Life & Arts

SXSW 2014
11:48 am
Sun March 9, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: A Slacker Scam Artist Goes Too Far in 'Buzzard'

"Buzzard" features a character who feels at home in a devil mask.
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:

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SXSW 2014
3:58 pm
Sat March 8, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: The Summer of 1985 is Alive in 'Ping Pong Summer'

Susan Sarandon plays a "Miyagi-like" character in "Ping Pong Summer" – à la "Karate Kid."
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:

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SXSW 2014
10:03 am
Fri March 7, 2014

SXSW Film Preview: Trends, Ones to Watch And Avoiding Long Lines

Latham Smith, a tugboat captain who works for the oil industry, is featured in "The Great Invisible."
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."

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Life & Arts
7:05 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Prodigies or Not: Menuhin Competition Inspires Young Austin Musicians

Parent Daniella Sideh says she finds music is a place where she can bond with her children and understand how they learn.
Laura Rice, KUT News

The best young violin players in the world are in Austin right now for the Menuhin Competition. It’s the first time the prestigious contest featuring players under 22 years old has been held in North America.

UT’s Butler School of Music is hosting the 10-day competition. And it’s a rare opportunity for aspiring young string players in the area to see what’s possible with a lot of hard work.

“It’s considered the Olympics of the violin. It’s also called the F1 of the violin," Butler School of Music Interim Director Glenn Richter says. “We’re getting an international and a national exposure and flair that is very special for Austin.”

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Education
10:44 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Interview: The UT Art History Professor Who Got An Apology From Pres. Obama

President Barack Obama flashes the "Hook Em" sign during a UT appearance in 2010. President Obama apologized to a UT art history professor who took umbrage with the president's remarks about art history majors.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

President Barack Obama wrote a hand-written apology to a University of Texas art history professor this week.

Ann Johns, a senior lecturer at UT-Austin's Department of Art and Art History, complained via the White House website about the president's remarks in a speech at a Wisconsin factory last month. As CNN notes, stumping for education initiatives, President Obama said "You folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree."

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Special Coverage
1:03 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Gone to Ghana: Answering Your Questions

The American journalists visiting Ghana are (left to right) Zoe Fox with Mashable, KUT's Laura Rice and Gwendolyn Glenn with WYPR. Vivian Affoah (far right) is with the Ghana-based host organization Media Foundation for West Africa.
Radio XYZ

My two-week visit to Ghana has come to an end. I was in the West African country with a program through the U.S. State Department and the International Center for Journalists.

The exchange program brought journalists from Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya to the U.S. Then, a group of American journalists is visited those African countries. I'm grateful I was chosen to visit Ghana and in my short time there I learned much about the people and culture.

Along the way, I invited you to send me questions about things you'd like to know about Ghana. Here are the answers to a few of your questions:

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Life & Arts
6:00 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Austin PBS Series Showcases Texas, 'One Square Mile' at a Time

The Austin city limits sign on Highway 71. Austin is one of nine cities profiled in “One Square Mile: Texas,” a new series from KLRU Austin PBS.
One Square Mile: Texas

What does Texas look like one square mile at a time? That’s the question producers of a new series airing on PBS stations across the state are asking.

Texas is made up of more than 268,000 square miles. A new series produced by KLRU Austin PBS, “One Square Mile: Texas,” focuses on just nine of them – from the Texas Panhandle to the Gulf Coast and several places in between, including Austin.

The 26-minute documentaries follow eight to 10 people in each place: teachers, police officers, pastors and artists. And it does so with the requirement they all live or work within one square mile of each other.

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Life & Arts
4:39 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Gilligan's 'The Professor' Has Died; Russell Johnson Was 89

Actor Russell Johnson, the Professor on Gilligan's Island, has died at age 89. He's seen here at far left seated next to Bob Denver, along with fellow cast members from left, Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Tina Louise, Alan Hale Jr., and Dawn Wells.
CBS /Landov

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 7:09 pm

Russell Johnson, the actor whose job it was to be the voice of reason and calm on an island of shipwrecked ninnies, has died at age 89, according to reports. Johnson's role as the Professor on the 1960s comedy Gilligan's Island endeared him to audiences who watched him build radios and generators from things like coconuts and palm branches.

Johnson reportedly died of natural causes today at his home in Bainbridge Island, Wash.

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Life & Arts
6:00 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Interview: Redhead Looking For Love And Confronting Past Bullying in New Film

Scott Harris discussing his romantic pursuits in a still shot from his film "Being Ginger."
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.'"

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Life & Arts
6:32 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Interview: Austin Teen Poet Shares His Award-Winning Words

Louis Lafair, 18, is one of just five National Student Poets.
Laura Rice, KUT News

Poetry. To some, it may seem like a method of expression reserved for Valentine’s Day. But at least one Austin high schooler isn’t rolling his eyes about it.

Louis Lafair is a 2013 National Student Poet. The St. Stephen’s Episcopal School senior was honored for his work along with just four other teens from across the country. He'll now serve as a literary ambassador for the southwest region for the next year.

The award is presented by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. Lafair met First Lady Michelle Obama at the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Lafair talked with KUT's Laura Rice about the honor:

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Austin Film Festival
10:02 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Immigration Theme Gets Strong Role in Austin Film Festival

"With '120 Days', I'm trying to challenge people to take a moment at the end of the documentary…and open their mind and heart and try to understand the immigrants perspective.", says Ted Roach.
120daysmovie.com

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

Although it's featured through different film genres, the topic of immigration has a solid presence in the lineup of this year's Austin Film Festival. 

