The Austin Chronicle

Short Cuts

By Marc Savlov, August 18, 2000, Screens

I, THE JURY DEPT.: Since its inception in 1996, the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund has awarded $180,000 in grant money to Texas' emerging film and video artists. That's a lot of Benjamins heading in the right direction, thanks to the Austin Film Society. Anyone attempting to make a film these days (especially those not directly affiliated with a major studio or without the wherewithal to finance things on their own) knows that, more often than not, roping in the greenbacks can be the hardest part of all. And when you're acting as director/writer/producer, as is the case with many struggling indie filmmakers, a little help from your friends can mean the difference between an actual movie and the lab holding your beloved nitrate hostage until you cough up the simoleons. While the application date for this year's TFPF has already passed, the AFS will be hosting free "meet the panel" events and screenings designed to give filmmakers and other interested parties the opportunity to find out who, exactly, is going to be calling the shots when it comes to doling out the awards and grant cash. The program begins Sunday, Aug. 21, 8pm, at the Texas Union Theatre on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin (26th and Guadalupe) with a screening of panelists Caveh Zahedi's A Little Stiff and Naomi Uman's Leche. The following night will feature panelist Laurie Collyer's Nuyorican Dream and Uman's removed. All three panelists will be in attendance. So who are these folks, anyway? Collyer, a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, has had Nuyorican Dream picked up by HBO/Cinemax for airing in December 2000 and took Best Documentary Award for the film at the 21st Festival de la Habana (Cuba) in December 1999. According to the AFS press notes, Uman "lives in Southern California and Mexico City where she makes films at a small table, always accompanied by a very small dog." Zahedi blew a shot at working with Jean-Luc Godard when he arrived in Paris in 1981 hoping to work with the celebrated director, but then made the mistake phoning him at home at 3am. (Backstory: It's what it's all about, man.) On the plus side, Zahedi has since gone on to "make his own obscure, unpopular, and unrenumerative films," including the intriguingly titled I Am a Sex Addict and I Was Possessed by God. 'Nuff said... In other AFS news, tickets are still available to tonight's (Friday's) screening of Christopher McQuarrie's debut feature The Way of the Gun (with actor Nicky Katt in attendance), 7pm, at General Cinema's Barton Creek Square Theater (in the mall). Tix are $12 for AFS members and $15 for the general public and, at this point, will be available at the box office Friday evening, 45 minutes prior to the show. More info on the event, which benefits the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund, can be had by calling 322-0145... Finally, the coolest (and darkest) bar in Austin, Club DeVille (Ninth and Red River) will be hosting a benefit party Sunday, Aug. 27, to help raise finishing funds for the locally produced indie film Cicadas. A paltry ten-spot gets you in the door, where you will then doubtless stumble over somebody (really -- it's dark in there) before basking in the sumptuous beer and food selection, as well as various digital shorts screenings and the usual benefit giveaways. More info? Call 380-0594 or visit the Cicadas' Web site at

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