Young, Strong, and Getting Stronger

The Austin Film Festival Turns 10


See the schedule for venue and ticket information, whether cast and/or crew will attend, and many more titles and screening times. For additional and updated information, check out


D: Thomas Trail; with Meredith Bishop, Jsu Garcia; Leigh Taylor-Young, Henry Czerny

She's a shoplifter, and he's in mall security. Emily (Bishop) also spends her days reorganizing pens and paper clips at her temp job while Nick (Garcia) metes out his existence watching people buy panty hose from his personal dungeon of TV monitors. The protagonists of screenwriters Trail and Ethan Gross' Klepto have every reason to be happy. But things get even more exciting when Emily steals to fill the void and Nick falls in love with the photogenic pill popper and her wanderlust told in heavy eyeliner through his hidden surveillance cameras. Because Emily looks so hot and mysterious in low-quality black and white, Nick lets her thievery slide and exchanges his "loss prevention specialist" hat for the fedora typically worn by blackmailing drug pushers. For this retail caterpillar to turn into an Ecstasy butterfly, he needs Emily's expertise in more ways than her sticky fingers may be able to serve. Missing fathers and overbearing mothers have left Emily trusting purloined Swiss timepieces more than human beings. Is Nick Timex reliable? Watch the Maybelline wash away as Emily decides whether or not to take Nick's licking or keep on picking. -- Courtney Fitzgerald

Thursday, Oct. 9, 7:30pm at the Driskill; Sunday, Oct. 12, 9:30pm at the Driskill

<i>The Movie Hero</i>
The Movie Hero

The Movie Hero

D: Brad T. Gottfred; with Jeremy Sisto, Dina Meyer, Peter Stormare, Brian J. White

Nothing suits a film festival better than a movie about movies. Taking us on this journey into metafilm is Blake Gardner (Sisto) whose deification of movies has led him to believe an audience follows him around demanding nothing more than to be entertained. The unremitting eye of the supposed audience (aka the viewer, aka the camera, aka you/me) keeps our hero's otherwise ho-hum existence from stagnating. The love child of movie formulas and Blake's imagination that is the plot starts with Suspicious Character (Stormare). Actually, he's just a guy walking down the street, but that won't stop our hero from accosting him. Blake thickens the plot by casting his therapist as Love Interest (Meyer) and seeking out the help of Side Kick (White) to aid in his battle against Suspicious Character. The characters slowly become aptly named as Blake's action-packed movie-life intoxicates them. And really, what's wrong with an imagined world if it makes life meaningful and vibrant? It worked for Don Quixote (kinda). The hackneyed tropes of romantic comedy rear their ugly heads throughout the film, but all you snooty cinephiles fear not: Writer/director Brad Gottfred lubricated the sappier moments with a layer of self-awareness that makes them go down smooth. -- James Renovitch

Thursday, Oct. 9, 9:45pm at Arbor 1; Thursday, Oct. 16, 9:30pm, Arbor 1

Clockwise from top left: <i>Greendale, When 
Zachary Beaver Came to Town, Girl With a Pearl 
Earring, In America, Prey for Rock and Roll, 
Shattered Glass, Elf</i>
Clockwise from top left: Greendale, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, Girl With a Pearl Earring, In America, Prey for Rock and Roll, Shattered Glass, Elf

Noncompetition Advance Screenings

The musician Neil Young certainly needs no introduction, but his newest project, Greendale, might. You see, it's a CD, a film, and a stage show: each format a discrete manifestation of the Greendale concept. Greendale is Young's Our Town, a collection of 10 songs that focus on the fictional tale of one small-town family. Each character's personal saga allows Young to focus on various issues of recurring concern to the artist: such issues as corporate greed, mass-media domination, ecology, and so on. The songs, which were conceived as a "musical novel," were released on CD this past August. But it is in their film and stage performance that these songs really come to life. After premiering last month at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Greendale movie is next being shown at the Austin Film Festival, with Neil Young in attendance. Filmed by Young under his filmmaking pseudonym Bernard Shakey, Greendale has the performers lip-synching the songs as Young performs the music off-camera. Produced with the zeal of a visionary and the technical skills of a delightfully nonprofessional company and crew, the Greendale movie is an experiment in storytelling, something that makes it more than appropriate for inclusion in this screenwriting conference. Fittingly, Young will also participate in the "Breaking the Rules: Nontraditional Storytelling of the Narrative" panel with Bill Wittliff on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2pm at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel Assembly Room.

