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'Chronicle' and AFS Host 'Informant'

The drama of entrapment and betrayal play out on the big screen

By Monica Riese, 10:15AM, Wed. Oct. 23, 2013


"Entrapment." "Betrayal." "Setup." Each of these words has a vivid connotation that suggests the balance of who's right and who's wrong is a simple, black-and-white question. But what if the "who" in question is just as much up for debate as the "why"? Not the person himself, that is, but the nature of his character.

"When you interview people about Brandon Darby," St. Paul Pioneer Press' David Hanners wrote, "you realize that everyone has a different idea of who he is."

Darby, for the uninitiated, was the character at the center of a 2008 controversy involving eight Austin activists, the Republican National Convention, a couple Molotov cocktails, and an FBI wire that landed then-22-year-old David McKay in federal prison.

(Though regular Chronicle readers may think they know the case, they'll do well not to confuse it with the more recent headlines involving the Austin Police Department's infiltration into the Occupy Austin movement, with its accompanying – and similar – legal woes.)

It becomes immediately apparent with even the most cursory look at Darby's case that he's a tremendously complicated young man: "activist, adventurer, hero, revolutionary, informant," as Diana Welch summed up in a cover story on the case in 2009. That convoluted journey unfurls onscreen in Jamie Meltzer's 2012 documentary Informant, which took home the jury prize for best documentary feature from last year's Austin Film Festival. (Note: No, it's not the Matt Damon vehicle, the title of which includes a definite article and an exclamation point.)

And now, that doc is back in Austin for a one-night engagement at the Austin Film Society Marchesa Hall and Theatre. Join Meltzer, McKay, our own News Editor Michael King, and Welch, now Editor-in-Chief of Transgressor Magazine, for a post-screening panel discussion of the film, which IndieWire's Anthony Kaufman called "a 'Fog of War' for the age of Occupy."

It's sure to be a memorable evening.


AFS and the Austin Chronicle present Informant Wednesday, Nov. 6, 8pm, at AFS at the Marchesa (6226 Middle Fiskville). For tickets and complete details, see the AFS website.

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