Milo Ventimiglia, who plays beloved TV dad Jack Pearson, was up first. He talked about portraying such a special father and whether fans would need a lot of tissues as they watched the already teased “flash forward” of Jack as an older man (no spoilers! The finale airs Tuesday night on NBC).
Next, Mandy Moore revealed a little of what she’d like to see happen in season three and shared her thoughts on the arc that her character, Rebecca Pearson, went through with son Kevin (played as an adult by Justin Hartley). Check it out:
[cmg_anvato video=”4345403″ autoplay=”false”]
And finally, Hartley got a little more serious, as he recounted some of the thinking behind the “rock bottom” path his character took and how important it was to handle with sensitivity. Much like the show, he mixed in a lighter note with a special message to Austin fans. Watch:
Then in February, he said it was time for the country to “embrace, shake hands and be constructive” with President Donald Trump, which — based on the president’s current approval rating of 34 percent — many Americans are not doing. (You’ll notice we haven’t called him “Austin spirit animal” lately. That office might be up for grabs.)
He’s in Ohio right now shooting the period crime film “White Boy Rick” (with Lorain County and Cleveland playing the role of Detroit), and we’ll see him Aug. 4 in the movie version of “The Dark Tower,” playing evil sorcerer Walter Padik.
But today, we thought we’d take you back to the” alright alright alright” days of 1992, when our man played murder victim and Pasadena, Texas resident Larry Dickens on an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries.” The glory starts at around the four-minute mark. Enjoy.
“Dear White People,” the new Netflix TV series created by Justin Simien, premiered Monday at South by Southwest to thunderous applause. The screening featured episodes 1 and 2, and it became quickly clear that Simien is looking at the same events through different perspectives.
Episode 1 is told from the perspective of Samantha White, played by Logan Browning, who has a radio show titled “Dear White People.” She’s upset that the fictional, mostly-white Ivy League school that she attends is allowing a blackface party, and she goes on the air to explain that dressing up like her for Halloween isn’t cool.
If you think this is a one-note kind of message, well, it isn’t. Samantha is very complicated, navigating various identities. She acts one way with her best friends, quite another with the campus black caucus and even more differently with her boyfriend.
The same can be said for Episode 2, which is told from the perspective of Lionel, played by DeRon Horton. He’s an aspiring journalist, works for the school newspaper and is also roommates with campus hunk Troy (Brandon P. Bell). But he’s trying to find himself, because he’s actually gay but in the closet.
After the screening, which brought lots of laughter, Simien and the cast discussed the series, which will have 10 episodes, and Simien stressed that he wanted to tell the story with multiple protagonists. He cited Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” and the films of Robert Altman as being major influences.
So, this will be an ensemble series. Simien says he also is aware that people might binge-watch the series since it will be on Netflix, so he says he took that into mind when he adapted his 2014 movie of the same name for a TV series.
The trailer for the series, however, has drawn online criticism, which has focused on what some white folks think is a condescending attitude reflected in the title. But that’s part of the point of the series. Samantha White is trying to make white people feel uncomfortable when they’re categorized in such ways. And the series makes it clear that black people feel that way for much of their lives.
Whether you agree with that premise or not, such discussions and realizations about race in America are long overdue, and “Dear White People” might help jumpstart the process. SXSW is to be commended for giving the series a spotlight in Austin.
“Dear White People” is scheduled to stream on Netflix later this year.
Yeah, you read that right. And you can think Maisie Williams for it.
“Game of Thrones” showrunners reportedly made the announcement at a South by Southwest panel Sunday. According to showrunner David Benioff, the show’s executives made the call as a special surprise to Williams, who is a big fan of the singer.
“For years, we tried to get Ed Sheeran on the show to surprise Maisie, and this year we finally did it,” Benioff said during the panel, according to Variety. Variety reportedly reached out to HBO for further details, and a spokesperson confirmed Sheeran would be on the show but simply said, “He has a role. No more details.”
