Film News

Welcome to the great state of South by Southwest

By Joe O'Connell, Fri., March 13, 2009

Welcome, South by Southwest visitors. Consider this your quickie primer to all (or at least some) things Austintatious and Texan. Let's begin by pointing out how one becomes a Texan. Consider Billy Bob Thornton, who was born in Arkansas but starred as Texas legend Davy Crockett in The Alamo and as a Texas high school football coach in Friday Night Lights. Thornton is now a Texan. Case closed. He receives the Tom Mix Honorary Texan Award during the Texas Film Hall of Fame ceremonies March 12 at Austin Studios. If you read this in time, a ticket can be had for as little as $100 to $500 if you want to be a high roller. Last minute changes: Brendan Fraser (replacing John Cusack) will present Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke as she is inducted. Tobe Hooper, director of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is also on the bill (a restored version of his debut film, Eggshells, will also screen at SXSW). Joining Hardwicke and Thornton as new inductees are Larry Hagman, Powers Boothe, and the film Rushmore. Richard Linklater will honor the late Horton Foote, as well. More info is at www.austinfilm.org/tfhof... Linklater was among an estimated 1,000 film folks to converge on the Capitol last week seeking to convince the Legislature to reconfigure the state's filming incentives program to be more competitive. At a committee hearing for the new film bill, Linklater said he has a film set in Texas that is ready to go but perhaps headed to Shreveport if Texas' current 5% incentives program is not augmented (Louisiana offers a 25% tax incentive). Likewise, Garry Brown, the producer who brought two seasons of Prison Break to Dallas, said he has a television pilot eyeing a Dallas shoot that would be a sure thing with larger incentives... Austin's own Robert Rodriguez is writing and directing the futuristic thriller Nerverackers, according to Daily Variety, but no word on what amount will be shot locally (my guess is most). The story is about Joe Tezca, sent to quell a crime wave in 2085. Lots of Texas films will premiere at SXSW, but doc The Least of These is notable for its concurrent premiere online through IndiePix partner SnagFilms as either an electronic download or DVD delivered by snail mail. The film chronicles the T. Don Hutto medium-security prison in Taylor, which became a detention facility for families awaiting deportation. That's not the only SXSW film to follow a unique distribution model; several IFC films, including Joe Swanberg's Alexander the Last, will premiere concurrently at the Fest and on demand via IFC's Festival Direct.

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