Contributors's blog

Chatting with the Founder/Co-Chairs of Austin Jewish Film Festival


David Goldblatt and Cindy PintoBy Jeremy Simon

With its most recent festival, which ran from March 24 to 30 this year, the Austin Jewish Film Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary. Now that its one-decade milestone has been reached, AJFF founder David Goldblatt and his co-chair Cindy Pinto took a look back to refresh their memories and ours about just how far the festival has come.

Slackerwood: Describe the origins of the AJFF. When was the festival initially created and why?

David Goldblatt: Since I came to Austin in 1988, I had many discussions with people in the Jewish community about how we needed to have a Jewish film festival here. But it never happened. I got involved with the arts committee of my Synagogue, Agudas Achim, and [they] encouraged me to go to Jackson, Mississippi, to find out about starting a film festival.

In 2002, I went to Jackson to the Jewish Cinema South program of the Goldring Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life to learn how to do a Jewish Film Festival. When I got back, our committee -- Susan Broockman, Sandy Sack, and Elizabeth Fleschler -- got together to plan our first festival. It took place at the original Alamo Drafthouse on Colorado. We showed five films on four weeknights. We had to turn folks away on the opening night when we showed Shalom Y'all, a really fun history of the Jewish South along with contemporary stories. Brian Bain, the director, came and did our first Q&A. We had people sitting on the railing and in the aisles. It was an auspicious beginning. The following year Cindy Pinto came on as my co-chair.

2012 Texas Film Hall of Fame: An Intern's Perspective


Texas Film Hall of FameBy Viral Bhakta

Thursday, March 8, 2012 will definitely be a night to remember. The event: Texas Film Hall of Fame. The location: ACL Live at the Moody Theater. This was my first time hearing about this event, so I wasn't sure what exactly to expect, but thrilled to be part of the process.

The event was hosted by the beautiful and charming Anjelah Johnson, currently the face of the Taco Cabana ad campaign, and honored four Texas oriented-individuals for their dedication and successful careers in the film industry: Meat Loaf, Douglas McGrath, Barry Corbin and Danny Trejo. The film Rio Bravo was also given the Star of Texas Award and was accepted by the inspirational and lovely Angie Dickinson.

Previously held at Austin Studios, this was the first time that the Austin Film Society hosted the event at the Moody Theater. I have to say the new venue was quite a change. The three floors each were unique in their own way, by that I mean each included veteran filmmakers and well-known Hollywood figures.

Fortunately, I was able to work indoors on the second floor, mezzanine floor, out of the freezing cold weather (all the VIP suites were conveniently located on this floor as well). Even though I was in eyesight of some well-known Austin filmmakers, I wanted to introduce myself but did not want to impose, as they seemed to be enjoying themselves. So I simply told myself, "Maybe next time."

What I Learned From My First SXSW Film Festival Experience


SXSW 2012

By Reid Connell

Editor's Note: Reid Connell won the Austin Film Society Intern blogging contest last semester. He won a badge to SXSW and shares his reflections on the the experience. --Agnes Varnum

As I sit in my living room on the Sunday after SXSW, sipping from a bottle of NyQuil, surrounded by dozens of cough-drop wrappers, I reflect on what exactly SXSW 2012 has taught me. I got the chance to see so many great movies, learn some great insight at a number of panels and share an experience like no other with some great people. Looking back this is what I've learned at SXSW.

When someone tells you to be wary of sicknesses lurking at SXSW, heed their advice.

I'm sick, very sick, have been all week. And whether it's from standing for hours in the rain or shaking strangers hands or spending too much time on Sixth Street, I only know one thing for sure; I have SXSW to thank. At the start of the festival I gawked at all the germ-a-phobes wiping their hands with Germ-X like it was some sort of religious obligation, now I envy them. I'm sure it could have been that simple and I wouldn't be writing this while coiled up in every blanket I have in the house.

SXSW 2012 Panel: Hollywood Lessons: What I Learned The Hard Way


SXSW Film 2012 logoBy Stephanie Capizzo

Sitting in the "Hollywood Lessons" panel at SXSW this week made me feel like the event organizers must have created the panel specifically with me in mind (I haven't met any of them unfortunately -- but it's nice to think that they were thinking of me). As a young adult, fairly recent college graduate, and someone who wants nothing more than to make her break in the film industry, this panel was one of the most informative and realistic views on what to expect when trying to make it in such a tough industry.

Among the panelists were Shay Weiner, Adam Hendricks and Stephanie Hall, three industry professionals who have run the gamut of entry-level positions to get to where they are today, and who are not afraid to tell it like it is. On their list of things to expect when working your way up the metaphorical ladder? Working 16 hours a day for little to no money, getting things thrown at you, being yelled at and watching the less thick-skinned people around you drop like flies. It all sounds a bit depressing, yes, but one of the other things that all the panelists agreed on was the fact that they all love what they do and could never imagine doing anything else.

SXSW 2012 Panel: Financing an Independent Film


By Noelle Schonefeld

Tuesday marked the end of the panels and conferences for SXSW Film. That morning, Garrick Dion, SVP of Development at BOLD Films and Katie McNeill, VP of Production at Electric City Entertainment sat on the panel "Making it Happen: Financing an Independent Film." Aaron Kaufman of Troublemaker Studios served as moderator for the panel and also had great insight on the topic.

