Jette Kernion's blog

Quick Snaps and News: 'Santos' is Back in Town

Santos at FF 08

I don't know how I missed this earlier, but the Cine Las Americas lineup this year includes a popular film from Fantastic Fest, Santos. The Chilean movie is about a comic-book artist who suddenly discovers that the fantasy superhero world he's been writing about may actually be real. It's very silly and full of dorky jokes, and I got a kick out of it. I wasn't the only one -- Santos won a Special Jury Award for originality and vision at Fantastic Fest.

The above photo is from the Q&A after the film, in which writer-director Nicolas Lopez chatted with Alamo Drafthouse co-founder Karrie League. I don't have any notes from that Q&A, but check out Kevin Kelly's interview with Lopez from SpoutBlog.

Elizabeth Avellan was one of the film's producers -- I believe Troublemaker Studios helped out with some of the special effects. You might remember that Avellan was at the Fantastic Fest awards ceremony and even chugged a beer.

Santos will play Cine Las Americas on Tuesday, April 28 at 7 pm at Alamo Ritz. You can buy tickets or a fest pass from the Cine Las Americas website.

Turk Pipkin's Latest Film to Premiere in Austin


In 2006, local actor/author/interesting person Turk Pipkin released his first feature-length film, the documentary Nobelity. You can read my Cinematical review here. In the film, Pipkin interviewed Nobel Prize winners about how we can make the world a better place. Turk and Christy Pipkin then established The Nobelity Project, a non-profit organization, to promote ideas from the film about working to solve global problems. They worked with schools and community groups to host do-it-yourself Nobelity screenings around the country, with proceeds funding The Nobelity Project.

Three years later, Turk Pipkin is premiering a follow-up film to Nobelity, One Peace at a Time. As in the previous documentary, Pipkin travels around the world ... this time, he talks with various people who are helping to ensure basic human rights for children, and promotes their efforts. The film also includes Willie Nelson, which should automatically be a draw for many Austinites. As with the first film, this is part of The Nobelity Project and will probably be distributed in the same way.

One Peace at a Time will premiere in Austin on Tuesday, April 14 at the Paramount. You can buy tickets to just the film, or get special tickets that also include a reception beforehand for some of the activists in the film.

You can watch the first 10 minutes of One Peace at a Time on The Nobelity Blog.

Cine Las Americas Lineup Now Available


Cine Las AmericasThe Cine Las Americas International Film Festival has just announced most of its 2009 festival lineup, including the opening and closing-night films.

The fest opens on Wednesday, April 22 at the Paramount with the film All Inclusive (Todo Incluido), which is about a Chilean-Mexican family taking a summer vacation together.

Tear This Heart Out (Arrancame La Vida) closes Cine Las Americas on April 30 at Alamo South. The film is about a young woman fighting for her freedom in post-revolutionary Mexico.

The Least of These, the documentary that played SXSW about immigrant families at the Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, is the only Austin-related film I know that's playing at Cine Las Americas. I'm sure there are more in the lineup that I don't realize have Austin connections ... if you know of any, please share that info in the comments.

Cine Las Americas takes place from April 22-30 at several Austin venues, including the Paramount, Alamo South, Alamo Village, Regal Metropolitan, and the Mexican American Cultural Center. A full schedule is expected soon. You can buy tickets for individual films, or a film pass for all events and parties for $70.

Red Carpet: 2009 Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards


Brendan Fraser, Catherine Hardwicke, and Thomas Haden Church

Catching up after SXSW. Tax prep. Allergies. Excuses, excuses. At last, I am going to post some of my favorite photos from the Texas Film Hall of Fame awards. I've already published a photo gallery from the event over at Cinematical, but I didn't include photos of people who are well known locally. Plus, I have to say I prefer an essay format over a gallery, because then I can share stories as well as photos.

The event started with a red carpet. At the Texas Film Hall of Fame awards, everyone walks through the red carpet to enter the event. This is a lot of fun for me because I can take photos of various friends and colleagues (if they'll stand still long enough), as well as any interesting people who are not necessarily honorees that evening. The red carpet was very long this year and structured beautifully so we weren't all fighting one another for space. Plus, I was right next to Stephanie Beasley from Austinist and a friendly photographer from Austin Monthly and between the three of us, we figured out who exactly we were taking pictures of. (They helped me with the Friday Night Lights cast; I helped identify "that guy who looks kind of like Steven Spielberg" as Tobe Hooper.)

Watch 'The Least of These' Online, Free


The Least of TheseThe documentary The Least of These had its world premiere at SXSW in March. This film is about the Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, where undocumented immigrant families are detained -- sometimes for months -- before the government decides whether they can enter the country or must be deported. In 2006, when the center opened, many critics thought it looked like a jail and the families have complained that they were treated like prison inmates. Lawyers and activists stepped in to try to make changes, if not close the center outright.

This is a compelling film that I'd really recommend watching. You can read Jenn Brown's drive-by review too. Fortunately, you don't have to wait for the next film festival or wonder when The Least of These will get a distribution deal. SnagFilms, a website where you can view full-length documentaries for free, premiered the film online right after its first screening at SXSW. This means that all you have to do to watch The Least of These is to go to the bottom of this article (after the jump) and click.

