Wish You Were Here

Austin Film Festival 2002

Wish You Were Here
Photo By John Anderson

Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg (Beautiful Girls, Con Air) kicked off Friday's craft session on dialogue with the somewhat discouraging declaration that an ear for dialogue is simply something one is born with: "[It's] something you can either do or not do. It's kind of like guitar." Rosenberg held court for the next hour with writerly recollections, self-deprecating digs (he called his Spider-Man draft "like bad Chekhov"), and cheeky impersonations of Nicolas Cage, Ving Rhames, and Christopher Walken. As for tricks of the trade, Rosenberg offered a most helpful one: "If you're blocked, gin."

Wish You Were Here
Photo By John Anderson

Jessica Bendinger (with writer/director Dylan Kidd) at Sunday's panel on inspiration: "You know when you get home, and you can't remember how you got there? That's what happens to [the writers of] some television series. You go on creative autopilot."

Wish You Were Here
Photo By John Anderson

"How do we collaborate? Well, I write the nerdy boys. Kirsten likes to write the cool ones." -- Karen Lutz (l), screenwriter (Legally Blonde), on working with her partner, Kirsten Smith (r).

Wish You Were Here
Photo By John Anderson

Richard LaGravenese presented a 10-minute clip from his forthcoming film, Decade Under the Influence, at Friday night's screening of the LaGravenese-penned The Fisher King. The documentary investigates the commonly voiced idea that the Seventies was for Hollywood a decade like none other in terms of freedom of expression. Over 30 hours of interviews were conducted with decade luminaries such as Robert Altman, Julie Christie, and Francis Ford Coppola. Modern-day directors such as Steven Soderbergh and P.T. Anderson were solicited by LaGravenese and Ted Demme (who died about a month into the project) to be the off-camera interviewers. The 10 minutes screened at the festival provided a lively account of the decade and whet the appetite for more.

Screenplay Competition, Adult/Family

Robert Soderstrom, Jerusalem

Screenplay Competition, Comedy

Glenn Forbes, Head First, Face Down

Teleplay Competition, Sitcom

Martina Broner, Sex and the City: "A League of Our Own"

Teleplay Competition/ Drama

A.J. D'Agostino and Corey Schaffer, The Sopranos: "Problem Solved"

Film Competition, Feature Jury Award

W: Nat Moss & Alfredo de Villa/D: Alfredo de Villa, Washington Heights

Film Competition, Short Jury Award

W/D: Chase Palmer, "Neo-Noir"

Film Competition, Student Short Jury Award

W: Fred Strype/D: Ellen-Alinda Verhoeff, "Abbie Down East"

Photo By John Anderson

Although the festival proper began Thursday, Oct. 10, the Austin Film Festival kickstarted the prior evening with the regional premiere of The Truth About Charlie, sponsored by AFF and the Austin Film Society, and benefiting the AFF's Young Filmmakers Program, formerly known as Kids 'N Film. Writer/director Jonathan Demme was present to introduce the film at the Paramount Theatre, as well as to conduct a post-screening Q&A. He waxed poetic on Charles Aznavour, the legendary French actor and singer who cameos in the film, genially fielded questions about camera technique and casting decisions, and generally charmed the pants off the audience. When one cinephile remarked upon the The Truth About Charlie's similarity to Carol Reed's beloved The Third Man, he asked Demme if it was "deliberate or parallel genius." The filmmaker initially laughed -- "Sheer dumb luck" -- then, upon further reflection, grinned, "Theft, not parallel genius."

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    Filmmaker Jonathan Demme charms the pants off the audience at The Truth About Charlie premiere.

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Scott Rosenberg, Karen Lutz, Kirsten Smith, Dylan Kidd, Jessica Bendinger, Richard LaGravenese

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