Fantastic Fest

Fantastic Fest Daily Dispatch #0: An Early Start

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Highball, deer

You didn't think Fantastic Fest really wouldn't start until today, did you? 

Not only was badge pickup at the Highball on Wednesday night, the Highball ended up serving drinks to a crowd that just wouldn't leave.  Oh, are you in for a good time this year.

Some folks were going to a special pre-FF Austin School of Film fundraiser with Cabin Fever 2 with some of the cast, and others to a press/sneak of Zombieland. I can't tell you too much about Zombieland yet, but if you like zombies, you'll probably enjoy it, and a raucous Paramount crowd with cast and crew in attendance? I suspect it will be a blast.

Registration Deadlines for Upcoming Film Festivals

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Denia and family by antsnax, on FlickrIf you are planning on attending the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival next year, you can save money by registering before the first deadline, which is this Friday, September 25. A film badge includes admittance to 9 days of film-festival screenings and premieres, plus 5 days of panels, keynotes, and Q & A sessions. Other perks include entry to the film awards and parties. Currently a film badge costs $325, a savings of $155 from the walk-up rate, so act fast for the best value. You can register here.

Another deadline on the horizon is for early registration to Austin Film Festival and Conference, which starts October 22. Conference panels run through Oct. 25 and festival screenings continue until Oct. 29. You must purchase a badge by September 30, 2009 to receive the discounted rates. There are various badge and passes available that you can check out here.

Finally, keep in mind that VIP tickets for Fantastic Fest 2009 went on sale during the 2008 event, and sold out within 45 minutes. This could very likely happen again this year. We recommend you follow the Fantastic Fest blog and Twitter feed, and we will post an update to the Slackerwood Twitter feed when we hear the news!

[Photo credit: Denia and her family at the Q & A for The Least of These, a documentary on the detainee families at Hutto facility, by Debbie Cerda on Flickr.]

Fantastic Fest Guide #3: Newbies and Non-Badgeholders

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Fantastic Fest 2008: Awards

Are you a Fantastic Fest Newbie? Check out our Fantastic Fest Training Series, the rest of our Fantastic Fest Guides, and read on for info on some of the more confusing elements of attending the best and biggest genre film fest in the world. 

Shakey Face Explained. One of the great things about the Alamo/Fantastic Fest folks is their love for the ridiculous and purely fun. Only they would do something as silly as taking pictures of a shaking face, and turn it into a contest.  Last year, a prize was awarded for the best Shakey Face badge picture. While not everyone can do them, the results are definitely conversation starters. 

A full explanation of how to do a good shakey face is available from the individual badge registration links, but you can see three new examples of what it looks like online, in slow motion glory, with Zack and Tim in one video, and Cal Smith in another.  If you want to be the King or Queen of Shakey Face 2009, consider these tutorials, as the top finalists will have a live slo-mo shakey face-off.  I take no responsibility for you choking on food or drink when you watch, so be warned. 

Fantastic Fest Guide #2: Finding Local Food Options

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Hey Cupcake! by Jim Nix on Flickr

It may seem strange, but there are times when you want a change of menu as well as venue during Fantastic Fest, even with the variety of choices at Alamo and Highball. We're not the experts on every local eatery, but we've got the resources to help you find what you're looking for, and some local eateries deserving of your attention. We'll start with general tips and work our way down to specific suggestions.

Decisions, Decisions.  There are several sites that can help you find places to appease your food cravings, including local publications Austin Chronicle and Austin360, and websites Dishola, Urban Spoon, Chowhound and Yelp. If you're interested in Texas restaurants outside of Austin, check out Texas Monthly. When looking for restaurants near Alamo, look in the 78704 zip code.  Note that the Slackerwood Venue Guide has a map link for each venue page.

Go Local. Austin has this nifty little thing called the Go Local card. Businesses participating in Go Local Austin offer discounts to cardholders; the Alamo Drafthouse offer is 10 percent off with purchase of $10 or more on food and beverages, which can be quite a savings over the course of a week-long festival.

