Marcelena Mayhorn's blog

Cine Las Americas 2013 Dispatch: Death and Clouds


The Second Death

Friday marked my last chance to catch some really great films from Cine Las Americas, although I sadly wished I had gotten a chance to take in more. I mentioned earlier how I tried to check out films from different genres. I decided to take it a step further for my last day to check out two types of movies I don't usually take in: a thriller and a documentary.

My thriller choice was The Second Death, a film about Alba, a cop trying to solve a murder mystery in a small town. The victims are discovered as being "burned from the inside out," found by the police with a rosary in their hands and positioned as if they were praying. When the clues and witness accounts start to incorporate religious undertones, Alba's faith and beliefs are tested (especially since she does not believe in God). The film has a great twist at the end, exposing the truth of the crime and how the local church was tied into it.

Cine Las Americas 2013 Dispatch: Evil Willow Meets Delusions of Grandeur


Delusions of Grandeur

For me, days two and three of Cine Las Americas were spent at Alamo Drafthouse Village, indulging one too many times in items from the wide menu selection (I'm certain I've already gained ten pounds). I tried to make it a point to not only see films from different countries, but from different genres as well. Here's what I got to check out.

Wednesday afternoon gave me I Am a Director, a hilarious comedy about Carlos, a guy trying to make a Hollywood film with no money and no past experience. It reminded me of being in film school and meeting those dummies who thought they were the son or daughter of Spielberg himself, but didn't even know how to turn on a camera. Carlos is a lovable character, but you want so much to just slap him because he is so naively ignorant. Everything was spot on humor-wise though, and I imagine film students will probably laugh the hardest at this movie.

The evening then brought me 3 -- a story of a mother and daughter dealing with the consequences of the man who walked out on them years ago. Ironically, the father/husband, Rodolfo, wants to come back to be a part of their lives again many years later. The two women obviously felt the sting of his leaving and have dealt with it by not caring about what happens to them, living as roommates more so than as a family. Rodolfo cannot see that they hurt and act this way all because of his moving on with his life. There was a sadness to the story I hadn't seen before: the reality of losing trust and how we cope with the remaining scars. A very moving film, to say the least.

Cine Las Americas 2013 Dispatch: A 'Snow White' Night


Cine Las Americas screen

Tuesday night not only marked the opening night of the highly anticipated Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, but also the first festival that I get to attend as press. I arrived early, around 5:30, to get my badge and ticket to the opening-night film, Blancanieves.

In an effort to kill time, I met up with my friend Samantha Lopez for a drink and early dinner. Sam has screened films for CLAIFF for some time now, and filled me in on what to expect. The best part, she said, is not knowing what to expect, as each film was as different as the next. And with each of the films only screening once, one must choose wisely.

The screening kicked off with an encouraging speech from CLAIFF Executive Director Eugenio del Bosque Gómez, explaining what the team had planned and some small changes implemented this year. Film Program Director Jean Anne Lauer then joined him on stage to say how she knew that the movie we were about to see was their opening-night film immediately upon watching. I think this gave the audience and myself hope for what we were about to encounter.

AFF Holds a 'Conversation' with Brian Helgeland


Payback by Brian Helgeland

The Capital City Event Center was abuzz last Wednesday night with Austin Film Festival's Conversation in Film with Brian Helgeland, writer and director of 42, which hit theaters two days after the event. Moderated by AFF Executive Director Barbara Morgan, the conversation focused on Helgeland's career as a writer. I'll admit I'd seen many films Helgeland wrote but never realized he was the man behind the curtain.

Helgeland opened the conversation by letting the audience know he started his career by writing horror movies, his most notable (in his opinion) being 976-EVIL. It was through horror films that he began to get involved with other writers, eventually working on some television series episodes as well.

The screenwriter then jumped into the process of adapting L.A. Confidential, which I was astounded to hear took three whole years to write. His biggest challenge was trying to transform a 496-page book into a two-hour film, the plot of the film ultimately being much different than the book. Helgeland won an Academy Award (along with director Curtis Hanson) for the adapted screenplay in 1997.

He then went on to talk about writing and directing Payback, the 1999 adaptation of a Donald Westlake novel, starring Mel Gibson. Off all of his works, this seemed to present the most hurdles, the final straw being that he was fired as director by Gibson himself. Helgeland said after that he felt like he was in "movie jail" and the only escape was to write his way out.

He did just that, with the following year's A Knight's Tale putting him back on the map. This was perhaps my most favorite part of the talk, as he discussed the research he did for the film. The biggest obstacle? Finding people who could joust, and were also willing to do it!

AFF Brings Three Writers (and One Sneak Preview) to Austin


42 movie poster

[Please welcome our newest contributor, Marcelena Mayhorn. She's a freelance writer in Austin who's also contributed to CultureMap Austin, and who previously worked for Austin Film Festival.]

Learn some tricks of the trade from the Austin Film Festival ongoing Conversations in Film Series. A year-round collection of film workshops and script readings, the series has three notable events coming up in the next couple of months.

The next Conversations in Film will take place this Saturday, April 6 with "A Conversation with Larry Wilmore" at the Harry Ransom Center. Having written for shows such as In Living Color and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Larry Wilmore (currently a correspondent on The Daily Show) will discuss how to maximize a writer's comedic potential, breaking into the industry and marketing your work.

The series continues Wednesday, April 10 with "A Conversation with Brian Helgeland" at the Capital City Events Center (6700 Middle Fiskville) and an advance screening of the writer-director's latest movie, 42, starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford. Brian Helgeland, who directed Payback and scripted Man on Fire, Mystic River and other films, will discuss his process of writing and adapting screenplays. Attendees can then head to Galaxy Highland for the screening, which will be followed by a Q&A about the making of 42.

Gearing up for the summer, AFF will also host "A Conversation with David Magee" on May 22. David Magee, who adapted the novel Life of Pi into the acclaimed 2012 feature, will discuss writing visionary stories and his philosophies about the process. The discussion will be followed by a retrospective screening of Magee's first film, Finding Neverland.

Tickets for all three sessions are on sale now through the AFF website, with a discount for AFF members.

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