Linklater doc getting good reviews at Sundance


The early reviews for “Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny” are coming in … and they’re good.

The movie, directed by Louis Black of the Austin Chronicle and Karen Bernstein, had its premiere on Tuesday at the Sundance Film Festival, and the venue couldn’t have been more appropriate. Sundance was the setting for the premiere of Linklater’s classic “Slacker” in 1991.

The Hollywood Reporter called it “one of the most enriching and enjoyable docs about a filmmaker in recent memory,” saying that it “reveals the peculiar pairing of modesty with artistic ambition that has allowed the director to thrive in an industry that doesn’t cotton to his sort of artist.”

The Guardian of Great Britain points out that with “the success of ‘Boyhood,’ it’s easy to forget that before that marathon 12-year project hit screens at Sundance in 2014, Linklater was out of vogue. Those wilderness years are one of the most fascinating elements” of the film.

Austinites will get to see the movie when it screens at the upcoming South by Southwest Film Festival and Conference in March. It’ll also play on PBS.

‘Cactus Jack’ Garner doc to air on KLRU Thursday



The Briscoe Center’s new documentary “Cactus Jack: Lone Star on Capitol Hill” will have its debut on KLRU TV at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, with other airings possible in the following weeks.

It’s the sage of John Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner, the Texan who rose from humble beginnings to become Speaker of the House as well as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vice presidential running mate in 1932.

The Texan from Blossom Prairie was on Capitol Hill for 38 years.

The new documentary was made possible by funding from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Austin center’s Briscoe Endowment.

Garner was “one of the most powerful but overlooked men to ever emerge from Texas,” says Bill Minutaglio, who teaches at the UT School of Journalism and wrote the film. Nancy Schiesari of UT’s RTF Department directed the film, which was produced by Hans-Martin Liebing and edited by Rebecca Adams and Anne Lewis.

“The documentary greatly complements the education mission of UT Austin’s Briscoe Center,” says Don Carleton, the center’s director. “We have had screenings at the Briscoe-Garner Museum and on campus, and we will eventually make it available to schools and colleges. Now it is being broadcast across the country on PBS stations.”



Austin’s 2016 Oscar nominee: Don Hertzfeldt


Austin-based filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt is an Oscar nominee for the animated short “World of Tomorrow.”

Joe Gross wrote this about his movie earlier this year:

Austin animator Don Hertzfeldt’s phenomenal sci-fi short film “World of Tomorrow” is now available for rental on Vimeo.

The winner of the grand jury prize at Sundance, best animated short at SXSW, best animated short at the Omaha Film Festival, an audience award at Glasgow Short Film Festival and special jury mention at the Regard Short Film Festival, “World of Tomorrow” is a 16-minute wonder about a little girl named Emily.

Played by Hetzfeldt’s then-4-year-old niece Winona, Emily receives a very special message from a relative who takes her on a tour of our world several hundred years later. (“You cannot direct a four year old,” Hertzfeldt wrote in an essay about the movie on his website “You cannot even expect a four year old to recite lines back at you. You just sort of have to let the four year old happen.”)

British animator Julia Pott, in her first acting role, plays the other character, also named Emily.

Hertzfeldt’s animated films include “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” “The Meaning of Life,” “Billy’s Balloon” and “Rejected.”

“Beautiful Day,” his first feature film, made it on to a mess of 2012 year-end lists.


Ethan Hawke joins AFS for special screening of “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” chat with Linklater

AWAAQAHQ-P604101On  Feb. 17, Austin Film Society will present a special screening of “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” Sidney Lumet’s final feature film starring Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman, complete with a conversation with Hawke about the making of the film, and collaborating with Lumet and Hoffman.

The following evening, Hawke will be the featured guest at an AFS Artist Spotlight, where he will participate in a live, on-stage conversation about his life and work with AFS Artistic Director and Founder Richard Linklater, Hawke’s long-time creative collaborator.

