Debbie Cerda's blog

SXSW Quick Snaps: A 'Red White and Blue' Audience


Noah Taylor, Marc Senter and Nick Ashy Holden

On Sunday, cast and crew of Simon Rumley's latest film, Red White and Blue, slipped away from SXSW to another theater for a private screening before the official world premiere of the film. The events reunited the entire cast and crew for a special celebration and viewing of the final cut of the film. The theater was eerily quiet as everyone focused on the dark and gruesome sequence of events unfolding on the screen. Actors Noah Taylor, Marc Senter and Nick Ashy Holden (pictured above) were all sitting together. As a filming location for last summer's shoot, I enjoyed recognizing my house in several scenes. Just look for the Fantastic Fest poster in the film and you will understand why I have trouble leaving the curtains open at night.

Red White and Blue is reminiscent of Rumley's The Living and the Dead in that once again he is not afraid to expose raw nerves -- like a bad car crash, you can't help but look -- but stylistically it's the cinematography and direction takes on a different approach. Stay tuned for Jenn Brown's review of Red White and Blue.

Red White and Blue plays SXSW one more time: Friday, March 19 at 9 pm at Alamo South Lamar.

[Photo credit: Noah Taylor, Marc Senter, and Nick Ashy Holden, by Debbie Cerda for Slackerwood, on Flickr. More photos are available on our Flickr page.]

SXSW Review: Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission


Soyuz Meal

Richard Garriott: Man on A Mission is an inspiring full-length documentary by local filmmaker Mike Woolf that chronicles Austin serial entrepreneur and game developer Richard Garriott as he becomes the first second generation astronaut to travel into space. The film takes viewers on a detailed countdown to launch as Garriott makes his way through his year of training. From Star City, Moscow, to NASA, to Yuri Gagarin’s original launch pad -- viewers are Garriott's co-pilot in his journey to the stars. Through Garriott's experiences, the audience not only gets a fresh look at the under-appreciated history of the Russian space program but also is exposed to never-before-seen footage from inside the re-entry capsule.

The liftoff to space seen in Man on a Mission was a lifetime in the making. Garriott built his fortune as one of the founding fathers of massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORGs), most notably his first game Ultima. From his first game sale in high school to his millions with Ultima Online, he has invested in private space travel including the Spacehab modules. He is a primary funder of the X-Prize and Space Adventures, the only company that can take private citizens to the ISS -- Garriott is the sixth one to fly to orbit.

SXSW Quick Snaps: Fun with Katie Aselton


Katie Aselton of THE FREEBIE

Filmmaker and actress Katie Aselton (The Puffy Chair) had a little fun on the red carpet for the SXSW premiere of her husband Mark Duplass's warm-hearted comedy Cyrus, in which she had a small role. Katie also directed and starred with Dax Shepard in the romantic drama The Freebie, which played SXSW Film this year. More photos from the Cyrus red carpet feature Jay and Mark hamming it up for the camera, and can be seen on the Slackerwood Flickr page.

If you want to find out more about Aselton, read Steph Beasley's interview with her at Austinist, where they discuss moviemaking and marriage and exchange mutual compliments.

[Photo credit: "Katie Aselton Credentialed", by Debbie Cerda for Slackerwood on Flickr]

SXSW Film Announces 2010 Winners


SXSW FilmThe SXSW Film Festival announced its award winners last night at the Closing Awards Ceremony, hosted by comedian Eugene Mirman. The full list is available after the jump.

Austin filmmaker Amy Grappell received the Short Film Jury Award for the Documentary Short category for Quadrangle, an unconventional documentary about two "conventional" couples that swapped partners and lived in a group marriage in the early 70s. She also took home the SXSW Wholphin Award. Quadrangle previously received an honorable mention award after its premiere at Sundance this year, and has screened at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

Grappell has been active in the Austin film community over the last decade as a director, writer, producer, actress and casting director. She serves on the Austin Film Society's "Docs in Progress" committee and received an AFS Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund grant in 2009 for Quadrangle. I met Amy in 2005 at SXSW where she premiered a documentary she had written and directed, Light From the East. Amy also produced and starred in the narrative feature Shady Grove (1996) that made its debut at an earlier  SXSW.

