Jette Kernion's blog

Fantastic Fest 2012 Lineup: The Austin Connections

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The Quiet Girl's Guide to Violence

This week, Fantastic Fest announced the final wave of its 2012 features and shorts programming. Many of the films were from other countries -- Fantastic Fest tends to have an international flavor, rather than a regional one. This is an elegant way of saying that you don't see a lot of Lone Star movies in the festival lineup. However, there are always one or two local gems to uncover at the fest.

Here are the Austin-connected films I've found (so far) that will screen during Fantastic Fest 2012. If I've missed something, please let me know in the comments. This list doesn't include bumpers -- the short shorts that screen before each movie at the fest -- but there are always a few memorable Austin-shot bumpers at the fest every year, so keep an eye out.

The Features:

  • The ABCs of Death -- The official release date for this Drafthouse Films-produced horror anthology has been pushed back to 2013, but Fantastic Fest-goers still have the chance to see it soon. Austin-born filmmaker/actress Angela Bettis shot her segment in Austin with some local crew.
  • The American Scream -- Alamo programmer Zack Carlson is one of the producers of this documentary from Michael Stephenson (Best Worst Movie). It's about homemade haunted houses in a small Massachusetts town and the families who stage them.

Shameless Self-Promo: Have You Voted 'Best of Austin' Yet?

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The deadline to vote in the annual Austin Chronicle Best of Austin awards is today (11:59 pm CST, to be precise). Have you voted yet?

If you have not, I'd like to point out a couple of interesting categories in the Media section:

  • Film Critic
  • Local Entertainment Website

Why yes, that's a hint. All right, forget about the hinting, I'd love it if you voted for our website.

Last year, Slackerwood was fortunate enough to win a critics' pick award for Best Austin Movie Blog in the critics' pick section of the awards for our News Mega-Feed. I couldn't have been happier. This year, I'm wondering if we can at least be a contender in the awards you vote on, which would be pretty amazing. We have a number of great film critics here as well -- pick your favorite.

Review: Red Hook Summer

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Red Hook Summer

Remember my Moonrise Kingdom review earlier this summer, in which I confessed that I'd tweeted the fatuous "oh yes oh Wes oh yes yes yes" after seeing the movie?

Oh, Spike Lee. Oh, no. No (sigh).

Red Hook Summer, Lee's latest feature film, disappointed me greatly. To compare it to my reaction to Moonrise Kingdom causes me to worry that I am a privileged hipster elitist who favors the precious over the real. I'm not going to dwell on whether that's accurate and to what degree, but I firmly believe that even if that's true, it's not why I couldn't engage with Red Hook Summer. Lee's movie about teenagers coming of age has structural problems, clunky performances and an excess of speechifying. As someone who is a great fan of Lee's New Orleans documentaries and several of his features, it is a letdown.

The barely-a-teen at the center of Red Hook Summer is Silas Royale (Jules Brown), who prefers the nickname Flik. Without explaining exactly why, his mom sends him from his sheltered Atlanta private-school home to spend the summer in the rundown Brooklyn neighborhood of the title with his grandfather, Bishop Enoch (Clarke Peters), the pastor of Lil Piece of Heaven Baptist Church. Flik is using his iPad to make a documentary about his summer experiences, which do not look promising. His grandfather shuns worldly pursuits and orders him to work around the church grounds all day with teenage girl Chazz (Toni Lysaith), assisting Deacon Zee (Thomas Jefferson Byrd), who prefers to enjoy his wine and his Wall Street Journal.

AFS Essential Cinema Brings Us the End of Summer (in French)

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Mademoiselle Chambon

The latest Essential Cinema series from Austin Film Society is titled, "La fin de l'été: Recent French Cinema." The idea of an end to summer -- and summer heat -- is certainly compelling around here. Starting tonight, AFS brings us five fine French films from the past five years, one of which I've seen already and can recommend.

