Sundance, Slamdance, and South by Southwest: The 411 on upcoming fests is right here.
Best of the Fest(s), We Hope, Dept.: Not only has it been a banner year for major film production coming into Austin, but it's now also shaping up to be an equally loaded season for Austin output to film festivals, notably the Sundance Film Festival, which runs Jan. 15-20 in Park City, Utah, this year, and the 10th annual outing of indie offshoot Slamdance, which runs Jan. 16-24 at whatever venue the Robert Redford brainchild/trust isn't. Occasional Chronicle scribe Bryan Poyser's Dear Pillow (produced and edited by Jacob Vaughan) was announced last week as a competition film at Slamdance, up against 12 other narrative features out of some 2,000 submissions. Poyser's film, described as "a dark coming of age story about a 17-year-old boy who tries to get a job writing for an adult magazine," was twice a recipient of the Austin Film Society's Texas Filmmaker's Production Fund and, as Poyser's press release notes, is "one of the first completed features to be shot on the Panasonic AG-DXV100 24p Mini DV camera," which, we can attest, will likely be knocking longtime indie DV stalwart the Canon XL1 out of the "most loved and slightly more affordable camera" category for low-budget auteurs these days. Also at Slamdance this year is Kat Candler's (Cicadas) short film "Roberta Wells," produced by Nevie Owens of Red Frame Productions, about "a 77-year-old woman struggling to survive a Thanksgiving afternoon with her overbearing family, her emphysema, and her craving for a cigarette." Damn you, Philip Morris! In addition, there's David and Nathan Zellner's (Plastic Utopia) short "The Virile Man," Javier Bonafont's short "The Love Ballad of Scarab Hack," and Scott Calonico's "The Creepees Versus Robot Monster Number Two." Across the street at Sundance, Flat Black Films and Waking Life honcho Bob Sabiston has the animated short documentary "Grasshopper," and Scott Calonico (again!) will be premiering "LSD A Go Go." Good luck to one and all... In local fest news, the ramp-up to South by Southwest 2004 (March 12-20) is well under way, with 2,000-plus submissions already in, which puts it neck and neck with 2003, numberswise. This year's opening night film will be the U.S. premiere of Michael Winterbottom's Code 46, starring Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton, followed over the course of the fest by Lars Von Trier's Dogville as well as the seven-hour Steve James (Hoop Dreams) miniseries The New Americans, created for PBS, which follows a group of recent immigrants to U.S. shores and documents their trials. And if you haven't registered yet, there's still plenty of time to do so at www.sxsw.com, though on the Interactive side of things, the deadline to enter your Web site in the 2003 Web Awards is Friday, Dec. 19. See www.sxsw.com/interactive/web_awards for the specs.