See 'Gretchen' Tonight on Sundance Channel



Update: Check out this cool episode of Between the Scenes that includes some behind-the-scenes footage from the Gretchen shoot as well as cast and crew interviews. (Thanks to John Merriman for the heads-up.)

One of my favorite movies from SXSW 2006 was Gretchen, the story of a high-school girl who isn't exactly one of the beautiful people. Austin filmmaker Steve Collins expanded his short Gretchen and the Night Danger and kept two of its stars, Courtney Davis (in the title role) and John Merriman. The feature also includes Betsy Ann Baker as Gretchen's mom, and Stephen Root. The cinematographer is Austin filmmaker P.J. Raval, who has also photographed the Oscar-nominated doc Trouble the Water as well as other Austin films.

Gretchen has sadly never had a theatrical release and has not yet had a DVD release. So I urge you to watch Gretchen when it airs on the Sundance Channel on Tuesday (3/31) at 5:15 pm CST and again at 11:30 pm CST. As a bonus, John Merriman says he'll be live-tweeting his commentary of the movie during the earlier screening on Tuesday. He's one of the funniest Twitter users I know, so you may want to follow him tomorrow.

My review for Cinematical closed with this line: "Overall, Gretchen is a beautiful, delicate look at the nasty pains of teenage relationships. And Gretchen could totally kick Napoleon's ass."

New AFF Series is 'Made in Texas'


Texas State History MuseumAustin Film Festival is starting a monthly film series called "Made in Texas" that will feature movies that are all -- well, you guessed from the title. The films will be shown on the second Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm in the Texas Spirit Theater at the Texas State History museum. Admission is a mere $5 -- in fact, if you're an AFF or Texas State History member, it's free.

Several of these screenings will also feature writers and/or directors, and I am particularly pleased to see that the series kicks off with a movie written by Bud Shrake. About 12 years ago (maybe more), AFF showed Kid Blue during the fest, with Shrake and Dennis Hopper in attendance, and both the movie and ensuing discussion were unforgettable. I keep hoping for an encore screening, since Kid Blue isn't on DVD, but I'm happy to try a new Shrake-scripted film instead.

Full lineup after the jump ...

Quick Snaps: Connie Britton at Texas Film Hall of Fame


Connie Britton

It's been noted that we've been posting lots of photos of the guys lately, and I thought we could use a little balance. Connie Britton is one of the stars of the TV series Friday Night Lights, which is shot in Texas, so it seemed fitting she should appear on the red carpet at the Texas Film Hall of Fame awards. In addition, she's in the film Women in Trouble, which played SXSW this year. I reviewed the film for Cinematical. Britton's character is stuck in an elevator for hours with Carla Gugino's porn star, Elektra Luxx.

Expect more Texas Film Hall of Fame photos here soon -- if you can't wait, there's a photo gallery over at Cinematical.

Next Fest: Head to AFI Dallas


 Rian Johnson

I attended AFI Dallas in its first year and had a great time. I'd love to go back this year, but it starts Thursday night and I'm still recuperating from SXSW.

This year's opening-night film is Rian Johnson's The Brothers Bloom, which played during Fantastic Fest as a sneak preview last year. Johnson was at the Austin screening, as you can see from the above photo. Johnson and Reiko Kikuchi are scheduled to attend the AFI Dallas event. Kikuchi nearly steals the movie, which is a comedy about con men, in the tradition of The Lady Eve.

The Brothers Bloom isn't the only film from Fantastic Fest 2008 to play at AFI Dallas this year. Zombie Girl, the documentary about Austin teenager Emily Hagins directing a horror film, is screening in competition. And a favorite short from the fest, The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon, is in the shorts competition.

Slackery Non-SXSW News Tidbits


TXFHOF 2009Why does this entry include a photo of Brendan Fraser from the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards, you might ask? The answer is that I have no idea. I didn't feel like digging around for something more relevant, and at least this photo is funny. And no, this is not part of a covert plot to feature a Hot Dudes of SXSW photo gallery on Slackerwood. Although, since someone did suggest such a thing ...

Ahem. Anyway. Onto the latest Austin film-related news:

  • If you missed Bradley Beesley and/or his doc Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo at SXSW this year, you can say hi to him and hear about his film on Wednesday afternoon. He's visiting Ellen Spiro's documentary class at UT from 6 to 8 pm, and visitors are welcome. There may even be snacks. The class is in CMB (the brown building at Dean Keaton and Guadalupe), in Studio 4D.
  • Congrats to the Alamo Village for getting a spiffy new projector, a Sony 4K digital that can project 3D movies. I wish it had arrived before Coraline was in theaters, since I'm not especially excited about Monsters vs. Aliens. However, this also means that all first-run movies at the Village will now be digitally projected, and that should be pretty cool. Alamo programmer Lars Nilsen says (via Facebook), "It makes all other digital cinema look like a bear pooped on it."
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