Chris Holland's blog

SxSW - Economic Boon to Austin

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KEYE TV reports on the economic benefits of South by Southwest to the city of Austin, and catches 'Bama Girl filmmaker Rachel Goslins in the act of an extreme operation of a tiara in the service of promoting her film.

'Bama Girl premieres Monday at 1:30pm at the Alamo Ritz.

Quick Snaps: Vegas meets Austin during SxSW 2008

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SxSW 2008

Roger Tinch, Art & Online Director of Cinevegas, gets comfy on a couch at the Driskill Bar.

Quick Snaps: Spout Happy Hour at SxSW 2008

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SxSW 2008

Adam Roffman, producer of Woodpecker, at the Spout Happy Hour.

Chris' Picks for SxSW 2008

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It's always tough to make a top ten list of films to see at a film festival -- "top" implies that other films are unworthy of notice or simply inferior to the films that made it onto the list. Maybe film #11 is the one for you. Instead I have a quick list of pictures that have caught my attention. As the festival progresses maybe I'll post a few more, since many films get two and even three screenings over the course of the week.

Midnight Shorts - Shorts always get overlooked in lists like these, so I'll feature them prominently in this one. Midnight Shorts features one of my favorite short films of all time, Frog Jesus, which premiered locally at the Austin Film Festival. SxSW wisely brought it back to town for more people to enjoy. Go see 70 minutes of great shorts, ironically starting at 11pm.

Animated Shorts - I don't really know much about the films playing in this block, except for Pablo Gonzalez' For You, My People, which seems like a really neat picture. How many political animated films from Mexico have you seen? I thought so. Go show support for the animated media by seeing some animated shorts.

SxSW 2008 in Pictures: 'Bama Girl Promotion

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Homecoming Queen promotes 'Bama Girl

One of the more entertaining aspects of registering at SxSW is the chance to see filmmakers and entrepreneurs promote their movies and products in clever ways. For the premiere of her university homecoming doc 'Bama Girl, director Rachel Goslins positioned spokesmodel Carolee Gee (above) at the Convention Center dressed as a homecoming queen. Needless to say the flyers for her film disappeared in a hurry.

Bama Girl premieres Monday, March 10th at the Alamo Ritz at 1:30 p.m. and plays again on Tuesday and Thursday. Check out the entry on SxSW's site here.

'America Unchained' Thursday Night at Alamo Lake Creek

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America UnchainedAmerica Unchained was one of the few docs I got to see in a theater at the Austin Film Festival this past year, but I'm really glad I did. It's one of those movies that might not be so impressive sitting down by yourself with your DVD player, but really takes off when you see it with an audience. So much so that it won the Audience Award at AFF for Best Documentary.

Comedian Dave Gorman’s quest is a simple one: to drive cross country from Los Angeles to the Atlantic Ocean never spending a cent at a chain restaurant, chain hotel or chain gas station – independent businesses only. But in a country where the mom and pop shop is nearing extinction, does the independent spirit of America still thrive enough to go coast to coast? And how do you do it all while being a vegetarian, anyway? Gorman and Devonshire’s insightful film opens up the back roads of the country to find the heart of America.

On some levels the movie is very much a process film -- you spend some time wondering if Gorman isn't manipulating events to make a better picture -- but there are a number of genuine moments that more than make up for those few moments of incredulity. (Seriously, he couldn't have brought along an extra can or two of gas?) Highly recommended, especially for Austin's citizenry who have a mad on for Wal-Mart.

America Unchained shows at the Alamo Lake Creek on Thursday night at 7:30 pm. Admission is $4 or free for AFF members.

[Editor's Note: Jette Kernion would like to shamelessly plug her review of America Unchained written for Cinematical last year as part of Austin Film Festival coverage.]

BLOOD CAR takes another whack at Austin

BloodCarOne of my favorite films from the 2007 Austin Film Festival, Blood Car, returns to Austin for an encore screening at the Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek courtesy of AFF. If your butt isn't planted in a seat at the Lake Creek tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. you're going to be sorry. Really, really sorry.

In the near future gas prices have reached astronomical highs nearing $40 a gallon. One man, Archie Andrews, an environmentalist elementary school teacher, is trying to discover an alternate fuel source. While experimenting with wheat grass, Archie accidentally stumbles upon a solution. That solution turns out to be blood. HUMAN BLOOD!

The screening is free for members and $4 to the general public. It may be the best $4 you ever spend at the movie theater. Would I lie about a film named Blood Car?

Find out more at the AFF web site.

The Alamo Guide for January & February

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Two words: "Spike" and "Mike." (Beginning January 24th!)

Highlights of this calendar are the return of John Gries for a triple threat of Napoleon Dynamite, Terrorvision and Real Genius, our first in a monthly series of rehearsals for the giant Austin, the first two rounds of Austin Air Guitar, a whole new slate of Terror Thursday and Weird Wednesday screenings, Spike and Mike, Justin Timberlake's birthday and more, more, more!

Download the full PDF of the Jan/Feb guide here.

John C. Reilly Rocks Stubbs BBQ as Dewey Cox from 'Walk Hard'

Walk HardWoe be unto you, comedy lovers, if you were not Austin Film Festival members this last week and you therefore missed the Festival's sneak preview of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and the subsequent concert by the title character himself.

Director Jake Kasdan (who co-wrote the film with Judd Apatow) showed up at the Highland Galaxy 10 Theaters to introduce the film, which is even more hilarious than one could have hoped. I enjoyed Knocked Up and Superbad, but this is a high point for the Apatow collective, due in no small part to a script that never lets up and of course to the performance of John C. Reilly. Reilly has been a powerful supporting character (Talladega Nights, Tenacious D) until this point but given center stage he is stunningly, achingly funny.

The story is a satiric biopic of a moronic rock star with a tragic past, a way with lyrics, and the inability to say no to drugs or sex. Trying desperately to make up for the accidental death of his talented brother, Dewey strikes out into the world to make something of his musical career. Cox's first wife, Edith (Kristen Wiig), believes in him but thinks he's destined to fail (as she puts it). Dewey finds solace in drugs and in the arms of Darlene (a vamped-up Jenna Fischer, no trace of "Pam" here), a new backup singer. We follow Dewey through the decades of his life and his eventual realization of his life's true purpose. (More about the film and some concert video after the jump.)

Austin Film Fest Closing Night!

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It's a big night at the Paramount, of course, with Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Grace is Gone lighting up the big screen at the Bullock, but it's also your last chance to see a couple of the really great films that may not be coming to your local cineplex soon. Heck, you could spend the whole night at the Dobie and be supremely entertained:

America Unchained - in this amusing doc, a British gent decides to try driving a 1970 Torino station wagon from L.A. to New York without eating, sleeping, or tanking up at a chain restaurant/hotel/gas station. It's this last that becomes really difficult. A great audience flick. 6:00 p.m., Dobie.

First Saturday in May - There's a lot of buzz around this documentary about the Kentucky Derby, and rightfully so: it speaks from an insider's perspective and keeps things interesting by never letting the story rest for long. Even if horses aren't your thing, any sort of sports enthusiast should check this out. 7:45 p.m., Dobie.

Blood Car - In the very near future, gas is up to $30 and an enterprising young vegan inadvertently invents an engine that runs on blood. If you're thinking Roger Corman blood and guts and unpleasantness, you're half right -- it's all played for laughs, and rather successfully. If you're any kind of comedy or horror enthusiast, this is a can't-miss. 9:30 p.m., Dobie.

Tickets are $8 at the door. Visit austinfilmfestival.com for more information.

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