Jordan Gass-Poore''s blog

Prepare to Get Cockeyed With the Off-Centered Film Fest

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Delaware-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema have teamed up again for the sixth annual Off-Centered Film Fest (Debbie's 2012 coverage). Beginning Thursday night, the three-day beer and food feast  -- with a hip-hop theme this year -- will feature a sing-along, rap battle competition, DJs and a short film competition. Most events are at Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane, and proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Texas Craft Brewers Guild. 

The homegrown festivities kick off with a 6 pm screening at Republic Square Park of Friday, a movie so ripe with wisdom and wit it'll make you say "daayymmnn!" The Ice Cube, Chris Tucker-fronted stoner comedy tells the day-long adventure of two neighborhood buddies in L.A. 

Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Debbie's interview with Calagione), and Tim League, Alamo Drafthouse co-founder, have added more hip to their hops with Friday's first ever Jiggy Crunk Sing-A-Long. Calagione and League will both be in attendance throughout the festival. 

Homegrown cinema will get its chance in the sun during Saturday's short film competition event. The competition's top films will be screened theatrically and the top three winners will receive their awards. 

Slackery News Tidbits: April 15, 2013

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • DFW-area filmmaker David Lowery (Ain't Them Bodies Saints) will team up with Robert Redford for the crime movie The Old Man and the Gun, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Old Man and the Gun, based on a 2003 article in The New Yorker by David Grann, tells the true story of lifelong bank robber Forrest Tucker, who died in 2005.
  • On Saturday night, Austin-based filmmaker Yen Tan won the Texas Grand Jury Prize at this year's Dallas International Film Festival for his movie Pit Stop (Debbie's review). Fellow Austin-based filmmaker and UT lecturer Kat Candler also won a DIFF grand jury prize for her short Black Metal. Black Metal and Pit Stop both premiered at Sundance this year, were both produced by Austinite Kelly Williams and both have local actor Jonny Mars in the cast. DIFF also recognized the Austin-shot film Good Night (Debbie's review), which premiered at SXSW Film this year and also co-stars Mars. The drama was written and directed by Sean Gallagher (Elizabeth's interview). Finally, Tomlinson Hill, directed by former Austinite Lisa Kaselak, received the DIFF Silver Heart Award. Tomlinson Hill explores the legacy of slavery from the perspective of one black and one white descendant of a Texas slave plantation. Jonny Mars does not appear in the film.
  • Legendary producer and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber (The Phantom of the Opera) has acquired the rights to the 2003 Richard Linklater film The School of Rock to adapt it into a Broadway musical, IndieWire reports. 

Slackery News Tidbits: April 8, 2013

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Here's the latest Austin film news.

  • Phase 4 Films will release Boneboys, filmed in Austin and Taylor, in select cities and theaters on Sept. 6. Writer/producer Kim Henkel, who co-wrote the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, teamed up with two former Texas A&M University- Kingsville students, co-directors Duane Graves and Justin Meeks, on the low-budget horror comedy about a family of cannibals. Boneboys had its U.S. premiere at last year's Austin Film Festival. 
  • Robert Redford has signed Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater to direct an adaptation of Bill Bryson's travel memoir A Walk in the Woods, the LA Times reports. The movie, about Bryson's attempting the Appalachian Trail, could begin shooting in the fall. Redford, who's producing the film, will also co-star in it with Nick Nolte.
  • Delaware-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema have teamed up again for the sixth annual Off-Centered Film Festival. Beginning April 18, the three-day movie, beer, and food feast -- with a hip-hop theme this year -- will feature a sing-along, rap battle competition, DJs and a short film competition. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Texas Craft Brewers Guild
  • Austin Film Society will host a memorial screening of prolific Spanish filmmaker Jess Franco's film Venus in Furs on Friday, April 19 at The Marchesa (6226 Middle Fiskville Road). Despite its title, the 1969 film isn't based on the novel. Instead, it tells the story of a jazz trumpeter who, while digging up a buried horn on a beach, discovers a woman washed ashore. Venus in Furs will screen from a rare 35mm original release print to honor Franco, who died last week at his home in Malaga, Spain.

Interview: PJ Raval and the Men of 'Before You Know It'

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A title card at the beginning of Austin-based filmmaker PJ Raval's documentary Before You Know It (Don's review) states that an estimated 2.4 million self-identified gay, lesbian and transgendered senior citizens live in the U.S. Throughout the course of the movie, Ty Martin, Robert "One of the Ugliest Girls in the South" Mainer and Dennis Creamer transcend this statistic as we follow them from Rainbow Vistas in Gresham, Oregon, across to Harlem and south to Galveston. Raval's years-long research for the film brought him face-to-face with his own immortality and the discovery that LGBT seniors are half as likely to have health insurance and five times less likely to access social services than their heterosexual counterparts.

