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by Jen Scoville

Last week I reported with disappointment that there were no Austin-based feature films going to Sundance this year, but after the Festival's announcement of short films that made the cut, it turns out the Third Coast will have a local emissary after all. Making the trip to the Utah tundra along with such noted artists as Gus Van Sant (Allen Ginsberg's Battle of the Skeleton), Helen Stickler (Andre the Giant Has a Posse), and first-time director actress Sandra Bullock (Making Sandwiches), is Austin filmmaker George Langworthy with his second short, BREEZEWAY, shot in and around Hyde Park at the end of last summer. A recent graduate of UzT's prestigious Texas Center for Writers, Langworthy wrote, directed and co-produced (Chron friend and former employee Heather McClellan also co-produced) this 12-minute comedy about an architect who is trying to quit smoking while on deadline for a huge project. The work was completed with the help of a grant from the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund which Langworthy was awarded in August. In fact, the whole project had a very quick turnaround -- it was shot at the end of August/beginning of September -- and Sundance accepted the 35mm short after viewing only a rough cut. Sending the rough cut to be judged was certainly a gamble, says Langworthy, but it's in line with the whole idea of spending the extra money to shoot a short in 35mm in the first place. "I took a lot of flak for using such an expensive medium, but it paid off. I really wanted to get that super high-quality black-and-white effect." And pay off it did, because BREEZEWAY was chosen (one of 55) out of the 1,500 submitted to Sundance, and it was also selected to be shown combined with a feature instead of in a grouping of shorts, ensuring the film five screenings instead of the usual three. If Langworthy's luck continues and BREEZEWAY gets noticed, he'll no doubt have a better time finding financing for his next project -- a feature based on one of his numerous self-penned and ready-to-go scripts. Langworthy's first short, Skeletons, played at various film festivals and recently ran on PBS as part of the alternative film and video series, The Territory...

Only a few seats remain for the Austin Film Society's December 17 benefit premiere screening of Nora Ephron's latest film Michael, which was shot in Austin last spring and stars John Travolta, Andie MacDowell, William Hurt, and Bob Hoskins. The screening will be held at 8pm at the Paramount Theatre. Tickets are $15 and are on sale at the Paramount box office and all UTTM outlets (charge at 477-6060); proceeds benefit AFS and the Texas Freedom Network. Michael will open nationally on December 25. AFS' current film series, The Masterworks of Satyajit Ray (Tuesdays, 8pm, Union Theatre, free) and Gangsters and Outlaws (Wednesdays at 7:30pm and the following Saturday at 12 noon, Dobie Theatre, admission $5) continue with, respectively, Ray's most controversial film, Devi (1960), in which a superstitious feudal landlord becomes convinced that his daughter-in-law is a holy goddess; and William Wellman's Wild Boys of the Road (1933), the story of three unemployed young men during the Depression who set out on a life of rail-riding and petty thievery.

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