Debbie Cerda's blog

AFF 2010 Interview: Dax Shepard and His 'Brother's Justice' Partners


Brother's Justice

In addition to appearing for the red carpet premiere of Brother's Justice at this year's Austin Film Festival, the lead stars and filmmakers sat down with media while they were in town. I enjoyed a pleasant and humorous conversation with lead actor and director Dax Shepard, as well as cinematographer/director David Palmer and producer/actor Nate Tuck, pictured above.  

Brother's Justice (Jette's review) is best described as a mockumentary with Shepard aspiring to become an international martial-arts star. Check out what the filmmaking trio had to say about Brother's Justice as well as their thoughts on Austin actors and filmmakers, including the Wilson and Duplass brothers.

Dax, this isn't your first time in Austin. Can you talk about some of your prior experiences here?

Dax Shepard: In 2004, I shot Idiocracy here so I lived in Austin for three months. It is to date my favorite location, including New Zealand, which was pretty spectacular. I do hope to live here at some point. If I can get them to relocate Parenthood I'll be in heaven. To get into this film festival was really great. Even if the film festival sucked, it was still a trip to Austin so we were going to win no matter what.

AFF 2010 Review: Echotone


Echotone Stills selects

In the late 1980s, I was heavily involved in the Houston music scene due to my stint at a college radio station and later at a pub that featured nightly live music. However, the music scene there became stagnant and our establishment dropped to two nights a week with a meager budget to pay the bands. Local band Fab Motion captured the plight of many musicians with a lyrical response to the standard "Hey hippie, get a job!" with "What? I have THREE jobs." All ears turned to Austin, where bands such as the True Believers, The Reivers, Ian Moore, Joe Ely and Stevie Ray Vaughn had audiophiles wondering if our capital city would be the next Athens, Georgia. When I moved to Austin in 1993, I enjoyed the freedom to see live music any night of the week in the "Live Music Capital of the World" and play from a diverse range of local artists while deejaying at UT Austin's 91.7 KVRX.

Now that Austin has high-rises rising up amongst our downtown skyline, how are our local musicians impacted? Director Nathan Christ examines this important topic in his documentary, Echotone, as he and cinematographer Robert Garza follow Austin's independent music culture over a two-year period, featuring musicians, venues, promoters and others within the city landscape. Echotone is a poignant reminder of the abundance of talent and passion in the Austin music scene, along with the challenges and frustrations faced by creative artists and local music venues.

Review: Megamind


Megamind and Minion

DreamWorks Animations brings in their mastermind behind their successful Madagascar franchise, Tom McGrath, to deliver their latest animated 3D film, Megamind. This 3D movie is action-packed and visual eye candy, reminiscent of but not meeting the technological standards set by Wall-E and Despicable Me. The storyline and characters are engaging enough for Megamind to at least have temporary success, but will it have a lasting impact on audiences?

The world of Megamind revolves around two central characters, Megamind (Will Ferrell) and Metro Man (Brad Pitt), whose lives resemble that of Kal-el aka Clark Kent/Superman. Sent as babies from their home planets doomed for destruction, they land on Earth, where they are adopted by strangers. Metro Man lives a life of luxury, but Megamind is unfortunately diverted into Metro City prison where he's raised by inmates. He's sent to a school for gifted children where he is constantly upstaged by Metro Man. Megamind eventually accepts his fate of being bad is the one thing he is good at, and thus begins a never-ending battle waged between the two rivals.

AFF 2010 Photo Essay: 'Brother's Justice' Red Carpet


Brother's Justice

Writer/director Dax Shepard, cinematographer/director David Palmer and producer Nate Tuck were on the red carpet for the premiere of Brother's Justice at AFF 2010. The trio were also the stars of this mockumentary about Shepard's efforts to delve into the martial arts genre, although Palmer is most often behind the camera as "the camera guy." It's the natural relationship between Shepard and Tuck as they try to enlist more people in their project that I enjoyed the most. Check back soon for my interview with Shepard, Palmer and Tuck.

Here are more photos from the event, including the cast and crew of the short film The Legend of El Limbo, which preceded Brother's Justice. First up is star Dax Shepard.