Other notable Austin connections:

  • Tiny Furniture, the Feature Film Jury Award winner for Narrative Feature category, includes local filmmaker/actor Alex Karpovsky
  • Locally made documentary Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission won the Audience Award winner for Excellence in Poster Design. 
  • Petting Sharks, the Texas Shorts winner, was written and directed by University of Texas RTF grad Craig Elrod. His credits include Cleverboy's Playhouse (Cinematexas 2004), The Trouble With Jumpsuits (SXSW 2007), Clothes Horse (SXSW 2008), Polar Ops (Salvage Vanguard Micro Cinema 2009), and A Gentleman's Touch (AFF 2009). His feature script Floyd was a finalist for the 2007 Sundance Screenwriter's Lab.

SXSW Quick Snaps: Edward Norton Times Two


Edward Norton at CYRUS Premiere

So far, SXSW Film has been a whirlwind of panels, red-carpet premieres, films, interviews and celebrity sightings, with barely enough time to breathe and eat before the next "can't miss" event on my schedule. What's been most amazing is how comfortable and relaxed major stars and filmmakers have been at SXSW premieres, including Jean Pierre-Jeunet (Micmacs à tire-larigot) and Jay and Mark Duplass (Cyrus) hamming it up for the cameras. The biggest highlight by far has been Edward Norton, who I've seen several times over the weekend. He and Tim Blake Nelson were busy with the premiere of their film Leaves of Grass on Friday night at the Alamo South Lamar -- you can see him below on the red carpet for that film.

At our interview on Saturday afternoon Edward stated that he was looking forward to catching a movie while at the festival. Therefore, it was not a surprise to see him make a quiet and subdued entrance into the premiere of Cyrus on Saturday evening (pictured above).

Quick Snaps: Quentin Tarantino, Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards

Quentin Tarantino

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds) was at Austin Studios last night to receive an "honorary Texan" award at the 10th annual Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards last night at Austin Studios. This event, hosted by Austin Film Society, is held every year the night before SXSW opens. The 2010 honorees included Michael Nesmith, Quentin Tarantino, Catherine O'Hara, Lukas Haas and Bruce McGill. Proceeds from the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards benefit the educational and artistic programs of the Austin Film Society, a 501(c)3 organization.

Check out more photos from the event on our Flickr site. And Anne Thompson has posted a video to IndieWire of Tarantino's great acceptance speech.

[Photo credit: Quentin Tarantino, by Debbie Cerda, on Flickr]

Review: Green Zone


Matt Damon in Green Zone

Known for The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, Paul Greengrass brings more nonstop action to the screen in the historical action drama Green Zone, inspired by the novel "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone" by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. From April 2003 to October 2004, Chandrasekaran was The Washington Post's bureau chief in Baghdad, covering the American occupation of Iraq and supervising a team of correspondents. He lived in Baghdad for much of the six months before the war, reporting on the United Nations weapons-inspections process and the build-up to the conflict.

Director Greengrass joins forces with Hurt Locker cinematographer Barry Ackroyd and re-teams with Bourne lead Matt Damon, who plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller. The story begins in the first month of the U.S.-led occupation of Baghdad in 2003, when Miller and his team are dispatched to find weapons of mass destruction believed to be stockpiled in various Iraqi locations, but come up emptyhanded. Everything points to the intelligence being flawed, but high officials stand by their source. Instead of searching for chemical agents, Chief Miller begins looking for the truth. Standing in his way is Washington's mouthpiece Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear), who is too intent on advancing his mission to rebuild Iraq as an American-style democracy.