But Raval's subjects are more than just a number: They seek to educate audiences on a personal level and connect with them through their life stories. Like Creamer, a widower who didn't identify as gay until his 70s. Before You Know It follows him on dates with people he met on the Internet as he explores his "new" female identity under the name Dee. Or, Martin, who is an LGBT activist who lives in Harlem with his longtime partner Stanton. And Mainer, who struggles to retain his gay-friendly bar, Robert's Lafitte in Galveston, when confronted with legal troubles and his failing health.

I spoke with Raval, Before You Know It director/co-producer, and the documentary's cast an hour before its world premiere at this year's SXSW Film Festival. The film can next be seen at the 11th Annual Independent Film Festival Boston, which takes place April 24-30.

Slackery News Tidbits: April 1, 2013

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Here's the latest in Austin and Texas film news -- no April Fooling here.

  • The 16th Annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival has announced its opening and closing-night movies. Blancanieves will open the festival April 16 at the Stateside Theatre. The drama, a twist on the Snow White fairy tale that centers on a female bullfighter in 1920s Seville, was chosen by Spain as its Foreign Language Film Academy Awards nominee in 2012. 7 Cajas (7 Boxes), about a boy's journey transporting unknown cargo, will close the festival April 21, also at Stateside. 
  • In celebration of April Fools' Day, the Austin Film Festival will screen the fest's 2012 audience award-winning comedy Junk at 7 pm at Alamo Drafthouse Village as part of its Best of Fest series. Junk follows two B-movie co-writers through their film's festival debut.
  • Ryan Long, former Austin Film Society programs and operations manager, has been named director of programming at Tugg, Austin 360 reports. Tugg, co-founded by Austinites Nicolas Gonda and Pablo Gonzalez, allows people to bring the movies they want to see to their local theaters. Long joined AFS in Nov. 2010 and co-founded the Texas Independent Film Network, a statewide tour of independent movies, which concludes its spring run with Hands on a Hard Body
  • Hands on a Hard Body documents an annual endurance competition in Longview, Texas, in which 24 participants attempt to keep their hands on a Nissan Hard Body pickup truck for as long as possible. The last person with their hand on the truck gets to drive away with it. Director S. R. Bindler will be in attendance at select TIFN screenings throughout the month, which begin Tuesday in McAllen, Texas. It reaches Austin on Friday, April 26 -- more details as they're confirmed.

SXSW Review: A Teacher

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A Teacher

The Austin-shot movie A Teacher, written/directed/produced by Hannah Fidell, colors outside the lines with its portrayal of a high-school romance gone awry.

Maryland native Fidell's follow-up to We're Glad You're Here (2010) takes a decisively different look at adulthood and loss of innocence. While the two films have the same star (Lindsay Burdge), A Teacher raises questions about the role educators have on a student's life, the idea of maturity and what constitutes an "adult." Burdge plays Diana Watts, an AP English teacher at an Austin high school whose consensual relationship with one of her male students (former UT student Will Brittain) spirals out of control. 

A Teacher opens with Diana preparing herself to step in front of the classroom stage by going through her morning routine of jogging and driving to work. She loses herself in the motions of normalcy, with her reusable mug and J. Crewesque clothes, but this thirtysomething is far from normal. Or is she?

Slackery News Tidbits: March 25, 2013

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Here's the latest in Austin film news.

  • Disney has hired DFW-area filmmaker (and former Austinite) David Lowery and producer Toby Halbrooks, whose film Ain't Them Bodies Saints premiered at Sundance this year, to script a remake of the animated movie Pete's Dragon. If this sounds unlikely, bear in mind that Lowery's first feature, St. Nick, was about two children who run away from home. And don't forget his short Pioneer, about a father and son. (Jette adds: Now, someone please release St. Nick on DVD? Finally?)
  • Austin-based filmmaker Elizabeth Mims' documentary Only the Young (Elizabeth's AFF review), which follows three Southern California teenagers, will air July 15 on PBS's award-winning TV series POV, according to Austin Movie Blog.
  • In festival news, the Hill Country Film Festival announced its lineup last week, which includes the feature-length thriller The Iceman, starring James Franco, and the 2013 Academy Award-winning short Curfew. The festivities take place May 2-5 in Fredericksburg. Texas movies at the fest include short films Black Metal, Do Over, Happy Voodoo, Fourth and Orchard, The Secret Keeper and Where am I Texas.
  • Austin Film Society Artistic Director Richard Linklater presents "Land and People: Recent Films of James Benning" April 6-8 at Alamo Ritz and the AFS Screening Room. Hailed as one of the most significant and groundbreaking avant-garde filmmakers, Benning began exploring the American landscape on film in the early 1970s. His recent films, 13 Lakes, Ten Skies, the war and Stremple Pass, were made between 2004 and 2012.

