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Slackery News Tidbits, August 27

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

  • Austin-based film composer Brian Satterwhite has been commissioned by the Dallas Chamber Symphony to compose scores for two silent films, including A Sailor-Made Man, a Harold Lloyd film about a boy who accidentally enlists in the Navy to impress a girl, according to Satterwhite's blog. The scores will be performed live during the entire second half of the screenings on Nov. 13 and and Feb. 26 at the new Dallas City Performance Hall.
  • IndieWire reported that University of Texas alumnus Todd Berger's film It's a Disaster, which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival, has been picked up by Oscilloscope for North American distribution. The ensemble comedy, starring America Ferrera and Julia Stiles, is about a group of friends who experience an apocalyptic bomb explosion during brunch. 
  • Speaking of films with local ties that premiered at LAFF ... the Austin-shot movie Saturday Morning Massacre took home the Best Feature prize at the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival last weekend. Check out Jette's review and Virginia's interviews with cast and crew, including producer Jonny Mars and director Spencer Parsons.
  • Looking to stay on top of the filmmaking game? The eighth annual Business of Film Conference will take place Sept. 8 at the Rice University Media Center in Houston, according to Short Film Texas. Film industry professionals, such as opening speaker and distribution strategist Peter Broderick, will share their advice and experience to filmmakers. Rebecca Campbell, Austin Film Society executive director, and Rick Ferguson, Houston Film Commission executive director, will discuss the state of the Texas Filmmaking Union.

Review: Celeste and Jesse Forever

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Actress/writer Rashida Jones, daughter of famed music producer Quincy Jones and '60s TV star Peggy Lipton, is a woman for the ages: smart, funny, tenacious and slightly overbearing. And so is her character Celeste in the indie romantic comedy Celeste & Jesse Forever, opening in Austin theaters today.

When we first encounter childhood sweethearts Celeste and Jesse (Andy Samberg) in the movie, they're in relationship limbo. After six years of marriage, the two have decided to legally separate, but find it difficult to emotionally separate. Professional slacker and artist-wannabe Jesse continues to live in his backyard studio, with Celeste living in the couples' former home. When he's not watching the Beijing Olympics, he and Celeste, a trends forecaster for an L.A. marketing company and author, resume a somewhat platonic best friendship, much to the chagrin of the couples' long-time friends Beth (Ary Graynor) and her fiance Tucker (Eric Christian Olson).

Celeste and Jesse's inside jokes, which mainly involve phallic-shaped objects and German accents, put a damper not only on their social lives but their dating lives as well. That is, until the gang has a chance encounter with Jesse's former one-night stand.

'My Sister Sarah' Explores The Personal Perspective of Addiction

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Sarah Chatelain-Jamz and daughter Serenity

Austin-based filmmaker Elizabeth Chatelain remembered the event that made her realize how detached she and her elder sister had become. Her documentary and University of Texas radio-TV-film graduate thesis, My Sister, Sarah, explores their relationship and her sister's battle with drug addiction. 

Chatelain had returned home to Fargo in 2007 after graduating from Middlebury College in Vermont. The 22-year-old's homecoming was cut short when she, her mother and brother stopped by her estranged sister's apartment to persuade her to go to the hospital. When her sister Sarah Chatelain-Gress finally opened the door for her brother, after refusing her mother, her physical appearance was astounding. After combating drug addiction for years, Chatelain-Gress had relapsed. 

"I saw her and it was like seeing this other person," Chatelain said. "It's not the person you have grown up with; it's not the person that you just had a conversation with on the phone. She was like a shell of a person. She was just out of her mind."

Slackery News Tidbits, August 20

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Here's the latest in Austin film news.

  • Don Simpson's Film School Rejects column "Austin Cinematic Limits" reports that PJ Raval's Untitled Gay Retiree Documentary, Kat Candler's and Kelly Williams' Hellion, as well as Clay Liford's script-in-progress Cutlet were selected as part of next month's 34th Annual Independent Film Week's Project Forum. The purpose of the project is to provide opportunities for independent filmmakers to connect with industry professionals. 
  • UT alums Will James Moore's and Jonathan Case's independent film Satellite of Love (Jette's review) won a Golden Ace Award at the Las Vegas Film Festival. The Central Texas-shot film, about a love triangle between friends that unfolds over the course of a week, will screen at next month's Ruby Mountain Film Festival in Nevada. 
  • Fantastic Fest 2011 favorite Juan of the Dead (Rod's review), about a Cuban slacker who capitalizes on a zombie invasion, is now available on DVD and VOD via Vudu and iTunes.
  • Tickets are on sale now for Austin Film Festival's 10th annual Film and Food Party on Oct. 17 at the Driskill Hotel. Mix and mingle with some of Austin's finest while supporting the arts. Event proceeds benefit AFF's Young Filmmakers Program. 