What the Hideout is Hiding: Great Local Shorts During SXSW


Hideout Theatre

Each year the SXSW Film Festival and Conference supports the Austin film community by hosting special screenings by local film-related nonprofit organizations. As part of the Austin Media Arts Committee (AMAC) series,  Austin Film Society, Austin School of Film and Reel Women have each compiled two programs that showcase their members' work. All SXSW badgeholders and non-badgeholders are encouraged to come out and check out the showcases. Audiences will also have the opportunity to vote on their favorite Reel Women short, and the winning filmmaker will receive a special award package.

The Austin School of Film has not released their lineup yet for their screenings on Sunday, March 14 at noon and Monday, March 15 at 2 pm. The Austin Film Society and Reel Women have made their programs available. Here's the 2010 lineup:

Austin Film Society Program for Saturday, March 13 at noon (70 mins)

  • Make a Wish, dir. David Ward
  • Squeezed Out of Business, dir. Chithra Jeyaram
  • The Alligator, dir. Jeff Marrow
  • Seeds of Change, dir. Kelly West
  • Big Hands, dir. Aaron Holloway
  • Manos de Madre, dir. Greg Kwedar

Austin Film Society Program for Sunday, March 14 at 2 pm (70 mins)

  • Platypus Rex in: ABC-Hole, dir. Bob Ray 
  • I Love You, Will Smith, dir. Bradley Jackson 
  • Never Do This, dir. Scott Rice 
  • To Do That, dir. Jason Brenizer 
  • Der Vater, dir. James Moore 
  • El Pez, dir. Brian Scofield 
  • Shades of the Border, dir. Patrick Smith 
  • The Shrimp, dir. Keith Wilson

SXSW 2010 Guide: Free Film Events During SXSW Week


George Carver Center

In conjunction with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, SXSW returns to the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center with several events open to the general public. This year's evening events include:

  • "Blacks in Technology" on Friday, March 12 (6 pm-9 pm) and
  • "Latinos in Technology" Sunday, March 14 (6 pm-9 pm)

Carver will also host the Texas High School Shorts on Saturday, March 13 at 5 pm. This showcase serves as a preview of the next filmmaking generation, as Texas high school students present shorts of 5 minutes or less.

Also screening for free at Carver is The Work of Alan Govenar: Part 1, Sunday, March 14 at 2 pm, featuring:

  • Little Willie Eason and His Talking Gospel Guitar (2005) takes the stage of the street and a House of God Church south of Miami to highlight the man who introduced the pedal steel guitar as an instrument to express his deep-seeded faith.

SXSW Spotlight: Mike Woolf, 'Man on a Mission'


Isaac and Mike Woolf

Although he hails from Baltimore, documentary filmmaker Mike Woolf is now firmly planted in Austin and no stranger to SXSW. In 2000, he started Beef and Pie Productions with renowned photographer/DP Andrew Yates and producer Karen Yates. Four of their short docs including Growin’ A Beard, The 72oz Steak, Tuesday Nighter and Life is Marbleous have premiered at SXSW. I caught Growin' A Beard at SXSW in 2003, and was amazed to see how the filmmakers made an engaging documentary based on an annual beard-growing contest in Shamrock, Texas.

The Beef and Pie Productions team has now taken on their first full-length documentary, Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission, featuring a certain local entrepreneur and the first second-generation astronaut. I had the chance to sit down with Mike Woolf at the Draught House -- hence all the beer references -- to discuss his latest project. Here's what he had to say:

What attracted you to Man on a Mission and how did you get involved with this subject?

Both Brady Dial [producer] and I have known Richard Garriott through a mutual friend. We knew this wasn't just a $30 million vacation for Richard. We knew that he would be the first son of an astronaut to go to space ... that alone was enough to consider following him. We knew his dad Owen Garriott was involved in his mission, and we learned that Richard had basically pioneered private space travel to make this happen. Finally, Richard is a born storyteller -- that's what his games are about, his haunted houses and his mansion. Put that all together and we knew it was worth trying to make this project happen.

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