Some of the other advance screenings of films showing out of competition include Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions, a look at generational relationships among estranged family members, which reflects back to the Canadian director's memorable The Decline of the American Empire made 17 years ago. In America is the new Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot) movie about a transplanted family beginning life anew; Girl With a Pearl Earring stars Scarlett Johanssen (Lost in Translation) as the subject of the Vermeer painting; Off the Map is a period family drama set in New Mexico that is lovingly directed by Campbell Scott and features marvelous performances by Sam Elliott and Joan Allen; Pieces of April is a delightful comedy with a note-perfect cast, and marks the directing debut of acclaimed screenwriter Peter Hedges; Prey for Rock and Roll stars Gina Gershon as the bisexual 40-year-old leader of an all-girl rock band; and Shattered Glass tells the story of the unfortunate publication in The New Republic of plagiarized material by Stephen Glass. Also screening is I Am David, the story of a young boy's trek to find his mother after escaping from a concentration camp, and the filmed-in-Austin, coming-of-age story When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. Other out-of-competition films include premieres of Clint Eastwood's Mystic River, the Will Ferrell-driven Elf, and Alien: The Director's Cut. -- Marjorie Baumgarten

Noncompetition advance screenings run throughout the festival. Please see the schedule for dates and times.



D: Nevil Dwek; with Sam Trammell, Erik Jensen, Susan May Pratt, Tara Subkoff, Celia Weston

Derrick (Trammell) is a rich, alcoholic screwup, coasting on his dad's fortune and dreaming of a career in defense law. Zane (also Trammell) is the son of a slain city cop, coasting on his good looks and flirting with a life of crime. Until, that is, their parallel realities magically intersect, causing each to live the other's life. (It's not philosophical and mysterious, like The Double Life of Veronique, but it's also not as lowbrow as Vice Versa and its Eighties ilk.) Considering the shoestring budget and the largely unproven cast (except veteran Weston and indie girl Subkoff of All Over Me), Undermind has a few pleasant tricks up its sleeve. The film is slow to get rolling, but eventually hits its stride, and its technique is solid -- smooth transitions amid the narrative polyphony, effective use of different film stocks, and reverse image. Indie crime dramas are a dime a dozen, but there are also some nice, even comical surprises in the plot: The obligatory hit man is also a single dad who negotiates on the phone with his babysitter while casing his mark. -- Marrit Ingman

Thursday, Oct. 9, 10pm at the Dobie; Wednesday, Oct. 15, 9:30pm at the Arbor 2

Mutzie's Wedding

D: Mark Monroe

She may open gifts of champagne flutes and leopard-print panties, but Mutzie Finch is not your typical blushing bride. The 82-year-old grandmother, widowed decades before, had found her move into a retirement community occasion to plunge into depression. Little did she realize that it is there she would find her second husband, and a new gusto for life. As shot by Mutzie's grandson, Monroe, who provides Ross McElwee-style commentary throughout, the wedding gives the whole family a chance to ruminate on the weirdness of love and the ways people, priorities, and relationships change with time. This is especially poignant in the case of Fred Kuddes, the dapper, barbershop-singing groom, whose wife of 61 years died less than two years before his remarriage. Gazing at Mutzie, the pain over his deceased wife still shining in his eyes, he tells her that even though Nadine's death is so recent, "I wanted to get you while I could." Non-octogenarians cannot help but realize they have no way of really understanding what the sunset years are like. -- Rachel Proctor May

Friday, Oct. 10, 7:15pm at the Driskill; Tuesday, Oct. 14, 7pm at the Hideout

Broadway: The Golden Age

D: Rick McKay

Ah, the good old days. What could be better than reminiscing about how they make this debased era look like so much cultural dross? Why, letting 100-odd well-preserved theatre professionals do the reminiscing for you. This is Broadway: The Golden Age, Rick McKay's epic oral history of the heyday of the Great White Way as told by the people who were living on graham crackers and dreams back when it was all going on. Consisting of five years' worth of interviews illustrated by a mountain of archival footage, the film sails on the actors' consistent ability to spin a good yarn -- as well as their seemingly bottomless repository of good yarns to spin. Who knew that Walgreen's was the hip hangout for aspiring thespians? Or that Carol Burnett and her three roommates would share a single Bloomingdale's dress, worn in turns, for their big auditions? Broadway: The Golden Age reveals all this and more; and one can only imagine the glee with which theatre historians will welcome the many hours of interviews that didn't make the cut. -- R.P.M.