Hawke is the star of Linklater’s “Before” trilogy, “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset,” and “Before Midnight,” considered by many to be both some of the most romantic and realistic-about-marriage films of their era.

Hawke is also the star of the extraordinary “Boyhood” and has appeared in other Linklater films such as “The Newton Boys” and “Waking Life.”

Both Linklater and Hawke will participate in a private reception Feb. 18. A very limited number of tickets are on sale for the reception and can be purchased by contacting AFS Director of Relationships and Revenue, Lauren Alexander-Labahn at Tickets are $275 for the public and $250 for AFS Members.

Tickets to the  screening are $25 public / $15 for AFS Members. Tickets for the AFS Artist Spotlight are $40 General Public / $30 for AFS Members. Tickets for both are $60 for the public and $40 for AFS members. All are on sale now at Ticket packages are on sale here.

Silverstein, McAllister going to Sundance Lab

“Skunk” writer/director Annie Silverstein. Credit: Courtesy of Annie Silverstein

“Bull,” a new screenplay by Austin’s Annie Silverstein and Johnny McAllister, is among 12 projects selected for the 2016 January Screenwriters Lab, a five-day workshop at the Sundance Resort in Utah, on Jan. 15 through 20.

At the lab, Silverstein and McAllister will work with advisers led by Artistic Director Kasi Lemmons, including Paul Attanasio, Marcos Bernstein, Thomas Bidegain, Naomi Foner, John Gatins, Michael Goldenberg, Susannah Grant, Erik Jendresen, Walter Mosley, Jennifer Salt, Susan Shilliday, Zach Sklar, Dana Stevens, Joan Tewkesbury, Audrey Wells, Bill Wheeler and Tyger Williams.

Sundance describes “Bull” as follows: “In a near-abandoned subdivision west of Houston, a wayward teen runs headlong into her equally willful and unforgiving neighbor, an aging bullfighter who’s seen his best days in the arena; it’s a collision that will change them both.”

Silverstein wrote and directed “Skunk,” which won the jury award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival–Cinéfondation. She’s also a recipient of the San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Foundation Grant for developing her first fiction feature.

McAllister is a filmmaker and writer based in Austin, Texas. He co-wrote and produced “Booger Red” with director Berndt Mader and executive producer David Gordon Green.

Austin’s Monique Walton is producing “Bull.”

Austin Film Festival 2015: ‘The teller and the Truth’ is multi-layered meditation

A scene from "The Teller and the Truth"
A scene from “The Teller and the Truth”

The following was written by Wes Eichenwald, special to the American-Statesman

If you’re a fan of movies that blur distinctions between fiction and reality, “The Teller and the Truth,” a Texas-centric mockumentary from director/writer and Austinite Andrew Shapter, is for you. And even if you’re not, this beautifully realized meditation on life and loss may end up winning you over.

The movie is based – although very loosely, it must be said – on some actual events that went down in Smithville, Texas, some four decades ago. In the film’s version of things, in December of 1974 a local bank is robbed. Two weeks later Francis Wetherbee, a beautiful young teller engaged to the bank’s president, disappears. Her car is soon found in a nearby river, but Francis herself has vanished. Do those two events have a connection? Years pass before someone starts to put two and two together.

Shapter – who went through much, including lengthy chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer, over a six-year journey to make the film – has produced an unusual cross between “The Blair Witch Project” and “Twin Peaks,” with a small-town Texas accent. Using amateur performers along with professional actors, Shapter gets the weirdness of everyday life down cold as he chases the story of what really happened to Francis and her possible lover/co-conspirator, Oliver Pearce, a Vietnam vet with a shady past who worked as a projectionist at the local movie theater, and who disappears at the same time as Francis.

