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Film News

By Joe O'Connell, November 26, 2004, Screens

Austin movie crews are coming home for the holidays and should quickly unpack for frightful film fun. Forget Louisiana, where our locals are wrapping up the Texas football film Glory Road; spring in Austin is expected to sprout two scary stories: a prequel to Platinum Dune's remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Focus Features' Revolver, starring Buffy her own bad self, Sarah Michelle Gellar, as a reincarnated woman looking to solve her earlier self's murder. Chainsaw folks, whose 2002 remake – like Tobe Hooper's 1974 original – was shot in Austin, have been poking around the area looking at locations. Producer Brad Form told Fangoria magazine that the prequel will examine the backstory of Leatherface and his creepy human-skin mask. Sheldon Turner, who also penned the recent The Longest Yard remake (are we noting a trend here?) wrote the next Chainsaw script. Meanwhile, Asif Kapadia (The Warrior) is set to direct Revolver based on a script by Adam Sussman. If all goes according to plan, expect a February or March start for both films. Filmmakers should find a ready crew with Tommy Lee Jones about to wrap The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and Robert Rodriguez expected to be ensconced in the editing room after The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl completes in December. The Chainsaw prequel is already inked in for a Halloween 2005 theatrical release.

About to Rock: Give a big salute to Bob Ray, who has signed a deal to release Rock Opera on DVD in March via the tag team of Go-Kart Films, Hoverground, and KOCH Entertainment. As if the film itself weren't good enough, extras will include short films "The Adventures of Donald Starkland" and "Night of the Kung Fu Zombie Bastards From Hell!" And that's not all: You can also play the Rock Opera drinking game along with eight cast members, bongs not optional. Ray and his CrashCam Films compadres are also in post production for Hell on Wheels, a documentary about the Texas women who are single-handedly reviving Roller Derby.

Austin Attacks New Mexico: Two Austin short films have been selected for the Santa Fe Film Festival, which runs Dec. 1-5. Deepa Donde's "Echoes From Juniper Canyon" is slated for Dec. 3 and 5, and Rommel Eclarinal's border story "North of Ojinaga" unreels Dec. 4... The third annual Austin Jewish Film Festival is seeking entries for its first ever trailer competition. Winners get four passes to the fest, which runs Jan. 27 to Feb. 6, and will see their no-more-than-90-second masterpieces on the big screen. Details at Three true Texas tales that may or may not film here: Oscar winner Halle Berry has signed to portray a defense attorney in Tulia, about the 1999 arrests of 10% of the town's black population on drug charges. Gov. Rick Perry later pardoned most of the accused... Denzel Washington will soon direct The Great Debaters, about Melvin Tolson, the professor at historically black Wiley College who started a debate team that defeated Harvard for the national championship... TNT has slated 14 Hours, the story of Houston's Memorial Hermann Hospital under siege after flooding from Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. The film stars Rick Schroder and JoBeth Williams but looks doubtful to film in Space City.

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