Friday, Oct. 10, 7:30pm at the Dobie; Sunday, Oct. 12, 3:30pm at the Arbor 2

<i>Particles of Truth</i>
Particles of Truth

Particles of Truth

D: Jennifer Elster; with Jennifer Elster, Gale Harold, Susan Floyd

"Life could be really bad. You could have cancer." There's something nauseating about a man being swallowed by pride, and Mr. Wiley's wife lets her husband know this crummy fact before another night at the opera in Elster's Particles of Truth. But no Viagra prescription can lift a limp career from the soles of the younger competition's trendier footwear. The architecture community eschews Wiley like yesterday's news, and he dismisses his own son, Morrison, like last year's BMW SUV. Perhaps this is what moves Morrison (Harold, of Queer as Folk) to avoid the subway like the plague in favor of roaming the Manhattan streets alone in his father's ride, searching for something to believe in. Enter central sufferer, Lilli Black (Elster), the object of Morrison's writerly passion and up-and-coming complicated artist from the other side of the tracks, who will live both the saddest and happiest moments of her life in the next 48 hours before her opening show. Everyone is connected by time and misery in Elster's auteur effort, but Lilli and Morrison are the ones to redeem the viciousness of the circle. -- C.F.

Friday, Oct. 10, 9:30pm at the Driskill; Tuesday, Oct. 14, 7pm at the Driskill

<i>Love Object</i>
Love Object

Love Object

D: Robert Parigi; with Desmond Harrington; Melissa Sagemiller, Udo Kier, Rip Torn

Part Willard, part Fatal Attraction, and part scary mannequin orgy from Chuck Connors' classic Tourist Trap, this creepy exploration of erotic displacement run amok from director Parigi is guaranteed to make you look at those anatomically correct sex dolls in all the wrong ways (if you know what we mean, and we think you do). When Harrington's milquetoast tech writer falls for Sagemiller's sexy new temp in town, he finds that exiting one relationship, no matter how contrived, is often more difficult than embarking on a new one -- especially when there are power tools and Astroglide involved. All this and Udo Kier, too! -- Marc Savlov

Friday, Oct. 10, 12mid at the Dobie; Tuesday, Oct. 14, 9:30pm at the Dobie

Sumo: East and West

D: Ferne Pearlstein

You like big butts and you cannot lie? Husband-and-wife team Ferne Pearlstein and Robert Edwards got 'em by the boatload, as they enter the lumbering world of sumo to investigate how international participation -- particularly by Hawaiians -- is changing the sport. Loosely centering on Wayne Vierra, a thoughtful Hawaiian whose pro career was derailed by a blown pancreas, the film blends interviews, competition footage, and fascinating archival material, such as a sumo match in a U.S. internment camp during World War II. The result is an engrossing exploration on the meaning of tradition and the inevitability of change. (Compare, for example, the physique of 6-foot-7, 525-pound Akebono, the first non-Japanese to earn sumo's top title, to that of the earlier wrestlers, who clearly lacked the waistline-enhancing benefit of a 21st-century diet.) Behind the camera, Pearlstein managed to look past the grotesque and the spectacle to capture the elegance at the heart of the game. Under her direction, every belly-slap, diaper-hitch, and thousand-pound tumble becomes a moment of beauty and grace. -- R.P.M.

Saturday, Oct. 11, 3pm at the Dobie; Thursday, Oct. 16, 7:15pm at the Hideout

Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin

D: Richard Schickel

Time scribe Schickel's superlative biography of the Little Tramp chronicles the arc of his career (from the London stage to United Artists to exile) and personal life (from Edna Purviance to teenage starlets and scandal). The film's Time-Warner pedigree ensures a steady stream of priceless footage and A-list commentators. In the best moments, Martin Scorsese gives a shot-by-shot analysis of A Woman of Paris, and Milos Forman explains how The Great Dictator liberated Europe spiritually after World War II. Schickel's voiceover (narrated by Sydney Pollack) overstates itself from time to time, but Chaplin's work speaks for itself. The sight of Marcel Marceau pantomiming the William Tell bit from The Circus is a lovely testament to the power of the moving image to inspire and transform humanity. Crisply edited, and without a single wasted moment in its two-hour running time. -- M.I.