Austin’s Noah Hawley talked about making two of the most interesting series on TV in recent years, “Fargo” and “Legion,” during a Saturday appearance at South by Southwest. The interviewer: Pulitzer Prize finalist and Austin resident Philipp Meyer, whose “The Son” will be premiering on AMC this spring as a series starring Pierce Brosnan.
Hawley, who’s not only a show runner but also an acclaimed novelist, said that making “Fargo” for TV was like making a 10-hour movie. And he noted that the Coen brothers, on whose movie his series was based, aren’t exactly talkative about their creative process, so he had to analyze it for himself. What did he discover? That they let the camera do a lot of the talking.
Hawley said he thinks the key to the success of “Fargo” was the focus on creating “a feeling and a sensibility” that reflected the original movie.
With “Legion,” which is currently showing on FX, Hawley has a different challenge. He’s in comic-book territory, and he’s dealing with one of the most powerful mutants ever, played by Dan Stevens. So he says he has tried to keep the audience guessing for the first few episodes, that he’s trying to establish “a state of mind” once again.
But since “Legion” is on a commercial network, he says, he has to take into consideration the fact that his narrative will be interrupted for commercials. “You have to approach it a bit different” when that’s the case, he said.
” ‘Legion’ isn’t clear to anyone yet, but we’re moving in that direction,” he said. “We’re creating a world.”
Much of the session on Saturday focused on process, on how Hawley communicates with various directors to keep the episodes consistent in tone. “You do what’s called a tone meeting,” he said. “You go over the script page by page, and the meeting can be three to four hours long.”
He said he thinks the key to success for “Legion” and other series is to engage the viewer, to disrupt expectations, to make them put down a cellphone and actually focus on what’s on TV.
“We’re not going to all you what it means, and if we do that, the viewer’s imagination is engaged,” he said. “If you don’t give what’s expected, there’s tension that makes the audience engage.”
The first episode of the highly anticipated series “American Gods” premiered at South by Southwest on Saturday, and it’s shockingly good.
Airing nationally on Starz April 30, the series stars Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday and Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon. It’s based on Neil Gaiman’s 2001 best-selling novel of the same name.
As for the shocking parts, you can take your pick. But most people will probably talk about a sex scene featuring Bilquis (Yetide Badaki). If you have kids in the house, you might want to send them to bed early before tuning in.
The SXSW crowd, however, was pumped for the premiere, and lots of people didn’t even make it inside for the screening.
For those who are unfamiliar with Gaiman’s novel, you need to know that it explores the history and influences of immigrants to America, but in a very bloody way. The cast is multi-ethnic and racially diverse, much like the cast of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
The series will explore the varied influences on American cultures, as well as how modern America has let go of some of its old gods to celebrate the new ones. Those two factions of gods are warring in the series.
Shadow Moon and Mr. Wednesday get the most airtime in the jam-packed first episode. Shadow is getting out of prison a few days early because his wife has been killed in a car accident, and all he wants to do is get home for the funeral.
On a flight home, Shadow meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who offers him a job that sounds suspicious. As they make their way to Shadow’s hometown, all of sorts of characters are introduced.
After the screening, the cast and crew appeared on stage to talk about how the role of women in the series is going to be expanded beyond their roles in the novel.
Emily Browning, for instance, plays Laura, Shadow’s dead wife, who apparently comes back from the dead and acts as “a slightly awful guardian angel for her husband,” as Browning put it.
And if the first episode is any indication, Bilquis will play a major role as a love goddess who can be quite scary.
Betty Gilpin stars as Audrey, the best friend of Laura, and she delivers a scene-stealing performance at Laura’s funeral.
Also outstanding are Pablo Schreiber as Mad Sweeney and Bruce Langley as a dangerous character called Technical Boy.
But this series will clearly belong to the buff and charismatic Whittle as Shadow and the always-entertaining and foul-mouthed McShane as Wednesday.
Saturday’s screening is the only one slotted for the festival, but if Starz will give permission, this episode would draw a huge crowd at any repeat screenings, building buzz for what will be a breakout hit on TV this spring.
I was a senior in high school when Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures” rolled into my local art house theater in 1994. My friends and I were thrilled by the story of one of the most infamous murder cases in New Zealand’s history. We saw it over and over again and I knew that we’d be seeing a lot more of the lead actresses in the film – Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey.
