Jette Kernion's blog

Austin at Dallas International Film Festival 2011


Ok BuckaroosAre you all recuperated from SXSW? Good, that means it's time to think about the Dallas International Film Festival. A mere three hours away (faster depending on your shortcuts/disregard for speed limits), DIFF has a great lineup for 2011 this year.

The fest opens on March 31 with the excellent documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, and runs through April 10. In addition, documentary filmmaker Steve James and actress Ann-Margret will receive the fest's Dallas Star Awards this year.

Here are some of the films with Austin connections:

SXSW Quick Snaps: Theaters at Night, Big and Bright


State and Paramount

The Slackerwood staff is slowly recuperating from SXSW Film Festival, although we're still posting plenty of reviews. Keep an eye on Slackerwood this week for reviews of Austin movies playing SXSW as well as other films we caught, an interview or two and of course plenty of photos.

To kick off the week, I thought I'd share my second-favorite photo of the fest: with both the State and Paramount Theatres serving as SXSW Film venues this week, they lit up the Austin night in an especially festive way. For those who are interested, I took this photo just before My Sucky Teen Romance premiered at the Paramount. (My favorite photo? The one topping this entry, no question about it.)

Feel free to share links to any SXSW Film photos on Flickr or elsewhere that you like. My own best SXSW photos are now publicly viewable in a Flickr set.

SXSW Review: Wuss



For me, SXSW 2011 may be the year of the charmingly disturbing film ... although come to think of it, I saw a few of those in 2010 too. I've always said that I don't want to watch movies with unsympathetic main characters, but in the past couple of years, filmmakers -- those in Texas particularly -- have made me change my mind if the film is sufficiently good (or better yet, funny). The latest film from Texas filmmaker Clay Liford (who just moved from Dallas to Austin) is Wuss, a movie about a pathetic wet noodle of a loser, someone you'd shrink away from at a party or in the office breakroom, who is far more compelling than you might initially guess.

Part of the credit here must go to Nate Rubin, who portrays the character described in the title, Mitch. Mitch manages at first to draw the attention of a charming woman at his high-school reunion, even when he admits he's a high-school English teacher living with his mom ... however, she's suddenly repelled by him after he cows to verbal nastiness from the school's vice principal, Wally, played by local filmmaker Alex Karpovsky, who's developing a niche for believably awful characters.

Quick Snaps: 'The Beaver' Premiere at SXSW


The Beaver at SXSW

I have a dozen more good photos from last night's premiere of The Beaver, and a million things I could say about the movie, but I have five minutes. Jodie Foster was at the Paramount last night for the first public showing of her latest film, The Beaver. The film was scripted by Austin writer Kyle Killen (who also wrote the short-lived TV series Lone Star). The cast includes not only Foster but also Anton Yelchin (or as my husband calls him, "Chekhov"), Jennifer Lawrence and Mel Gibson as the man who communicates with help of a beaver puppet.

Foster introduced the film and started the Q&A alone, then brought out Yelchin and Killen, pictured above. I hope to meet Killen in person at some point because I interviewed him over the phone for SXSWorld magazine -- the issue that's available at ACC right now, in fact. I haven't seen the magazine myself yet and hope to have time to stop at the convention center and pick one up this afternoon. If you missed Killen last night, he'll be showing unaired episodes of Lone Star at Alamo Drafthouse next month, and we'll post more info about that later.

Gotta run. Hope to see some of you downtown today.

SXSW 2011: The Awards (So Far)


Incendiary red carpet

Last night, the SXSW Film Festival presented most of its awards, except for a few audience awards. It's a pleasure to see Austin-connected films all over the list. Natural Selection, shot in nearby Smithville, practically swept the Narrative Feature categories, including the Audience Award; while former/sometimes Austinites Kyle Henry and Heather Courtney won the Best Editing award in the Documentary Feature category for Where Soldiers Come From. (I agree that the editing in that film is absolutely amazing.) The Narrative Shorts jury award went to Pioneer from Dallas filmmaker David Lowery, a short that premiered at Sundance this year.

In the Texas-specific awards categories, Steve Mims and Joe Bailey's documentary Incendiary: The Willingham Case (pictured above) won the Louis Black Lone Star Award. The Texas Shorts jury award winner was 8, directed by Julie Gould and Daniel Laabs, which Don Clinchy says was "the most poignant and bittersweet film" in the Texas Shorts lineup this year. Look for his feature on the Texas Shorts collection soon.

The full list of awards from last night's ceremony is available after the jump. On Saturday, we'll find out the audience award winners in the Lone Star States, 24 Beats Per Second and Midnighters categories.

SXSW Notes and News Tidbits


Being Elmo

Roger Ebert has said that it is unprofessional for film critics to have their photos taken with celebrities. I've decided this means "human celebrities" and not Muppets, so I caved in and posed with Elmo (and Kevin Clash) after the first SXSW screening of Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey. See the movie if you like Muppets, it's very nice. (And if you miss it at SXSW, it's just been announced that Being Elmo is the opening-night film at next month's Dallas International Film Festival.)

