Film News

Suzanne Quinn, the first and only director of Austin Studios, steps down; plus, news from Slamdance and the Independent Spirit Awards, Avril Lavigne, the Jim Henson Co., and Jerm Pollett

The Mighty Quinn

Suzanne Quinn has been so successful as the first and only director of the Austin Film Society's Austin Studios in its five year history that she is being replaced by two people when she steps down at the end of January. Her former assistant, Rachel Blackney, has been named operations manager for the studios, and an advertisement is out for a director of sales and marketing with details posted at Under Quinn, Austin Studios has served as home to 27 features and dozens of other film and video projects for an economic impact AFS estimates at more than $750 million.

Sunny Slamdance

Congrats to Heather Courtney, whose documentary Letters From the Other Side was selected to have its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival. Letters interweaves the lives of several women to tell of the people left behind in rural, post-NAFTA Mexico. Courtney, an MFA film grad from the University of Texas at Austin, received a Fulbright fellowship that funded a journey to Mexico to research her film. You may know her for Los Trabajadores, which won the audience award at the 2001 South by Southwest Film Festival. By the way, 3,000 films applied for Slamdance, and fewer than 100 made the cut. Meanwhile, a pair of shorts from Austinites made it into the Sundance Film Festival. David and Nathan Zellner will have the world premiere of "Redemptitude," about a preacher who goes into the Australian Outback to save a man's soul. John Bryant's "Mama's Boy" follows on the heels of his ultra-bloody 2005 Sundance comedic short "Oh My God." Also of Sundance note is La Tragedia de Macario, the first feature film from Pablo Veliz, a 22-year-old University of Texas at San Antonio communications major. The film is inspired by a 2003 tragedy in which 19 illegal immigrants died of asphyxiation, dehydration, and heat exposure while locked inside a truck after they paid a coyote to get them across the border into the United States. Oh, and I failed to mention last time that The Puffy Chair, from former Austinites the Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay, has been nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards, including the Someone to Watch Award.

HEARD & Seen

Posters on the Internet Movie Database say pop star Avril Lavigne is in Richard Linklater's Fast Food Nation adaptation cast as a college student taking on the cattle industry. Ethan Hawke portrays her father. Meanwhile, the Colorado Springs Gazette had Bruce Willis and Greg Kinnear shooting a scene for the film there more than a month ago… Sarah Michelle Gellar and her bodyguards were spotted in downtown Taylor last week as additional scenes were lensed for The Return, which shot around Austin in April when it was known as Revolver. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Fast Food Nation project was shooting last week at the Texas School for the Deaf.

And the Rest

The Jim Henson Co. has optioned Gil's All Fright Diner by Alex Martinez of Terrell. The novel about a portal to the supernatural has been compared to Men in Black and is set in Texas... MTV's bid to create another Ashlee Simpson is Cheyenne, about the singer of the same name's move from Frisco, Texas, to Hollywood... Cine Las Americas has moved its film festival offices to new digs at 81 San Marcos St. and wants your help with the transition. Got $15 to donate to a good cause? It'll go toward essential equipment, phone and Internet service, furniture, lighting, and paint for the new offices... Jenn White teaches a workshop in Super 8 and 16mm film from noon to 4pm on Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Motion Media Arts Center. More info can be found at Marian Yeager presents Austin Short Ends 2, a showcase of short films by Texans from 2 to 5pm on Sunday, Dec. 18, at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown. Learn more at Afterward, you can stick around for the 7:30 and 10pm showings at the Alamo of Jerm Pollet's Christmas Porn Show, pulling together the comic's favorite yule log (ahem) scenes from 30 films. In his own words, the event promises to be "rad, dope, and killer-funny!" Oh, and two more showings are slated for Christmas Eve. Ho! Ho! Ho!

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Suzanne Quinn, Austin Studios, Heather Courtney, Slamdance, Alex Martinez, Pablo Veliz, John Bryant, David Zellner, Nathan Zellner, Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass

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