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.

For a while in Jamie Meltzer's mesmerizing documentary Informant, I wondered whether subject Brandon Darby, the lefty activist turned FBI informer, was being played by an actor.

But no: It's Darby, and he's a handsome fellow, with haunted eyes blazing out of a bone structure to die for, and with a Montgomery Clift dimple in his chin. Staring straight into the camera, he testifies with the intense calm of a messiah or a madman, which all too often comes to the same thing. Among other things, this powerfully confused man is a study in American extremity.

CBS Films

For writer-director Maggie Carey, having the "The To Do List" in theaters nationwide is the last box she has to check off on her own To Do list.

The movie takes places in Idaho, but has roots in Austin. Carey is a graduate of UT's School of Radio, Television and Film, and the movie's script got off the ground at the Austin Film Festival in 2010. 

Here's Carey's own To Do List to make the "The To Do List," based on her interview with KUT News.

If you have a Twitter account, there's an excellent chance you already know about Sharknado, SyFy's meteorological-marine horror movie that premiered last night. When I tell you that a lot of people were tweeting about Sharknado, I'm not lying.

Not to mention ... well, you know. Possibly NPR personalities.

There’s a screening tonight in Austin for a movie you probably haven’t heard of.

It’s not part of a film festival or a private event. It's happening in prime time at the Alamo Drafthouse on Research Boulevard.

"’GrowthBusters' is an independent documentary film that brings attention to the fact that we’ve outgrown the planet and it’s time to embrace the end of growth," Director Dave Gardner said.

"GrowthBusters" is Gardner's first big documentary. As a small fish in the big pond of the movie industry, he has limited options for getting it on movie screens. So he turned to an Austin-based startup: Tugg.

Ray Harryhausen, who brought sword-fighting skeletons to the 1963 movie Jason and the Argonauts and was known as the master of stop-motion animation for his work on that and other films such as Clash of the Titans and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, has died.

Obi-Wan Kenobi lied.

When the Jedi Master said “The Force will be with you, always,” he wasn’t exactly correct. Around the country, the force get its own special day: May the 4th.

Yep, that’s right, young Padawans. Tomorrow is National Star Wars Day. And this year it falls on the first Saturday of May, which – as any devotee of pulp yarns will tell you – is another storied celebration in the pantheon of nerddom: Free Comic Book Day.

If the film "Trash Dance" has a mantra, it’s simple: Power to the people. Those people and that power, however, don’t conjure up the familiar themes of power through politics but, strangely enough, dance.

And garbage trucks. 

The film follows choreographer Allison Orr’s work with Austin Energy and Solid Waste Services to make meticulously synchronized dance routines featuring everyday utility service vehicles. So it’s power to the people, who give you power and haul your trash.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The film world is changing. That’s according to the principals behind the 16th annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, running April 16-21 here in Austin, Texas.

With more films coming out of Latin America and indigenous America, Austin audiences will have a range of films to choose from this year. Cine Las Americas includes features and shorts, documentaries and narratives, and works from emerging talents. All the films are subtitled in English.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Sebastian Junger has written bestselling books including The Perfect Storm. His documentary, "Restrepo" was nominated for an Oscar.  But none of his works was as personally powerful as the film he’ll introduce tonight at the LBJ Library.  

Tamir Kalifa, Texas Tribune

After the arrest in 2010 of Edgar Valdez Villarreal, who the authorities said was the head of a violent Mexican drug cartel, customers at Video Mexico in Austin told Eduardo Betancourt, the owner, something he should have known: The man’s life was already the subject of a low-budget movie.

Betancourt’s video-store customers are part of a legion of aficionados of Mexican narco cinema, hastily made films that are inspired by the cartels. The films usually skip theaters, going directly to home video.

It's John Wayne at his John-Waynest. In the film "The Searchers," Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, who relentlessly pursues his niece Debbie after her abduction by Comanche Indians in Texas.  The film's story is based in the life of Cynthia Ann Parker, a nine-year-old girl kidnapped by Comanches from her family's East Texas settlement in 1836. End of story, right? Wrong.

Annie Silverstein

The Sundance Film Festival gets under way today in Park City, Utah. The 10-day festival features more than 100 films by directors from around the world. Ten of those are Texas filmmakers, and Austin’s film community helped bring those films to the silver screen.

A group of local filmmakers and critics assembled in a screening room at Austin Studios last week. They were there to watch short films and clips from a full-length feature making its debut at Sundance. But it was a little hard keep track of just who did what.

City of Austin

Well-known as a place that boosts creativity, music and art, Austin is always searching for new talent and inspiration. 

Faces of Austin 2013 is calling for short-films, fiction and nonfiction alike, that reflect the "voices, faces and experiences of our city". Faces of Austin is a short-film program of the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office, which has showcased short films by local filmmakers since 2005. This year the City of Austin is inviting all Austin-area filmmakers to submit their work to Faces of Austin 2013.

Update at 9:00 a.m. ET:

Lincoln, director Stephen Spielberg's acclaimed look at the 16th president's push for the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery, has been nominated for Oscar awards in 12 categories, it was announced this morning in Hollywood. That's the most for any single film.

Life of Pi is up for 11 awards. Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook are up for eight.

Another Hollywood heartthrob could be heading to town soon. Zac Efron has joined the cast of "Parkland," a drama revolving around the John F. Kennedy assassination which is set to film in Austin.

The historical drama, which also stars UT alum Marcia Gay Harden, Texas Film Hall of Fame honoree Billy Bob Thornton and character actor Paul Giamatti, recounts events at Dallas' Parkland Hospital on the day in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was murdered. The film is co-produced by Tom Hanks.

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

The Austin Film Festival is underway, and KUT News is featuring guest blogs from festival staffers. Today we hear from Stephen Jannise, AFF film program director. “Every year when the Austin Film Festival rolls around, my passion for film pretty much overwhelms all the other interests in my life,” Jannise says. “That's why I'm so excited that we are presenting several films related to sports and fine arts, two of my ’second loves.’"

GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling – The year is 1986, and Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) is about to burst onto the scene as the first ever all-female wrestling show on television. GLOW was a prime-time wrestling series, complete with elaborate costumes, skits, personalized raps, and, most importantly, incredible characters like Mountain Fiji, the Samoan giant with a heart of gold, and Matilda the Hun, the evil German with a taste for raw meat, battling it out for the GLOW crown. By 1989, the GLOW girls were an international phenomenon, attracting over seven million viewers worldwide, touring the nation, and making big bank for the show's producers. One year later, GLOW was gone. This remarkably well-researched documentary chronicles the rise and fall of this once-successful television show through the stories of those who lived it. Playing Sunday, Oct. 21, 3:45 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz.

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