @afs1985 using the tag #AFSBeforeMidnight, you're eligible to win an AFS dual LOVE level membership.
On April 6-8, Austin Film Society's Artistic Director Richard Linklater curated and presented a series of recent films by the groundbreaking avant-garde filmmaker James Benning. This showcase of Benning's work explored many different American landscapes (including skies, lakes, roads and the woods) through various mediums, including two 16mm presentations at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz. Austin Film Society Interns Hannah Jordan and Shane Henderson attended the events and covered these once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Ten Skies: Hannah Jordan
It's my first James Benning film experience and I walk into the theater ten minutes late. It's quiet enough to hear a pin drop with all eyes pointed straight at the screen, so I take the nearest available seat on the front row. I hate sitting on the front row, but I also hate people like me who show up to movies late, so I'll take what I can get.
I settle into the eerie calm and take in the scenery of Ten Skies, which was precisely 102 minutes of skyscapes. That's all, just sky. Dark skies, light skies, rainy skies, blue skies -- all laid out in 20-minute blocks with little to no audio. I sneak a quick peek at the audience behind me, and become acutely aware of their pristine movie manners. There are no chairs rustling. There are no jaws smacking. Everyone is sitting upright as a scholar; transformed into dutiful schoolchildren eager to see the hypnotic journey Benning is taking us on. The catch is, he doesn't want to take us anywhere. He just wants us to sit still.
The Austin Film Society kicks off a new Essential Cinema series tonight ... and at a venue that's relatively new to them, but which I suspect will become familiar to many of us this year: the Marchesa Hall and Theatre.
"Classic 35mm Treasures from the Janus Films Archive" is a seven-film weekly series including a variety of European and Japanese movies from the 1960s, many of which you may have seen or at least heard of before. Many Janus Films are now Criterion Collection disks -- but this is your chance to see 35mm prints of Zazie dans le Metro, The Wages of Fear, Tokyo Story (pictured above) and others.
It's a great way to inaugurate regular AFS programming at the Marchesa, which will officially become the home for Essential Cinema and other series and AFS events in May. "AFS at the Marchesa" seats 278 and will feature repertory, independent and arthouse fare. The theater is still in need of upgrades, however, and AFS plans to launch a fundraising campaign next month to get the venue in shape. We'll have all the details as they become available.
Director Stephen T. Maing's documentary High Tech, Low Life depicts a period of time (2008-early 2012, I think) in the lives of two Chinese bloggers as they attempt to circumvent censorship in China, aka "The Great Firewall." We are first introduced to "Zola," a 26-year-old produce seller from Hunan Province who likes to post stories that state media won't and other reporters can't. He says, "The truth is, I don't know what journalism is... I just record what I witness."
This is a marked contrast with "Tiger Temple," a 57-year-old retiree based out of an apartment in Beijing, inspired to start a blog in 2004 after witnessing and documenting a murder in the street. Tiger Temple rides his bike long distances to cover stories upon request/small donation, and tends to get emotionally involved. After finding homeless folk in Tiananmen Square, forgotten by the country that had removed them from their rural homes decades ago, he starts raising funds on his site to provide them with housing.
By Sasha Esquivel
Along with a few lucky others, I recently had the opportunity to be a part of the hustle and bustle of a real film set in town. Thanks to the City of Austin, the Austin Film Society and local chapters of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, I got to intern with the props department on the set of Parkland.
The movie is described on IMDb as being about "the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas' Parkland Hospital on the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated." The cast includes current/former Texans Jackie Earle Haley, Mark Duplass, and Marcia Gay Harden; plus Billy Bob Thornton (who won the Tom Mix Honorary Texan Award at the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2009), Zac Efron and Ron Livingston, among many others.
This was my first time on a film set and the entire experience taught me a lot about the filmmaking process. From the moment I arrived on set I felt welcomed, and everyone was extremely helpful.
The Austin Film Society hosted a Moviemaker Dialogue last week with Austin film editor Sandra Adair. Chale Nafus moderated the conversation, interviewing Adair and teasing her about his being cut out of Waking Life.
Adair told us that as a kid she wanted to paint, but in high school, she became inspired by her older brother's student film. Her first film job was as apprentice editor on Memory of Us in 1974. She'd moved up to assistant editor for her next movie, The Swinging Cheerleaders* (heh). She lived in Austin for a period of time -- during which she synced dailies as assistant editor on Outlaw Blues -- but moved back to L.A. soon afterwards.
The 1991 recession brought Adair back to our fair city. A connection at Texas Motion Pictures Services (which she said used to be located in a building behind Capital Plaza in northeast Austin) told her about Richard Linklater shooting Dazed and Confused in town. After sending a letter of introduction, Linklater and the film's producers interviewed her during pre-production. Adair has worked as editor on Linklater's films since.
The editor discussed her collaboration with Linklater, how soon in the process she begins editing (pretty much as soon as the first scene has been done), the technical progression of editing tools through the years, and more. We watched clips from recent films she edited: Bernie, documentary Shepard & Dark (about the long epistolary relationship between actors Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark), Before Sunset ... and naturally, Dazed and Confused.
By Jessica Pugh
Because Fourplay is such a unique film and could potentially appeal to only a select audience, I wasn't sure if there would be a full house at the Alamo Village the night I planned to see it. I could not have been more wrong. We were at full capacity, and there was excitement in the air to see what former Austinite Kyle Henry's movie would present.
After talking to producer Jason Wehling before the Fourplay screening, I asked him what someone should expect from Fourplay. He casually stated, "You might be offended, you definitely will be challenged." The audience didn't seem to be as anxious about the film as I was. Several people ordered a few drinks, and were casually chatting.
When the film ended, cast and crew gathered at the front of the theater for a Q&A and discussion about the film. The movie is an anthology of four shorts each set in a different city. Overall, "Tampa" stood out as far as sexual explicitness. Viewers seemed impressed with Henry and writer Carlos Trevino's boldness to not hold back, and construct a homosexual orgy experience where literally anything goes! However, it was "San Francisco" that seemed to complete Henry's desire to make sex a meaningful central part of a character's existence. It was a heartfelt experience, and I think it was a fantastic ending to the Fourplay series.