Austin Film News
Locals at SXSW, plus RSVP for a Maybe Shower
South By Austin
SXSW programs globally, but its heart remains local, as the strong presence of Austin filmmakers show. Of course, it wouldn't be South By without the Zellners, and brothers David and Nathan ride home with their latest, offbeat historical comedy Damsel. Mumblecore pioneer Andrew Bujalski takes a glimpse at the bizarre world of breastaurants in Support the Girls, while Austin director Michael Tully (SXSW 2014's Ping Pong Summer) deals in the supernatural with our SXSW cover star Anna Margaret Hollyman in Don't Leave Home. Stepping away from the camera, Will Elliott and Kirk C. Johnson (aka shorts producers Beef & Sage) are behind the script for sex comedy The Unicorn. Meanwhile honorary Austinite Terrence Malick brings his dreamlike style to the realm of virtual reality with Together, plus one of his regular editors, A.J. Edwards (To the Wonder, Knight of Cups), follows up his 2014 directorial debut The Better Angels with Friday's Child, starring rising Elkhart native Tye Sheridan. Speaking of Sheridan, the young actor and Mud star has gone full Hollywood with the upcoming adaptation of Ready Player One, based on the novel by local author Ernest Cline (look for banners, signs, and promotions all around Austin before that release), but he's not the only local novelist with a presence during SXSW: Nine-time Austin Chronicle "Best of Austin" award winner Owen Egerton follows up his disturbing psychodrama Follow with the gore-splattered hijinks of Blood Fest, which screens as part of the Midnighters programming. Heading further afield in the Lone Star State, Yen Tan dives deep into the early days of the AIDS crisis with 1985, while fellow Dallasite Augustine Frizzell is back for the first time with Never Goin' Back (if the title sounds familiar, she originally shot the script in 2014, was unhappy with the result, re-edited it as the short "Minor Setback" which played SXSW in 2016, and then re-shot the feature version last fall). Plus, if you like your Texas films in bite-sized chunks, there are also two full programs on Texas shorts: one for adult filmmakers, and a special track dedicated to the next generation, Texas High School Shorts. And if you're watching the Midnight Shorts, raise a Dr Pepper for Austin's own Byron Brown and "The Mangina Exit."
Don't get burned out on Austin debuts, because there's another local first screening coming. Maybe Shower, the latest feature from Lex Lybrand, gets a special advance cast and crew screening on April 5 at Spider House Ballroom. Lybrand's maternity-near-miss comedy is his follow-up to his VOD success, 2016's patent law satire The Trolls. Tickets and details at www.maybeshower.com.
That Bohemian Lifestyle
Austin Film Society's legacy as an inspiration for filmmakers outside of the big production centers is to be honored in July at the 53rd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic. "Made in Texas: Tribute to Austin Film Society" will feature nine vital Texas movies, including Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi and Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess, plus Richard Linklater presenting a special screening of Slacker. KVIFF's artistic director Karel Och said AFS is "a huge inspiration to film communities around the world, and we're delighted to embrace the incredible achievement of the organization."
Sticker Shock at Fantastic Fest
Regular attendees at the Alamo Drafthouse's genre film festival winced this week when badges went on sale. Regular fan admission to the eight-day event (taking place Sept. 20-27) has jumped in price from $375 in 2017 to $520 this year, after only rising by between $20 and $26 since 2014. Festival executive director Kristen Bell explained via Facebook that "the festival has been struggling to make ends meet for a few years now" and the dramatic price hike "is truly meant to be a one-time thing to get us caught up to a more sustainable place."
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