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TIFN Roadshow: 'Now, Forager'


Austinites and University of Texas alums Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin will hit the road with the Texas Independent Film Network for a month-long, statewide promotional tour of their film Now, Forager. They're starting here in town with a screening on Tuesday night at Violet Crown Cinema. (Tickets are available via the Violet Crown website.)

The drama follows Lucian (Cortlund) and Regina (Tiffany Esteb), a married couple who by trade gather wild mushrooms in New Jersey's woodlands and sell them to New York restaurants. As the seasons change, so does their relationship, which is put to the test by the couple's individual hungers. Cortlund wrote Now, Forager, which previously played locally at Fusebox Festival 2012, and also is credited with crafting additional close-ups of fungi for the movie.

Much like filmmaking, foraging is a risky business, for both the supplier and the consumer: Lucian's narration details how eating certain mycological specimens can result in "vomiting, cramps, bloody diarrhea, liver and kidney failure, (even) death." The film's end credits contain a disclaimer that gathering mushrooms should only be done with expert assistance, like that of Cortlund or co-director/producer/editor Halperin, who are real-life foragers. 

Slackery News Tidbits: March 4, 2013


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

  • Factory 25 has acquired David and Nathan Zellner's awardwinning feature Kid-Thing (Don's review), according to The Hollywood Reporter. The movie, about a mischief-making 10-year-old girl in East Texas who stumbles on a mysterious abandoned well in the woods, will be released theatrically in New York on May 24, followed by a nationwide tour through the early summer. The Brooklyn-based distributor has scheduled a digital release via VOD and iTunes, among other outlets, on May 24 as well.
  • SXSW has been chosen as an Academy Award-qualifying festival in the Documentary Short Subject category. This means that recipients of the Documentary Short Film award at this year's SXSW Film Festival will qualify for consideration in the Academy Awards' Documentary Short Subject category without the standard theatrical run, provided the film complies with Academy rules.
  • Fans of the 1997 long-lost documentary Hands on a Hard Body will be able to get their hands on a copy of the remastered film when it's released on DVD and available for download April 1, IndieWire reports. S.R. Bindler's film -- unavailable on home video for many years -- documents an annual endurance competition in Longview, Texas, in which 24 participants attempt to keep their hands on a Nissan Hard Body pick-up truck as long as possible. The last person with their hand on the truck gets to drive away with it. We hear the film will screen in Austin this spring with some help from Austin Film Society.

Austin at SXSW 2013: Stuck On On's Repeat Success


Stuck On On

Austin-based audio and visual post-production company Stuck On On worked on six films set to screen at SXSW 2013:

The record-setting year marks the award-winning company's five-year anniversary, when founders Lyman Hardy, Parke Gregg and Allison Turrell (along with a silent partner) opened its doors in the Eastside with the mission to support and solidify Texas film's street cred. Before Stuck On On was a company, it was an experience Hardy had with a dining-room chandelier that refused to turn off. 

And Turrell was stuck on post production after studying video art as a graduate student. She joined forces with Hardy and Gregg, who previously met through work in the film industry, during the summer of 2007. Shortly after, the trio worked on the LBJ documentary The Great Society, which is on permanent display at the LBJ Library and Museum, as well as Unconventional: The Story of Barnett Shale, which screened in 2008 on PBS.

Slackerwood: What has been Stuck On On's relationship with SXSW in the past?

Allison Turrell: Our relationship with SXSW is evolving. Lyman Hardy, our chief audio engineer and composer, has played SXSW in many bands (Ed Hall, Pong and Total Unicorn) over the years, so he's participated in the music portion. This year, Parke Gregg, our lead colorist, is leading a workshop: "Color Story: Adding Character in Post," with the makers of our color correction and finishing system, Assimilate. And I was a documentary screener a few years back, and that was super fun. We always participate, and at least two or three films we've worked on have screened every year since 2009. 

Slackery News Tidbits: February 25, 2013


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

  • At the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, Austin actor Matthew McConaughey took home a Best Supporting Actor award for Magic Mike, and former Austinite John Hawkes won Best Actor for The Sessions. The full list of awards is available on Indiewire.
  • Austin-based filmmaker Heather Courtney's documentary Where Soldiers Come From (Jette's review) has been chosen to screen at this year's Museum of Modern Art's Documentary Fortnight on March 2 as part of MoMA Selects: POV, which highlights awardwinning films that have screened on the television series from the past 25 years. Courtney's documentary, about the lives of small-town childhood friends who enlist in the U.S. National Guard after graduating high school, is one of 22 films to screen during the six-day event. Where Soldiers Come From is now available on Netflix.
  • Austin Film Festival has a new Director of Marketing -- Celina Guerrero, a native from Houston. She was previously the Registration Director for AFF.
  • Austin-based production company Rooster Teeth has released its second trailer online for the animated series RWBY, which follows four very different female fighters on adventures. The "White" trailer introduces viewers to the second of four main characters from the new series, which will premiere at the Third Annual Rooster Teeth Expo July 5-7 at the Austin Convention Center. 

