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By Joe O'Connell, October 5, 2007, Screens

Austin Auteurs on DVD

One's a comedy about high school teachers; the other's a serious story about high school students. Both are finally out on DVD. Writer/director/producer Mike Akel calls the four-year making of Chalk similar to making an improvisational film. "We had our outline, main characters, beginning, middle, end, for the most part, set an 18-day shooting schedule ... and then showed up each day to see what new developments would come alive," he says. For instance, second assistant director Jeff Guerrero was talked into being an extra in a lunch scene but was so hilarious he ended up improving his own lines in a half-dozen scenes. "I think the magic of how Jeff went from full-time AD to part-time actor sums up the mystery and beauty of how our film was made," Akel says. "It has been an incredible ride!" Chalk is now available locally for rent and/or purchase at Waterloo, Vulcan, Encore, I Luv Video, and "all the big-box stores except Wal-Mart." Meanwhile, Kat Candler celebrates the DVD release of her second film, jumping off bridges, Sunday from 6 to 9pm at Club de Ville. DVDs will be for sale at the event. Candler and company already have wrangled an impressive 25-city theatrical tour for the film, which deals with the aftermath of suicide. It's been picked up for distribution by educational distributor New Day Films.

There Will be an Alamo at the Ritz ...

Tim League has promised word after Fantastic Fest as to the opening date of the new Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz, and he now says to expect an announcement next week. For now, let's officially declare Fantastic Fest, held this year at the Alamo South, a national festival of note. Some might say that title should have been bestowed last year when Mel Gibson showed up for a secret screening of Apocalypto. But the surprise showing of Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood to end this year's fest might end up being the pivotal moment simply because the film itself, shown for the first time publicly, might have more of a lasting impact. Matt Dentler, programmer for both South by Southwest Film and Fantastic Fest, called it "an amazing work of art." We can only imagine next year when the fest moves to the Ritz. "We put VIP badges on sale for 2008 during the festival and sold them out in two days," League says. "The festival definitely built up its national reputation this year, and we're getting started already working on 2008. Karrie and I will be traveling to AFM [American Film Market] in November, Korea in April, and Cannes in May hunting down the best and the weirdest in new genre films." Oh, and Nacho Vigalondo's Timecrimes was named best pic of the fest.

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