Fantastic Fest Guide #1: Venues and Transportation

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Fantastic Fest 2008: At the Alamo

Earlier this year we did a survival guide for SXSW, which has some valuable tips in it, but there's plenty we can say for surviving Fantastic Fest. This is a guide just for venues and transportation during the fest. 

Venues
Fantastic Fest basically has three venues: Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar as the primary venue for films, the Highball for the social side, and the Paramount for the gala screenings. Alamo and Highball are less than a hundred yards away in the same retail plaza.  It takes me less than two minutes to walk between the two. It's over a mile to the Paramount, which may not seem far, but most people will find it exhausting to walk.

Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar has six screens ranging in capacity from 87 seats to 220, all with 35mm capability. Two theaters are also equipped with Sony 4K digital projection (one large theater, one smaller). There will also be HD projection available during the festival.  While South Lamar is not the original Alamo Drafthouse, it has become Festival Central, and for Fantastic Fest, three screens or more will be dedicated for the festival. Tableside food and drink including beer and wine is available, and the food is freshly prepared. Your waitstaff is well informed and can answer any questions the menu doesn't. 

Fantastic Fest Training #3: The Countdown

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Fantastic Fest 2007: The lobby

So you've all worked on your alcohol tolerance and sleep deprivation tolerance, and are practicing your social skills.  Fantastic Fest is less than a week away. The first screening is Wednesday at the Ritz, and if you're lucky (and smart), you're going to the Austin School of Film fundraiser screening of Cabin Fever 2 (for only $5, how can you resist?). The Weird Wednesday selection for next week just happens to be a Jess Franco film, Eugenie.

But you still need to prepare. Now is the time to rest up.  It's dangerous to start the fest sleep deprived, as you'll burn out that much faster. I've done it, and it's not pretty. And I know it's hard. It's like film-geek Christmas in September. Everybody's like a kid on a sugar high in anticipation.   

While you're resting, take a look at the schedule and make plans, but don't expect to adhere to them. Scheduling does help prioritize what you want to see, and you can check out trailers for many films.  Slackerwood will have daily dispatches with reviews and previews, but it's good to have an idea what you want to see.  You can run Festival Genius to help you, and you can even import to your calendar. 

Quick Snaps: Nacho Vigalondo Dances Through Fantastic Fest 2007

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Fantastic Fest 2007: Tim and Nacho

In 2007, Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo brought home the Best Feature award at Fantastic Fest for Los Cronocrímenes (Timecrimes), which had its world premiere at the film fest. Shortly after the science-fiction thriller played Fantastic Fest, Timecrimes was picked up for distribution by Magnolia Pictures -- the first distribution deal linked to the Austin festival.

I had the honor of sitting next to Nacho during the second screening of Timecrimes, and he thanked me for all of my screaming and jumping during the film. Attendees at the Fantastic Fest Karaoke Party were later treated to Nacho's animated version of "I'm Too Sexy,"which he re-enacted with Tim League in the above photo.

Quick Snaps: Chilean Martial Arts at Fantastic Fest 2007

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Ernesto and Marko

Ernesto Diaz-Espinoza, director/writer, and Marko Zaror, martial artist/actor, visited Austin in 2007 for Fantastic Fest where they premiered Mirageman, along with screenings of their earlier project, the first Chilean martial-arts film Kiltro.

Espinoza and Zaror will be returning for Fantastic Fest 2009 for the world premiere of their latest film Mandrill. With the tagline "Cooler than Shaft, Hotter than Bond, Faster than Lee" about a young hitman exacting revenge on his mother's killer, expect more fast-paced action from Zaror. Producer Derek Rundell and actress Celine Raymond will also be in attendance. 

[Photo credit: Ernesto Espinoza and Marko Zaror Q&A at 2007 Fantastic Fest, by Debbie Cerda on Flickr.]

Getting Organized for Local Film Fests with B-Side

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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.

Third Wave of Fantastic Fest Lineup Announced

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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

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