The Fall Film Festival Season Takes Flight

Programming updates from AFF, Fantastic Fest, and aGLIFF

Denzel Washington in Robert Zemeckis' <i>Flight</i>
Denzel Washington in Robert Zemeckis' Flight

For film fans, fall in Austin is a bottomless buffet: Just as soon as you've snarfed down what one festival has to offer, there's more fresh meat for the watching mere weeks away. On Tuesday, the Austin Film Festival (Oct. 18-25) announced their first wave of programming, including Centerpiece Film Flight, which stars Denzel Washington and marks director Robert Zemeckis' return to live-action drama after a decade almost entirely devoted to motion-capture family films (A Christmas Carol, Polar Express). Also of interest: the world premiere of Austin filmmaker Don Swaynos' comedy Pictures of Superheroes, teeming with this town's funnypeople elite (John Merriman, Kerri Lendo, Byron Brown, Shannon McCormick, Chris Doubek); University of Texas alum Todd Berger's comedy It's a Disaster, starring Julia Stiles, America Ferrera, and David Cross (and recently picked up for distribution by Oscilloscope); and Austin documentarian T.C. Johnstone's Rising From Ashes, about the Rwandan national cycling team's bid to send their first countryman to ride in the Olympics; and Jamie Meltzer's Informant, a documentary portrait of activist and infamous snitch Brandon Darby (if the name doesn't ring a bell, see Diana Welch's profile, "The Informant," [News], Jan. 23, 2009, for background). Finally, AFF announced Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files and godhead to a generation of sci-fi devotees, will be on hand to accept the Outstanding Television Writer Award and to guest-program a few films that helped shape him as an artist.

But genre hounds don't have to wait 'til then to get their rocks off: Fantastic Fest (Sept. 20-27) kicks off with the world premiere of Tim Burton's 3-D stop-motion animated film Frankenweenie. Also on the docket: Dredd 3D, which promises to be a more faithful representation of the iconic British comic book character (let's just say after 1995's Sly Stallone turkey, there was room for improvement); U.S. premieres for horror-omnibus The ABCs of Death, Rian Johnson's time-hopscotcher Looper (starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Matthias Hoene's self-explanatory Cockneys vs. Zombies; plus new work from Takeshi Kitano, Leos Carax, and Michael Paul Stephenson (Best Worst Movie) and a sidebar programmed by Kier-la Janisse that's based on her new book House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films.

Which brings us to the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (Oct. 3-7), celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Locals will cheer at the Centerpiece Film selection of Kyle Henry's Fourplay. A longtime ATX movie mover and shaker, Henry flew the coop for Chicago a couple of years back, but we're still calling him a hometown hero. Other aGLIFF 2012 standouts: Opening Night Film Cloudburst, a road movie starring Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as two nursing-home lovers who head to Canada to marry; Closing Night Film My Brother the Devil, about homophobia in London's Arab community (it won the Grand Jury Award at the 2012 L.A. Outfest); Documentary Spotlight Call Me Kuchu, about the fight for LGBT rights in Uganda; and special appearances by queer-cinema pioneer Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman) and singer-songwriter/performance artist Justin Vivian Bond (aka Kiki of Kiki & Herb).

More on each of these festivals coming soon. For up-to-the-minute news, keep an eye on @ACScreens and on Picture in Picture, the Screens blog, at

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Austin Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, aGLIFF, aff2012, Robert Zemeckis, Flight, Don Swaynos, Pictures of Superheroes, Todd Berger, It's a Disaster, T.C. Johnstone, Rising From Ashes, Informant, Brandon Darby, Chris Carter, Tim Burton, Frankenweenie, Dredd 3D, Looper, The ABCs of Death

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