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Austin Film Festival Interview
12:27 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

At Austin Film Festival: 'Heaven' a Harrowing Look at Sex Trafficking

Ya'Ke Smith believes there room for his films as well as those made by filmmakers such as Tyler Perry.
Derrick Terrell Williams

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

There are plenty of funny and flashy films at this year's Austin Film Festival but also many that deal with what you might call "big issues."

A documentary about abortion was honored at the festival. Other documentaries track issues like immigration, obesity and a Jewish person converting to Islam. Some narrative films are also highlighting "big issues."

Ya'Ke Smith is the writer of the upcoming film "Heaven." It's a follow-up to Smith's critically-praised film "Wolf." It's part of a trilogy dealing with children and sexuality. "Wolf" is about a child who is molested by his pastor. "Heaven" is about a young woman who is manipulated into sex trafficking.

KUT's Laura Rice talked with Smith before a cast reading of that script on Wednesday.

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Austin Film Festival
8:54 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Slideshow: Famous Faces at the 20th Annual Austin Film Festival (Update)

Actor Paul Sorvino on the red carpet for the Texas premiere of "Last I Heard."
Jorge Corona for KUT

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

The Austin Film Festival is underway. Many famous actors and filmmakers are in town for the event.

Update: If actor Paul Sorvino looks like a mobster to you, there's good reason. He's played those types of roles in movies such as "Goodfellas" and "Romeo + Juliet."

Sorvino was in Austin for the Texas Premiere of "Last I Heard." In the new film, he plays another mafia-type. But this story follows his exit from prison and his entrance back into modern life and into the lives of family and friends.

Update (Oct. 29, 7:20 a.m.): The new film by Joel & Ethan Coen had its Texas Premiere last night at the Austin Film Festival. The star of "Inside Llewyn Davis" – Oscar Isaac – was on hand to walk the red carpet. Music producer T-Bone Burnett also walked the red carpet outside of the Paramount Theatre. He's won multiple Grammy and Academy Awards for his work.

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Austin Film Festival Interview
11:11 am
Tue October 29, 2013

MacGruber No More? Will Forte Takes Dramatic Turn in 'Nebraska'

Forte on the red carpet for the Texas Premiere of "Nebraska" at the Austin Film Festival.
Jorge Corona for KUT News

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

Will Forte of Saturday Night Live fame is probably best known for his character and film "MacGruber" – a mullet-sporting, inept version of MacGyver.

But the comedian takes on a serious role in “Nebraska” – a black and white film from director Alexander Payne about a father-son road trip. Forte is David Grant – a stereo salesman from Montana with a lackluster love life and a rocky relationship with his family.

Forte’s Grant is not only the straight-man through much of the movie but, in many scenes, seems to be the only sane-man.

KUT's Laura Rice talked with Forte before the movie's Texas Premiere at the Austin Film Festival.

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Austin Film Festival
7:24 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Interview: Susan Sarandon on Her Career, Family and New Phase of Life

Sarandon shared a picture of herself at Austin's Mexic-Arte Museum.
@SusanSarandon

Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon has a storied career of longer than four decades. She was in Austin this weekend to receive yet another accolade.

The Austin Film Festival honored Sarandon for her “extraordinary contribution to filmmaking.”

KUT’s Laura Rice talked with Sarandon shortly after she accepted her award.

On Being Honored for Her Overall Achievements:

"I would like it to be a mid-life achievement award because I get nervous getting on a plane after a life achievement award."

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Austin Film Festival
7:35 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Hundreds of Volunteers Take a Starring Role at the Austin Film Festival

Adolfo Bernal puts his computer skills to work in registration for the Austin Film Festival.
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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Austin Film Fest
1:06 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Austin Film Festival 20th Anniversary Lineup Features More Premieres Than Ever

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in "12 Years a Slave," one of this year's Austin Film Festival features.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Austin Film Festival has released the full lineup of films slated for this year's event. AFF says this 20th anniversary lineup features more world and U.S. premieres than ever before in the festival's history.

At the top of the lineup is "Inside Llewyn Davis." The new film by Joel and Ethan Coen won the Grand Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It stars Oscar Isaac as the title character. Isaac will be in Austin for the festival. Academy and Grammy Award-winning music producer T-Bone Burnett will also be in attendance.

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Best of Austin
11:04 am
Thu September 12, 2013

The Austin Chronicle's 2013 'Best Of' Issue is On Newsstands Now

Master falconer Steve Oleson graces the cover of the Austin Chronicle’s “Best of Austin” issue this year.
KUT News

The Austin Chronicle’s 24th annual Best of Austin issue is on newsstands and online right now.

Senior Chronicle editor Kate Messer has overseen 19 of the paper’s Best of Austin issues. She stopped by the KUT studios to talk about this year’s issue: changes, surprises and the issue’s role in a growing Austin. 

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Texas Book Festival
7:38 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Best Selling Authors Top 2013 Texas Book Festival Lineup

Poster Art by Randal Ford Photography. It was taken for the book "The Amazing Faith of Texas."
Texas Book Festival

The Texas Book Festival has revealed its 2013 lineup. Headliners include three writers who currently sit on the New York Times best seller list: Reza Aslan (Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth), Mark Leibovich (This Town), and Scott Anderson (Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East).

Other big names include:

  • Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson – Unflinching Courage: Pioneering Women Who Shaped Texas
  • Lawrence Wright – Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
  • R.L. Stine – A Midsummer Night's Scream
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