Here Come the Judges

The Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund Panel screenings

The Austin Film Society has announced its Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund 2003 panelists and will be screening their films -- as a kind of "this is why we're able to judge yours" demonstration -- at the Alamo Drafthouse Village (2700 W. Anderson) on Sunday, Aug. 10, and Monday, Aug. 11. The panelists will sort through the 181 applications that the TFPF received this year. Winners, who ideally are "emerging film and video artists in the state of Texas," will be announced next week and then awarded grants that since 1996 have totaled about $340,000 to upward of 130 projects. More info at www.austinfilm.org.

Screens String

Who: Chel White

What They've Done (and Won):
A Portland, Ore., fixture, White has been making experimental shorts for 20 years. Describing himself as an explorer of "obsession, alienation, fetishism, transcendence, death, and childhood memories," his work seems to dispatch itself in some secret, subversive code, flashing messages amid animation, obscure stock footage, and actors with crazy eyes. His "Choreography for Copy Machine (Photocopy Cha-Cha)" pulses with a grinding sort of ghostly sexuality and won first place for animation at the USA and Ann Arbor film festivals, among others. His work has screened at Sundance, Berlin, and Big Muddy.

What's Showing (and When):
"Choreography for Copy Machine (Photocopy Cha-Cha)"

"Passage"

"Dirt"

"Soulmate"

"Eclipse"

Sunday, Aug. 10, 9:45pm

What They Might Like:
Disturbing, daring, political, necessarily pretentious, multimedia art films that alternately creep out and comfort. A distressed finish and surreal sheen couldn't hurt, either.

Screens String

Who: Rodney Evans

What They've Done (and Won):
Evans, a writer/director based in New York City, was awarded Best Documentary of the Year by the Brooklyn Arts Council for his feature-length The Unveiling, but he's best known for the short doc "Close to Home," which captures in 24 minutes his coming out to his conservative Jamaican family and has been shown at more than 30 festivals. He received the Independent Feature Project's Gordon Parks Award for Screenwriting and the Vito Russo Award from the NY Gay and Lesbian Film Festival for Brother to Brother, which will debut in feature form next year but will be excerpted here. An ambitious fictioner of the Harlem Renaissance, it's narrated by (an actor playing) an elderly Bruce Nugent, founder of the seminal lit journal Fire!!

What's Showing (and When):
"Two Encounters"

"Close to Home"

Brother to Brother Sunday, Aug. 10, after White's program

What They Might Like:
Documentaries and dramas and docudramas that document and dramatize and docudramatize in different ways, personal narratives, and gay perspectives. Old-fashioned storytelling with new eyes and new voices.

Screens String

Who: Marlo Poras

What They've Done (and Won):
Mai's America premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2002 and was soon embraced as one of the best festival films of the year by the likes of LA Weekly and IndieWIRE, not to mention The Austin Chronicle, who saw it with everyone else here at South by Southwest, where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. In August of last year, it aired on PBS's POV. It is Poras' first film, and one that follows a Vietnamese high schooler's journey from Hanoi to Meridian, Miss., where her host family lives amid mental, emotional, and financial ruin, and where the resilient and magnetic Mai must navigate her way from hope to hopelessness and back with a support group that numbers approximately no one. Until, that is, she meets Chris/Christina, a small-town transvestite whose outsider status intersects empathically with hers. An amazing movie, and one you should see if you haven't already, which you probably have.

What's Showing (and When):
Mai's America

Monday, Aug. 11, 9:45pm

What They Might Like:
Vérité examinations of displacement, relevant 21st-century subjects, and women on the verge of rocking your world. Substance over style a plus.

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