Laura Rice

Producer, Morning Edition

Laura joined the KUT team in April 2012. She works with Jennifer Stayton each weekday morning to bring you the latest local news during Morning Edition, hosts the noon newscast and reports for on-air and online. You'll also hear Laura with the morning news headlines on KUTX and filling in for Jennifer during the morning drive-time. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.

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Cine Las Americas

Update: Today Cine Las Americas announced the award winners for the 17th Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. The grand jury awards went to:

  • Best Narrative Feature: MATEO, Dir. María Gamboa, Colombia/France
  • Best Documentary Feature: ROQUE DALTON, ¡FUSILEMOS LA NOCHE! (Roque Dalton, Let's Shoot the Night!), Dir. Tina Leish, Austria/El Salvador/Cuba
  • Best Narrative Short: PADRE (Father), Dir. Santiago 'Bou' Grasso, Argentina/France
  • Best Documentary Short: TRAZOS EN LA CUMBRE (Drawing on the Heights), Dir. Alejandro Victorero, Carlos Alejandro Molina, Venezuela

There's details on other winners and the audience awards on the Cine Las Americas website.

Original Story (April 22, 2014): The 17th Cine Las Americas film festival gets underway today.

The nearly week-long fest focuses on films by or about Latinos, indigenous peoples of the Americas and those from Spain and Portugal. They’re films you probably won’t see making the rounds later on in theaters.

KUT sat down with the festival’s Executive Director – Eugenio del Bosque to learn more.

Sam Ortega for KUT News

How is Mack Brown spending his free time theses days? Check out his Twitter page for an update.

At a charity event for his Mack Jack and McConaughey foundation, joined by county musician Jack Ingram and Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, the former UT-Austin head football coach admitted he's enjoying some of the free time and freedom that comes with no longer coaching the Longhorns. And Twitter is a big part of that.

flickr.com/ldcross

Early voting starts today for the May 10 municipal elections in cities across Central Texas.

Voters in Bee Cave, Manor, New Braunfels, Round Rock and West Lake Hills are choosing mayors and city council members. Several school districts are also holding bond elections. 

Early voting continues through Tuesday, May 6. Election Day for the municipal elections is Saturday, May 10. A valid photo identification is required to vote in person.

Elizabeth Chatelain

It has been a good several months for the University of Texas at Austin's Radio-Television-Film Department. Recent graduate Brian Schwarz won a Student Academy Award for his short film "Ol' Daddy," Texas Ex Elizabeth Chatelain won a prestigious documentary award for "My Sister Sarah" (story below) and now Annie Silverstein is going to Cannes with her thesis film "Skunk."

"My Sister Sarah" and "Skunk" are among the short films chosen to be highlighted in this year's Longhorn Denius Film Showcase – which features work by graduate and undergraduate students.

The showcase is free and open to the public. It starts at 6 p.m. at the Student Activity Center Auditorium on the UT campus.

Original Story (March 3, 2014): Elizabeth Chatelain graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Master’s degree from the Radio-Television-Film Department last May. In December, she won an International Documentary Association Award for her short film – "My Sister, Sarah."

The documentary follows Chatelain’s sister – Sarah – a recovering meth and crack addict who has felt true pain and tragedy. 

Laura Rice, KUT News

Three of Austin’s most famous residents kicked off an effort last night to raise money for charities that help young people.

Former UT-Austin Head Football Coach Mack Brown, county musician Jack Ingram and Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey make up “Mack Jack and McConaughey" – or MJ&M.

The trio’s inaugural fundraising campaign in 2013 raised more than $1 million.

"We thought this would be a home run," Mack Brown said. "Because when you get Jack Ingram and Sheryl Crow and when you get Matthew McConaughey to come in, it's special. And it's all for kids."

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Most Austin area school districts are closed today for the Good Friday holiday. But some students will be attending class.

That’s because they’re making up days off for bad weather earlier in the school year.

DO have school:

  • Burnet ISD will have regular school hours today.
  • Del Valle ISD is holding classes today.
  • Dripping Springs ISD is holding classes today and on Memorial Day to make up for canceled classes.
  • Eanes ISD is holding classes today. The rest of the school year will continue as planned.
  • Lockhart ISD will hold regular school hours today and on Memorial Day.
  • Manor ISD is holding classes today as a make-up. There will not be classes on Memorial Day.
  • Texas School for the Deaf will have regular school hours today.
  • Wimberley ISD is also holding classes this Good Friday.

DO NOT have school:

  • Austin ISD is off today. AISD has no make-up days scheduled for the rest of the school year.
Kim Schlechter

Seth Boustead started the Sound of Silent Film Festival in Chicago almost 10 years ago. It features newly composed music performed live to modern silent films.

Think about that: newly composed music to modern silent films.

Boustead is in Austin for a one-day event featuring this concept. He sat down with KUT to explain what it's all about.

President Barack Obama is speaking this afternoon at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin.

The summit, gathering four U.S Presidents and dozens of other speakers, marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act.

Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

President Barack Obama will be in Austin today to give the keynote address at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Library. The event is marking the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

How to Hear Obama's Address:

While it is not possible to get into the auditorium to see the President’s address unless you already have a ticket – there is an opportunity to see some of the other summit panels.

A standby line will begin forming at 1:30 p.m. on the east side of Sid Richardson Hall – next to the LBJ Library. Open seats for the panels starting at 2, 3 and 4 o’clock will be filled with people from the standby line.

KUT 90.5 will air Obama’s address at the Civil Rights Summit live starting around 11:30 a.m. This is made possible with a partnership with the Longhorn Network. UT will also stream the address online at KUT.org.

twitter.com/AustinWater

Update: Some lanes remain closed on 2222 Thursday morning after a water main break Wednesday caused part of the roadway to collapse.

Eastbound 2222 is closed between Parkcrest Drive and Balcones. The westbound lanes are open – and traffic on Balcones is open.

Update (April 9, 12:13 p.m.): Austin Water crews are still working to determine the cause and location of the break. Once that is done they can determine some sort of timeline for when repairs will take place, says Austin Water's Jason Hill.

"We brought the water pressure down, so there are a number of customers with low pressure or without water – not a lot at this particular point," Hill says. "Once we get to where the break is we’ll have a better idea of what needs to happen and how many people will actually be shut out during the repair."

Former President Jimmy Carter is in Austin today as part of the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum. The event marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act.

Laura Rice, KUT News

It’s becoming more common for kids at school to share a classroom – or a lunchroom – with a student with food allergies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says as many as one in 15 kids in the U.S. have food allergies – and those numbers appear to be on the rise.

The issue is a serious one because kids can become very sick or die from exposure to certain foods. But kids also may feel isolated or be bullied because of the precautions they have to take.

Some local schools and parents are taking a unique route towards promoting awareness and acceptance.

U.S. Army, flickr.com/soldiersmediacenter

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are expected to attend a memorial service Wednesday to honor the three soldiers killed in last week’s shooting at Fort Hood.

Obama visited Fort Hood in November 2009 under similar circumstances following the shooting by Maj. Nidal Hasan that left 13 dead and 32 wounded. Hasan was convicted in August 2012 of those killings and was sentenced to death.

The Obamas were already planning to travel to Texas this week. On Thursday, the President will speak at the LBJ Presidential Library’s Civil Rights Summit to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

Fort Hood Public Affairs

Fort Hood officials are releasing more information about the three soldiers killed in a shooting at the post on Wednesday.

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Michael Ferguson, 39, was from Mulberry, Florida. He had been in active-duty military service since 1993 and worked in transportation.

Ferguson served two tours in Kuwait and one each in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Carlos A. Lazaney-Rodriguez, 38, was from Puerto Rico. He entered active-duty service in 1995 and worked with the medical teams.

Photo released by Blanco Police Department

Update: An Amber Alert for a 15-year-old Blanco girl has been canceled. Blanco Police say Sianna Gholson was found safe.

Gholson was believed abducted Tuesday morning from Blanco High School.

But, again, she’s now been found and is safe.

Original Story (April 1, 5:53 p.m.): Authorities issued an Amber Alert Tuesday for a 15-year-old girl believed abducted from Blanco High School in Blanco, Texas at about 7:45 Tuesday morning.

KUT News

This week, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Northwestern University athletes can legally form a union.

Here in Austin, UT Law professor Dr. Lucas Powe sees it as a change that can be expected for elsewhere.

Martin Scali

Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is now in theaters across the country.

A South by Southwest audience got a sneak peek last week. The highly-stylized filmmaker himself even made a trip to Austin for the screening and an extended Q&A. That's something SXSW Film Head Janet Pierson said she'd been trying to make happen for about a decade. 

FORMAX Group

If there’s one thing Austinites love – it’s hearing people talk about how great Austin is. The film “The Road to Austin” features a lot of that. It premiered at South by Southwest Film.

"The Road to Austin" is part documentary, part concert and features a lot of well-known voices – from Kris Kristofferson and Joe Ely to a couple of KUTX DJs – all talking about what makes the Austin music scene so special and how it became the live music capital of the world.   

KUT talked with "The Road to Austin" producer/director Gary Fortin:

Jack Zeman

Writer/Director Riley Stearns grew up in Pflugerville – but has been making his living in L.A. He says bringing the movie to SXSW Film for its World Premiere is like a homecoming.

“Faults" follows a cult deprogrammer who is hired by some parents to kidnap and de-program their brainwashed daughter. But as the film progresses, the cult deprogrammer – and the audience – start to question who is really the most negative influence.

KUT talked with Stearns about his film:

Courtesy "Thank You A Lot"

In Austin, it seems like everyone's a musician and there’s live music every night. But between that dynamic of stage and crowd, there’s a cast of characters: including band managers, doormen and promoters.

The film “Thank You A Lot” premiered at SXSW Film. It explores some of these characters – particularly a father-son pair caught in the middle of all the bustle.

KUT sat down with Austin-based writer/director Matt Muir:

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