Slackery News Tidbits: February 18, 2013


Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • The Berlin Film Festival surprised Austin director Richard Linklater last week with the Berlinale Camera before a screening of his film Before Midnight, the Los Angeles Times reports. The award is presented to film personalities or institutions to which the festival wishes to express its thanks. Former Austinite Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who star in and co-wrote the film with Linklater, attended the screening as well. Before Midnight, which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (Debbie's review), is the third film in a trilogy that also includes 1995's Before Sunrise (Elizabeth's review) and 2004's Before Sunset.
  • In more Berlin Film Fesitval news, recent Austin transplant David Gordon Green won the Silver Bear award for Best Director at Saturday's ceremony for his buddy film Prince Avalanche, according to Variety. Prince Avalanche, the only comedy among the 19 contenders at the festival, stars Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch (Killer Joe) as Texas roadway workers at a crossroads in their lives in the 1980s. The film, which will screen at this year's SXSW Film Festival, is a remake of the Icelandic comedy Either Way.
  • Writer-director Hannah Fidell's feature debut, A Teacher, also set to screen at SXSW, has been acquired by distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories, the Los Angeles Times announced. Oscilloscope plans to release the indie drama, about a young high-school teacher (Lindsay Burdge) who has an affair with a student (Will Brittain), in a combination of theatrical, VOD and digital platforms later this year.

Celebrate 20 Years of 'Dazed and Confused'

Reunite with Simone, Tony, Cynthia, Jodi, Mitch, Benny, Darla, Sabrina, Cynthia and Tommy for a beer-buzzed existential walk down memory lane. Select Dazed and Confused cast members and writer/director Richard Linklater will celebrate the film's 20th anniversary with two screenings and a Q&A with the cast and crew on Wednesday, March 6 at 7 pm and 9:30 pm at The Marchesa Hall & Theatre (6226 Middle Fiskville Rd) in Austin. General admission and VIP tickets go on sale at noon on Friday for Austin Film Society members, and to the public on Thursday, Feb. 21. VIP tickets include access to a party with the film's stars and preferred seating for the screening with the Q&A. 

The film's anniversary screening and party kicks off the celebration: Linklater and a number of the movie's cast members will accept the Star of Texas award for Dazed and Confused at this year's Texas Film Hall of Fame awards gala the day after the anniversary party (Thursday, March 7).

Dazed and Confused takes place during a time when you could haze and humiliate people without the threat of a lawsuit. Bongs blazed, joints were passed and the keg never seemed to run dry. The times they were a'changin' in 1976, and the characters in Linklater's film weren't immune. Their crazy hijinks and adventures of a group of seniors-to-be and incoming high-school freshman on their last day of school is chronicled in this 1993 retrospective. 

Not since American Graffiti has a coming-of-age comedy had such a unique cast of former nobodies, some of whom will be in attendance at the anniversary screening and party. See you at the moontower. 

Slackery News Tidbits: February 12, 2013


Here's the latest in Austin film news.

  • New York-based film distributor Kino Lorber has acquired the US rights to Austinite Andrew Bujalski's comedy Computer ChessIndieWire reports. Bujalski's feature revolves around chess players and computer programmers at a computer chess tournament in the 1980s. The Austin-shot film, which screened at Sundance 2013 and will screen at SXSW in March, is scheduled to be released by Kino Lorber late this year.
  • If you like short films and Mondo posters, head to City Hall. That's not a typo. The City of Austin will hold a free opening reception for the 2013 People's Gallery exhibition on Friday, February 22 from 6-9 pm at City Hall (301 W. Second). The reception will also screen short films from the city's Faces of Austin program.  The exhibition, which will run through mid-January 2014, features more than 100 pieces of artwork from Austin-area artists, galleries, museums and art organizations that will be displayed throughout the first three floors of City Hall. Special exhibits by Mondo Gallery and the Serie Project will also be included.
  • This year's SXSWedu Conference and Festival has announced a lineup of documentary films, including the Texas-shot The Revisionaries (Don's review), about the Texas State Board of Education and some of its members' attempts to drive science out of public school textbooks; and the partially Texas-shot Bully (Don's review), a controversial look into peer-to-peer bullying in American schools, according to The Austin Chronicle. All screenings will be held at Alamo Ritz March 4-7. Conference attendees will also have the chance to see the 10th Annual Texas High School Film Competition, as well as a secret screening. 

