The locally shot Kings of the Evening screens at the Highland
'Kings' Returns a Winner
A film that shot somewhat quietly in the Austin area last year is getting a lot of buzz and finally making it to town for a screening primarily aimed at cast and crew at 7pm on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at the Galaxy Highland 10. Kings of the Evening is set in the Deep South in the Depression era. Amid tough economic times, a group of African-American men dress in their finest and compete to be the movie title's King of the Evening.
The film has already won a batch of awards, including Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Glynn Turman, who is up for an Emmy for work on In Treatment), and Best Director at the San Diego Black Film Festival and the audience award at the San Francisco Black Film Festival. Also count Gary Bond of the Austin Film Office as a fan. He calls it a heartwarming film that deserves distribution, a stand he seldom takes about locally shot films. Distribution is something producer/director Andrew P. Jones is working feverishly to accomplish. He and his father, the novelist and retired public relations pro Robert Page Jones, crafted the story after the elder Jones read a story about a similar men's style contest in South Africa.
In true indie spirit, father and son bankrolled the film themselves and first looked at shooting in Birmingham, Ala., but the lack of a film scene nixed that idea. "We knew for a first film we needed to surround ourselves with experienced people, resources, and gear," the younger Jones said. They ended up shooting in Bartlett, a town he describes as "frozen in time. We didn't have to do much; it was perfect for us." The cast and crew were 85 to 90% local but included fashion model Tyson Beckford in the lead and such veteran actors as Lynn Whitfield (The Josephine Baker Story) and Reginald Dorsey (Return to Lonesome Dove).
And the Rest …
Look for Austin-set Roller Derby film Whip It!, written by Austin native Shauna Cross (who wrote young-adult novel Derby Girl simultaneously with the script), to shoot a few days in the actual Austin in mid-September. Most of the filming is currently taking place in Michigan, where the incentives are larger than hereabouts: 40% compared to 5% of local spend – and a local restaurant has been refashioned to look like a Texas barbecue joint with a giant foam pig on its roof. "I've never seen anyone more impassioned than [Whip It! director] Drew Barrymore about keeping it in Austin," said Bob Hudgins, head of the Texas Film Commission, of unsuccessful efforts to keep it here... Zack and Miri Make a Porno will open this year's Fantastic Fest at the Paramount Theatre on Sept. 18, with writer/director Kevin Smith in attendance for an introduction and Q&A. More details and ticket info are at www.fantasticfest.com.
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