Jenn Brown's blog

AFF09 Daily Dispatch: Day Four


The ScenestersToday is as much about what I didn't do at the fest, as the screenings itself. I overslept and miss the Hair of the Dog brunch and the TXMPA Incentives panel. I believe Debbie made it to the panel, so hopefully she'll be doing a writeup later. I did make it over the Driskill 1886 cafe for some lemony eggs benedict before heading to a screening that I ended up switching with Alabama Moon, so I had a lot of time on my hands today.

Alabama Moon, directed by Austin's Tim McCanlies, harkens back to the vintage Wonderful World of Disney films I used to watch on Sunday nights. Kid in trouble, the requisite mean and inept adults, the bully with a change of heart, and a few good and kind adults to bring about a happy ending. Austin favorite Clint Howard plays the constable who makes Moon's life really difficult after Moon's father dies. Alabama Moon is family fare, and will make some adults nostalgic.

The Paramount seats aren't kind to aching knees, so I left before the Q&A, and I'm glad I did. I got out just in time to catch the tail end of the annual Zombie Lurch to the Capitol, an event the Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek puts on every year. I wished they'd organized it better so there were people in line at the Paramount at the time. It's such a fun thing to see lumbering up the street, and I doubt many festivalgoers caught it.  The video I took is being stubborn about being embedded, so it's linked above.

AFF09 Daily Dispatch: Day Three


This is the stair-iest festival. My knees are killing me.  I seem destined to be climbing lots of stairs, to the point my poor knees can't take. or close to it.  Stairs at the Driskill. Stairs at the Ritz. Stairs at all the party venues.  Owwie.  I may have to put in a worker's comp claim (just kidding, Jette). 

AFF09-SatPanels-dI missed the morning panels, because not having alarms set meant I woke up when I was good and ready, and that was far too late for panels before lunch. So I was very envious when Rich Vázquez tweeted about a very personal panel up on the Capital lawn with Tom Skerritt and some teachers (aka the "Teaching Storytelling Through Screenwriting" panel).

It also meant I missed the An Education screening, which has caused an uproar among some because it was booked at a small venue.  I'm rather surprised, because at least one badge holder I know got there less than a half hour before it was scheduled to start, and there was even room for me.  Remember folks, the TBAs are locked into specific time slots and venues, and the festival has to accommodate certain restrictions and demands when playing films, too many to name here. This is a festival and conference, emphasis on the conference in the first few days. Having films that early in the day is relatively new for the fest.  And the film is opening in Austin in less than three weeks. And the two TBAs filling the Paramount slots are bigger films.

To me, it's a non-issue. Of the things to be frustrated with, a wide-release film coming out in a few weeks is very low. Besides, the emphasis needed to be on the Awards luncheon, which, of course, I missed.  While I'm a little sad my friend and fellow Austinite Patrick Sullivan did not win in his category, he beat out nearly 4,000 people to get to the finalist round.  And from what I've seen on twitter today, Sitcom Teleplay winner Benjamin Healy is an Austinite. 

AFF Winners Announced


The awards luncheon for Austin Film Festival was held today, with the following winners announced for the film, screenplay and teleplay competitions:

Film Competitions

  • Documentary Feature Jury Award: Grown in Detroit - Directors: Manfred Poppenk, Mascha Poppenk
  • Documentary Feature Special Jury Mention: Downtown Calling - Director: Shan Nicholson
  • Animated Short Jury Award: Lost and Found - Director: Philip Hunt
  • Narrative Student Short Jury Award: Welgunzer - Writer: Bradford Schmidt
  • Narrative Student Special Jury Mention: Adelaide - Writer: Liliana Greenfield-Sanders
  • Narrative Short Jury Award: Nice Shootin' Cowboy - Writer: Ben Phelps
  • Narrative Short Special Jury Mention: The Taxidermist - Writers: Bert & Bertie; Washdays - Writer: Graham Lester George
  • Narrative Feature Jury Award: Tobruk - Writer: Vaclav Marhoul
  • Narrative Feature Special Jury Recognition for Acting: Myna Se Va
  • Narrative Feature Special Jury Recognition for Independent Filmmaking: Thor at the Bus Stop

AFF09 Daily Dispatch: Day Two


AFF09Patrick-1651I wasn't gonna do this, really. This was the festival where I was gonna take a back seat. But despite having to start late yesterday and today, I can't help but do a daily dispatch. So here goes day two. 

I missed all the panels. I didn't even get to the fest in time to do anything but hop on a shuttle to the French Legation for the annual Texas BBQ, only to find out that while the shuttles started running at 4 pm, we absolutely could not step foot onto the grounds until 5 pm (there was a wedding, that would have been rude).  As it turns out, it's quite a popular spot for weddings, because one of the filmmakers had his wedding there. 

This was prime social time.  Ran into friends like Patrick Sullivan (pictured right) who is a screenplay competition finalist, and Rich Vázquez from Cine Las Americas. Later I sawSkot Tulk from aGLIFF, and finally had a chance to meet PJ Raval, who is very busy these days, and associated with many of the Austin film organizations. They introduced me to Mike Washlesky, who in turn introduced me to Craig Knapp, whom he worked with on Hockey Night in Texas.  So Jette, you don't have to keep saying I need to meet PJ, because now I have. 

