Jenn Brown's blog

Getting Organized for Local Film Fests with B-Side


Fantastic Fest 2007

The next three film festivals in Austin -- aGLIFF, Fantastic Fest and Austin Film Festival -- all use B-Side's web application for their scheduling. If you're attending any of these festivals, you'll want to take full advantage of the B-Side Festival Guide to build a schedule, rate a film, and see what other people are watching and rating.

Just one account will work to build schedules for all festivals that utlilize B-Side, and there are many, all around the country. The B-Side scheduler includes lots of nifty features, from creating personal schedules to running the Festival Genius, which can help optimize your schedule. 

The B-Side application is integrated into each festival's website; you can access it directly from the festival site, see when and where each film is playing, and add the films to your calendar. Each film has a page with a synopsis, date(s), venue(s), photos, trailers, category, notes about whether anyone involved in the film will attend, and statistics.

Review: 9


the feature '9'

Shane Acker's Oscar-nominated short of the same name was so popular, people were talking about 9 long after it didn't win. It's a very solid short, both satisfying and leaving viewers wanting more. The announcement that the stitch-punk short was getting a feature adaptation was received with enthusiasm which kept building. Unfortunately, the feature-film version of 9 doesn't live up to the short.

Acker, who wrote and directed the original, only gets story and director credit for the feature. Pamela Pettler has the screenplay credits; she also co-wrote Monster House and Corpse Bride. Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Nochnoy dozor) and Tim Burton get producer credits, and you can see their influence, especially in the monsters. 

aGLIFF Daily Dispatch #1: Opening Night


I Can't Think StraightThe Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (aGLIFF) opened Monday with Shamim Sarif's directorial debut, I Can't Think Straight. The romantic comedy based on Sarif's eponymous book plays surprisingly light despite potentially heavy subject matter. When a mutual friend introduces introverted Leyla (Sheetal Sheth) and outspoken Tala (Lisa Ray), sparks fly.

Muslim Indian Leyla has been dating Ali for years, while Tala, a Christian Palestinian dividing her time between London and Jordan, is on her fourth engagement.  As the two women get to know each other, it's clear it's more than a friendship forming, but both women are reluctant to admit their attraction and follow their hearts in more ways than one. 

The film stays firmly in the realm of rom-com, with occassional teases into erotica, but never really crosses that particular border. Even the family conflict stay light, with somewhat understanding if perplexed fathers, and caricature mothers. Sheth and Ray have sparkling chemistry, which makes the film a sweet confection, instead of a heavy drama.

There's a musical quality, hinting at Bollywood, and with an ultimate happy ending, which makes the film an excellent choice for the start of aGLIFF.

Third Wave of Fantastic Fest Lineup Announced


Fantastic FestVIP and regular badges are sold out. Registration completion emails have gone out. And the last wave of film titles has been announced. Fantastic Fest is just over two weeks away and on Monday, 17 new feature titles were announced, including six U.S. premieres.

All the new titles are worthy of a writeup, but to save space, here are the highlights:

  • Lars Von Trier's controversial Antichrist will make its U.S. premiere. The images and trailers are provocative, and Von Trier has no fear of taboos, so this is high on my list of must-sees.
  • REC 2, the followup to the incredible REC by directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, also has a U.S. premiere.  Special guest Javier Botet (the monster) will be in attendance.
  • Vampire's Assistant, with stars John C. Reilly, Josh Hutcherson and Chris Massoglia live in person
  • Under the Mountain by Black Sheep director Jonathan King, who will be in attendance
  • Ninja Assassin also has a special guest: director James McTeigue

Review/Interview: Paper Heart


Paper Heart

Paper Heart blurs the lines between fantasy and reality as Charlyne Yi explores the concept of the validity of Love and expectations before relationships even begin, with co-director Nick Jasenovec (pictured above).

Earlier this summer, Jasenovec was in Austin for a special screening of Paper Heart as well as for interviews. Mixing genres is dangerous enough, but Yi and Jasenovec mix documentary and narrative with surprisingly good results. Yi is not just the co-director, but the star, who interviews real people about the subject of love, as well as playing an alternate version of herself in a budding relationship with an alternate version of Michael Cera (played by Cera). Jasenovec is also a character, but instead of playing himself, Jake Johnson plays Jasenovec. And then there are puppets.

Confused, yet? Turned off? Believe it or not, it works, and works well.

Movies this Week: Inglourious Paper Power


Soul Power

Have you recovered from Cinemapocalypse yet? I haven't. But it was so worth it.  This week is a bit quieter, although we've heard a lot of news about future celebrity events that will make most of you very, very happy, but we can't talk about all of it quite yet. Fewer movies are opening this week, but there's something for just about everyone.   

Inglourious Basterds. Quentin Tarantino's latest, features plenty of Nazis, black humor, and is quite possibly Tarantino's best.  Check out our group review for more.

Paper Heart, a sweet and quirky mix of reality and fantasy, finally opens here at Alamo Lamar and Arbor. My review will be appearing on Slackerwood this weekend, so check back.

Soul Power (pictured above) opens at the Arbor today. In 1974, the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight between Ali and Foreman wasn't the only piece of African American history being made; there was a music festival as well, featuring music legends from both continents. It wasn't until more than two decades later that legal issues over the concert footage was resolved. This official SXSW selection was so popular among my friends, now I have to go. 

Shorts had a special premiere in Austin on Sunday, and opens in theaters around town today. Look for her review to appear later today.

aGLIFF Shines in its Twenty-Second Year


aGLIFFThe Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (aGLIFF) lineup is now available on their website for their 22nd annual fest.

