If They Can Make It There...

Eleven Texas films have been chosen to be showcased at this year's Independent Feature Film Market (IFFM) sponsored by the Independent Film Project (IFP) in New York City, September 15-22 at the Angelika Film Center. And six of those movies are straight from Austin. The IFFM is a marketing tool for independent filmmakers, a conference at which independent films -- both features and shorts, finished and unfinished -- are showcased with the goal of picking up completion funds, a distributor, or both. With its exhibition of some 400 projects (about 100 feature films, 100 works-in-progress, 75 shorts, and 125 scripts) the market draws professionals from all walks of the film business, looking for the next big thing or, in the case of independents, the next small one. Last year, both Todd Solondz's Welcome to the Dollhouse (which is currently playing in Austin) and D.W. Harper's the Delicate Art of the Rifle, a film that made its regional premiere at the SXSW Film Festival and enjoyed an extended run at the Dobie Theatre, were both showcased at IFFM. This year, the local films going to market cover all categories from the documentary to the student short. Thomas Pallotta's feature The High Road -- a dark comedy about a spur-of-the moment road trip during which drugs serve as the back-seat driver -- is returning to New York after a July screening at Independents Night, a monthly sneak of indie features hosted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Also attending are: Paige Martínez's work-in-progress Words of Our Ancients, a partially PBS-funded historical documentary on the Hopi Indians and how they strategized to maintain cultural sovereignty in the early part of this century and thereby emerged as one of the most intact Native American Nations today; Marcus van Bavel's feature Redboy 13, a military satire about the end of the Cold War; Cary Roberts' feature Breezy Hills, an atypical Southern story (shot in Louisiana) of loss and love as seen through the eyes of a 17-year-old boy coming to grips with the slow demise of a culture; George Ratliff's feature work-in-progress, Purgatory County, a "modern-day Western noir," in which an unstable drifter returns to his Texas town to find things much different than when he left; and Jacob Vaughan's short Jesus of Judson (written by Bryan Poyser), which won top honors at the University Film and Video Association Film Festival in Philadelphia and is now packaged with the other winners on an international tour of universities and film centers. The week-long event has been described as a wheeler-dealer madhouse, a forum which can offer both unthinkable possibilities and brutal realities. Good thing there's strength in numbers.

-- Jen Scoville

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