Jenn Brown's blog

Free Friday at Fantastic Fest: 'El Infierno' for Cine Las Americas Badgeholders


Cine Las AmericasCouldn't get a badge for Fantastic Fest? If you were a Cine Las Americas badgeholder this year, you can see a free movie during the fest anyway, with the director in attendance.

I love it when film festivals collide this way; both fests bring outstanding international programming in a variety of genres to Austin. I also love free. I especially love it when there is free at a festival.

Tomorrow at 2 pm at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, Cine Las Americas is hosting a special screening of the Fantastic Fest selection, El Infierno. This is not on the Fantastic Fest schedule, so you don't have to worry about getting in a queue for the online ticketing system. This particularly screening is reserved exclusively for CLA badgeholders, so unless you also happen to have a Fantastic Fest badge, you will probably not be able to see this movie again anytime soon (El Infierno screens twice as part of the regular Fantastic Fest schedule). 

The hitch is that you need to get to the theater on time and bring your badge from Cine Las Americas. If you're like me and attend a lot of festivals, you keep your badges, but then you have to find the right badge. To make it easier to find it, the badge has the 2011 Cine Las Americas poster on it, pictured here.

Just remember to leave plenty of time for parking -- it's only day two of Fantastic Fest so there is probably a full parking lot. 

Texas Is All Over the 2011 Austin Film Festival Features


Austin Film Festival announced its feature film lineup on Tuesday, including 23 U.S. and world premieres, although the opening and closing-night movies are still unrevealed. This year's selections include movies that have been creating a lot of buzz on the film-fest circuit, such as We Need to Talk About Kevin (which is also playing Fantastic Fest, interestingly enough), The Descendants, Shame, Martha Marcy May Marlene and Coriolanus. There will even be a special 3D screening of the animated movie Puss in Boots.

However, we're most excited about the 15 Austin and Texas-connected movies scattered among the Marquee, Dark Matters, Texas Independents, Documentary Feature Competition and Narrative Feature Competition programs at AFF this year. You know Slackerwood is planning to cover as many of these as we can. If you're one of the filmmakers, please feel free to reach out to us.

Insider's Guide Extra: Tim League, Ultimate Fantastic Fest Insider


When we polled filmmakers and film geeks who've attended Fantastic Fests past to contribute to a Fantastic Fest edition of Insider's Guide, little did we know that word would get to Alamo Drafthouse/Fantastic Fest co-founder Tim League (pictured above at right with David Roland Strong). We figured he'd be too busy with last-minute details of the festival along with the very recent arrival of twin daughters.

Not only did Tim League respond, he's gone all out (if you haven't met Tim, this isn't surprising). So we decided to include all his tips in their entirety as a special edition. You'll notice Tim has some advice that mirrors some of the sentiments in yesterday's edition, because they're that important.

What advice would you give to newbies who've never done Fantastic Fest before?

Use the Festival Genius. Create your schedule online, review and rate as many films as possible and check in during the second half of the festival to see what screenings are getting buzz.

Insider's Guide: Fantastic Fest Survival Tips from Experts


I originally called this guide "celebrity tips," but "celebrity" is a slight exaggeration. We don't do a lot of that in Austin. However, anyone who spends time at film festivals in Austin will recognize some of not all of the folks sharing their wisdom about making the most of Fantastic Fest.

Here at Slackerwood, we've shared tips about How to Drink Like an Austinite, the Fantastic Fest venues and last year's still-relevant Fantastic Fest 2010 Survival Guide, from A to Z (a great companion piece to our Festival Survival Tips). But we aren't the only festival veterans out there, so it only seemed logical to get some input from other Fantastic Fest experts. If you don't know them, you can meet them at the festival; I promise they won't bite, and you won't regret it. 

Kat Candler, Filmmaker
If there was a "Most Supportive Filmmaker" award, it would be retired; I can't list all the times I hear Austin and Texas filmmakers mention Kat (Hellion, jumping off bridges) as a pivotal resource when talking about their own films. Her first Fantastic Fest was last year, but she has some priceless tips.

Movies This Week: How the Straw Lion Drives It


I'm really excited to see that The Happy Poet is playing again in town tonight at Austin Film Society. Presented in part by Texas Independent Film Network and Screen Door Cinema, Paul Gordon's comedic tale brings us a man with a dream, a hot dog stand, and a desire to provide near-vegetarian fare to the world. Heartfelt and funny and filled with local talent, The Happy Poet is one of my favorite movies of recent years, and with the explosion of the food-truck phenomenon, a must-see film. And if you miss the AFS screening, it'll play in San Marcos on Sept. 28.

On Sunday, Cine Las Americas has a free screening of Un Mundo Maravilloso (A Wonderful World) at Takoba. This 2006 satire from Mexico juxtaposes poverty and political ambition -- the Minister of Economy declares the end of poverty just as a homeless drunkard stumbles on the scene. 

Geoff Marslett's Mars is playing at Spider House on Monday. This animated space fantasy played SXSW 2010 along with Gordon's The Happy Poet (and includes a cameo by Paul Gordon). Marslett is currently filming Loves Her Gun around town.

Then on Wednesday, Cinema41 screens Zero Effect starring Bill Pullman at The Hideout. Admission includes a free Tab soda, and the movie is followed by a Q&A with a local private investigator. I have to say that's not what I'd expect from most Q&As, but sounds interesting. 

