Caitlin Moore's blog

AFS Essential Cinema Brings Back the Banned


last tango in paris

If you're interested in seeking out cinema known for stirring up controversy over the years, set aside your upcoming Thursday nights to attend the next Austin Film Society Essential Cinema Series. "A Darkened Screen: Films That Were Banned" will feature six films that, for various reasons and subject matter, aroused disapproval from authorities and were not allowed to reach regular theater audiences.

AFS Director of Programming Chale Nafus offers this explanation: "The basis for the series is not just films that have shocked. Rather, they are films that have been banned in various countries for political, religious, social or sexual reasons."

Nafus and AFS programmer Lars Nilsen searched through available titles of once-banned films (censorship can't be enforced forever, after all) to put together a series presenting distinct moments in history spanning different styles, aesthetics, and world views. As Nafus says in his introduction, "We are happy with the six selections we have made, since they exemplify the variety of reasons films might receive the official stamp of 'disapproval.'"

AFF 2013 Announces First Wave of Film Programming


sombras de azul

In addition to the short films already leaked via Twitter, the Austin Film Festival has now announced the first ten films of the 2013 lineup (including one from an Austin-based director) as well as a special retrospective series featuring an array of talented directors. Jonathan Demme will even screen scenes from a work in progress.

Standing out from the list are Alexander Payne's latest (Nebraska), a documentary about religious conflict within a family (Mom, Dad, I'm Muslim), and the world premiere of Sombras de Azul (production still above), based on the experiences of Austin director Kelly Daniela Norris, who traveled to Cuba in the hopes it would help her come to terms with her brother's suicide.

In an interview last year, Norris described the challenges of creating such a personal film and discussed how she was able to finish the project with the help of Kickstarter. Norris also drew from her experience working with award-winning television writer David Milch and calls Sombras de Azul "a diaristic manifestation of my need to heal." 

Austin Film Festival will run from Oct. 24 to 31 at venues around the city. This is the 20th anniversary of the screenwriter-focused festival, and we'll continue to keep you updated as more films (with hopefully many more Austin and Texas connections) are announced. Badges for AFF 2013 are available here.

Review: Prince Avalanche


prince avalanche

"Melancholy buddy comedy" isn't a description that comes in handy very often, but if you've seen any of Austinite David Gordon Green's previous films, this summary for his latest makes sense. With a resume that includes sensitive indies (George Washington, All the Real Girls) as well as mainstream bigger-budget fare (Pineapple Express and several commercials), it’s no surprise to hear that Prince Avalanche, which screened at SXSW a few months ago, is a finely drawn story of friendship and loneliness that alternates between being goofy and existential. 

Inspired by a 2011 Icelandic film called Either Way, Prince Avalanche is set in 1988 but filmed in the region of Texas destroyed by the Bastrop wildfires of 2011. Working as a road crew tasked with re-striping roads and installing signposts throughout the badly charred acreage are Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch). Thrown together by circumstance, these opposite personality types are at first indifferent companions, but before long have gained enough knowledge about each other's neuroses and failed relationships to establish an awkward understanding punctuated by moments of anger and macho rivalry.

With only four onscreen characters and a compact 94-minute running time, at first it's easy to shrug Prince Avalanche off as just a sweet movie that's admittedly a little quirkier than your average summer offering. Having seen it twice now, I was newly impressed by the little details my SXSW-weary eyes didn't fully appreciate when I first saw the movie back in March (here's Elizabeth's review). 

In The Works: Local Craft Beer and Cycling Film '1400 Miles'


Davis Tucker

Successful documentaries often spring from life's most dramatic events, and one that weaves together personal growth, craft beer and cycling sounds compelling in an especially Austin-centric way. Production begins next month on 1400 Miles, a locally-based project with life-affirming aspirations, and we thought we'd give you a little preview. Full disclosure: senior Slackerwood contributor Debbie Cerda is a producer for this feature-length documentary -- a fact we're happy to share. 

Made by the team behind Crafting a Nation (executive producer Courtney Cobb, director Thomas Kolicko), 1400 Miles will follow North by Northwest brewery owner and founder Davis Tucker (pictured above) as he undertakes a 14-day, 1400-mile bike ride to raise awareness for prostate cancer. Traveling with several other "craft beer pioneers" and inspired by NXNW brewmaster Don Thompson's recovery from the disease, Tucker will bike his way from Austin to Denver beginning in mid-September and end up at the Great American Beer Festival in October.

Catch 'Spectacular Now' and 'In A World...' with Filmmakers


The Spectacular Now

Good news for movie lovers who follow film festival news and buzz: Austinites will have the chance to see a couple of Sundance 2013 standouts in the coming days thanks to the Austin Film Society.

On Thursday, Aug. 8, AFS will screen the much talked and tweeted-about The Spectacular Now in advance of its wider opening in a couple of weeks, and director James Ponsoldt will be in attendance. The story follows two high schoolers who fall in love despite their opposite "types" (Shailene Woodley plays good girl Aimee and Miles Teller is popular party boy Sutter), and has won the hearts of many critics.

AFS Presents 'The New Voice: Drafthouse Films' Series


The Act of Killing

[Editor's note: Please welcome new contributor Caitlin Moore to Slackerwood.]

It's clear that Drafthouse Films, the distribution arm of Alamo Drafthouse launched in 2010, is serious about being a major player in the film world. More specifically, the world of film that many of us are particularly interested in -- the one filled with movies that are smart and a little off-kilter, or in their own words, "provocative, visionary, and artfully unusual."

Drafthouse Films has a few hits behind them and they show no sign of slowing down, so now would be a good time to catch up if you're a little behind. Beginning next week, Austin Film Society will offer some assistance when they present The New Voice: Drafthouse Films series, which consists of three of the distributor's most acclaimed titles thus far as well as an advance screening of The Act of Killing, a much buzzed-about documentary that will be more widely released later this summer. All four movies are worth your time, so take a look at the schedule if you're interested in watching, or rewatching, some of the more challenging film releases of the past couple years. 

Bullhead -- Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, Michael R. Roskam's Bullhead (Don's reviewDebbie's review) is a dark Belgian drama that explores the corrupt world of cattle farming. The narrative rests on the hulking, steroid-dependent shoulders of anti-hero Jacky (played by the incredible Matthias Schoenaerts), whose personal pain brings delicacy to what would otherwise be a traditional crime story. Tragic, gritty and intense, this memorable film showed early on that Drafthouse Films was serious about bringing strangeness of the highest quality to its audiences. (Wednesday, July 24 , 7:30 pm at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre)

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