Austin Film Festival Announces Preliminary Lineup

Slumdog Millionaire, Synedoche, New York confirmed

Fifteen years and counting.
Fifteen years and counting.

Is it just us or does Austin now have more film festivals per capita than Smurfville had little blue not-so-meanies? Here we are with aGLIFF barely behind us, Fantastic Fest is currently, gloriously redefining the limits of our imaginations (and livers), and as of yesterday the Austin Film Festival, which this year runs Oct. 16-23, has just announced their initial lineup of films, filmmakers, and a handful of the many events that continue to make it one of best fests in the country.

So who's coming and what will they be screening?

Two words: Danny Boyle.

Yep, Manchester's finest (not counting Morrissey and the late Tony Wilson, of course) will be premiering Slumdog Millionaire, his much-buzzed filmriff on race, class, and cash in modern Mumbai. The Fox Searchlight/Warner Brothers Pictures release already struck audience gold at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, and with Boyle's impeccable cinematic CV (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Shallow Grave), we expect to have our hearts and minds blown yet again. Notably for the Austin/Alamo Drafthouse geek contingent, the film's editing was handled by Chris Dickens, who also cut Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and cult Britcom Spaced.

Two other words: Charlie Kaufman. Best known as the writer of Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Adaptation, Kaufman makes his directorial debut with Synedoche, New York, starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Emily Watson, Samantha Morton, and Catherine Keener in a film that will likely leave us all wondering about our place in the universe and the transience of art, life, love, and Jennifer Jason Leigh's eternally spotless indie cred.

And, as if that weren't enough big-screen bombshells to lob your way, the AFF is also hosting the regional premieres of Kelly Reichardt's Wendy and Lisa, starring Michelle Williams as the scrappy down-and-outer Wendy and Lucy, the dog, as her faithful canine companion. Reichardt directed the wonderful but criminally underseen Old Joy two years back, and if you haven't seen that film, we urge you to go rent it right now.

Also on the AFF slate: five-time Oscar nominee Mike Leigh's newest, Happy Go Lucky, and a Hollywood perp walk of the best contemporary cinema has to offer, among them Greg Daniels (The Office, King of the Hill), Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story), writer/director John August (The Nines, Big Fish), screenwriter Terry Rossio (Pirates of the Caribbean), Robert Townsend (Hollywood Shuffle), and writer/rollergirl Shauna Cross aka Maggie Mayhem, whose novel Derby Girl, rechristened Whip It! for the screen, is directed by Drew Barrymore and stars Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Juliette Lewis, and Barrymore. Oh, and Jimmy Fallon.

Everything else you might possibly need to know -- where and how to get badges, whether or not Sam Shepard is still planning on attending (he's canceled, actually, but he apologizes and that's good enough for us), where are all the parties, people? -- is available online right here.

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