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AFS Hosts an Andrew Bujalski Twofer

‘Computer Chess’ director screens his first film and an old favorite

By Kimberley Jones, 10:12AM, Wed. Aug. 14, 2013

Stranded in Canton
Stranded in Canton

Want to get to know a filmmaker better? Get to know his influences.

This summer, Austin auteur Andrew Bujalski has been getting some of the best reviews of his career – not that he’s any stranger to great reviews. In the span of a decade, Bujalski has established himself as a major voice in independent film, starting with his electric debut, 2002’s fresh-out-of-college comedy Funny Ha Ha, and continuing with two more funny and heartfelt explorations of twentysomethings' trudge toward adulthood, 2005’s Mutual Appreciation and 2009’s Beeswax.

But his latest, Computer Chess, is a bird of a different feather – a black & white period piece set in the early Eighties at a chess tournament that pits man vs. machine. Now in limited release, Computer Chess has earned raves (The New York Times called it “sneakily brilliant”), with a good deal of attention being paid to the film’s distinctive analog look, achieved with the bygone Sony Portapak video camera.

That’s the same camera used by the influential photographer William J. Eggleston for his 1973 documentary Stranded in Canton, an immersive portrait of Memphis and New Orleans. (Check out Eggleston's official site for some mesmerizing video excerpts.) On Thursday, Aug. 15, the Austin Film Society will screen the restored 76-minute doc at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre (6226 Middle Fiskville), with Bujalski on hand to present. And he’ll be back just days later for Sunday’s 4pm screening of Funny Ha Ha; we had more to say about the film's enduring charms last year on the occasion of its 10th anniversary.

Tickets to Stranded in Canton are available here; tickets for Funny Ha Ha can be found here. Computer Chess opens in Austin on Aug. 23.

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