The Recognizables

One night, one of a kind

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey

If SXSW Film is a marathon monsoon of movies and guerilla marketing, the Austin Film Society's annual Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards is the calm before the storm, a ceremonial harbor of departure. Part old-fashioned Hollywood hype and part Texas tinsel, equal parts pomp and party, the gala celebrates all things cinematically Texas. And where else can you hobnob with former Gov. Ann Richards, Lyle Lovett, and Matthew McConaughey in an airport-hangar-cum-soundstage-cum-pavilion?

"It's really kind of hard to characterize this event," confesses Austin Film Society Executive Director Rebecca Campbell. "It's a big deal – a huge elephant. I sometimes look back and can't believe that we've been able to create and pull this thing off every year. It gets us about a third of our annual budget, so that helps. It raises our profile and brings decision-makers in the business together and educates them about the importance of film to the economy and culture of Texas."

Kris Kristofferson
Kris Kristofferson (Photo By Gary Miller)

"The creative spirit in Texas just seems to be that much better," boasts co-founder Evan Smith. "The imaginativeness, the inventiveness, the raw creativity. The Rick Linklaters and Robert Rodriguezes of the world – only in Texas. Their independence, their vision, is very much in line with the best filmmaking ever to come out of the state. That's something that nobody else can replicate. And that's what makes Texas film so different from any place else." Past honorees include such luminaries as Sissy Spacek, Tobe Hooper, Horton Foote, Robert Benton, Farrah Fawcett, and Robert Duvall.

This year's inductees include actress/director JoBeth Williams (Poltergeist, The Big Chill; inducted by Lawrence Kasdan), actor/director Matthew McConaughey (Dazed and Confused, The Newton Boys; inducted by SR Bindler), and singer-songwriter/actor/Rhodes Scholar Kris Kristofferson (Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Lone Star; inducted by John Sayles). Ann Richards will be emceeing for the fifth time.

"It's a perfect representation of what the [Texas] Film Hall of Fame is all about," Smith says. "You've got a veteran, Kris Kristofferson, who's done a lot of extraordinary film work both a while ago and within the contemporary period. He's someone who is iconic in look, iconic in his performances, and I think that's the kind of person that the Hall of Fame was set up to recognize. Then you have Matt McConaughey, who honestly is not that far out from a time when he was struggling to break into the business – but look at the distinct character and personality that he's put up on the screen in every single role. Both Kristofferson and McConaughey have brought a 'Texan-ness' to the screen. You could not mistake McConaughey as coming from Wisconsin or Kristofferson as coming from New Jersey.

Cybill Shepherd
Cybill Shepherd

"In JoBeth Williams, you have a consummate professional, an extraordinary actress who can play it big and play it small, play leads and supporting roles. She's done every genre of film imaginable and she's been pitch perfect in every one."

This year's festivities mark the debut of a new category, the AMD LIVE! Soundtrack Award, honoring contributions by Texas musicians to cinema. The first recipient will be Lyle Lovett, also rumored to be performing at the event. "The Hall of Fame needs to be elastic – to give us the room to honor different kinds of people for different reasons," Smith explains. "We've given out Rising Star Awards, Lifetime Achievement Awards, Honorary Texan Awards. ... The AMD LIVE! Award has been created to honor a musician for his or her contribution to film: acting, soundtrack work ... whatever."

Capping the evening will be the traditional presentation of the Frontier Award celebrating landmark regional movies, this year to 1971's The Last Picture Show, Peter Bogdanovich's elegy for Fifties small-town Texas. Jacy Farrow herself, Cybill Shepherd, will be on hand to accept the award.

"Generations may know Larry McMurtry for Brokeback Mountain," Smith says, "but future generations ought to know Larry McMurtry for The Last Picture Show, for the extraordinary material he handed to Peter Bogdanovich. Here we are, 35 years later, and you look at that film and it's every bit as good today in the era of CGI, special effects, and green screens. You think about how films have been completely transformed again and again in the last generation, and then go back and look at the simplicity of that film.

"And Cybill Shepherd's performance was one of those things that you still look at all these years later – how do you not just cheer for it and know that her career's going to be extraordinary?" The same might be said for the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards. end story


The Sixth Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards

Friday, March 10, Austin Studios

For more information, see www.austinfilm.org

From the Archives:

Lone Star

Kris Kristofferson, walking tall down 'This Old Road'

The Pilgrim Returns

Q&A with Kris Kristofferson

Lyle Lovett

What you see and hear is truly what you get with Lovett -- and then some.

Adonis Rising

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey: Lone Star Rising

The Luck of the Drawl

The Film That Launched a Thousand Faces

Scads of young actors made their first impression in Dazed and Confused

Lone Star

The uncompromised vision of legendary independent John Sayles

A Work in Progress

East Timor begins the process of reconstruction in its struggle for independence.

Sayles Assistant

On the Set of John Sayles' Limbo in Juneau, Alaska

Every Picture Tells a Story

Lone Star Producer Maggie Renzi

Page Two

The agony and the ecstasy of SXSW 2002

Page Two

Scouting Lone Star locations with Maggie Renzi

Page Two

Steve Earle brings Townes Van Zandt's ghost along on Silver City's magical mystery tour; it hangs around for the Toronto Film Festival

The Big Thrill

Austin Film Festival honors writer/director Lawrence Kasdan

Snapshots From the Fest
Lawrence Kasdan at the Heart of Film Screenwriters Conference

Parking Lot Pictures

Hands on a Hard Body: The Texas Documentary Tour

Film Fever

Austin Heart of Film Screenwriters Conference & Festival

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards, Kris Kristofferson, Cybill Shepherd, Evan Smith, Rebecca Campbell, John Sayles, Matthew McConaughey, Lyle Lovett, JoBeth Williams, SR Bindler, Lawrence Kasdan

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