Austin ups its indie status by an icon; Moore misses out on his own party, kind of; and Jesus is a film fanatic
Toto, I Don't Think We're in Fiji Anymore Dept.: Why no, Mr. Pierson, you're not: For one thing, Fiji, as we're sure you know, has only been independent since 1970, following a century of often chaotic rule by the British. Austin, on the other hand, has been fiercely indie since before the first Arriflex SR II and Fender acoustic bass were discovered nesting behind the Vulcan Gas Company, and, of course, it's been high cotton or something organic, fibrous, and flammable for the city's film and music communities ever since. And now, after several months of frantic house-hunting and furtive midnight meetings lit only by the moon and high expectations, Austin's indie status is up by an icon, namely John Pierson, who with wife Janet and assorted offspring, (namely, Georgia and Wyatt) has finally left New York to its own devices and settled here for good. The author of the recently reissued Spike Mike Reloaded and the producer's rep for everything from She's Gotta Have It to Clerks, from Roger & Me to Slacker, has sworn to keep fighting the good fight, this time by "dropping mad science" at UT, specifically in his fall-semester class, "RTF367K Producing Film and Television." In addition, the palest former Fiji Islander you're ever likely to meet is hard at work preparing a "multi-disc DVD box set of Split/Screen material with all the trimmings" scheduled for release "sometime next year." This is all while partnering with local Aspyr Media just think of the possibilities on the side! As for longtime and multitalented film vet/producing partner Janet, she has been voted onto the Austin Film Society board and will soon be playing a big part in the regional film firmament.
Dude, Where's My Scrappy, Blue-Collar, Palme d'Or-Winning Political Comic Firebrand? Dept.: Pierson made it on his way to Austin, but Michael Moore, who had just 24 hours earlier announced that he would be attending the free July 28 screening of his astonishingly successful Fahrenheit 9/11 in President Bush's ever-more-permanent vacation town of Crawford, reneged on the plan to make a personal appearance in favor of sticking around the Democratic National Convention, this in spite of his extended open invitation to the commander in chief to "drop on by and say hi." The event, co-sponsored by the Crawford Peace House and the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, went off with only a few minor glitches, notably the standard catcalls and frosty glares aimed at the estimated 2,500 attendees by a phalanx of Young Republicans and assorted other fair-weather friends of the First Amendment. Moore's PR flacks offered the following explanation: "Michael Moore will not be attending the screening as he does not want to risk distracting the focus from the good folks working at and supporting the Crawford Peace House." Curious about the Crawford Peace House? Check 'em out at www.crawfordpeacehouse.org. And for Lee Nichols' report from the screening, see News, p.22.
What Would Jesus Do? Dept.: Secular, Christian, humanist whatever that voice in your head and/or heart is saying these days, you could do a lot worse than heading over to the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown (409 Colorado) for the 2004 Ragamuffin Film Festival, presented by HopeArts and Dos Gringos Productions, and "dedicated to a new breed of subversive filmmaking by Christians from all over the world." Festival Director David Taylor has programmed a broad range of films that slip some desperately needed compassion and bedrock humanity not to mention humor in the cinematic back door while dispensing almost entirely with the scathing dogmatics and fetishistically ultraviolent images of, oh, let's say The Passion of the Christ that so often hobble "Christian cinema" before it's even had a chance to find an audience outside of its own pews. For all the dates and showtimes, head over to www.ragamuffinfilm.org or www.drafthouse.com.