Saturday, Oct. 11, 4:30pm at the Arbor 1; Tuesday, Oct. 14, 7pm, at the Paramount

Rhythm of the Saints

D: Sarah Rogacki; with Sarita Choudhury, Daniella Alonso, Ryan Donowho, Gano Grills, Onahoua Rodriguez, Ivan Martin

Rena Juarez sits in a makeshift bathtub, baptismal waters washing over her chiseled features, full lips and wide eyes born witness to too much. Bruja Mama Tinga, per the rituals of Santeria, rolls an egg across Rena's visage, imbuing it with all Rena's hatred and powerlessness. The shell is crushed; pain made visible in the egg's viscous discharge. "Why are you scared, child?," Mama asks. We know. We know Rena's in a bad way, as she squanders nights on city streets, seeking to evade the sins of her (step)father. She turns to inexperienced santerista Wanda Love for divine retribution against stepdad Ricky, yet when Wanda sets Fortuna's wheel in motion, it unexpectedly ensnares Rena's boyfriend Zane and her mother Mariela. And Rhythm is Rena and Mariela's to the bone. Seasoned actress Choudhury fills Mariela with a beautiful aloofness, while newcomer Alonso attacks headstrong Rena dead on. -- Wells Dunbar

Sunday, Oct. 12, 7pm, at the Arbor 1; Tuesday, Oct. 14, 7pm at the Arbor 2

The Failures

D: Tim Hunter; with Ashley Johnson, Chad Lindberg, Henry Czerny

Suicide is not painless, but it can bring on many chuckles if attempted with a certain vivacious flair. Harold set the standard when he made Maude swoon in postmenopausal bliss with his stylin' death-wish charm and creativity. While William, the troubled youth of Hunter's (Soul Food, River's Edge) The Failures, may not mix it up like Harold, his daily to-jump-or-not-to-jump rooftop lullabies are endearing in their own hopeless, alcohol-addled way. His hell becomes Lilly's cheerleader-turned-Goth-girl heaven when she convinces him to let her be his suicide guru. A bit of a seasoned veteran in the field of carbon monoxide self-slaughter, Lilly (Johnson, of Growing Pains) should probably face the reality of her mother's recent death instead of restaging it with the hapless William (Lindberg, of The Fast and the Furious). But before she can even get Kevorkian on his ass, she discovers she just might want to do other things with it first. As sexual tension mounts between the failed parking lot attendant and Hot Topic fashion queen, they distract themselves with the guest list for the suicide soiree they plan for William. High school principals and superheroes promise to be in attendance at this party to end all parties. RSVP to find out how relevant suicide notes truly are, and just how well puke and whiskey stick to a windshield. -- C.F.

Sunday, Oct. 12, 7pm, at the Hideout; Tuesday, Oct. 14, 7pm, at the Driskill

Shorts Programs

The one thing you can expect of short-film programs is diversity -- not the kind you learn at freshman orientation, necessarily, but definitely the kind you learn about in biology. Shorts are the genetic mutations of the film world, and can only truly be appreciated in the bizarre juxtaposition of one against another until you can't take anymore sensory input. This collection takes you seamlessly from a mildly incestuous punk rock kid coming of age to a cross-dressing Hitler struggling to survive after World War II to the musings of a man selling subway passes. But it's not only the diversity of subject matter that brings this collection to life; it's the dramatically shifting variables of film-length, cinematography, setting, sound design, and especially production value -- which seems shockingly high at times. For instance, "Mrs. Meitlemeihr," which follows Hitler into hiding after WWII, features grand shots of crumbling European buildings, explosions, kickass graphics for the title sequence, and then, to bring it all home, even a real tank. Then there's the modest "Subject One," basically a montage of filtered sunlight, soft-focus images -- children playing on the beach, in the forest -- a narrative told in images pieced from the memories of a dying old man. But compare the simplicity of "Subject One" with the quirky, Jeunet-esque, Thirties-era "El Elegante." It begins with a shot of a feeble ceiling fan tucked too closely in the corner of a hotel hallway, its mottled blades rhythmically bumping the walls, but never actually spinning. A visually arresting man and woman happen upon each other in a hotel room. She sits on a couch with her toes pointed inward, her thick, old-timey panty hose bunching at her knees, while he sits on the bed, straight-backed, wearing a suit and tie. They exchange childlike expressions and gestures reminiscent of a silent-era film, while a bellhop nails a "condemned" sign on the door of their room, and lascivious women hang out in a hallway strewn with crumpled newspaper. Good short-film programs, like these, leave you with an expanded sense of what's possible in cinema, as you leave the theatre filled with a sense of fertile, creative chaos. -- Nora Ankrum

Shorts programs screen throughout the Austin Film Festival. Please consult the schedule.

<i>Bukowski: Born Into This</i>
Bukowski: Born Into This

Schedule is subject to change. Check to confirm date, time, and location. There, you can also find the screenwriters' conference lineup, which includes the likes of Anne Rapp, Brian Helgeland, David Benioff, Peter Hedges, Paige French, Karen Lutz, Bill Broyles, Bill Wittliff, Stephen Harrigan, Jessica Bendinger, and Neil Young. Yes. Neil Young.

