The Austin Chronicle

Eleven Minutes of Pleasure at the Ritz

By Richard Whittaker, February 23, 2013, 10:30pm, Picture in Picture

Oscars ubiquity getting you down? Bored of seeing the same films everyone else has seen? Trust us, the Alamo Ritz will have something you've never seen this Sunday: Maybe even five. And if they're dull, so what? You're only seeing the first reel. That's how a first reel party works.

The event is a special fundraising party for the American Genre Film Archive, and it is for hardcore fans of the weird, the lost and the (sometimes) damned. The format is simple: Five films are selected at random from the American Genre Film Archive, but only the first reel. Each first reel is shown, and then the audience is asked: Whaddya think?

I was lucky enough to attend the first ever AGFA Reel One Party, and it was a blast. I vaguely remember a terrible Bay Area mob flick; A gorgeous lost Shaw Brothers flick; A nightmare-inducing German slapstick adaptation of The Musicians of Bremen (allegedly for kids, but seemingly aimed at furries with a taste for mange); And the first glimpse of your new favorite cult classic, Miami Connection.

Alamo head honcho Tim League founded AGFA in 2009 as a way to protect and house the vast collection of 35mm prints his company had acquired. It would also become a home for thousands of other prints that were bound for landfill or for a watery grave (the sad fate of much celluloid culture). Much of it is now stored at the Alamo Slaughter Lane. However, the simple job of properly cataloging the unique treasury is a massive undertaking. The party will help fund that enterprise, and give a sneak peek at some of the oddities and wonders AGFA contains.

Now the only frustration with the inaugural AGFA bash was that everyone there had to wait years to see the rest of these lost classics/z-graders. Not this time around. New Drafthouse booker Sam Prime promises that there will be a vote at the end of the party, and the most popular pick will be screened at 10pm that night, with tickets at the bargain price of $3.

AGFA First Reel Party, 2pm, Feb. 24, Alamo Ritz, 320 E. Sixth. Tickets for the party are on sale now.

For more on the American Genre Film Archive, visit

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