While aGLIFF doesn't have the extensive, all-day screenings of some of Austin's other festivals, it has a diverse lineup of 108 films, including 11 narrative and 13 documentary features, and nine reels of short films. Their schedule is also friendly to those who have to work for a living, so unless you're attending the parties, you needn't miss the films.

Some highlights of this year's lineup:

  • I Can't Think Straight, the Opening Night film, a feature about two women, cultural taboos, and the battle between family expectations and the heart's desire.
  • A Place to Live: The Story of Triangle Square, a documentary about LGBT seniors trying to secure affordable housing.
  • Antique, the Centerpiece film, a feature based on Japanese Manga, and focuses on a playboy who hires his schoolboy crush to work in his new bakery.
  • For My Wife... chronicles the tale of Charlene Strong, whose story helped spur the passing of the Domestic Partnership bill in Washington state.
  • The Big Gay Musical, the Closing Night film, is, well, about a big, gay musical which mirrors the life of the people playing the characters.

What makes me really happy is that aGLIFF is using B-Side to help with schedules, reviews and buzz. The fest is also using B-Side's very nifty Festival Genius feature, which can help optimize your schedule. Now, Festg, as it's known on Twitter, may not have as much to optimize as it does with an extensive, multi-fest extravaganza as SXSW, but it's still a nice feature. Using the rating and review features are a big help to filmmakers and the festival organizers.

This year aGLIFF moves to Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, a more central location with faster access to the parties. The fest originated at Dobie, moved to the Arbor for many years, and was at Alamo Ritz in 2008.

Online ticket sales will be available through the Alamo Drafthouse website approximately one week prior to the film festival, or at the theater 30 minutes prior to the screening. Individual movie tickets are $10. Festival badges are free with aGLIFF membership, with different levels of access (films, priority seating, parties and plus-ones). 

aGLIFF runs September 8-13. More information is available at the AGLIFF website, as well as their Twitter, Facebook and MySpace pages.

Cinemapocalypse, Part Two: And Well Into the Morning

Cinemapocalyse, by Jenn BrownThe main event for Cinemapocalypse was Inglourious Basterds and guests, as I detailed in Part One. However, the all-night movie marathon offered so much more. The theme of the evening (and morning after) was war-centered "men on a mission" films, with each film preceded by relevant vintage trailers. Tarantino programmed the next two films, with the rest programmed by Tim League, and Alamo programmers Zack Carlson and Lars Nilsen.

FilmInglourious Basterds
TrailersOperation Eichmann, Ski Troop Attack, 36 Hours and Operation Amsterdam

Like I mentioned in Part One, Slackerwood will be doing a full group review later. I will say for now that I really enjoyed Basterds and I'm looking forward to seeing it again, and I suspect even people who aren't big fans of Tarantino will really enjoy it. It has all the spirit of post-WWII anti-hero and noir films. 

FilmThe Losers
TrailersThe Naked Brigade, Merrill's Marauders, The Dirty Dozen, Casualties of War, The Rescue (I think it was the same film as Let's Get Harry, but I'm not entirely sure) and First Blood

This 1974 Vietnam war-era film, directed by Jack Starrett, was about a bunch of bikers led by Link (William Smith), who are sent to Vietnam to rescue a government advisor on the wrong side of the Vietnam border. This seriously surreal film included a love song/theme song abruptly fit into an unexpected romantic scene ("Life has so much to offer the losers ..."). Tarantino pointed out that this has has the distinction of being filmed during the Vietnam conflict, when it was politically very incorrect to do so. 

FilmThe Siege of Firebase Gloria
TrailersUp from the Beach, Play Dirty, Von Ryan's Express, Eye of the Eagle II: Inside the Enemy, Uncommon Valor and Gallipoli

Starring R. Lee Ermey and Wings Hauser, The Siege of Firebase Gloria is an uneasy mix of great filmmaking with some seriously cheesy dialogue (and a great chopper pilot).

Cinemapocalypse, Part One: The Quent-Essential Report

Cinemapocalypse 2009

In most posts, I try to be as objective as possible. I'm not even going to attempt it in this account of Cinemapocalypse, Saturday's all-night movie marathon. It is not complete, but it should be enough to help you live a little vicariously, if only to build your DVD queue or library. Those of us at Cinemapocalypse were very, very lucky, and the rest of y'all have a right to be jealous.

Earlier this year, Alamo programmers Zack Carlson and Lars Nilson took 18 exploitation films on an eight-night West Coast tour and called it Cinemapocalypse. Apparently it was so successful the Alamo gang decided to incorporate elements of QT Fest and have a dusk-til-dawn film fest in Austin, kicking it off with Quentin Tarantino's latest, Inglourious Basterds. Only one of the films from the original tour made it into this weekend's marathon.

Despite only knowing that the first film would be Inglourious Basterds, that Tarantino would then program the next two films, and that none of the films besides Basterds would be known in advance, Cinemapocalypse Austin sold out in a record minute. The tickets went on sale at noon, and people who tried to start buying at 12:02 pm were out of luck -- and only Fantastic Fest 2009 badgeholders and AFS members could even try the first day. And yes, Alamo was verifying every single purchase.

Review: Adam



It doesn't bode well for a film when it opens with a voiceover comparing the title character to that of The Little Prince, and how he taught her about love. It reeks of Movie-of-the-Week-itis, and all the clichés that implies.

Throughout the opening scene, and most of the film, Adam is calculated to manipulate the heart strings, which gets tiresome right from the start. With a dysfunctional meet-cute, this take on the boy-meets-girl story never strays outside of predictable boundaries.

Adam (Hugh Dancy) is an electronics engineer with Asperger's Syndrome; Bethany (Rose Byrne) is a teacher with aspirations to write children's books who moves into his building.

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