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Slackery News Tidbits: June 10, 2013

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • Maggie Carey's screenplay, which was performed as a table reading at Austin Film Festival 2010 under the working title The Hand Job (Jette's article), will hit U.S. theaters July 26 as The To Do List (watch the trailer). Carey's husband, Bill Hader of SNL fame, co-stars in this ensemble comedy about a recent high-school graduate named Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) who, with the help of her friends (Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development and Sarah Steele of Spanglish), makes a list of sexually explicit acts to accomplish before college. Friday Night Lights alum Connie Britton and Scott Porter also star as Brandy's mother and love interest respectively.
  • Austinite Robert Rodriguez's El Rey English-language cable television station, aimed at young Latinos, is scheduled to launch in December or early next year, IndieWire reports. The network's lineup includes two scripted shows: an adaptation of Rodriguez's 1996 film From Dusk Till Dawn, which he will write, produce and direct; and a 13-episode "Latino James Bond-type" action adventure series he's slated to direct.
  • Universal has acquired the rights to comedy spec Don't Mess With Texas, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Reese Witherspoon, who most recently starred in Austinite Jeff Nichols' Mud, and Sofia Vergara (Machete Kills) are attached to star in this female-centered buddy pic about a police officer and a prisoner on the run.
  • Austin School of Film is offering free summer movie choices with its new "Pesadillas Calidas, Horror Films from Mexico" series, which showcases B-classics made below the border from the 1950s-1980s (with English subtitles) at 9 pm every second and fourth Saturday of the month through August at 1634 E. Cesar Chavez. For more free and cheap movies in Austin, don't forget to check out Slackerwood's annual guide.

Slackery News Tidbits: June 3, 2013

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Here's the latest Austin film news. 

  • Austin Film Society recently announced the participants in its inaugural Artist Intensive, a program designed to mentor narrative feature writers/directors in the development stages of their projects. Last weekend, Austin and New York-based independent bigwigs, like Amy Hobby (producer of Gayby) and Austinite Jeff Nichols (Mud), mentored six filmmakers, which included Austinites Mallory Culbert and Carlyn Hudson with The Big Spoon; 2012 Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund recipients Andy Irvine and Mark Smoot with Lovers Crossing; 2011 TFPF recipient Daniel Laabs with an untitled project about the aftermath of a fatal car accident in Pennsylvania; and the Texas revenge thriller Seize The Body by James M. Johnston and Todd Connelly. 
  • The Houston Film Commission has announced this year's Texas Filmmaker's Showcase, a selection of short films representing the Lone Star State. The showcase will be screened in Los Angeles on June 30 for producers, agents and studio reps. It includes several films from Austinites: Kat Candler's short Hellion; Russell O. Bush's documentary Vultures of Tibet (which won TFPF grants in 2011 and 2012); Craig Whitney's The Garden and the Wilderness; and Tony Costello's Little Lions. Other selections include Cork's Cattlebaron by Dallas filmmaker Eric Steele (watch online) and documentary Vincent Valdez, Excerpts for John, by San Antonio filmmakers Angela and Mark Walley (watch online).
  • Fantastic Fest will host an international co-production market for genre films called Fantastic Market/Mercado Fantastico, which aims to connect international genre film projects with potential production partners, sales agents and distributors. The market will premiere in conjunction with this year's Fantastic Fest. Austinite Robert Rodriguez's El Rey network will collaborate with Mexican production and distribution outlet Canana Films to produce the Fantastic Market. Film submissions will be accepted until July 15. Representatives from the projects, selected by industry insiders mid-August, will be invited to make pitches to a jury that will include Rodriguez and Fantastic Fest/Alamo Drafthouse co-founder Tim League, who will select and award the top three.

The Value of Shorts: David Fabelo and His 'Do Over' Philosophy

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Movie Still

It's been native Austinite David Fabelo's philosophy for years: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. It's worked in Fabelo's romantic life -- despite spilling a beer on a woman during their first date he redeemed himself and now they're married. It's also worked in his professional life, with the release of his award-winning short film Do Over, about Adam (Garrett Jester), a high schooler who attempts to make a good first impression on his date with Sarah (Jacobi Alvarez).

This attitude of utilizing experimentation in an attempt to get it "right" has led co-writer/director Fabelo to VHX, an online platform that allows independent filmmakers to distribute their content directly to their fans via paywall. Fabelo has used VHX to set up a site where viewers can preview and hopefully purchase a download of Do Over.

"It's about putting a value on our work," said Fabelo. "A way to value shorts." 

Slackery News Tidbits: May 27, 2013

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Here's the latest film news.

