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Slackery News Tidbits: July 14, 2014

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • Central Texas filmmaker Terrence Malick's long-awaited feature, Knight of Cups, will have a limited release in US theaters later this year, although no distributor has been announced, The Film Stage reports. Actors Christian Bale and Natalie Portman star in the drama, the plot of which has been tightly guarded for years but is said to be about celebrities and excess.
  • Rooster Teeth, an Austin-based production company, made Indiegogo history last week by becoming the website's highest grossing campaign with more than $2.4 million raised for its first feature, Lazer Team
  • Austin Film Festival's late (and last of the year) film competition submission deadline is Tuesday (yes, tomorrow).
  • Season two of filmmaker Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series will begin production in Austin this October. The horror crime series is a television adaptation of Rodriguez's 1996 cult film From Dusk Till Dawn and is the first scripted original series to air on his new cable network, El Rey.

Slackery News Tidbits: July 7, 2014

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • Amplify has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Austinites David and Nathan Zellner's Kumiko, the Treasure HunterIndiewire reports. The drama follows a lonely Japanese woman who, after becoming obsessed with Fargo, heads to Minnesota on a quest to unearth the cash-filled briefcase from the movie. Debbie reviewed the movie at Sundance. A release date hasn't yet been announced.
  • This month, the Alamo Drafthouse has announced it's "going to 11" with its programming -- celebrating music in movies in all the chain's theaters. A Hard Day's Night and This is Spinal Tap screen tonight at Alamo Ritz and Alamo Lakeline, respectively. Other musical movies scheduled for July include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, High Fidelity, Wattstax, Gimme Shelter, Empire Records and Stop Making Sense.
  • The Austin Film Festival's Free Family Film Series presents a screening of Bandolero! on Tuesday at 7 pm at the Texas Spirit Theater. James Stewart and Dean Martin star in this 1968 crime drama about two brothers on the run from a sheriff-led posse. 

Review: Begin Again

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"Begin Again" Movie Still

In what could be considered writer/director John Carney's Americanized version of his Academy Award-winning musical Once, the movie Begin Again (which I continue to mistakenly call "Once Again") hits just the right notes in the bittersweet scale to tug at the heartstrings ... despite Keira Knightley, who makes her singing debut, being flat in more ways than one. 

Knightley plays English singer-songwriter Greta, who finds herself alone with her guitar after her longtime boyfriend Dave Kohl (Adam Levine) dumps her for fame, stardom and a younger-looking woman. Down in the dumps, Greta mentally retires to a life of university studies back in England, that is, until she's persuaded to tag along with a fellow accented friend to an open-mic night at a local dive bar. That’s where the movie's audience and Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a down-on-his-luck record producer, first hear Greta/Knightley sing a song that has yet to get out of my head. 

The duo work through the summer to collaborate on an album that captures the sounds and spirit of NYC. 

Eventually, Dan and Greta see each other as their opportunity to, like the title says, "begin again." (I'm really glad the movie's title was changed from Can a Song Save Your Life?, which just makes me think of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.) 

Slackery News Tidbits: June 30, 2014

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • The Austin Film Festival's list of 2014 conference panelists grows with the recent additions of writer Lawrence Kasdan (various Star Wars films), writer/director John Patrick Shanley Doubt), writer Randall Wallace (Braveheart), writer Oren Uziel (22 Jump Street) and Ilysse McKimmie, director of the Sundance Labs feature film program. Badges are still available for the conference and festival, which takes place Oct. 23-30.
  • In more AFF news, the nonprofit's Free Family Film Series presents a screening of Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey Sunday at 3 pm at the Texas Spirit Theater. The 1993 family drama based on the book The Incredible Journey follows two adventurous dogs and a cat as they escape from a ranch to reunite with their owners. Co-screenwriter of Homeward Bound, Caroline Thompson, will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A.
  • AFF news continues: The nonprofit will co-sponsored the film series "1968's Past, Present, and Future" beginning Tuesday, July 8 until Aug. 12 at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Screenings of Bandolero!, Rosemary's Baby and 2001: A Space Odyssey will also include Q&As with film historians. This series is free for AFF and Bullock Museum members.
  • The City of Austin's Economic Development Department, in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance and the Texas Commission on the Arts, is bringing an Artist INC Live Seminar to Austin. The deadline for artists to apply is tonight at 11:59 pm. The department's Cultural Arts Division will host the eight-week seminar from Oct. 4-Nov. 22. AFF's lead editor for its television series On Story, Roy Rutngamlug, was chosen to be one of six local arts professionals to act as a facilitator and lead a movie training session during the seminar.

