Chris Holland's blog

Fall Festival Roundup


If you're a film geek, September and October are pretty great months to live in Austin. Within the space of five weeks there will be nearly five hundred different features and shorts on display, many of them well outside the mainstream and which won't be screening again in Austin for months -- if ever. Here's a quick guide to the three big festivals of the Fall in the capital of Texas.

Fantastic Fest (Sept. 20-27)

In their words: "Fantastic Fest is a week-long festival featuring the best in new science-fiction, fantasy, horror, animation, crime, Asian, and all around badass cinema."

What they play: Fantastic Fest has tighter focus than its cousins and (potentially) more bang for the buck if you're into genre film. Fantastic Fest is the place to see the weird, the wonderful, the what-the-eff-was-that movies of the yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Claim to fame: Organized by Tim and Karrie League of the Alamo Drafthouse and programmed by such guiding lights as Matt Dentler (SxSW), Lars Nilsen (Weird Wednesday), and Harry Knowles (Ain't It Cool News), Fantastic Fest has geek cred coming out the wazoo. The Leagues pull out all the stops to get the festival's filmmakers into town for the show. If the names Bruce Campbell and Shusuke Kaneko aren't familiar, however, you might not care about the celebrity-types wandering the Alamo halls during this festival. Though I guess Mel Gibson did pull a surprise appearance last year, so who knows?

Visit the Fantastic Fest website.

Sunday Sunday Sunday! "King of Kong" contest culminates


You've got the weekend to prove yourself a King of Kong on the big screen at the Alamo, this weekend during screenings of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.The whole contest comes down to a showdown at the 9:15 p.m. Sunday show when Steve Wiebe (the movie's "good guy") will be on hand to crown the winner and give away the Donkey Kong console. Click on the picture at right to see the size of the projection relative to the contestant at bottom left. (Photo credit Joe Boutros.)

The screening times and details of the contest are available now at, including these tidbits about who will and won't be able to play the machine hooked up to the projector:

We realized that for some of the TRUE Kings of Kong out there, there's no way that they'd be able to finish their game while we all watched it and still started the movie on time. True Kong Kings last for days and days, right? We don't know, but we're going to make it so that we can find out. And so the theater play on the big screen will be your chance to QUALIFY to play on the actual prize machine in our lobby. If you can last for five minutes on our machine in the theater, you'll receive a coupon and a time slot to come back and play on the Official Machine. If you want extra chances to play you'll have to convince your friends to hand over their raffle tickets!

Also note that a ticket to the screening does not guarantee you the chance to play Donkey Kong on our big screen. We'll have free raffle tickets available at the box office for everyone who's interested in playing and for 20 minutes before the movie starts we'll be calling out numbers until we've either worked through everyone who wants to play or run out of time before the film's advertised start time.

Editor's update: Matt Dentler says Wiebe may be trying to set a new Donkey Kong record himself on Sunday night at Alamo. Could be an exciting night!

There's Still Time to be the Funniest Filmmaker in Austin


The Austin Film Festival crew is doing it again -- calling out into the wilderness for your comedy shorts. You've got until August 16th to submit.

To be crowned the Funniest Filmmaker in Austin, download the entry form and drop it off with your film at the new AFF offices. (No entry fee!) The finalists will be screened at the Cap City Comedy Club on August 20th (semifinals) and 27th (finals). Both nights will feature live comedy as well as the short films.

The winner gets two all access badges to the festival in October and their film will screen at the festival. These days that's one of the easier ways to get into a major film festival, so local filmmakers should be jumping at the chance.

Check it out now at the Austin Film Festival site.

In Case You Missed it at SXSW: "Black Sheep" and "The King of Kong"


picFilm festivals are at once immensely gratifying and endlessly irritating. They provide the means to see new and obscure films months before they hit mainstream theaters or home video, but they do so at the cost of one's sanity, personal life, and financial resources. This past March during South by SouthWest I forced myself to maintain a somewhat normal schedule at the cost of movies I really would have liked to see. (Damn those midnight showings!)

Black Sheep was one of the films I most regret not seeing, so it's nice to see the film coming back to Austin during its theatrical run. The Alamo Drafthouse web site says it will begin running on August 31st, and it may hit some other local theaters. If you need a plot synopsis, Bloody Disgusting describes it this way: "An experiment in genetic engineering turns harmless sheep into blood-thirsty killers that terrorize a rural town in New Zealand." It sounds a lot like the animal version of Undead, which had a great sense of humor but ultimately got bogged down in homage to other zombie flicks and its own plot intricacies.

Photo Gallery: Robosaurus & Transformers at Alamo South Lamar


Smouldering ruins in his wake.

It was exactly as awesome as you think it would be. See the whole slideshow here.

Alamo Drafthouse unveils "beta" of new web site


The Alamo Drafthouse has been harboring a secret -- a secret web site that takes the ol' red, yellow, and black color scheme to new places.

Dig for a peek at the Alamo Drafthouse web site of the future!

Personally I like the trailers page, where you can check out the wacky homegrown pre-show trailers that the Alamo staff creates for its specialty programming.

Sinus Show blows its last

The "MST3K"-style comedy of the Sinus Show will bow out of the Austin film scene this weekend, reports the Austin Movie Blog. The show featured 3 comedians making fun of cinema classics as Xanadu and The Terminator at one of the various Alamo Drafthouse locations in town. Now you'll have to make fun of those movies yourself, in the comfort of your own home. The final shows are this weekend's screenings of Die Hard and alas! They are sold out. I feel good that at least I got to take my wife to see their version of Showgirls. Of course we haven't seen the last of John Erler, Owen Egerton, and Jerm Pollet, but it is the end of an era. So long, Sinus Guys.

Volunteers wanted for SXSW

The call is out - it's time to volunteer for SXSW. If you can't swing the dough for a badge or pass, you can put in some time (4 nights or 30 hours) and get in to the rest of the festival for free. Plus the volunteer shirts for SXSW are usually pretty cool -- the sort of thing you'd actually wear willingly after the event is over. Check out or e-mail vol at for more info.

Spike and Mike 2007 - it's coming!


Dr TranThat touring cavalcade of animated perversion known as Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation is coming back to the Alamo Drafthouse downtown. This is one of my favorite events of the year, and it may actually inspire me to hire a babysitter and get our butts to the theater.

Unlike other animation events that have gone before it Spike & Mike celebrates the bizarre, the disgusting, the just plain weird and wonderful. Without it I might not have discovered Dr. Tran or Don Hertzfeldt, and how sad that would be!

The fun begins Thursday, January 18th and continues through the 28th.

Austin Film Society presents "Sublime Lines: Japanese Anime"


Some great anime on display at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown on Tuesday nights through December, including a couple of favorites from Hayao Miyazaki.

- Porco Rosso (Kurenai No Buta)
Tuesday, November 21 @ 7 p.m.

- Spirited Away (Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi)
Tuesday, November 28 @ 7 p.m.

- Millennium Actress (Sennen Joyu)
Tuesday, December 5 @ 7 p.m.

- Metropolis (Metoroporisu)
Tuesday, December 12 @ 7 p.m.

- Ghost in the Shell II: Innocence (Inosensu: Kokaku Kidotai)
Tuesday, December 19 @ 7 p.m.

Visit the AFS page for more info on the films and the series.

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