TIFN Roadshow: 'When I Rise'


In 1957, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment, but segregationists in the Texas Legislature deemed it legal to threaten to withhold state funding from a public university for casting an African-American female opposite a fellow Caucasian male student. The 1950s was a decade that opened the door to equal and fair education for all Americans, but continued to be slammed in the faces of some, like University of Texas at Austin distinguished alumna Barbara Smith Conrad, the subject of the 2010 film When I Rise.

Conrad, a mezzo-soprano from Center Point, Texas, was cast as Dido in Henry Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas. However, she was soon replaced by a Caucasian student. The casting move made headlines nationwide, gaining the attention of the King of Calypso himself, Harry Belafonte, who offered Conrad a deal she did refuse: He would pay for her music education anywhere in the world if she chose to leave the university. But despite being spat on by another student while walking through campus, she graduated from UT in 1959.

Don Carleton, executive director of UT's Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, and his team came up with the idea for When I Rise after Conrad, who now lives on the Upper West Side in New York, was the subject of an oral history project at the center in 2006. The award-winning film premiered at SXSW 2010 and screened on the PBS series Independent Lens a year later. It's since been picked up by the international distributor Mercury Media, based in London.

Those closer to Texas can see When I Rise as it continues its 13-city tour with the Texas Independent Film Network this month. Here in Austin, the documentary will screen on Monday night at Violet Crown Cinema, and tickets are still available.

In The Mood For Kyle Henry's 'Fourplay'


Fourplay posterSet in four American cities, director and UT alum Kyle Henry's anthology film Fourplay shows that love, fear and desire are universal emotions that drive our decisions, like participating in a public restroom orgy or hiring a prostitute for your quadriplegic husband. Austin Film Society is screening the movie tonight as a fundraiser for the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund, and on Friday it starts a week-long run at Alamo Drafthouse Village.

"Sex is often portrayed in film as heterosexual and monogamous," says Henry, a former Austinite who's now an assistant professor at Northwestern University. "The writers and I saw a need to make a movie that reflected the lives of the people we know."

Cuddling, touching, kissing ... The sexually-explicit anthology turns the definition of foreplay on its head, and back and side. Fourplay runs the gamut from tales of sexual intimacy that are romantic to sorrowful, comedic to raunchy, and it's through the four shorts that Henry says the film is able to reflect a complete spectrum of sexual expression. 

A spectrum of sexual expression that Henry says his parents (his father's a former Marine and his mother's an elementary school arts teacher) wouldn't understand. His parents may not ever see Fourplay but one of his sisters has, as well as some of his former Northwestern University students. 

Initially, Fourplay was produced in four separate sections, with the first installment being "Tampa," written by Henry's creative and romantic partner Carlos Trevino. However, Henry says the film was always intended to be a feature.

"Tampa," about a lonely man who acts out his insecurities through fantasy, screened at the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals. Two of the four shorts have also screened at Outfest, the L.A. gay and lesbian film festival Henry says took a chance by screening "San Francisco" and credits the support for the short's Newfest Film Festival awards. "San Francisco" and the finished Fourplay also both played aGLIFF (now Polari) in recent years.

Slackery News Tidbits: February 4, 2013


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

  • Will James Moore's and Jonathan Case's independent film Satellite of Love (Jette's review) will screen 7:30 pm on Wednesday in the AFS Screening Room. Austin filmmaker Moore will be in attendance for a Q&A moderated by our Slackerwood editor Jette Kernion. The Central Texas-shot film, about a love triangle between friends that unfolds over the course of a week, stars Zachary Knight (Happy Endings) and Janina Gavankar (True Blood). The movie previously screened locally at Austin Film Festival in 2012.
  • The American Library Association included Austin-based filmmaker Heather Courtney's Where Soldiers Come From (Jette's review) on its annual list of notable videos for adults. Courtney's documentary, about the lives of small-town childhood friends who enlist in the U.S. National Guard after graduating high school, is one of 15 outstanding titles released on video within the last two years that the committee felt was suitable for all libraries serving adults.
  • Calling all screenwriters: Austin Film Festival's 20th annual screenplay and teleplay competition is now open for submissions. The fest is introducing a new horror award this year.
  • AFF is also pleased to introduce its new film department director, Ryan Darbonne. The University of North Texas alumnus previously served as the co-founder/executive director of Cinema41, a community organization that screens independent films.
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