Jette Kernion's blog

Fantastic Fest: The Awards


FF09 - Awards 1 by Rich Merritt, from Alamo Drafthouse on FlickrWe were recording the latest Slackerwood podcast yesterday (which will be available soon) and I realized that Slackerwood hadn't yet published the list of Fantastic Fest 2009 award winners.

Some of our favorite films took home the prized beer steins this year: A Town Called Panic, which Jenn and I loved (check out my Cinematical review), won the Audience Award. Debbie was pleased that The Revenant took home an award for Best Horror Director, and interviewed Kerry Prior, the winning filmmaker. We're planning a special "extra" mini-podcast with that interview, which we'll publish in the next week.

The "Fantastic Feature" award for best film went to the Chilean thriller Mandrill, which sold out every screening very quickly so I couldn't see it myself. Producer/actor Marko Zaror was so pleased he did a flip onstage. Human Centipede, much discussed for its bizarrely graphic scenes in which the title creature is created, won Best Horror Film. The British dark comedy Down Terrace won top honors in the Next Wave competition.

I've reprinted the full list of award winners after the jump, plus a link to the video of Shakey Face competitors.

Fantastic Fest Secret Screenings: When Festivals Collide


Fantastic Fest 2008: David Wain and Paul Rudd

Secret screenings are a much-loved signature event at Fantastic Fest. Every year, four to six of these events are scheduled, labeled only as "Secret Screening #1" and so forth. They're the grab bags of the film festival -- you don't know if you'll get a glimpse of a world premiere with the filmmaker present, or an obscure Asian movie that hasn't hit the U.S. yet, or a big Hollywood movie that a studio is probably trying to test before release.

In the past, Fantastic Fest secret screenings have included the world premiere of There Will Be Blood with Paul Thomas Anderson in attendance; Mel Gibson turning up with a work-in-progress version of Apocalypto; the first screening of the post-Cannes cut of Southland Tales, with Richard Kelly attending; and regional premieres of films that played earlier fests, like The Brothers Bloom and Persepolis. This year, Secret Screening #1 was Robogeisha, and #2 was a version of The Men Who Stare at Goats that wasn't quite finished -- no credits attached, and in need of color correction. The third screening was Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus; the fourth was the Coens' A Serious Man.

Part of the fun, and a great icebreaker with people you meet at the fest, is gathering around trying to guess what the secret screenings might be. Some of the guesses are outrageous, and some seem outrageous until you get in the theater and realize that So-and-So was right.

But as much as I enjoy the Fantastic Fest secret screenings, I'm worried that they may be causing some bad blood in the Austin film festival community, and I'd like to explain why.

AFF Full Schedule Includes 'Serious Moonlight,' 'Up in the Air'


Austin Film Festival logoAustin Film Festival has a strong schedule for 2009, with a number of good "marquee" movies -- the big ones at the Paramount -- plus an excellent selection of locally connected films.

The fest opens on Thursday night, Oct. 22, with Serious Moonlight, a dark comedy scripted by the late Adrienne Shelly and directed by actress Cheryl Hines (who had a role in Shelly's Waitress). The cast includes Timothy Hutton, Kristen Bell, Justin Long and Meg Ryan. Hines will attend the gala event.

The closing-night film, on Thursday, Oct. 29, is Jason Reitman's film Up in the Air, which recently got a lot of attention at the Toronto International Film Festival. The comedy stars George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Jason Bateman. Reitman was at AFF back in 2007 with his previous film, Juno, and will return to Austin for this screening.

Check out a full list of AFF features after the jump. The full schedule, with dates and times, is also available on the AFF website. You can buy passes and badges through the website -- the basic pass is $42 and gets you second-tier access to all movies, and badges get you first-tier access to films and differing levels of access to the conference.

AFF focuses heavily on the "Austin" aspect of their title. The fest features a category of "Austin Screens" films, as well as local movies in other categories. For example, the marquee screenings include Bob Byington's feature Harmony and Me, and the Off the Record category (music-related films) includes Bob Schneider Live at the Paramount.

If you're a filmmaker and your Austin-related film is playing AFF this year, please contact us. We'll post a list of all films with Austin connections, and we're planning some interviews as well. We've got some fabulous AFF coverage planned for this year, including previews, a venue guide and reviews.

Photo Essay: 'Gentlemen Broncos' at Fantastic Fest


Paramount marquee

Last night, I worked the red carpet for a premiere of Gentlemen Broncos, the opening-night film for Fantastic Fest. Gentlemen Broncos is a comedy from the director of Napoleon Dynamite, Jared Hess, who wrote the movie with Jerusha Hess. They were at the screening along with several of the film's stars. Here are some of my favorite photos from the event.

A long line formed at the Paramount of Fantastic Fest attendees and people who had just bought tickets to this movie. It was a good audience -- I can't tell if it was a full house, but from the front of the theater, the balcony looked pretty crowded.

Quick Snaps: Not Quite Movies This Week


Dennis Quaid

Normally, we post Movies This Week every Friday at this time. And I diligently worked on a snappy and amusing Movies This Week for about a half hour last night.

Then the Internet ate my entry. And it was 1 am, so I went to bed.

Because of Fantastic Fest, I don't have time to re-create the entry, not to mention that Jenn's comment under the Personal Picks section was, "Don't make me think." The one movie opening this week that I do want to see is Bright Star, Jane Campion's film about the love affair between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, and I hope it'll play in Austin for more than one week so I get the chance.

Instead, I'm referring you to the very fine Screens section of the Austin Chronicle for info on movies opening in Austin this week, and to our own Event Calendar for details about other screenings around town. Movies This Week will return next week.