Anyway, here are some of my observations from the fest so far, as well as bits of news.

  • SXSW has now become a fest where distribution deals are made. So far, several deals have been announced: Conan O'Brien Can't Stop in a multi-platform release deal involving AT&T; food doc A Matter of Taste to HBO; and Kill List (from the Down Terrace director) to IFC Midnighters. No word yet on any Austin films, but we'll keep you posted.
  • Parking in pay garages was no problem for me on the weekend, but I heard yesterday that once afternoon started, it was challenging even to find a pay lot or garage that wasn't full. (I was at Alamo Lamar on Monday and can't say for myself.) Anyone have any info on this? I'm heading down there early today and hope that won't be an issue.
  • I caught Wuss at Westgate on Sunday, and enjoyed it very much. Westgate is a nice SXSW venue if you have a car. Plenty of parking, and the theater is quite spacious, with comfy stadium seating. The projection and sound quality were both good.

Quick Snaps: John and Ted's Excellent Photo


Ted Nugent and John Pierson

I'm working on a photo essay from Thursday night's Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards, which I'll post soon. Our new photographer, Cole Dabney (also the founder of the Austin Film Critics Association and a kick-ass videographer), worked the red carpet for Slackerwood this year. He got some amazing photos of all kinds of celebrities -- at the awards event, everyone enters via the red carpet -- but so far this is my favorite.

The gentleman on the left is musician Ted Nugent, who regaled the evening's attendees with an energetic version of The Star-Spangled Banner. For whatever reason, he was on the red carpet at the same time as Austin author/UT instructor/former producer's rep John Pierson. Most excellent, dudes.

[Photo credit: Cole Dabney]

SXSW 2011 Guides: Filmgoing Tips for Locals and Passholders


SXSW 2010

Note: A 2012 Guide for Locals and Passholders is now available.

Last year, SXSW Film seemed more frustrating than usual for Austin festgoers with film passes, or people who wanted to buy tickets for a couple of movies. The Interactive conference practically exploded in size, and a lot of those attendees had Gold badges, while others queued up en masse for the screenings that were also open to Interactive badges. The opening-night film filled up before passholders could get in (badgeholder line from Kick-Ass pictured above; what's not pictured is that it completely circled the Paramount block). And I'm still frustrated that I missed Thunder Soul because I could not find any parking within a mile of the Paramount for under $20 that day.

It looks like SXSW Film access will be much better overall this year, and special care has been taken to ensure that Austin filmgoers can see festival movies. For example, this year Interactive-only badgeholders can't use their badges to get into any screenings. And a couple of remote theater venues are intended to appeal to locals. Movies playing at Alamo Ritz tend to play larger venues as well.

If you haven't bought a badge yet, you can still enjoy SXSW Film. The film passes for SXSW 2011 are already sold out, but tickets are available even now for some SXSW screenings, and we bet you'll be able to walk up and buy tickets easily at the more remote venues.

'Dig' with Local Filmmaker Stephen Belyeu (and Jette)



I mentioned this as my Movies This Week pick, but it's too good not to repeat. Tomorrow night, I hope you'll head over to Alamo Drafthouse at the Village for a special screening of Dig, a suspenseful and fascinating drama shot in Austin and South Texas. The screening is part of Austin Film Society's new Best of the Fests series -- Dig won the audience award at Austin Film Festival last year. It also screened at AFS in 2009 as a narrative in progress.

I will be moderating the Q&A after the movie with local filmmaker/instructor Stephen Belyeu. I hear that some other cast and crew members will be at the screening too, so it should be pretty lively.

You can buy tickets online through Austin Film Society for the Wednesday night screening and Q&A. I hope you'll come out ... and not heckle. Or ask what Belyeu's budget was. I know Slackerwood readers are highly intelligent people so I'd like you to see the movie and ask thoughtful questions. Check out the trailer after the jump, visit the official movie website, and I'll see you tomorrow evening.

Quick Snaps: Bill Paxton in Austin


Texas Film Hall of Fame 2007

I found out last night that actor Bill Paxton will be in Austin next week. (Don't confuse him with Bill Pullman. I nearly did so myself.) The Fort Worth native will be at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar on Monday night to screen the first feature he directed, Frailty, from 2001. Then on Tuesday, he'll receive a 2011 Texas Medal of Arts Award at the Long Center. Tickets are still available for both these events.

I didn't see Bill Paxton when he was last in Austin in March 2007, at SXSW and the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards. Fortunately, I did find this photo on Flickr and Austin Film Society gave me permission to republish it here. Paxton was initiated into the Texas Film Hall of Fame by the late great musician Stephen Bruton, also pictured above.

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