Movin' on up: MoveOn.org, Steve Bilich, Bennie Klain, and Kyle Henry.
Cinematic Turkey Shoot Dept.: If your Thanksgiving was spent anything like mine, then you've got several pounds of textured pork protein clogging your fridge and a small, black, bug-eyed mammal wondering where all the l-tryptophan went this year, and why she's not allowed to eat the curdling Filipino flan in the icebox. So maybe we forsook the turkey on the platter this year in favor of more cloven-hoofed comestibles, but apparently that didn't stop Dubya from sneaking off to Baghdad to share a drumroll and a drumstick with the troops in what appeared to be a calculated move to display some of that faux-compassionate conservatism for which he's so known. Never mind that Fearless Leader has yet to attend a single funeral of an American serviceman killed in Iraq -- despite plenty of time for campaign fundraising whistle-stops -- this unprecedented photo-op appeared tailor-made for election year ad spots. If, like us, you found the whole thing patently phony, you might want to check out a new contest being sponsored by the folks at MoveOn.org. They're soliciting submissions to a 30-second political ad competition called Bush in 30 Seconds, aimed at taking the presidential propaganda machine down a notch or two. To that end, Move On has assembled a panel of judges that includes some of the most important names in the film and entertainment industry, including Michael Mann, Jessica Lange, Gus Van Sant, Michael Moore, Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Moby, Mark Pellington, and Michael Stipe, among others. Entries will be shown on Move On's Web site and the winning ad will run on national television during the week of President Bush's State of the Union address in January. The only catch is they'd like your entries sent to them by Friday, Dec. 5, which is tomorrow, but if we know you, you've already got plenty of anti-Bush video polemic lying around in iMovie. All you need to do now is send it off to become the next, um, James Carville. Complete rules and regulations are online at www.bushin30seconds.org (see above for more on the MoveOn.org movement)... A couple of weeks ago you'll recall we mentioned local filmmaker Steve Bilich and his involvement with the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian -- this week comes word that another Austinite, Navajo filmmaker Bennie Klain, of local outfit TricksterFilms, will also be screening his film Yada Yada at this week's Smithsonian exhibition/festival/grand opening. "It's kind of a film written as a reaction to 9/11," says Klain. "That feeling of patriotism after 9/11 was kind of overwhelming, and something that needed to be re-examined, along with my own unique response, from my own perspective." Congratulations to both Klain and Bilich (whose 1996 film Ruta Awakening will be shown as part of Ruta Maya's 10th anniversary celebration on Thursday, Dec. 11, 8pm, at Penn Field, and for free)... Finally, Austin filmmaker Kyle Henry (American Cowboy, University, Inc.) is up in New York City these days working on the second half of his debut feature Room. That's old news, but what's new is that the film is now being co-produced by the Seventh Floor (Manito) and Jim McKay and Michael Stipe's C-Hundred Film Corp. (Girls Town). "I made a proposal and pitched it to [McKay], and it turned out to be the right time with the right project," says Henry, who quickly notes that it was his 2003 Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund grant that really got the ball rolling. The Texas side of the production wrapped this past Nov. 20 with the New York leg beginning Dec. 8 through Dec. 20. "It's a midlife crisis fable," says Henry of the film, noting that although he's still a long way off from midlife hell, "At the rate I'm going now, who knows? Maybe I'll be dead at 50." Which means you'll outlast Thomas Ince by eight years! Congratulations redux.