Earlier today, Seattle-based director Megan Griffiths (who recently directed Lynskey in a film called “Sadie”) sat down with Lynskey at SXSW for a revealing chat sponsored by SAG-AFTRA. She discussed everything from her first acting role (in a play at age 6) to the way she’s been able to manage an eclectic career in independent cinema while getting paid from a big television gig.
Here are a few great moments from their conversation.
Life was weird after “Heavenly Creatures”: “I stayed in New Zealand. I had two more years of high school, so it was very strange. I literally was living my dream and had the most incredible experience. I’d been telling everyone that I wanted to be an actor and they said, “you have to choose a different job. That’s not a real job.” And then I went off and did it. It was sort of a weird thing of coming back and everyone was like ‘that was fun, good for you’ and now get on with life as though it didn’t happen.”
She’s pretty confident about picking the right roles: “I learned that I operate very much from instinct. It has to come from somewhere that’s very truthful inside of me…”
She’s had some horrifying auditions: “One time, they were making a movie about Janis Joplin. It was years ago and I read the script and I just was like…’Janis Joplin is a step too far.’ I just knew instinctively that it was not for me. I was reading the signs…I can’t do it. But I got talked into it. And later I heard that Rachel Griffiths, an amazing actress had gotten a movie because someone had seen the videotape of her audition for Janis Joplin and she was so great and she had gotten a movie from it. And I was like ‘those tapes are out there.’ It scared me so badly. That the casting director was just like showing the tapes to people.”
Acting on a network sitcom allowed her to keep the rest of her career choices pretty indie: “‘Two and a Half Men’ was like a whole other thing. I did it because it was pilot season and there was a guest-starring role in a sitcom and I was like ‘what’s a sitcom like? That’s interesting. I want to try that.’ And then I became a regular for a couple of years and then after that I got to come and go from the show, which I am so grateful for. I don’t know how people make a living doing independent films. I had this job. I wasn’t getting rich from it…but…I could pay my bills. And I was able to build an interesting independent film career because I had this secret job…that a lot of people didn’t even know I was on…I’m so grateful to the creators of that show.”
The best director she’s ever worked with: “My favorite director I think is probably Steven Soderbergh [Lynskey appeared in his 2009 film “The Informant!”]. He was so great. He wanted it to be so loose and so free. There was a real sense of fun and adventure and just trying stuff that I got addicted to very quickly on that set.”
Melanie Lynskey’s most recent projects include a short film by indie rocker St. Vincent in the female horror anthology “XX” (available now on VOD) and Macon Blair’s Sundance award-winning thriller “I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore” (streaming now on Netflix).
New films from Judd Apatow, Edgar Wright, Ben Wheatley join such previously announced flicks from Terrence Malick and Jennifer Reeder and the “American Gods” TV show as part of South by Southwest Film’s features line-up, which was announced today.
The 24th edition of the Film Festival runs March 10 to 19.
During the nine days of SXSW 125 features will be shown, with additional titles yet to be announced.
The full lineup will include 51 films from first-time filmmakers, 85 world premieres, 11 North American premieres and five U.S. premieres.
The films were selected from 2,432 feature-length film submissions, with a total of 7,651 films submitted this year.
New for 2017, the Interactive, Film, and Music badges will now include expanded access to more of the SXSW Conference and Festivals experience. Attendees will still receive primary entry to programming associated with their badge type, but badges from other areas will now be able to stand in line with wristband holders.
Feature films in the SXSW lineup screen in 12 sections: Narrative Feature Competition, Documentary Feature Competition, Headliners, Narrative Spotlight, Documentary Spotlight, Visions, Midnighters, Episodic, 24 Beats Per Second, Global, Festival Favorites, and Special Events.
Midnighters (aka genre films), the Short Film and Virtual Reality Program will be announced Feb. 7.
All feature categories, with the exception of Special Events, will be eligible for category specific Audience Awards.
