film

Laura Rice/KUT

With school out of session, lots of kids are filling their time with summer camps. But they’re not just playing with water balloons and eating s’mores. At the Austin Film Festival summer camp, some kids are learning how to make claymation movies.

KUT showed up on day four of the five-day camp … so we asked some kids if we could borrow their notes:

facebook.com/pages/SKUNK/501052066618739

Update: Annie Silverstein's "Skunk" won first place in the Cannes Film Festival Cinéfondation competition.

Her film was singled out from 1,631 entries coming from 457 film schools worldwide. Silverstein's win comes with a €15,000 prize – that's more than $20,000. She is also guaranteed that her first feature film will be presented at the Festival de Cannes.

Original Story (7:17 a.m.): The Cannes Film Festival is one of the world’s most prestigious. Films that screen there are often instantly propelled to a level they might otherwise never reach.

Annie Silverstein is learning all about that first hand. She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in UT's Radio-Television-Film Department in 2013. Her thesis film “Skunk” was one of 16 chosen from over 1,600 film school submissions.

Silverstein will find out today if “Skunk” will be picked as one of the top three.

Annie Silverstein stopped by KUT to talk about the journey of “Skunk.”

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout. 

CARTHAGE — On Tuesday, more than 17 years after Bernie Tiede shot 81-year-old Marjorie Nugent in the back and tucked her body under potpies in a deep freezer, a judge released him on bond, agreeing with lawyers that his life sentence should be reduced.

But his release comes with strict conditions, among them that he live in the Austin garage apartment of his moviemaking benefactor, Richard Linklater, and receive counseling for sexual abuse.

State district Judge Diane DeVasto agreed to allow Tiede's release after she heard evidence that sexual abuse he suffered as a child contributed to his crime and after a psychiatrist said Tiede would not pose a danger to society.

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.

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. 

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.

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:

Robert Voets

Austin-based writer/director Rob Thomas’s film “Veronica Mars” hits theatres this week. But South by Southwest audiences got to see it first.

The film revisits the characters Thomas created for the “Veronica Mars” TV show – which was canceled back in 2007 after three seasons. But fans demanded more. And an enormously successful Kickstarter campaign provided the budget for the much-anticipated follow up.

KUT sat down with Thomas to talk about the journey of making this film:

Lauren Logan

Austin-based writer/director Kat Candler’s star continues to rise. Her short film “Black Metal” attracted the attention of critics and her feature film “Hellion” premiered at Sundance.

“Hellion” is also screening at South by Southwest Film. It's about a father and two sons struggling to deal with a recent death and the consequences of their poor choices in reaction to it.

KUT talked with Candler about her latest film:

"The Legend of Shorty"

In a film that premieres at SXSW Film, two filmmakers set out to do what authorities could not: find Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Authorities eventually did catch up with Guzman – just last month.

But directors Angus Macqueen and Guillermo Galdos were hot on his trail in their documentary “The Legend of Shorty."

KUT talked with Macqueen and journalist Anabel Hernandez about the film, El Chapo and what they say is the real danger in Mexico.

Courtesy of Sob Noisse

Adam Minnick came to Austin from Michigan about nine years ago to work in the semiconductor field – after his photography plans did not take off.

"Buzzard" is his first step into the film world. A world he entered when an old college buddy asked him to be the director of photography in the feature film he was working on. "Buzzard" debuted at SXSW Film.

KUT talked with Minnick about the film and his unlikely path to filmmaking:

Jess Pinkham

It’s the summer of 1985 – when teenagers carried boom boxes on their shoulders and poured pop rocks into soft drinks. For Austin-based writer/director Michael Tully – that summer is also all about table tennis – or ping pong.

“Ping Pong Summer” premiered at Sundance this year – and has been picked up for theatrical release. But before it hits movie houses, it hits SXSW Film.

Michael Tully talked with KUT about his film:

Courtesy of Participant Media

The annual South by Southwest film festival kicks off in Austin today. The 10-day fest features more than 89 world premieres and a total of 133 feature films. Janet Pierson heads SXSW Film. And it’s ultimately her job to weed through the thousands of submissions to come up with the slate of film offerings.

Janet Pierson stopped by KUT to talk about this year’s lineup.

On What Makes a Good SXSW Film:

"It's a total picture that we're looking for. You know, you look for a lot of things. Original voices is a big deal, something that surprises you, something that really works - that has a depth. We look for a transformational experience. We want to be moved somehow."

Jerry Hayes, Austin Film Society

The Austin Film Society has announced its 2014 inductees into the Texas Film Hall of Fame.

The honorees will be awarded at the 14th annual Texas Film Awards kicking off the South by Southwest Film festival, for contributions that have “placed Texas on the world stage of film excellence.”

Austin actress Amber Heard will be recognized with the Rising Star Award. Ms. Heard first gained recognition for her role in the 2004 film “Friday Night Lights.” She's since gained recognition for racy roles in movies such as Machete Kills and “Paranoia,” starring opposite some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

Scott Harris

A film is holding its U.S. Premiere in Austin Monday night. It’s a documentary called “Being Ginger” and it’s all about what it’s like to be a redhead – or as they say across the pond – a “ginger.” Texas Ex – and redhead – Scott Harris directed, produced and stars in the film.

The premise of “Being Ginger” is a redhead – Harris – looking for love. Harris says he wanted to make the documentary because of some of the strange, even disturbing experiences he's had that were based solely on his hair color.

On Some of His Strange "Ginger" Experiences:

"I was walking down the street one night... and these two, random drunk girls come out of a club and they start calling me 'ginger' and sort of harass me – it's playful harassment – but it was a little harassment and I ignored it and I kept walking. And eventually they caught up to me and one of them eventually says, 'You're quite sexy for a ginger.' And I was standing there thinking, 'Is that even a compliment, what do you mean for a ginger?' And then while I was thinking about it she said, 'Do you wait to kiss me?' And I was like, yeah, sure so we kissed for about two or three seconds in the street and then she walked off with her friend going, 'I kissed a ginger, I kissed a ginger.'"

facebook.com/WorldWarZMovie

Let’s talk zombies. Can’t kill them. Can’t eat them. What are we to the living dead? 

No longer merely the province of Halloween season, nowadays zombies proliferate in American pop culture, from books to TV to film.

Dr. Michael Webber, deputy director of UT’s Energy Institute, says there’s good reason for the persistence of zombies – and it has a lot to do with how we think about power. 

Energy – or the lack thereof – is always a sign of post-apocalyptic and zombie culture. Loss of energy inevitably leads to resource wars among the apocalypse’s survivors. From “The Walking Dead” to “World War Z,” the main drive is often for fuel, water, or power.

Laura Rice, KUT News

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

Actors, writers and directors will be making their way to Central Texas over the next week for the Austin Film Festival.

The 20th annual festival will screen more than 180 films and feature more than 80 panels with industry pros.

About a dozen staffers work year-round to make it all happen. But the Austin Film Festival also relies on hundreds of volunteers. A contingent of those volunteers have been doing this for years – and donate countless hours to the fest.

Sara Ricke has been volunteering with the Austin Film Festival for the past seven years. And it’s safe to say, she loves it.

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