Venue Guide

Dobie Theatre (2021 Guadalupe, in Dobie Mall)

Driskill Theatre (604 Brazos, third floor)

The Hideout (617 Congress)

Regal Arbor Theatre at Great Hills (9828 Great Hills #800)

Paramount Theatre (713 Congress)

Ticket Info

Film passes are still available for $42.50 through Star Tickets at 469-SHOW or Individual tickets may also be purchased at the respective box offices on a space-available basis.

Thursday, Oct. 9


7:15 Prey for Rock and Roll*

9:45 Happy Hour*


7:30 Klepto

9:30 Ash Tuesday*


7:15 Shorts Program 4*

9:30 Bukowski: Born Into This

Arbor 1

7:30 Levelland*

9:45 The Movie Hero

Arbor 2


10 My Uncle Berns


7:15 IDA Doc Program 2

10 Undermind

Friday, Oct. 10


7:15 When Zachary Beaver Came to Town*

9:45 Shattered Glass*


7:15 Doc Shorts Program 1*

9:30 Particles of Truth*

12mid Red Light Go*


3:30 Beah: A Black Woman Speaks

7 Shorts Program 2*


Arbor 1


7:15 Pieces of April*

9:45 Swing

Arbor 2


7 My Uncle Berns

10 Gabriel Orzoco


2:30 IDA Doc Program

5 Narrative Shorts 3

7 Broadway: The Golden Age*

10 Shorts Program 6*

12mid The Love Object

Saturday, Oct. 11


6:30 Mystic River*

9:45 Greendale*


7 SCI FI Presents

9:30 Bukowski: Born Into This

12mid Desperate Man Blues


Noon YFP Panel & Screenings

3:15 Dylan's Run

5:15 Green Festival Program 1

7 Shorts Program 5*

9:15 American Storyteller

Arbor 1

4:30 Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin

7 A Promise Kept*

9:30 Breakfast With Hunter

<i>Beah: A Black Woman Speaks</i>
Beah: A Black Woman Speaks

12mid Alien

Arbor 2

7:30 Gabriel Orzoco

9:45 Texas Ties Doc Program*


3 Sumo: East and West*

5:30 The Wild Parrots

7:30 BachelorMan*

10 Shorts Program 1*

Sunday, Oct. 12


4:30 Elf

7 Girl With the Pearl Earring


5 Shorts Program 8*

7:30 Desperate Man Blues

9:30 Klepto


3 Sunset Story

5 GF Program 2

7 The Failures*

9:30 Texas Ties Shorts Program*

Arbor 1

3:30 Levelland*

7:15 I Am David*

10 Breakfast With Hunter

Arbor 2

3:30 Broadway: The Golden Age*

7 Rhythm of the Saints*

9:30 Natural Selection*


2:30 AFF Winners Screening

5:15 Wild Parrots

7:15 Shorts Program 3

9:45 Beah: A Black Woman Speaks

Monday, Oct. 13


7 Shorts Program 5*

9:45 Shorts Program 4*

Arbor 1

7:15 Happy Hour*

9:45 Shattered Glass

Arbor 2

7:00 Cosmic Africa

9:45 Refugee


7:30 Beah: A Black Woman Speaks*

9:45 Shorts Program 6*

Tuesday, Oct. 14


7 Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin

9:45 Porco Rosso


7 The Failures

9:15 BachelorMan

Arbor 1

7 Swing

9:45 Refuge

Arbor 2

7:20 Liberty: 3 Stories

9:45 Cosmic Africa


7 Ash Tuesday

9:30 Love Object

Wednesday, Oct. 15


7 In America

9:30 The Barbarian Invasion


7 Particles of Truth

9:30 Shorts Program 2


7 Doc Shorts 1

9 Red Light Go

Arbor 1

7:15 Rhythm of the Saints

10 Liberty: 3 Stories

Arbor 2

7 Sunset Stories

9:30 Undermind


5 Inheritance: A Fisherman's Story

7:15 IDA Doc Program 1

9:30 Shorts Program 1

Thursday, Oct. 16


7 Off the Map*


7:15 Sumo: East and West

Arbor 1

7:00 Plutonium Circus

9:30 The Movie Hero

Arbor 2

7:15 A Promise Kept*

9:45 Sunset Story


7:30 Inheritance: A Fisherman's Story

9:30 IDA Doc Program 1

* denotes cast and/or crew in attendance
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)