In the meantime, please enjoy this lovely photo of Dennis Quaid from the Texas Film Hall of Fame in March. Quaid stars a film opening today in theaters, Pandorum, about two astronauts stranded in a spaceship. And speaking of astronauts, that reminds me of Moon, which stars Sam Rockwell, and Slackerwood will have some photos of Rockwell from last night's Gentlemen Broncos premiere up soon.

Photo Essay: Slackerwood Sneaks into The Highball


Tim League

Over the weekend, all three of us -- Jenn, Debbie and myself -- got a tour of the Highball, the diner/lounge/fun space that Tim and Karrie League are opening mere yards away from Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. Fantastic Fest will hold several events in the space, and once it's open, we can expect more movie-related events there too.

Tim showed us the work in progress and explained what would happen next, where things would go, and how sparkly and retro the place would be when it was done. By now, you can probably find even more complete photos of further improvements, but I thought you'd like to see what we saw anyway.

First of all, I have a weird fixture fixation, so I got a kick out of the overhead lights in the main room:

Quick Snaps Redux: Olson and Ellison at SXSW 2008, Not Reading Scripts


I posted this photo last year, but it's especially timely this week, so I thought I'd give it a good airing. I took the photo right after author Harlan Ellison's panel at SXSW 2008. When I last posted it, I focused on Ellison (right) signing a book for critic Elvis Mitchell (left). I didn't say much about the guy in the middle.

However, a lot of people are talking this week about that guy in the Fassbinder shirt, screenwriter Josh Olson, and not because he wrote the script for A History of Violence. Olson wrote an article for the Village Voice called "I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script" that is drawing numerous champions and detractors. Response articles include an even stronger assertion from screenwriter David Gerrold ("The Trouble with Tribbles" episode of Star Trek); a thoughtful explanation about why writers won't serve as mentors, from author/blogger John Scalzi; and on the local front, a Film School Rejects column from Austin's own Cole Abaius explaining why he thinks Olson is being an asshole.

And now Ellison has stepped into the fray in a whimsically ascerbic fashion, and has recorded a Seussian rhymed version of Olson's essay for your listening pleasure. The rhyming version was adapted by Steve Jarrett, and Olson liked it so much he asked Ellison to perform a dramatic reading. Therefore, I have another excuse to post this photo. If the photo looks familiar, I also let Jen Yamato use it for her Cinematical article about the whole Olson kerfuffle, which you also might enjoy reading.

Quick Snaps: Live Camels at the Paramount


DSC_0299 by The Paramount Theatre, on Flickr

The Paramount Theatre has been hosting all kinds of fun extra events this summer to accompany their Summer Classic Film Series: live performances, special treats, contests -- even manicures (Breakfast at Tiffany's, natch). But the downtown theater outdid itself last Thursday night for the film series' closing-night party before a screening of Lawrence of Arabia: actual camels outside the theater.

According to the Paramount's Executive Director, Ken Stein, the theater procured the noble beasts from Texas Camel Corps. (I was wondering where one found camels in Austin, even during drought conditions.) Stein noted on his blog that a few protesters parked a van proclaiming "animal cruelty" nearby. However, judging from the Paramount's Flickr set, the camels were popular with theatergoers, ushers and anyone who walked down that section of Congress Ave. at the time. Apparently there were belly dancers too, but I couldn't find any photos of that particular attraction.

Although the Summer Classic Film Series is over for 2009, the Paramount often shows movies during times when few live performances are scheduled, such as the Thankgiving and December holidays. The theater will also be a venue for splashy premieres and big-name films this fall at Fantastic Fest and Austin Film Festival.

I've got a couple more photos to show you after the jump:

AFS Series on Billy Wilder Starts Tonight


One, Two, Three

Austin Film Society starts a new Essential Cinema series tonight: "Censors, Drop Your Scissors! Billy Wilder's Later Comedies." The series runs on Tuesday nights for the next five weeks. I couldn't be more thrilled.

The films scheduled in the series are not the best-known films from writer/director Billy Wilder, like Some Like It Hot, Sunset Blvd., The Apartment, or Double Indemnity. You've probably heard of those and hopefully seen a few of them. These are the films he made after The Apartment, collaborating with his co-writer of the time, I.A.L. Diamond. Some might say Wilder's films declined starting in the mid-1960s  -- you'll have to see all of these films and decide for yourself.

I confess that if I were programming a Wilder retrospective myself, I would be tempted to pick the films Wilder co-wrote with Charles Brackett before starting to direct his own films, those witty, frothy 1930s comedies that I especially love. I'd include Ninotchka, Ball of Fire, Midnight, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife … and possibly some of the more dramatic films that I've never seen, since they're not on DVD, like Arise, My Love and Hold Back the Dawn. (Wilder and Brackett also wrote the first Henry Aldrich film -- a sort of cut-rate Andy Hardy -- called What a Life, which I've not been able to see.)

While Wilder's early screenplays are interesting and certainly entertaining, I appreciate AFS giving us the chance to see the films he made later in life, at a time when the Hollywood Production Code crumbling. Wilder and Diamond pushed the envelope as much as they could in these films, trying to make adult movies about relationships and sex.

Quick Snaps: Flashback to Alexie Gilmore in Austin


Surfer, Dude premiere

I watched Alexie Gilmore in World's Greatest Dad, playing Robin Williams's sort-of girlfriend, and kept wondering where I'd seen her before. When I got home I figured it out: I'd snapped her photo during the Surfer, Dude red carpet event in Austin a year ago. As you can see from the above photo, despite the extreme heat outside the Paramount, Gilmore was quite cheerful and pleasant. And I loved her dress.

If you want to see more photos of Gilmore -- including the whole dress -- check out my Flickr photo set from the Surfer, Dude red carpet. And if you want to hear more about World's Greatest Dad, check out the group review that Jenn Brown and I wrote.

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