AFF on the radio, AICN on TV, and other local screen highlights by Marjorie Baumgarten
The ninth season of the Austin Film Society's annual series Children of Abraham/Ibrahim: Films of the Diaspora began last week. The six-film program showcases movies that address the following questions: "What new experiences await refugees or emigres from war-torn regions of the Middle East and North Africa? Why do people leave their homeland?" Amreeka, the multi-award-winning film about a Palestinian mother and son's move to Indiana, which screens tonight (Feb. 19), will have the writer/director Cherien Dabis in attendance. Another highlight is biting dramedy My Son the Fanatic, which tells a mischievous story about the growth of homegrown fundamentalism, and features a screenplay by Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Laundrette) and stars Om Puri, Rachel Griffiths, and Stellan Skarsgåard. See www.austinfilm.org for the complete lineup and ticket info. The series runs through April 2, with a break during SXSW. Other upcoming events sponsored by AFS include another edition of the Sepia Screen on Sunday, Feb. 22, a two-night hosting of features from the touring show Sundance Film Forward on Feb. 23-24, and a return visit from the video alchemists at Everything Is Terrible! with a new live show and greatest-hits film Legends, which presents highlights from the group's first seven years of work.
The Austin Film Festival branched out into radio this week now that the festival's podcast and TV show On Story has received a Lone Star Emmy award. The show airs locally on KLRU-Q and PBS affiliates across the nation. Airing on KUT 90.5 at 9pm on the third Monday of each month, the show features material about storytelling gleaned from 21 years of archived footage from the annual Festival and Screenwriters Conference. The current schedule will include such participants as Paul Thomas Anderson, Judd Apatow, Shane Black, Jonathan Demme, Jay and Mark Duplass, Paul Feig, Cary Fukunaga, Vince Gilligan, Buck Henry, Ron Howard, David Milch, Jeff Nichols, Sydney Pollack, Harold Ramis, John Ridley, Matthew Weiner, and Larry Wilmore.
Also jumping media formats is Harry Knowles' popular Ain't It Cool website, which is producing a TV show called Ain't It Cool With Harry Knowles. The show airs on KLRU-Q as part of its Saturday-night programming block Q Night at the Movies, which also features AFF's On Story. Hosted by the Head Geek Harry Knowles, the season's guests include Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, Burt Reynolds, Wes Craven, noted film historian and critic Leonard Maltin, and more.
Meanwhile, Knowles' pal Robert Rodriguez has his own cable TV network El Rey, which just celebrated its first anniversary on the air. The network features original series such as Lucha Underground and Matador, classics like Miami Vice and X-Files, and feature films in the grindhouse, action, horror/sci-fi, and cult classic modes. The station has established itself as the place to turn whether you want to catch up on Hong Kong martial arts films from the Shaw Brothers or original series like Director's Chair in which Rodriguez conducts interviews with guests like Guillermo del Toro, Quentin Tarantino, and the upcoming episode with Francis Ford Coppola, which premieres on March 2, followed by Coppola's film The Conversation.
More upcoming screenings of note include Experimental Response Cinema's presentation of Chantal Akerman's feminist, arthouse classic Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles on March 4 at the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz. Jason Cortlund, director of Now, Forager, will introduce the legendary film. Streaming for free online is the locally made comedy Wet Brownies by Chris Gilman, Will Kempner, and Jeff Marks. Look for the link on the film's Facebook page. Over at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (www.texasarchive.org), the organization is streaming digitized 16mm footage that was recently discovered in Amarillo of the third Selma demonstration, which is part of the national zeitgeist as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of that fight to secure voting rights. Also be on the lookout for ABC's new series American Crime, beginning on Thursday, March 5. Filmed in Austin and starring Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton, the show was created by John Ridley, the Oscar-winning writer of the screenplay for 12 Years a Slave.
IFC will present the Independent Spirit Awards live on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 4pm. In addition to the usual nominations for Boyhood, including Richard Linklater for Best Director and Sandra Adair for Best Editing, David Zellner is also a nominee for Best Director for Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, which he made with his brother Nathan, and is due to open in Austin in late March. Producer Chris Ohlson (previously profiled in "One of the Good Guys," Jan. 9) was previously announced as the winner of the Piaget Producers Award – which comes with a $25,00 unrestricted grant. Sunday, of course, brings the Academy Awards live on ABC beginning at 6pm. Locally, the Texas Film Awards are set to take place at Austin Studios on March 12.