Starting off in the style of a true-crime documentary/procedural examining a cold-case file, the film slowly shifts into something else entirely as it gets closer to the principals and their motives – whether real or imagined. Friends, coworkers and acquaintances of Francis and Oliver, along with an FBI agent and local law enforcement officials, all get their say. In its languid yet involving manner – helped along in no small degree by the ethereal tension of Carl Thiel’s score – “The Teller and the Truth” eventually comes to resemble the dreams and fantasies woven by people who have had someone close to them go missing, just vanished, and are left to wonder, for the remainder of their lives, what became of them. Eventually, we hear from Francis – or the dream of Francis – herself.

The story veers far afield from Texas before coming back to where it all began. In the end, it’s a love story – or more precisely, a story about love and loss of all kinds.

Factually speaking, don’t take any of it to the bank, as it were, but “The Teller and the Truth” has a lot to say about the fascination with people – especially young women – who go missing in, to quote the film, “the bloom of life.” Whether what it tells us is truth, fiction, wishful thinking, or a mixture of all three, “The Teller and the Truth” ends up raising more questions than it answers. That’s not a bad thing.

“The Teller and the Truth” had its premiere Sunday at the Austin Film Festival.


Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez to make another film for $7,000

Robert Rodriguez sat down with the nerds behind the Nerdist Podcast this week to discuss the upcoming premiere of season two of “From Dusk Till Dawn.”

Texas Film Awards Honoree Robert Rodriguez walks the red carpet held at Austin Studios on March 12, 2015. Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro
Texas Film Awards Honoree Robert Rodriguez walks the red carpet held at Austin Studios on March 12, 2015. Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro

The Austin filmmaker also announced that to mark the 25th anniversary of “El Mariachi,” which he has repeatedly credited as the film that first got him noticed, he will be making another film with the same budget as that film: $7,000.

“El Mariachi,” which Rodriguez made in 1992, won the then little-known filmmaker a two-year deal with Columbia Pictures and an audience prize at Sundance.

“I’ll have no crew; I’ll just use friends — I’ve got some pretty cool friends I can put in front of the camera — but still no crew, no money,” said Rodriguez, who has more than enough “cool friends” (George Clooney, Selma Hayek, Quentin Tarantino just to name a few).

The filmmaker also said the he will have a documentary crew to chronicle the process and show how to make a $7,000 film in 2015.

“When I made ‘Mariachi’ out of my apartment and sold it, I wanted to go tell everybody that it was possible because I would have wanted to know that,” Rodriguez said during the podcast interview.

“I know how many other people thought the same thing: ‘Oh I’m very creative and I have a talent for this sort of thing — but I don’t live in the right city, that I don’t know the right people — so I shouldn’t even dream about that.”

Rodriguez, hailed by Nerdist as being one of the “brightest, shiniest examples of a creator,” is known for making it on his own as a do-everything-yourself filmmaker.

The Austin director expressed gratitude to fellow filmmaker George Lucas (heard of him?) for telling him to “stay in Austin” and pursue film making outside of Hollywood.

Rodriguez also told Nerdist that his Austin-based television network, El Rey, is the “most gratifying thing” in his career so far because of how it shines a light on up-and-coming, out-of-the-Hollywood-box filmmakers.

For more from Rodriguez, look in Sunday’s paper for Austin360’s Dale Roe’s interview with the filmmaker on season two of El Rey’s “From Dusk Till Dawn.”

Bradley Jackson talks “Balls Out”

Would you like to see a movie called “Balls Out” — starring Jake Lacy, “Saturday Night Live” cast members Jay Pharoah and Kate McKinnon, “Twilight” star Nikki Reed, Beck Bennett and Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney — in a theater?

MV5BNTk5ODI5MzM0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjM5NzA3NTE@._V1_SX214_AL_You can do so starting Friday, when the Austin-shot comedy about college intramural sports (flag football specifically) opens at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar for three days and iPic for seven days.

Do you prefer to see it in the privacy of your own home, what with it being called “Balls Out” and all?