AFF Quick Snaps: Get Out of Jail Free at the Driskill


Under the Boardwalk filmmakers

Co- producer Craig Bentley and director/co-producer Kevin Tostado took a break in the Driskill Bar before hitting Sunday afternoon panels at Austin Film Festival. That's pretty serious dedication to the game that is the subject of their documentary Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story. This film portrays the well-loved classic board game that is a worldwide cultural phenomenon. We also see vignettes of several players who compete for the title of Monopoly World Champion, including past winners and new underdogs. 

Had I not been preparing for an interview with Dax Shepard and his fellow filmmakers from the movie Brother's Justice,  I would have asked to join Bentley and Tostado for a quick lesson in auctioning property. Read what I thought about Under the Boardwalk in my review. Here's a clue, though -- after watching, I'm eyeing the "Star Trek: Continuum" Monopoly on now. Remember, the movie plays again at 6 pm today at the Texas Spirit Theater (in the Bob Bullock museum).

AFF 2010 Review: Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story


Under The Boardwalk: The MONOPOLY story outdoor game play

After feeling extremely disappointed in a documentary that I highly anticipated due to its subject, I was hesitant to see another documentary on a topic I thought I had less interest in -- the game of Monopoly. Sure, I played the game as a kid, but I'd expect a feature-length film about a board game would be dry and boring. I'm not too proud to admit that the filmmakers behind Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story proved me wrong. Kevin Tostado directed and co-wrote along with Craig Bentley a delightfully engaging piece on a classic game that is firmly rooted in households across the world. The game is now sold in over 110 countries around the world in 40 languages, although as stated in the film, Monopoly "doesn't get translated, it gets located."

Narrated by Chuck star Zachary Levi, Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story presents a cohesive story with several storylines, one of which is the history of the game and other notable facts. Most notably, I was surprised to learn that although Charles Darrow has historically been known as the founder of Monopoly, it was actually Elizabeth Magie who'd originated the concept in 1903 as an anti-capitalist game known as "The Landlord's Game." Thirty years later the game had evolved and Darrow was the final developer who was successful at selling the game to Parker Brothers. The game's initial success is credited with the same reason that Darrow created the game-- he needed a way to earn money during the Depression. Monopoly was well-received as unemployed and poor folks could play a game that allowed them to buy property and houses. 

AFF Photo Essay: Hair of the Dog Brunch 2010


Adios Mundo Cruel

Probably the most eagerly anticipated event at Austin Film Festival each year is the traditional Hair of the Dog Brunch. I'd heard talk of the brunch for years, but didn't attend until last year when I learned what all the fuss was about. Despite crowds spilling out of Ranch 616 and onto the sidewalk to eat, it's a great place to relax and enjoy great food and good company.

Every year there's a couple of people I'll continually encounter during AFF, and this year it has to be Ya'Ke Smith of Katrina's Son. I stopped to say hello and warn him that his mug would be Slackerwood's next AFF Quick Snaps. We talked about his upcoming projects, including a feature-length version of Katrina's Son. Behind him in line were more AFF 2010 award winning filmmakers --  the crew from Adios Mundo Cruel (pictured at top), including Yossy Zagha Kababie, Jack Zagha Kababie and Enrique Chmelnik. Yossy had read my review of their film, and asked me to explain who Jean-Pierre Jeunet is. They are hopeful for Adios Mundo Cruel to be picked up for distribution soon. An encore of Adios Mundo Cruel will screen tonight at the Bob Bullock Museum IMAX Theatre at 9:30pm.

Also at the brunch were some of my favorite women in the Texas film industry -- Texas Film Commission's marketing director Carla Click, another TFC staffer whose name escapes me (sorry!) and Deputy Director Carol Pirie.

AFF Quick Snaps: Ya'Ke Smith of 'Katrina's Son'



I took my own advice from the AFF 2010 Dining Guide and stopped in at Thai Passion for a meal before the Brother's Justice premiere at the Paramount Theatre on Sunday. Several AFF attendees were enjoying dinner at the restaurant, including UT alum and filmmaker Ya'Ke Smith. I ran into him again in front of the Paramount where I snapped the photo above. Smith has a good reason to smile. AFF announced the winners of the juried film competitions, and his short film Katrina's Son won in the narrative short category. I'd recommended Katrina's Son in the AFF 2010 Preview: Selected Shorts, and was glad to tell Smith personally how much I enjoyed his short film.