Slackery News Tidbits: June 16, 2014

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez's El Rey Network will have its corporate headquarters and production in Austin, becoming the first general entertainment network to have a formal production home in Texas, Deadline Hollywood reports.
  • The Orchard, a pioneering independent music, film and video distribution company and top-ranked multichannel network, has acquired worldwide rights to acclaimed sports feature No No: A Dockumentary (Caitlin's review), directed by Jeffrey Radice (Caitlin's interview). The documentary premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival, then screened at SXSW. The feature, which will be available through The Orchard's documentary imprint Opus Docs, takes an in-depth look at the life surrounding baseball legend Dock Ellis.
  • The completely University of Texas at Austin-staffed feature Arlo and Julie (Elizabeth's review) was profiled in the university's yearlong series, "The Creative Campus." The comedy, about a neurotic couple (former Austinites Ashley Spillers and Alex Dobrenko) who become obsessed with a mysterious puzzle, made its world premiere at this year's SXSW and was directed by UT Lecturer Steve Mims.
  • In award news, Austin-based filmmaker Richard Linklater and the Austin-shot feature Intramural recently won fan-favorite awards at this year's Seattle International Film Festival, according to The Seattle Times. Linklater's latest, Boyhood, which chronicles the life of a child from age six to 18 and stars native Texan Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, won Best Director; fellow Austin filmmaker Andrew Disney's Intramural, about a fifth-year college senior's last-ditch attempt at an intramural football win, won Best Guilty Pleasure.

Get Ready for Fall Film Fests, Old and New

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Mignola Bride of Frankenstein posterAustin's getting fest-y (and the rising summer temps aren't to blame) with recent news about two new fall film festivals, plus some updates from a longtime local favorite fest.

The fest-o-meter will get turned up a few notches as the weather (hopefully) starts to cool beginning in September with the inaugural MondoCon. Sponsored by the Austin-based art-and-media company/gallery Mondo, MondoCon is scheduled to take place smack dab in the middle of Fantastic Fest, the city's annual genre festival, from Sept. 20-21 at the Marchesa.

MondoCon will be more than a poster show -- with panels, screenings, special guests from various disciplines and good food options. Single and full-weekend tickets are on sale while supplies last. All VIP badges for Fantastic Fest get full-weekend admission.

Fan favorite artists and legends like Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and award-winning comic book artist Bernie Wrightson, among others, are expected to be in attendance at MondoCon. In celebration of the festival, Mignola created a sold-out movie poster for The Bride of Frankenstein (pictured at right).

MondoCon will be accepting volunteer applications in conjunction with Fantastic Fest. Volunteer information will be available next month.

The holidays can, indeed, be out of this world. And a group of local filmmakers and science-fiction enthusiasts are pushing those boundaries with the launch of Austin's first dedicated science-fiction film festival, Other Worlds Austin, from Dec. 4-6 at Galaxy Highland 10 (6700 Middle Fiskville Rd.).

Bears Fonte, former director of programming for Austin Film Festival, founded Other Worlds Austin as a shorts program after discovering the number of excellent sf movies that other fests just didn't seem to have room for. Now that he's no longer with AFF, he expanded his idea into a full weekend festival for science-fiction shorts and features alike.

Slackery News Tidbits: June 9, 2014

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater's latest feature, Boyhood, swept the top three awards categories at the Seattle International Film Festival on Sunday. The movie, shot over a dozen years in the Austin area, won Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress (Patricia Arquette). Boyhood premiered at Sundance (Debbie's review) screened at SXSW and opens in Austin next month.
  • Actor Kevin Corrigan, who appeared in the Austin Film Society's project Slacker 2011 (and most of local filmmaker Bob Byington's features) and can be seen in Austinite Terrence Malick's upcoming Knight of Cups, will discuss his experiences in the industry during AFS's Moviemaker Dialogue on Monday, June 23 at 7:30 pm at the Marchesa Hall. 
  • Matthew Weiner, creator/executive producer/writer/director of AMC's Mad Men, was recently announced as this year's recipient of the Austin Film Festival Outstanding Television Writer Award. Weiner is scheduled to speak at this year's festival, where he will accept the award. 
  • An Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline employee has sued the Austin-based company, claiming the theater chain isn't paying a sufficient minimum wage and is including the wrong employees in tip pools, Austin Business Journal reports. The suit alleges that all of the servers employed with Alamo Lakeline, which opened last summer, are entitled to recover unpaid minimum wages, damages and other fees. 