The main focus of the panel was the role of an independent producer, specifically related to movies with a target budget of $15-20 million. For low-budget films, the information was topical, but did not get into the specifics of selling the project or finding funding. The panel was most useful for someone who is or plans to work with an already established independent producer.

Topics covered included the types of projects to look for, working with first-time directors, and the role of "name" actors and foreign sales on securing funding. Each production office is different, but when you are talking about independent producers like BOLD and Electric City, they have to be savvy about what types of projects they choose to greenlight. Though they don't choose the same types of films and they approach the process of selection in different ways, the common thread of what they look for is a good story told in an interesting way that people would pay to see at any budget.

SXSW 2012: Letting Audiences Drive the Editing Process


SXSW Film 2012 logoBy Reid Connell

They told me, "Be prepared, you won't even recognize the city." Who knew they were talking about the weather? I'm a SXSW virgin. I've been eagerly awaiting my first time since I moved to Austin. And after two days I'm only getting more and more embarrassed to say, "No, I didn't see that movie last year, it's my first SXSW." However, I picked up my badge on Thursday morning and set out for my first event on Friday afternoon. A panel.

They also told me, "Try things you don't know anything about, be surprised." So I noticed a panel called "Speed Tweaks: How Fast can Audiences Drive Edits?" I was interested and eager to attend my first official SXSW event. The panel was dedicated to answering the question in the title by putting it into practice.

The panel started, and we all watched a short three-minute video the panelists had filmed just hours beforehand. The moderator then explained they had an in-house editor who'd be working on the video we had just watched while the rest of the panelists talked and answered questions. He advised us to tweet our critiques and comments about the video to #shitpanelistssay (which is still an operating hash tag on Twitter). Now unfortunately, I didn't get to take part in this portion of the panel because regrettably I didn't have my computer or a smartphone. But nonetheless it was a great idea.

A Taste of Austin at Dallas IFF 2011


Ok Buckaroos

Please welcome our guest contributor Peter Martin of Twitch and Dallas Film Now (and until lately, Cinematical), who caught a few Austin-connected films at the Dallas International Film Festival this year.

The fifth edition of the Dallas International Film Festival (Dallas IFF) concluded on Sunday, bringing an end to ten days of screenings and parties, and raising once again the eternal question: What does this mean for Austin?

In brief, we could say: Very little. Born in mid-2006 with the promise (and potential) of becoming a potent in-state rival to SXSW, thanks in part to the instant name recognition bestowed by its partnership with AFI, Dallas IFF has, instead, become pretty much the film festival that Dallas needs and deserves, showcasing regional filmmakers side by side with star-studded premieres sure to draw coverage from local broadcast and print outlets, and giving members of the city's social elite a reason to dress up and show off, while also boasting as many or more international titles than SXSW usually includes.

SXSW 2011: All Our Coverage


Updated April 12, 2011.

Slackerwood had eight contributors in Austin covering aspects of SXSW Film Festival this year: movie reviews, photos, interviews and daily recaps. The following list (after the jump) links to all our SXSW 2011 coverage.

SXSW 2011 Guides: Dining Near Film-Fest Theaters


Damn Good Food

Authored by Jette Kernion, Jenn Brown, Debbie Cerda, Mike Saulters and Chip Rosenthal.

This year, Slackerwood teamed up with SXSW to create a printed version of our SXSW Dining Guide. You should be able to find it at any film venue. Here's the online version, in case paper is just too low-tech for you. The restaurants, cafes and food trailers in this guide are nearly all in walking distance of a SXSW theater. Of course we missed a lot of good stuff. Feel free to make your own recommendations in the comments.

A couple of updates since we wrote the printed guide: Taco Journalism has an excellent SXSW guide to convenient and/or delicious tacos in the downtown area. The Austin American-Statesman has a list of restaurants that have opened downtown since SXSW 2010. We also suggest you search #sxswfood on Twitter for the latest on food trailer locations and special SXSW deals.

Don't forget to check out our other guides, including the SXSW Venue Guide and the Guide for Locals and Passholders. In addition, Slackerwood editor Jette Kernion will be one of the panelists in the "Beginners Guide to SXSW Film" panel at 3:30 pm today, where you can ask all kinds of questions about surviving the fest.

2010 in Review: Memorable Austin Movies, Part Two



Check out Part One of our collection of Austin-related films that Slackerwood contributors found memorable in 2010. In addition, keep an eye out for Jenn's article later this week focusing on an Austin actor who was especially prolific last year. Here's the rest of our list:

What was the best time to be had at the movies in 2010? Machete, but of course; no other 2010 film kicked ass with more wit, style and subversive glee than Robert Rodriguez’s riotous, Austin-shot homage to '70s exploitation flicks. (Jette's review) From Danny Trejo's glowering take on the anti-hero Machete Cortez to Michelle Rodriguez's heat-packin' halter top, every detail about this exploitation extravaganza is dead on. And beyond all the murder, mayhem and gloriously gratuitous nudity, Machete also has a lot to say about politics, racism and the immigration debate. As I said to Jette after we watched Machete, "Now, that was the movie Eat Pray Love should have been." --Don Clinchy
How you can see it: Available on Blu-ray and DVD.

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