Smith just completed production on a documentary entitled Father, which addresses a domestic issue that's very personal to him -- the challenges and pain of growing up fatherless. According to a U.S. Census Bureau, 1 out of every 3 children grow up without their fathers in the home.  For African-American children that number is even higher at 65%. Father focuses on five individuals who must deal not only with the absence of a male role model, but other issues in their household. One of the subjects is Lawrence, whose mother suffered from alcoholism and mental illness. You can get a glimpse at the material for Father here. I look forward to news of Father on the big screen soon.

Shorts 3 program screens again at Austin Film Festival on Wednesday, October 27, at 9:30 pm at The Hideout Theatre.

AFF 2010 Review: Adios Mundo Cruel


Angel of Goodbye Cruel World

University of Texas alum and writer/director Jack Zagha Kababie makes his feature film debut at the Austin Film Festival this year with Adios Mundo Cruel (Goodbye Cruel World), a delightfully understated dark comedy from Mexico. Reminiscent of Jean Pierre-Jeunet's film Micmacs, the story focuses on an individual who through an unfortunate turn of events is pulled into a ragtag group of thieves and their world of crime. However, Adios Mundo Cruel is much more subtle and accessible to audiences who are able to identify to the main character's job situation and marriage woes.

Angel (Carlos Alberto Orozco) is a hard-working, mild-mannered accountant who wants nothing more than to provide for his family. His wife Claudia (Adriana Louvier) is content to stay home and watch soap operas all day -- so much so that any news of the day is about her favorite soap's character Luis Armando (Rafael Amaya). Unfortunately Angel is laid off from his job, and is greeted at home by the news that his wife has just bought a new car that they won't be able to afford. After an unsuccessful attempt to tell her that he's lost his job, Angel endures a series of job interviews so far from his experience, including in a pet shop and as a door-to-door cosmetics salesman.

DVD Review: October Country


October CountryThe documentary October Country, which played the Dallas International Film Festival this spring, is now available on DVD this week through Carnivalesque Films. The film's tagline -- "Every family has its ghosts" -- may imply that this story of a working poor family isn't unique to our culture. It's true that there's nothing new here, but the collaboration between director/cinematographer Michael Palmieri and writer/photographer Donal Mosher paints such a poignant portrait of the Mosher family that one wishes for a happy or dramatic ending. There are so many misfortunes in the Moshers' lives that most people will either identify with a particular aspect or be thankful for having lesser troubles.

Filmed over the course of a year from one Halloween to the next, we see an American family that seems normal at first. It is through the camera lens that we are allowed a more intimate view of the issues that his family struggle with in their daily lives. Patriarch Don Mosher is a veteran of the Vietnam War, Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He suffers from post-war trauma, never speaking with his wife or family about his experiences. What they do know is that he can't be around fireworks as they remind him too much of the bombs of war. Don's relationship with his sister Denise is nearly non-existent as he does not approve of her lifestyle. She is a self-proclaimed witch, which doesn't bother Don -- he'd be happy if she could make a living at it. Instead Denise is unemployed and living off disability payments because of her rheumatoid arthritis, and so Don considers his sister to be of no use or value in society.

Don's wife Dottie Mosher is the most frequent narrator in this documentary. Dottie appears to be the family member who tries the hardest to keep the family together. Her efforts include providing a home for their son, Chris, who has been in and out of foster homes since the age of 5 until he finally comes to live with the Moshers. Unfortunately, Chris's involvement with drugs and petty theft prove to be too much when he's finally caught with stolen goods that were taken from the Mosher household. Dottie is also trying to ensure that her granddaughter Daneal doesn't repeat the mistakes of her daughter Donna, to no avail. Daneal has continued the cycle of getting pregnant at a young age and then being in physically abusive relationships. The only Mosher female that has much of a chance of breaking the cycle is Donna's youngest daughter, Desiree -- but will she be scarred from the loss of her own father, jailed after molesting his eldest daughter Danael?

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