Review: Searching for Sugar Man

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Searching for Sugar Man

"Sugar man you're the answer/That makes my questions disappear"
--Sixto Rodriguez

For two South Africans, the song lyrics they had heard for years, like the ones above, only prompted more questions. Who was this musician who wrote lyrics about a drug addict's love for his dealer? Were the rumors about his committing suicide onstage true, or was he still alive? Their curiosity led them on a years-long journey across continents, documented in the visually stunning albeit flawed film Searching for Sugar Man, which opens in Austin today.

Swedish director Malick Bendjelloul's Sundance award-winning documentary discusses Sixto Rodriguez's musical beginnings playing in dive bars in Detroit, where he was discovered (playing guitar and singing with his back turned to the audience) and subsequently signed to a two-album contract with Sussex and A&R Records.

Slackery News Tidbits, August 13

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

  • Austin-based actor Matthew McConaughey joins the cast of Martin Scorsese's biopic of former Wall Street broker Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Based on Belfort's bestselling memoir, the film chronicles Belfort's dramatic rise and fall on Wall Street and his tumultuous personal life. McConaughey will play Mark Hanna, Belfort's early boss and mentor.
  • Do The Right Thing and join the Paramount's new Silver Screen Speaker Series on September 8 at 7:30 pm for a visit from acclaimed director Spike Lee, Austin Movie Blog reports. The Paramount and Stateside Theatres began selling tickets for the Fall 2012 season last week, which also includes an appearance by Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz on December 1 and Maya Angelou on November 2, who will speak as part of the Leading Ladies Series.
  • Or do the Wrong thing, like Drafthouse Films, which has acquired the North American distribution rights to Quentin Dupieux's surreal comedy, The Austin Chronicle reports. The French filmmaker's follow-up to the 2010 horror movie Rubber is about a normal guy on a journey to find his missing dog. Wrong, which premiered at Sundance 2012, is scheduled for a 2013 limited theatrical and VOD release. 
  • In other Alamo Drafthouse news, beginning August 24 the theater chain will present the new series, "Presented in Amazing AlamoScope: 70mm at the Ritz." Moviegoers have the opportunity to watch West Side Story, Cleopatra, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and other films in their original format. The series kicks off with director Paul Thomas Anderson's new film, The Master, which is screening in 70mm in only a few cities.

Slackery News Tidbits, August 6

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

  • Extras are needed today and tomorrow at The Mohawk for the upcoming film Thank You A Lot. Written and directed by Matt Muir, the film tells the story of a music agent whose job and the livelihood of his clients is threatened when he is forced to sign his reclusive, legendary musician father, played by real-life country artist James Hand. If you're interested, email your contact info to thankyoualotmovie [at] gmail [dot] com with "EXTRA" in the subject line.
  • The AFS-sponsored Moviemaker Dialogue series will bring Austin filmmakers David and Nathan Zellner (Kid-Thing), Kat Candler (Hellion) and Clay Liford (Wuss) together for a conversation about their short film successes, and how this translates to feature-length film opportunities. The panel takes place at 7 pm on Wednesday, August 15 at the Austin Studios Screening Room.
  • Academy Award-nominated actress Viola Davis will produce and star in an untitled Barbara Jordan biopic, the Houston Chronicle reported. Davis gained acclaim for her roles in The Help and Doubt
  • In other casting news, actor Jeremy Irvine will play Robert Duvall's grandson in the upcoming Bill Wittliff-penned film A Night in Old Mexico, according to Joe M. O'Connell's blog. The film, about an older man who heads to Mexico with his grandson after the foreclosure of his ranch, is scheduled to shoot in Brownsville.