You can do that as well, since “Balls Out” is what they call a day and date movie, meaning it is hitting the theaters (about 12 across the country) at the same time it’s available for online streaming.

From the script to the locations to the creative talent, “Balls Out,” shot in 2013, is a largely Austin-based production: Writer Bradley Jackson, producers Andrew Lee, David Ward and Russell Wayne Groves, as well as cast members Kirk Johnson, Will Elliott and Sam Eidson are all Austin-based.

(The director, Andrew Disney, hails from Fort Worth; his comic neo-noir movie “Searching for Sonny” played at the Austin Film Festival in 2011.)

intramural_posterBradley Jackson is a UT RTF graduate, class of 2007, and, oddly enough, he drafted the earliest version of “Balls Out” (the title of which was “Intramural” until very recently) as an undergrad.

“It was the first feature script I had ever written,” Jackson said from Los Angeles (he splits his time between Austin and Hollywood). Yes, the first feature script he had ever written became his first feature film.

“I wanted to do a sports comedy,” Jackson said. “Every few years I would take another look at it.”

He met Disney at AFF, after seeing “Searching for Sonny.”

“I thought that movie was just so great,” Jackson says. Disney signed on; shooting took place in 2013, with the production running a Kickstarter for some completion funds and a second camera for the football scenes.

“Balls Out” (then called “Intramural”) premiered last year at the Tribeca Film Festival, was acquired by MGM and was promptly retitled “Balls Out” and suddenly, a goofy sports comedy about dorks looks much raunchier than it actually is.

Indeed, the comedy commentary website’s story featured the headline “This Movie Full of ‘SNL’ Folks Got the Worst Rebranding Ever” and quotes cast member Nick Kocher as writing on his Tumblr: “(The marketing makes) the movie seem less clever and appeal to the lowest common denominator.”

Jackson declined to comment on the rebranding.

In addition to developing new projects, Jackson also has a children’s Christmas book (“well, a middle-grade novel, a bit like ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ ”) coming out in September called “The Naughty List.” Co-written with “Over the Hedge” creator Michael Fry, “The Naughty List” concerns a child trying to get off Santa’s legendary document.

Richard Linklater’s ‘spiritual sequel’ to ‘Dazed and Confused’ renamed after Van Halen song

Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater will follow up his success to Oscar-winning “Boyhood” with a “spiritual sequel” to 1993’s “Dazed and Confused.”

Photo by Ralph Barrera
Photo by Ralph Barrera

The Film Stage recently reported that the film, which has been in the works for years under the title “That’s What I’m Talking About,” has been renamed after a Van Halen song.

Everybody Wants Some” will feature a group of friends not unlike the group of Texan teenagers from “Dazed and Confused,” but this time around, the moon tower parties will be on a college campus.

The official synopsis for the upcoming fall comedy set in the 1980s is as follows:

It’s the last weekend of freedom before college starts and Everybody Wants Some.

A “spiritual sequel” to “Dazed and Confused” and set in the world of 1980 college life, “Everybody Wants Some” is a comedy that follows a group of friends as they navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood. Get ready for the best weekend ever.

According to The Film Stage, the soundtrack will feature songs by the Talking Heads, Pat Benatar,  Devo and Blondie.

Ryan Guzman (“Step Up”), Zoey Deutch (“Ringer,” “Vampire Academy”), Tyler Hoechlin (“7th Heaven) and Wyatt Russell (“22 Jump Street”) are among those confirmed for the film from Paramount Pictures.



Definitive guide to Austin area movie locations

When people think about Austin, live music and barbecue are some of the first things that come to mind. Yet Austin’s film scene, made famous by more than a few big names (Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez) and more than a few big movies (“Boyhood,” “The Tree of Life”), is not to be overlooked.

Photo by Jay Janner
Photo by Jay Janner

» RELATED CONTENT: Photos from the set of “True Grit” in Austin

 Click through for a guide to films shot in and around the Austin area:

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