The movies screen on Tuesday nights at 7 pm from September 4 to October 2 -- all but one at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. You'll have to go to Alamo Village for the Sept. 25 selection, since Lamar will be overrun by Fantastic Fest. Tickets are $8 general admission ... and either free or $5 for AFS members, depending on your membership level. AFS has just rolled out a new membership program with easy-to-remember levels (Make, Watch, Love, and then premiere levels) and Essential Cinema selections are free if you're in the Love or higher levels. 

The descriptions of the five movies are below, taken verbatim from the AFS website. The last movie on the schedule, Sleepless Night, played Austin at Fantastic Fest last year and I can vouch that it is genuinely thrilling.

Mademoiselle Chambon (pictured above)
Tuesday, September 4, 7 pm
A small town homebuilder, happily married, unexpectedly finds himself falling in love with a shy teacher when she plays a wistful tune on her violin.

Meet the 2012 Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund Recipients

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Black Metal

The Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund grant winners for 2012 were just announced last night. This year, the TFPF has awarded $121,000 worth of cash grants for filmmaking projects, resources such as film stock, camera goods/services and post-production services, and travel grants for Lone Star filmmakers to attend festivals where their movies are screening.

Not only is it a pleasure to see Austin and Texas filmmakers receiving needed funds and other assistance for their projects, but the list of recipients provides a great sneak preview of shorts and features we might expect to see in another year or two (or more). One project received a $15,000 cash grant for production; others received grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Some names were very familiar, but I enjoyed learning about some new-to-me filmmakers as well.

What I've done below is to rearrange the descriptions of grant recipients from Austin Film Society's press release to pull out the Austin films and highlight them first; then the films from elsewhere in Texas. I've also added brief notes about many of the filmmakers.

Austin-connected filmmakers receiving TFPF grants:

ABOVE ALL ELSE
John Fiege
The story of the Keystone XL pipeline project and of the landowners and activists who set out to stop it.
Documentary Feature
$7,000 in MPS Camera Austin services for production/post-production
Note: Fiege's previous documentary was the excellent Mississippi Chicken. He was cinematographer on The Least of These and Inside the Circle.

Get Passes to 'Faces in the Mirror' Special Screening

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Faces in the Mirror

Slackerwood is giving you the chance to see Faces in the Mirror this week ... at no cost. Snag Films is bringing the film to Austin on Thursday, August 30 at 7 pm at The Marchesa Hall and Theatre. The screening will be followed by a live simulcast-video Seattle concert with writer/producer/actor Boyd Tinsley, whom you might know better as the violinist in Dave Matthews Band. We have a limited number of admit-two "e-tickets" to give away -- details on how to get one are after the jump.

An important note about the e-tickets: This is a first-come, first-served pass and seating is not guaranteed. If you've been to preview screenings, you know that more tickets are given out than there are seats, so arrive early to stake out a good spot in line. I believe The Marchesa's theater capacity is between 250 and 300, although I'm not certain.

I haven't seen Faces in the Mirror yet, but it certainly sounds intriguing. Here's the official synopsis: "Faces in the Mirror is a film scored to music. It dances. It's a film that dances with music and takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride that never lets you go. The story is about Ben Fisher, a young man who returns home to bury his father. Angry that he had been neglected by his workaholic father, Ben has refused to see him for years. On the day of his father's funeral, Ben goes on a dream-like odyssey where he's led, portal by portal, to fantastical places with somewhat mystifying people who all seem to be guiding him somewhere. He's looking for a way to be free of his pain and guilt. He's looking for forgiveness."

Get Passes to 'Sleepwalk with Me' Sneak Preview

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Sleepwalk with Me

Slackerwood is giving you the chance to see Sleepwalk with Me next week, before it opens in Austin theaters ... and at no cost. The debut directorial effort from comedian Mike Birbiglia (co-directed with Seth Barrish) will have a preview screening on Monday, August 27, at 7:00 pm at Violet Crown Cinema. We have a limited number of admit-two "e-tickets" to give away -- details on how to get one are after the jump.

An important note about the e-tickets: This is a first-come, first-served pass and seating is not guaranteed. Remember, this is Violet Crown and the theaters are not exactly huge. If you've been to preview screenings, you know that more tickets are given out than there are seats, so arrive early to stake out a good spot in line. Fortunately Violet Crown has drinks and snacks, so hopefully the wait won't be too uncomfortable. They will also validate your parking ticket if you park in their garage, so you don't have to pay for that either.