Austin at SXSW 2013: Andrew Bujalski, 'Computer Chess'

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Andrew Bujalski

Austin transplant Andrew Bujalski has been putting audience members in check since the world premiere of his fourth feature Computer Chess (Debbie's dispatch) at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The critically acclaimed, Austin-shot film, about an eccentric group of computer chess programmers who gather at a hotel for a chess tournament in the 1980s, got back to its roots Monday when it screened during SXSW 2013.

Bujalski found most of his merry band of polyester-clad "nerds" through an open casting call for extras, although he already knew local actor/computer wiz Wiley Wiggins (Dazed and Confused), whom he met in Austin back in 1999.

Extras (including Slackerwood contributor Rod Paddock) joined the cast for 10-plus hour days during the summer of 2011 and grew in numbers for the movie's tournament hall scene. With the air conditioning turned off for sound recording purposes, Bujalski says the cramped room "got to smell very bad." But even under these sometimes grueling conditions, the unpaid extras returned to set day after day with the promise of free food and a chance to embody a culture that excites and motivates them.

Although Computer Chess has been met with positive acclaim by SXSW festivalgoers (despite Bujalski's initial thoughts that the movie would "alienate" audiences), most of those who experienced the culture it portrays firsthand have yet to see the film. Computer Chess is scheduled to be released by Kino Lorber late this year. In the meantime, the movie's next screenings will be at the Sarasota Film Festival in early April.

I spoke with Bujalski earlier this week and found out fellow Seguin High School alum Carlyn Hudson was one of the film's co-producers, that there's a Goodwill Computer Museum in Austin, and that I can buy a vintage camera for under $100.

Slackery News Tidbits: March 18, 2013

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Here's the latest in Austin and Texas film news. 

  • After seven years in distribution limbo, Jonathan Levine's 2006 Austin-shot feature All The Boys Love Mandy Lane will have a simultaneous North American theatrical and VOD release through The Weinstein Company's Radius-TWC label, Deadline reports. Austin native Amber Heard stars in the horror flick about a high-school weekend party gone terribly wrong. The movie has been available only outside of the U.S. to date, apart from festival screenings.
  • Deadline continues the Texas coverage with news that Drafthouse Films, in partnership with Snoot Entertainment, acquired the U.S. rights to Cheap Thrills at SXSW 2013. The dark comedy, starring Sara Paxton (The Bounceback) and Pat Healy, tells the story of a recently fired father facing eviction who agrees to a wealthy couple's escalating series of challenges in exchange for cash payments. Cheap Thrills had its world premiere at the festival and won its Midnighters Audience Award.
  • The University of Texas at Austin's radio-television-film department will implement the nation's first comprehensive 3D production curriculum next fall through a $2.17 million grant from the Moody Foundation. Classes will be taught at the Belo Center for New Media and ACL Live at the Moody Theater, where students will use the studio's 3D production and performance facility. The grant will be distributed over a five-year period. 

Austin at SXSW 2013: Owen Egerton's 'Follow'

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Renaissance man Owen Egerton is on fire.

... metaphorically speaking, of course. But the redhead's career has been making sparks in national literary, film and comedy circles recently.

Next month, the Texas State University MFA alum will lead readers through a bizarre apocolypse, filled with Jesus clones, a prophetic hermit crab and a slacker couple who are haunted by ghosts as they wait out their final days on Earth in his latest novel, Everyone Says That at the End of the World.

The Austin-based master multi-tasker also debuted his short film Follow, about one man's dangerous challenge to open a gift by his wife (starring local actor Jonny Mars), this week in the SXSW Film Midnight Shorts collection. Egerton based the film on a short story from his 2007 collection How Best to Avoid Dying.

Egerton and producer Seth Caplan are currently raising production funds for a feature-length version of Follow. I chatted with Egerton recently about writing and his current projects.

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