  • A "spiritual" follow-up to the 1993 Richard Linklater comedy Dazed and Confused may begin filming this fall, according to Flixist. Linklater discussed the film, which he describes as a college comedy with a large ensemble cast, during a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) last week.
  • Get your questions ready for Alamo Drafthouse co-founder and CEO Tim League, who will participate in an AMA on Reddit along with other representatives from the local theater chain from 1-4 pm CDT Thursday.
  • Speaking of the Alamo Drafthouse, its distribution arm Drafthouse Films has acquired the U.S. rights to the German drama Nothing Bad Can Happen, which premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival. It's about a young Christian who begins to live with a family after a chance encounter and becomes the target of a violent game to test his faith. Writer/director Katrin Gebbe's first feature is also the first feature in the Drafthouse Films library to be directed by a woman.
  • Chef du Cinema will be offering a new cooking class for a four-course meal inspired by Terry Gilliam's fantasy/adventure Time Bandits on Saturday, June 8 at Central Market North Lamar.

Slackery News Tidbits: May 20, 2013

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Here's the latest Austin film news. 

  • The New York Times profiled the Austin film scene in Sunday's edition and interviewed locally based industry heavy hitters like Richard Linklater, Elizabeth Avellan, Bryan Poyser (Elizabeth's interview) and Andrew Bujalski (Jordan's interview), among others. Worth a look for the photos alone.
  • Speaking of Linklater, he has now filed suit against his insurance company, alleging breach of contract, The Austin Chronicle reports. His Paige, Texas property, near Bastrop, which housed scripts, production materials, publicity information, among other movie memorabilia, was damaged in 2011's wildfires.
  • More more Linklater: Filmmaker Gabe Klinger has created a Kickstarter campaign for his documentary about the Austin filmmaker and director James Benning, according to Filmmaker Magazine. The project will only be funded if at least $25,000 is pledged by June 8. More than $8,000 has been raised so far.
  • More than 65 research fellowships have been awarded by The University of Texas Harry Ransom Center for the 2013-2014 academic year to support humanities projects that require substantial onsite use of HRC collections of manuscripts, art, films, and other resources. Austin author Alison Macor (Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids) has received a research fellowship for her work about the life and career of HRC.

Oak Cliff Film Festival Reveals its 2013 (Austin-Heavy) Lineup

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Oak Cliff Film Festival Logo

The second annual Oak Cliff Film Festival seeks to showcase the best of independent filmmaking of all genres from Oak Cliff (a Dallas district), Dallas, Denton, Fort Worth and Austin. From June 6-9, these films will be screened in the heart of the city's burgeoning Bishop Arts District and in some of its most historic movie theaters, like The Kessler Theater, which is said to have opened in the spring of 1942. The fest's home theater is the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff, which hosts eclectic repertory film programming year-round (and which has a colorful history).

The nonprofit fest, which donates a portion of all ticket and badge sales to the North Texas Food Bank, announced its lineup earlier this week. Highlights include movies screened at this year's SXSW Film Festival, like Oak Cliff's opening night films Drinking Buddies (Rod's review), about the relationship between two co-workers at a Chicago brewery, and the documentary Pussy Riot: a Punk Prayer, that follows three members of a Russian art collective who were arrested on charges of religious hatred after performing a 40 second "punk prayer" inside one of the country's main cathedrals. 

In addition, the fest's closing-night film is the regional premiere of Bobcat Goldthwait's latest movie, Willow Creek, a horror film starring Alexie Gilmore. And DFW-area filmmaker David Lowery (Ain't Them Bodies Saints) will present some short films, a secret screening, and a not-so-secret screening of McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

Slackery News Tidbits: May 13, 2013

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Here's the latest Austin film news.

  • Austin filmmaker Jeff Nichols is slated to write and direct Midnight Special, described as a "contemporary science-fiction chase film," for Warner Bros, Deadline announced. Fellow Austinites Sarah Green and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (Sinister) will serve as the movie's producers. The project, currently in development, will re-team Nichols and actor Michael Shannon, who has been in all Nichols' features to date.
  • The Alamo Drafthouse is scheduled to open its largest theater yet, with 10 screens, in north (very north) Austin. The theater will open sometime this July in the new Lakeline Market Shopping Center adjacent to Lakeline Mall. Nearby theater Alamo Lake Creek will remain in business this summer until after the new Drafthouse opens.
  • In more Drafthouse news, the company’s film distribution arm has acquired the North American rights to British director Ben Wheatley’s latest movie, A Field in England, according to IndieWire. The horror film, which is scheduled for a theatrical and VOD release later this year, follows a group of soldiers during the English Civil War in the 17th century. They're captured by an alchemist to assist in his search for treasures hidden in a giant mushroom field.
  • London-based Eureka Entertainment's Masters of Cinema Series has bought the UK distribution rights to Austinite Andrew Bujalski's (Jordan's interview) comedy Computer Chess (Jette's review), Bleeding Cool reports. Bujalski's feature revolves around chess players and computer programmers at a computer chess tournament in the 1980s. The Austin-shot film premiered at Sundance 2013, then screened at SXSW. Kino Lorber is distributing the movie in the U.S.