It's a good thing the barbecue ended when it did, because they ran out of plates, glasses and beer before the official end time. but that meant I got back to the Driskill in time to catch Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire at the Paramount.  That movie really needed a Q&A. It's very powerful and very challenging, and had some incredible performances. I'm jumping on the Mo'Nique Oscar Bandwagon now, because her final scene is deserves accolades. Amazing. And looking on IMDb I see that director Lee Daniels was a producer on The Woodsman, another bravely disturbing film that tackles the complex miasma behind some darker human behaviors.

AFF09 Daily Dispatch: Day One


IMG00165-20091022-2006Day one is over, and day two is just beginning of Austin Film Festival (Food and Film event not withstanding).  There's just so much to do, with so many great panels to choose from, not to mention the films.

Registration was a but slow and confusing, but I was one of those "other" people, who had a late registration as media, and then as an Austin Film Festival member, I had a free film pass to pick up as well.  Had a chance to talk to a few friends, including Austin's Patrick Sullivan, who is a screenplay competition finalist.  I hope we get to celebrate a win there on Saturday.

I ended up seeing Slackerwood contributor Chris Holland's panel with Kelly Williams and James Faust, "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over," moderated by Greg Garrett.  Chris, as you may know, authored the book Film Festival Secrets, and as a former festival programmer and current B-Side principal, knows about festivals from the inside out.  All the panelists offered sound, practical advice, including details often overlooked, such as putting your film's title on the DVD you submit to festivals. Much of the advice is the same as any career development coach would give, that amounted to making it as easy as possible for the festivals to say "yes" to your film. 

Movies This Week: Amelia, Astro Boy, Assistants and Good Hair


Good Hair

Surprise!  We're busy into Austin Film Festival, but there are actually a number ofmovies being released this week that aren't playing at AFF.

Amelia -- They had me at "Mira Nair" (Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake), and lost me in one of the least cohesive films I've seen in a long time.  If you're addicted to period pics, you'll still be disappointed.  Read my full review for more.

Astro Boy -- The latest adaptation of the manga-fied Pinocchio-esque story of a robot boy.  It's not just a kid's movie, it's actually a little bit dark, and a little bit smart.  And the animation is so sharp it almost felt like 3D.  The three kids I saw it with give it three thumbs up. 

Blue -- Hindi language, filmed in Thailand, with a cameo by Kylie Minogue.  How could I not list it? That's not an endorsement, but it seems so ... noteworthy.

Review: Amelia



It's Oscar contender season, when the studios trot out the films they hope will capture the attention of the bearers of golden statuettes, and the box office revenue those little gold men bring.  One has to wonder just what Fox Searchlight was thinking when they chose to release Amelia.

It seems like a perfect match: Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake) directing a cast of heavyweights, including Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston. Stuart Dryburgh had an Oscar nod for Best Cinematography for The Piano amongst his list of nominations and wins. Both editors, Allyson C. Johnson and Lee Percy, are seasoned professionals, and Johnson has worked on several Nair projects. The writers, Ron Bass (Rain Man, The Joy Luck Club) and Anna Hamilton Phelan (Girl, Interrupted, Mask) each have an Oscar nod. Two books about Earhart are used, including Susan Butler's East to the Dawn and Mary S. Lovell's The Sound of Wings, which should lend authenticity.

TXMPA's Annual Spaghetti Western Tickets on Sale


TXMPA Spaghetti Western

Updated 10/28: This event has been postponed until December, and will be merged with the TXMPA holiday party. We'll update you with more info as we receive it.

The Texas Motion Picture Alliance (TXMPA) has just announced the details of its second annual Spaghetti Western fundraiser, on Sunday, November 1 at Star Hill Ranch in Bee Cave.

This year's event will feature live performances by The Tiny Tin Hearts and Erik Larson & Peacekeeper. Food will be provided by Ciao Chow, and there will be a Tito’s Vodka/Sweet Leaf Tea Saloon, as well as Amy’s Ice Cream. A silent auction will be held, and special guests are expected.

Tickers are on sale at the TXMPA website, at $60 for the general public and $50 for TXMPA members. Last year's Spaghetti Western sold out with over 700 guests, including film, television, commercial and videogame makers, and others who support these creative efforts.

Founded in 2006, TXMPA is the all-volunteer, not-for-profit [501(c)(6)] statewide industry advocacy organization for film, television, commercial and videogame makers. Earlier this year, the group led the charge for new and improved Texas production incentives legislation (HB 873), which was successfully passed and funded, putting Texas back on a more level playing field with other states for jobs in the creative industries. 

Five New Films Announced for Austin Film Festival


Austin Film Festival announced some late additions today, including the TBA films, via Twitter. The films include:

You can check out information on these films and the entire festival on the Austin Film Festival schedule.  Austin Film Festival runs October 22-29 at various locations around the Austin area.

Review: Where the Wild Things Are


Where the Wild Things Are

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers for the few people unfamiliar with the book from which this movie is adapted.

Daring to adapt a beloved book is risky business. Any changes and someone is offended, and adding material is sacrilegious. But what about when the original author approves the changes? 

Maurice Sendak's much beloved, critically acclaimed children's book Where the Wild Things Are has become one of the most anticipated films of the year. Even the jaded have admitted to tears over the trailers alone. Unfortunately, the magic of the book and the trailers doesn't completely translate to the full-length feature. 

Despite only being 10 sentences long, the 1963 book has been imprinted on the mind of more than one generation as a most beloved tale of imagination and childhood ferociousness. "Let the wild rumpus start!" is an eternal meme guaranteed to bring smiles. 

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