Slackery News Tidbits: June 2, 2014

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • The Austin Film Society has teamed up with The Nature Conservancy to present a screening of Hanna Ranch, a documentary about a fourth-generation cattle ranch in Colorado, tonight at 7:30 pm at the Marchesa Hall. 
  • In more AFS news, the nonprofit recently announced the participants of this year's Artist Intensive, a workshop for emerging narrative feature writer-directors in Austin with projects in various stages of development or pre-production. Filmmaking husband/wife team Julia Halperin's and Jason Cortlund's La Barracuda (Jordan's interview), Stephen Belyeu's and Gregory Day's The Father, filmmaker-musicians Karen Skloss's and Jay Tonne Jr.'s The Honor Farm and local filmmaker Clay Liford's Slash (an expansion of his short of the same name; Debbie's interview) were selected by the programming committee of AFS's board of directors. Each writer-director team will be matched with mentors who will provide project feedback later this month. 
  • The Central Texas-shot indie-comedy Cinema Six (Jette's Dallas dispatch), about the hijinks of three longtime small-town movie theater employees, is now available for free on Hulu
  • Bill and Turner Ross's lyrical documentary Tchoupitoulas, which screened at SXSW 2012, is now available to watch for free online at Doc Alliance Films. The film follows three adolescent brothers on a nighttime journey around New Orleans' French Quarter.

Slackery News Tidbits: May 27, 2014

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • Filmmaker Annie Silverstein's student short movie Skunk won the top prize at this year's Cinefondation section of the Cannes Film Festival, according to The Wrap. Along with winning 15,000 Euros, Skunk -- one of 16 films that screened, out of 1,631 student movies submitted worldwide -- gives Silverstein guaranteed entry to the festival for her first feature. She ran a successful crowdfunding campaign last year to finish Skunk, which was her master's thesis movie at The University of Texas at Austin. The movie stars local actress Heather Kafka.
  • Native Texan writer-director Matt Muir's Austin-lensed movie Thank You a Lot, which premiered at this year's SXSW, will have its digital/cable VOD release on June 3. The movie will also screen that night at the Angelika in Dallas (through Tugg) to celebrate its digital release. Thank You a Lot tells the story of a struggling manager whose job is threatened if he doesn't sign his dad, a reclusive Texas country-music singer.
  • Austin-based Mondo Gallery will present "The Art of Ken Taylor," including prints for the movies Children of Men and Little Shop of Horrors, from Friday, May 30 until June 21. The show's kickoff party takes place Friday at 7 pm at the gallery (4115 Guadalupe). Taylor will be in attendance.

Slackery News Tidbits: May 19, 2014

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • Austin City Council unanimously approved a Creative Content Incentive Program late last week, a decision that's expected to increase Austin's advantage for bringing movie, television and digital media industry projects to the city with the goal of creating more employment opportunities. The program will be incentive based, with $250,000 set aside for this fiscal year.
  • The PBS series Independent Lens will partner with movie and music distribution company The Orchard to distribute the East Texas-shot documentary Little Hope Was Arson (Elizabeth's interview), which played at Austin Film Festival 2013. The series will broadcast the movie this season, and The Orchard will release it theatrically in several markets as well as across all major digital outlets.
  • Acquisition news continues: last year's SXSW world premiere, the dramedy Swim Little Fish Swim (Don's review) has been aquired for distribution in Brazil by Providence Filmes and for distribution in Greece by Mikrokosmos Entertainment. 
  • The University of Texas at Austin's Women In Cinema student organization announced its film festival scholarship winners: Leaves on TreesRonnie Monsters and Stowaway, and the special mention Evidence of Santa. The three winners will receive waived submission fees to several fests, including Sundance. Award-winning filmmakers Lauren Wolkstein (Social Butterfly) and Heather Courtney (Where Soldiers Come From) and Texas Film Commission representative Laura Kincaid served as judges.
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