Slackery News Tidbits, July 30

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

  • Tribeca Film recently acquired all North American rights to Austin-based director Bob Byington's offbeat indie comedy Somebody Up There Likes Me (Don's review), Indiewire reported. Byington's follow-up to his 2009 film Harmony and Me stars Keith Poulson and Nick Offerman as best friends who are aided through life by a magic suitcase (Jette's interview with Byington and Offerman). The movie, which premiered at SXSW 2012, is scheduled to have a Spring 2013 theatrical release and will be available for rent on various video-on-demand platforms and iTunes. 
  • Austin independent film has another reason to rejoice with the recent announcement of part-time Austinite Treva Wurmfeld's appearance as one of 25 new faces of independent film by Filmmaker Magazine, Austin Movie Blog reported. Wurmfeld was chosen to be a part of the 15th annual list, which has included other local filmmakers such as Joe Nicolosi and Andrew Bujalski, for her debut feature Shepard & Dark. The documentary chronicles the friendship between writer and archivist Johnny Dark and Hollywood star Sam Shepard. Post-production on the film was completed at Richard Linklater's Detour Productions and is scheduled to make its world premiere this September at the Toronto International Film Festival.
  • The Toronto International Film Festival will also host a special screening of Austin-based director Terrence Malick's new film, To The WonderAustin Movie Blog recently reported. The Oklahoma-shot film, which stars Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem and Rachel McAdams, is about a man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage with a European woman ends. The film is also scheduled to screen at next month's Venice International Film Festival, where it will compete for the festival's top prize, the Golden Lion.
  • Speaking of Terrence Malick, his stepson, actor Will Wallace, will direct the film Red Wing in the North Texas town of Whitewright, according to Joe M. O'Connell's blog. Screenwriter Kathleen Orillion, who adapted George Sand's book Le Petite Fadette into the family saga The Marfa Lights for the now defunct Burnt Orange Productions, rejoins Malick for Red Wing. Orillion's collaboration may provide insight into the plot of the film, which is set to star Fort Worth native Bill Paxton; Frances Fisher, who attended high school in Orange, Texas; and Luke Perry.

Slackery News Tidbits, July 24

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Here's the latest in Austin film news.

  • So long, TV networks? Austin Business Journal reported that media experts predict Web productions, such as those produced by Transmedia Austin in the newly renovated Austin Studios, are the future. Locally produced Web series Ain't It Cool With Harry Knowles, Weatherman With Kelli Bland and The Quiet Girl's Guide to Violence have utilized traditional advertisement models, corporate branding and websites such as Kickstarter to finance their projects.
  • Speaking of Austin Studios, Austin City Hall was transformed into an Arizona location last Thursday for an episode of the second season of ABC Family's The Lying Game, KXAN reported. The series, about a teenager in foster care who switches places with her long-lost identical twin sister in hopes of uncovering the truth of their separation, is primarily filmed at the 20-acre production facility.
  • Austin-based IPF Productions has been invited to the inaugural Fantasia Industry Rendez-Vous and International Co-Production Market in conjunction with Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, the company reported. Representatives will participate in the conference panel "Transmedia Promotion Before and During Production," which will focus on ways people can utilize the Internet to gain audience involvement during the early stages of a project. IPF Productions is working on the documentary Rewind This!, about the evolution of VHS tapes.
  • The Cine Las Americas 2012 award-winning film Las Malas Intenciones, about an early 1980s Peruvian girl with an often morbid imagination, will screen at 7 pm tonight at Alamo South Lamar. Check out the trailer below.

Slackery News Tidbits, July 16

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Here's the latest in Austin film news.

  • Austin Film Society recently received a $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The nonprofit organization is one of 80 "Our Town" grantees in the nation. The grant will fund community engagement and design for Austin Studios' expansion as the organization incorporates and remodels the neighboring decommissioned National Guard Building into its current site.

    AFS will involve the community in the new Austin Studios design, which includes creating affordable space for production and education; programming and design of a new exhibition and visitors center with a plaza/lobby for events; screening rooms for AFS's exhibition programs, artists, festivals and community organizations; and plans for signage, landscaping and other infrastructure that will allow the public to observe and interact with working filmmakers and other artists. The expansion will fulfill four major needs identified by the 2008 CreateAustin Cultural Master Plan commissioned by the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division.
  • Two Texas-connected films are nominated for the 2012 News and Documentary Emmy Awards after being broadcast on the PBS show POV. Per PR Newswire, the nominees include Better This World (Don's review), about two childhood friends from Midland who were arrested on terrorism charges at the 2008 Republican National Convention, and Where Soldiers Come From (Jette's review), Austin documentarian Heather Courtney's film about the lives of small-town childhood friends who enlist in the U.S. National Guard after graduating high school. The 33rd annual awards ceremony will take place Oct. 1.
  • Former Austinite and film editor Jacob Vaughan will be directing the horror comedy Milo, Hollywood Reporter has announced. Jay and Mark Duplass are executive producers on the movie, which centers on a man (Ken Marino) who, after experiencing intense stomach pains, discovers to his horror that he has a demon living in his intestines. Vaughan previously worked with the Duplass brothers as an editor on Jeff, Who Lives at Home. His previous feature filmmaking experience includes collaborations with Bryan Poyser on the locally shot features Dear Pillow and The Cassidy Kids, and he worked as an editor on Bob Byington's film Harmony and Me.
  • Boneboys, filmed in Austin and Taylor, debuts at Montreal's Fantasia Fest Aug. 4, according to Joe M. O'Connell's blog. Writer/producer Kim Henkel, who co-wrote the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chain Saw 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.
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