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.

After Precious, I needed something lighter, so what else could I see but Cummings Farms, which is about an orgy?  With the mom of one of the filmmakers sitting beside me no less, who came in from Louisiana?  While her son wasn't there, most of the filmmakers were, including Adam Busch, whom you might remember as Warren on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  He's done quite a bit since then, but he'll always be Warren to me.  That's the price of being in a Whedon series; you get that embedded into the memory of everyone who sees it. 

But back to the film: Cummings Farms is about three couples who decide to have an orgy for some unknown reason, but as the actual moment of truth comes closer, the facades are worn away.  It's an exploration of three very different relationships; the cast is very strong, but Laura Silverman and Ted Beck were outstanding.  Beck plays "creepy haha only serious" a little too well.  It's raunchy and insightful, and has an unforgettable money shot.  And Coon Ass art. It went over well with the audience, who were nearly all badgeholders, and those who weren't I expect were the friends and family of the filmmakers.  The movie plays again on Wednesday up at Lake Creek, so passholders and ticket holders have an excellent chance of getting in -- it's not at a central location, and the conference portion of the festival will have ended, so many out-of-town badgeholders will be gone. 

AFF09-James and Jean-0129By the time the Q&A was over, it was almost time to go home. Almost. I stopped by Ruth's Chris Steakhouse for the tail end of the night's AFF party, and who did I run into? James Pound, whom I'd met at Fantastic Fest less than a month ago, talking to Cine Las Americas Programmer Jean Lauer (both pictured at left).

I met Jean in April when I covered Cine Las Americas, so it was nice to catch up with her, and hear a bit about some of the films from this year.  Jean mentioned that Cine Las Americas is accepting submissions now for the 2010 fest, and I mentioned how much I wish Mandrill would play at Cine Las Americas next year.

It's now 3 am, so I think I'll put away the keyboard and get some sleep.  Tomorrow I hope to have a much earlier start.