None of us at Slackerwood has seen Sleepwalk with Me yet -- somehow we missed its SXSW screenings. It's an autobiographical story about the relationship between Birbiglia's commitment-averse character Matt and his girlfriend Abbie, played by Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under), while Matt deals with the sleep disorder referenced in the title.

Get Tickets to a 'Lawless' Sneak Preview

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LawlessOne of the many enviable things Rod did at San Diego Comic-Con last month was to catch a sneak preview of the movie Lawless. In his review, he said, "Lawless is your chance to root for bootleggers with hearts of golden moonshine." The film stars Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman and Shia LeBeouf.

Slackerwood is giving you the chance to find out if you agree with Rod by attending one of two free Lawless preview screenings:

  • Saturday, August 25 at 7 pm at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar
  • Monday, August 27 at 7:30 pm at Alamo on South Lamar

After the jump, you'll find promotional codes and links to the Gofobo website where you can enter the code to get an admit-two pass for the screening of your choice. These are a first-come, first-served passes and seating is not guaranteed. If you've been to preview screenings, you know that often more tickets are given out than there are seats, so you'll want to arrive early to stake out a good spot in line.

Author Matt Bondurant, who wrote the book on which Lawless is based (The Wettest County in the World) will be at the Saturday night screening, which means it may be more exciting but of course will also be more popular ... you'll want to get there even earlier than usual.

Rod described Lawless in his review in a way I can't top: "From run-ins with the law, a thirst for fast cars, a hunger for success and a love of family, Lawless weaves a story of brotherly love and angst told in the context of the gritty world of moonshiners." The movie opens in Austin on Wednesday, August 29.

AFS Delivers a World of Police Thrillers to Austin

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Polisse

Good cops, bad cops ... Austin Film Society is bringing us a month of top-notch police procedurals in its latest Essential Cinema series. The cops might not be good but the movies certainly are.

"Officers of Uncertainty: The Policier Legacy in Contemporary International Cinema" features a great mix of police movies -- one American, one French, one Turkish and one from Hong Kong. The films screen on Tuesday nights at 7 pm at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar throughout August. All films will be shown from 35mm prints.

The series kicks off tonight with Polisse (pictured at top), a 2011 French film directed by actress/filmmaker Maiwenn. It's about the difficulties of working in the Child Protection Unit of a municipal police force, focusing on a journalist who is drawn a little too closely to one of the officers. Tickets are still available but you can buy them online at the AFS site only until 3 pm -- after that, you have to get to the theater early and hope there's room.

Next Tuesday, August 14, the series returns to the U.S. for We Own the Night, James Gray's crime thriller from 2007 starring Joaquin Phoenix, Eva Mendes and Mark Wahlberg. It's set in the 1980s, centered around two brothers: One owns a Brooklyn nightclub, the other is a cop fighting drug lords.

Get Tickets to 'Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry' Sneak Preview

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Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Slackerwood is giving you the chance to see the documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry next week, before it opens in theaters ... and at no cost. The preview will take place on Tuesday, August 7, at 7:30 pm at Violet Crown. I have 25 admit-two "e-tickets" to give away -- details on how to do it are after the jump.

An important note about the e-tickets: This is a first-come, first-served pass and seating is not guaranteed. Remember, this is Violet Crown and the theaters are not exactly huge. If you've been to preview screenings, you know that usually more tickets are given out than there are seats, so you'll want to arrive early to stake out a good spot in line. Fortunately Violet Crown has drinks and snacks (you know what's good? the Ginger Pork Tapa), so hopefully the wait won't be too uncomfortable.

Elizabeth will be reviewing Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry for Slackerwood and says, "Alison Klayman's powerful documentary about artist/activist Ai Weiwei follows him through success and times of trial, humanizing this figure who continuously challenges Chinese authority in small ways and large." She also told me something amusing about a cat but I'll let you discover that for yourselves. The movie opens in Austin on Friday, August 10.

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