Austin Film Festival

Disclaimer: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The 19th annual Austin Film Festival is underway, and KUT is bringing you guest blogs from fest staffers highlighting personal picks. Today, assistant programmer Bears Fonté points to films from three auteurs playing the fest. “These writer/directors draw the audience into their own world with a confidence seldom seen in seasoned veterans,” Fonté says.

If you want your mind blown, make sure you make it to “Idol is Dead”, especially on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 10:15 p.m. at the Bob Bullock's Texas Spirit Theater. Writer/director Yukihiro Kato will be in attendance, direct from Japan. In the grand tradition of “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park,” and “Spice World,” “Idol is Dead” showcases the talents of J-Pop stars Brand-new Idol Society (BiS in Japanese shorthand). A fantastical origin tale involving murder, mad scientists, and a killer soundtrack, “Idol is Dead” is full of humor, hand-to-hand combat and horror. It’s a bit bizarre, a bit sexy, and a bit disgusting. This will be its one and only U.S. theatrical screening before its release with BiS’s new CD. You can check out the trailer on the AFF website.

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The Muslims are Coming” is a documentary that follows a group of Muslim comedians as they travel through small towns in the South. Their goal is to foster a dialogue about Muslim-Americans through humor.

“We go to places like Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia … you know, places where they love 'the Muzzies,'” says comedian Negin Farsad, the film’s director and star.

Even before the jokes start, as a viewer it’s difficult not to think, “what are they doing?” Early on, Farsad stands in front of a retirement-aged crowd in a sterile church community room, starting her set by detailing what the New York City club scene is like for a Muslim woman. It’s only when the crowd breaks into laughter the audience can take a breath, as tension begins to melt through Farsad’s self-effacing charms.

In a similar manner, vignettes like “Name That Religion” – hosted in town squares by Farsad and his troupe, in a booth labeled “Ask a Muslim” –may cause viewers to cringe a little in anticipation of any controversy. Our stomachs take a rollercoaster ride through the routines.

Austin Film Festival

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The Austin Film Festival kicks off today. Over the course of the festival, KUT News is featuring guest blogs from AFF staffers pointing to festival highlights. Today, Conference Director Erin Hallagan delivers her take on the festival, which she says is like convincing mom to stop at the candy store AND ice cream parlor all in one day.”

The crossover participation of those involved in the festival and conference this year is remarkable. Panelists are presenting films; filmmakers are speaking on panels; and of course registrants do their fair share of double-dipping as well.  And that’s what it’s all about.  The blend of the overall experience and its accessible interactivity is what makes Austin Film Festival truly unique. With a platter of incredibly active screenwriters and filmmakers, there is something for everyone and plenty of room for ideas to blossom.

Here’s some events and speakers that I wouldn’t miss:

SCREENING: Eric Roth presents “The Insider”

Friday, October 19th at 8:15 p.m.

Texas Spirit Theater

PANEL: A Conversation with Eric Roth

Saturday, October 20th at 9:00 a.m.

Driskill Hotel, Ballroom

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The Austin Film Festival kicks off tomorrow, and KUT News is featuring guest blogs from AFF staffers pointing to several festival highlights. Today we hear from festival founder and Executive Director Barbara Morgan on “family” themed films at the festival. But we’re not talking CGI pandas here - these films explore the bonds of family and community in a decidedly adult way:

As the Executive Director and founder of the Austin Film Festival, I have had the joy of “discovering” many films over the last nineteen years. The excitement that emanates from the perspective of these fresh voices is what makes my job unique. Anticipating the new talent which we get to introduce to the public is the inspiration that makes my job so thrilling. One of the themes which jumped out from this year’s crop of films was the idea of “family.” Each of these films is infused with the spirit of the most elemental aspect of the human existence.  Enjoy!

Liars, Fires and Bears

Nine year-old Eve, hardened by years of neglect as a foster child, never misses an opportunity. 

Image courtesy the Austin Film Festival

The Austin Film Festival has announced the winners of its Audience Awards for the festival that wrapped up last week. 

“There is no greater reward for a filmmaker than an Audience Award, which confirms their ability to tell a good story," AFF programmers Stephen Jannise and Stephen Belyeu in a press release. "Every filmmaker is a storyteller at heart, and you can’t receive better validation than the approval of your audience."

Austin-based writer/director Jeremiah Jones won the Audience Award in the narrative feature competition. KUT News interviewed Jones before the festival. You can hear that interview below.

Photo courtesy of Austin Film Festival

Members of the Austin Film Festival community are mourning the loss of Oscar nominated production designer Polly Platt this week. She was 72.

Platt was known for her writing, producing and set design among many other things in the film industry. Some of her most notable works include the art direction for Terms of Endearment, which she was nominated for an Academy Award in 1983. She also worked on the set designs for movies like "The Last Picture Show," and "Paper Moon" as well as producing the films "Say Anything" and "Bottle Rocket."

Photo by KUT News

Aficionados of books and film will have a golden opportunity to meet authors and screenwriters at the same time throughout the year and culminating in a joint festival this fall. The Austin Film Festival (AFF) will run October 20-27 in conjunction with the Texas Book Festival (TBF) October 22-23. Barbara Morgan, Executive Director of the Austin Film Festival, says both nonprofit organizations will benefit writers in the Austin community.

Austin Music Meets Film

Oct 26, 2010
Austin filmmakers shoot on location in downtown during the making of Echotone, a film playing at this year's Austin Film Festival

The Austin Film Festival has taken over the Austin movie scene for the past week and a half.  Back in 1994, the event dubbed itself the first festival of its kind –specifically dedicated to writing for film.  17 years later, the festival attracts screenwriters, directors, editors, producers and actors from across the globe to participate in panels, premiers and script readings.  But in the ‘Live Music Capital of the World,’ where does music assert its place among filmmakers?