Slackery News Tidbits: May 6, 2013

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Here's the latest Austin film news:

  • The Paramount Theatre kicks off its Summer Classic Film Series with an opening-nght party and a double feature on Friday, May 23. Traditional Paramount opener Casablanca and Woody Allen's romantic dramedy Annie Hall will screen. The complete summer lineup will be announced on May 16.
  • Texas filmmaker Amy Seimetz's (our interview) dramatic thriller Sun Don't Shine (Don's review), which premiered at SXSW 2012, is out now on VOD, iTunes and Amazon, among other digital platforms, according to the film's distributor. Factory 25. Sun Don't Shine, about a couple who takes a mysterious road trip through central Florida, stars Austin-based actors AJ Bowen (Grow Up, Tony Phillips) and Mark Reeb, as well as Houston-based actress Kit Gwen.
  • The Austin-shot film blacktino (Chip's review) is now available to rent as a Vimeo download. The dark teen comedy, about an overweight nerd trying to find his place in the world, premiered at SXSW 2011 and is the feature debut by local filmmaker Aaron Burns.
  • No summer plans? Why not go on a scavenger hunt for some of Austin's most famous movie locations that are open to the public. Citysearch has made it easier with its guide, which includes the Texas School for the Deaf, forever immortalized as Herrington High in Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez's late-'90s teen horror flick The Faculty. Alien teachers may no longer run amok, but the beautiful campus still stands intact.

Slackery News Tidbits: April 29, 2013

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Here's the latest Austin film news.

  • Locally shot film The Happy Poet will return to Austin next Monday at the Stateside Theater, with some of the cast and crew in attendance for a post-screening Q&A (Jordan's interview). Paul Gordon's comedy will be released on DVD and online streaming June 25. The Happy Poet, which premiered at SXSW 2010 (our review), tells the story of Bill (Gordon), an out-of-work poet who uses the last of his money (and a loan) to buy an all-organic, mostly vegetarian food stand. The cast also includes Chris Doubek and Jonny Mars.
  • Austin videogame label Devolver Digital has created a new division for film distribution. They've acquired their first film for theatrical and VOD release: Cancerpants. Don saw it at aGLIFF in 2011 and said it's "a terrific documentary about Austinite Rochelle Poulson's fight against breast cancer." He added: "Shot in Austin and astutely directed by Nevie Owens, Cancerpants is a starkly honest portrait of Poulson's battle, a film that doesn't shy away from the often unpleasant details of her story." Look for it on VOD outlets starting May 7, with screenings in several cities -- including Austin, natch -- planned for May 30.
  • The music documentary A Band Called Death, which screened at this year's SXSW Film Festival, is also gearing up for its May 24 VOD release and June 28 limited theatrical release through Drafthouse Films, the distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse. A Band Called Death takes a walk down a sometimes blurry memory lane, when, in the 1970s, three African-American brothers from Detroit formed the punk band Death (Debbie's preview). The documentary follows the band's newfound popularity, decades after they split.

Slackery News Tidbits: April 22, 2013

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

  • Two Austin-based theater chains are expanding their reach in the U.S. Violet Crown Cinema will open a second location in Santa Fe at an undisclosed date, according to Austin 360. The arthouse theater, owned by Bill Banowsky, co-founder of the Austin-based Magnolia Pictures, will be part of the Santa Fe Railyard development. Austin Business Journal reports that Alamo Drafthouse will open its first Lubbock area location next year, with construction currently underway.
  • The inaugural Q Fest, celebrating queer cinema, began yesterday at the Josephine Theatre in San Antonio, the San Antonio Current reports. Festivities include a short films package and documentaries, such as San Antonio Four, about four Latina lesbians from San Antonio who may have been wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting two children in the early '90s.
  • The latest movie by former Austinites Joel and Ethan Coen, who filmed the 2010 remake True Grit in-and-around Austin, has been chosen as an official selection at this year's Cannes Film Festival, according to IndieWire. Inside Llewyn Davis, starring Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake, tells the story of an aspiring folk singer-songwriter (Oscar Isaac) in 1960s Greenwich Village.
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