AFF Snags Jon Stewart’s Rosewater

The Humbling, The Last 5 Years tapped for opening night

When The Daily Show with Jon Stewart announced earlier this month that the show would set up shop in Austin Oct. 27-30 for a midterm elections package called Democalypse 2014: South by South Mess, savvy cineastes took note of the fortuitous timing: Wasn't there a film fest going on then? And didn't Jon Stewart have a movie coming out?

Yes, and yes, which makes today’s announcement from the Austin Film Festival not exactly a jaw dropper, just confirmation of a good thing previously only guessed at: Stewart will be in attendance on Oct. 30 to screen his directorial debut, Rosewater, as AFF’s Closing Night Film.

Gael García Bernal in Rosewater

The film is based on the real-life arrest and incarceration of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who spent 118 days in an Iranian prison on charges of espionage (apparently Bahari’s tongue-in-cheek appearance on The Daily Show was used as evidence against him). The Chronicle’s Marjorie Baumgarten saw the film when it screened at the Toronto International Film Festival; of it, she wrote, “Stewart ably leavens the story's dark center with lighter touches and is greatly aided by a terrific performance by Gael García Bernal.”

The fest will be bookended with two other TIFF alums, Barry Levinson's The Humbling and Richard LaGravenese's The Last 5 Years. Adapted from Philip Roth's 2009 novel and starring Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig, The Humbling will open the fest on Oct. 23 in an early evening slot, followed by LaGravenese's adaptation of Jason Robert Brown's musical of the same name, which stars Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan as a man and woman who relay the story of their relationship in reverse order.

The Last 5 Years

Other news coming out of AFF: Writer and director Ed Zwick will receive the Extraordinary Contribution to Film Award for a long career that has included such films as Glory, Legends of the Fall, Blood Diamond, and the upcoming Pawn Sacrifice (about the Bobby Fischer/Boris Spassky 1972 “Match of the Century” and starring Tobey Maguire and Liev Schreiber). Zwick’s work as a producer is just as noteworthy; his film and TV credits include Traffic, Shakespeare in Love, My So-Called Life, and thirtysomething. He’ll take part in a conversation with My So-Called Life creator Winnie Holzman on Oct. 26.

Finally, Luke Wilson has been added to the roster of guest programmers, joining the previously announced Matthew Weiner (screening two episodes of The Twilight Zone) and Jenny Lumet (screening dad Sidney’s Network), among others. In addition to debuting his new short film “Satellite Beach,” Wilson will screen Stuart Rosenberg’s 1984 crime drama The Pope of Greenwich Village.

The Austin Film Festival runs Oct. 23-30.

This post has been updated to include additional programming announcements.

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AFF 2014, Jon Stewart, Rosewater, The Last 5 Years, The Humbling, Anna Kendrick, Al Pacino, Luke Wilson, Ed Zwick, Austin Film Festival

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