Writer/director Brian Helgeland, who’s best known for “L.A. Confidential” and “Mystic River,” kicks off the Austin Film Festival on Thursday with a screening of “Legend,” starring Tom Hardy in the dual roles of 1950s British gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray.
“Legend,” which also stars Paul Anderson, Christopher Eccleston, Tara Fitzgerald and Emily Browning, is scheduled to open in the United States on Nov. 20. The movie was released in Britain in September, where it has been a box-office hit, in part because of the notoriety of the Kray twins as well as curiosity about Hardy (“Mad Max: Fury Road”) playing both of the brothers. On Sept. 15, The Guardian called it “a stunning opening weekend for the gangster biopic” and said it “confirms Tom Hardy’s star power.”
Helgeland, who’ll attend Thursday’s screening, also will participate in a conversation on Friday and receive the festival’s Distinguished Screenwriter Award during luncheon ceremonies on Saturday at the Austin Club. Other honorees will be TV writer Norman Lear, actor Chris Cooper and director John Singleton.
Plenty of other movies will be showing Thursday, as well, along with numerous conference events. Here’s a look at some of the highlights:
“The Night Is Young,” 7:10 p.m., Texas Spirit Theater. Four people in L.A. are fed up with their jobs and end up at the same bar one night. Written and directed by Matt Jones and Dave Hill, who’ll be in attendance. The four stars — Matt Jones, Dave Hill, Kelen Coleman, Eloise Mumford — also will attend this world premiere.
“Shorts Program 1: Rom-Antics,” 7:10 p.m., Rollins Studio.
“Casual,” 7:30 p.m., State Theatre. Jason Reitman directs this Hulu TV comedy series about a bachelor brother and a newly divorced sister who live together and try to raise her daughter. Reitman will attend, as will series creator Zander Lehmann and actors Tommy Dewey, Michaela Watkins and Tara Lynne Barr.
“The Great Alone,” 7:30 p.m., Alamo Village. This documentary tracks the comeback story of sled dog racer Lance Mackey. Director Greg Kohs shot the film in Alaska.
“Autumn Fall,” 8 p.m., Hideout. This year’s festival has several notable European features, including this one from Norway’s Jan Vardoen. It’s a May/December romance between an aspiring playwright and a besotted actor. Vardoen will attend this North American premiere.
“3rd Street Blackout,” 9:45 p.m., Texas Spirit Theater. When a couple throws a party during the blackout during Hurricane Sandy, confusion erupts over whether one of them has been unfaithful. Negin Farsad and Jeremy Redleaf, the writers/directors, will attend the screening. They’re also the stars. If you see this one, you’ll realize that these two are quite talented, and the movie was embraced by audiences at the L.A. Film Festival earlier this year.
“Shorts Program 2: Cradle to Grave,” 9:45 p.m., Rollins Studio Theatre.
“Fallen Stars,” 10 p.m., State Theatre. Two lost souls, one a bartender and the other a socially awkward young woman, find friendship. Starring Ryan O’Nan and Michelle Ang, who’ll attend this world premiere, as will writer/director Brian Jett.
“Reparation,” 10:30 p.m., Alamo Village. A small-town farmer has forgotten three years of his past and faces much confusion when a person claiming to be from his past shows up. Writer/director Kyle Ham and writer Steve Timm will attend the screening.
The conference kicks off at noon Thursday, with opening remarks by screenwriters Shane Black (“Lethal Weapon”) and Terry Rossio (“Shrek”), in the ballroom of the Stephen F. Austin Hotel.
At 1 p.m., Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”) will be in conversation with AFF executive director Barbara Morgan in the ballroom at the Stephen F. Austin. But you’ll also have other panels going on at the same time in various rooms at the Stephen F. Austin, the Driskill and St. David’s Episcopal Church. They include “Deconstructing Animal House,” with Timothy Dowling and Daniel Petrie Jr., and the “Pixar Development Process,” with Pixar Animation executives Emily Mollenkopf and Erika Schmidt.
At 2:45 p.m., screenwriting partners Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith (“Legally Blonde”) discuss the creative process for rom-coms in the Stephen F. Austin ballroom. Also at 2:45 p.m., Andrew Kevin Walker, writer of the thriller “Se7en,” dissects the story’s journey from script to screen with moderator Christopher Boone in the ballroom of the Driskill.
The conference also features roundtables, which give attendees the chance to chat with various filmmakers and screenwriters in an intimate setting. To attend the roundtables, attendees must sign up for them from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the mezzanine of the Driskill Hotel.
About the Austin Film Festival
When: Thursday through Nov. 5
Tickets: Producers badge, $675; conference badge, $450; weekend badge, $300; Lone Star (Saturday) badge, $150. Film passes, $65. Individual tickets, $12 to $13.
Venues: Alamo Village, 2700 W. Anderson Lane; Texas Spirit Theater, 1800 N. Congress Ave.; Galaxy Highland, 6700 Middle Fiskville Road; Hideout Theatre, 617 Congress Ave.; the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive; Paramount, 713 Congress Ave.; State Theatre, 719 Congress Ave. Most conference events will be held at the Driskill, 604 Brazos St.; Harry Ransom Center, 300 W. 21st St.; the InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, 701 Congress Ave.; Omni Austin Hotel Downtown, 700 San Jacinto Blvd.; St. David’s Episcopal Church, 301 E. Eighth St.