Movies We've Seen:

Drive -- I've been judging this one by the trailers, particularly the Miami Vice-esque font used (I'm a shameless font geek, and I got over Mistral in the 80s). Don says "it's a stylish, atmospheric thriller that starts very promisingly but goes nowhere, and Ryan Gosling's immense talent is wasted." Read his review this weekend for more. (wide)

I Don't Know How She Does It -- Elizabeth saw this adaptation of the Allison Pearson book, and says it "half-heartedly attempts to depict how gender roles have changed, and isn't very convincing." Read her review for more. (wide)

aGLIFF 2011: The Wrap-Up


aGLIFF 24 is over and strangely I’m not experiencing my normal post-fest-depression.  I usually feel a little low after a film festival, after immersing myself in films and all the socializing between films. I think it’s because I not only ran into several old friends I haven’t seen in a long time, but I made even more new ones hanging out at the Subaru Lounge, which was a great place to hang out and chat, especially the first few nights during our brief respite from triple-digit heat.

By sheer coincidence I saw several intense films and programs. aGLIFF gambled on starting the festival with The Lulu Sessions, which was surprisingly as entertaining as it was illuminating. Closing-night film Cancerpants was a very different documentary despite a very similar subject; a woman’s very personal journey after a cancer diagnosis. The packed house included director Nevie Owens and some of the local musicians included on the soundtrack, and it was truly a communal experience to see the movie with that particular crowd. Actually there were two closing-night films, but how could I not go to the one with so many local connections.

aGLIFF 2011: Quick Snaps, the Majestic Bummy Version



If you haven't been attending the 24th Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (aGLIFF), you're missing out. Mike and Don will have more dispatches soon, but in the meantime, check out some of the folks in attendance.

In the above photo, Skot Tulk, former Executive Director of aGLIFF; filmmaker Monte Patterson, director of the powerful short Caught; and aGLIFF programmer Frank Hai take a moment between the fun Mangus! screening and the Majestic Dance Party at the Paramount. 

Movies This Week: Warrior Contagion Ground


With aGLIFF going strong through Sunday, and it being Pride weekend, there are a lot of film options this weekend that by for and about LGBTQIA friendly topics. If you're up for a sing-along tonight, Alamo Drafthouse is screening all of the best divas, gay icons, and camp classics they're titling Way Gay, which promises to be a lot of fun. But I personally recommend the aGLIFF Centerpiece Film Mangus! (pictured above), which happens to have been filmed near Dallas, and also happens to be followed by the Majestic Dance Party at the Paramount.

Former aGLIFF Programming Director Lisa Kaselak's documentary about the "Texas Cupcake Controversy" is kicking of the Reel Policy film series Thursday at the Center for Health and Social Policy (part of UT's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs). Let Them Eat Cake follows the implementation of a Texas policy initiative to ban junk food in public schools. More information about the screening is available on Facebook. Kaselak will be in attendance for a discussion following the film.

If you haven't had a chance to see Slacker 2011 yet, it's playing on Sunday at Alamo Drafthouse Village. Later this week you can also see the comedy classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on Thursday at Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in. And oh yeah, there are new releases in town, too.

Movies We've Seen:

Contagion -- Steven Soderbergh, the director behind The Girlfriend Experience and Ocean's Thirteen now brings us up close and personal with a deadly pandemic ... and a stellar cast. Elizabeth says in her review, "No one is going to contest the pedigree of the cast in this thriller. However, such a large number of actors creates a challenge to get too invested." (wide)

Echotone -- Austin as the "Live Music Capital of the World" is captured through musicians' eyes by Austin filmmaker Nathan Christ. The documentary has a special run at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar Sunday through Tuesday. Read Debbie's AFF 2010 review for more.

Higher Ground -- Vera Farmiga's directorial debut embodies the faltering journey of someone trying to embrace faith despite undergoing a spiritual crisis. It may not top your best of the year list, but it will get you talking and thinking. Read my review for more. (Regal Arbor, Violet Crown)

Review: Higher Ground


Films using faith as a plot device usually end up in one of three distinct camps: provocative, condescending or dogmatic. Vera Farmiga's directorial debut Higher Ground instead embodies the faltering journey of someone trying to embrace faith despite undergoing a spiritual crisis, and the ripples her actions cause in an otherwise serene community in the 1970s.

As a young girl, Corinne was already seeking spiritual enlightenment. As a young woman, her plans get sidetracked by musician Ethan, derailing plans to be a writer. As a wife and mother, Corinne (Farmiga) embraces a "Jesus Freak" lifestyle, content to raise her children and be active in her tight-knit community. Her idyllic life begins to chafe as her spirited best friend Annika (Dagmara Dominczyk) professes the deep connection to God that Corrine lacks, and a schism widens between Corrine and her husband (Joshua Leonard).

aGLIFF 2011, Dispatch #2: Caught with Kink Crusaders


Every year at aGLIFF I learn something and have a preconception blown away. This year it happened on the second night watching a film about the leatherman culture.

Kink Crusaders is a documentary about the International Mr. Leather contest. You can picture him, right? A bare-butt man in chaps, a codpiece and a leather cap. That stereotype may have a been prevalent when the contest began in the 1970s, but the wardrobe has evolved and so have the contestants. As Michael Skiff's documentary shows, the contenders are from all walks of life, including a 2008 IML semi-finalist confined to a wheelchair. And if that doesn't intrigue you, watch the last two minutes of the film to shatter even more preconceptions.

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