The 2017 SXSW Film Festival will include:
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
Ten world premieres selected from 1,407 narrative feature submissions in 2017.
“A Bad Idea Gone Wrong”
Director/Screenwriter: Jason Headley
Two would-be thieves forge a surprising relationship with with an unexpected housesitter when they accidentally trap themselves in a house they just broke into. Cast: Matt Jones, Eleanore Pienta, Will Rogers, Jonny Mars, Sam Eidson, Jennymarie Jemison (World Premiere)
“A Critically Endangered Species” (Poland, United States)
An internationally respected poet announces she is going to kill herself and needs an heir and executor. Young writers drive up the mountain to compete for the position and are challenged intellectually, emotionally, and erotically. Cast: Lena Olin, Rosanna Arquette, Jordan Gavaris, Alexander Koch, Nathan Keyes, Chris Voss (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Anthony Onah
A young Nigerian-American financier struggles with love, family, and a prescription drug dependency as his ambitions steer him down a criminal path. Cast: Aml Ameen, Lucy Griffiths, Michael Hyatt, Peter Vack, Hope Olaidé Wilson, Souléymane Sy Savané, Craig muMs Grant, Bill Sage (World Premiere)
“Fits and Starts”
Director/Screenwriter: Laura Terruso
A struggling writer can’t seem to escape his wife’s literary success. When a road trip to a publisher’s salon takes an unexpected turn, he has to face his own creative shortcomings and find a way to regain control of his life and work. Cast: Wyatt Cenac, Greta Lee, Maria Dizzia, Alex Karpovsky, Ben Sinclair, Onur Turkel, John Rothman, Louis Cancelmi, Larry Murphy, Sam Seder (World Premiere)
Directors: Julia Halperin, Jason Cortlund, Screenwriter: Jason Cortlund
A strange woman comes to Texas to meet her half-sister and stake a claim to the family music legacy—one way or another. Cast: Allison Tolman, Sophie Reid, JoBeth Williams, Luis Bordonada, Larry Jack Dotson, Butch Hancock, Bob Livingston, The Mastersons (World Premiere)
“The Light of the Moon”
Director/Screenwriter: Jessica M. Thompson
After her world is irrevocably changed, a successful New York City architect struggles to regain intimacy and control in her life. Cast: Stephanie Beatriz, Michael Stahl-David, Conrad Ricamora, Catherine Curtin, Olga Merediz, Cindy Cheung, Susan Hayward, Craig Walker, Cara Loften, Michael Cuomo (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Rob Mockler
A reckless loner, desperate for human connection, sets out on a crime spree that she broadcasts on social media. Her reality quickly splinters into a surreal nightmare as her exploits spiral out of control. Cast: Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden, Jeremy Gardner, Stuart Rudin, Nicolette Pierini (World Premiere)
The accidental death of her rapist sets an art student on a course for justice, fueling the inspiration for her thesis exhibition. Cast: Francesca Eastwood, Clifton Collins Jr, Peter Vack, Leah Mckendrick, Marlon Young, David Sullivan, Michael Welch (World Premiere)
“Most Beautiful Island” (Spain, United States)
Director/Screenwriter: Ana Asensio
An undocumented young woman struggling to begin a new life in New York City is offered an opportunity she can’t pass up. But as day turns to night she discovers she’s been lured to the center of a dangerous game. Cast: Ana Asensio, Natasha Romanova, David Little, Nicholas Tucci, Larry Fessenden, Caprice Benedetti (World Premiere)
“The Strange Ones”
Directors: Lauren Wolkstein, Christopher Radcliff, Screenwriter: Christopher Radcliff Mysterious events surround the travels of two brothers as they make their way across a remote American landscape. On the surface all seems normal, but what appears to be a simple vacation soon gives way to dark and complex truths. Cast: Alex Pettyfer, James Freedson-Jackson, Emily Althaus, Gene Jones (World Premiere)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Ten world premieres selected from 973 feature documentary submissions in 2017.
“Bill Frisell, A Portrait” (Australia)
Director/Screenwriter: Emma Franz
An intimate, behind-the-music portrait of one of the most unassuming yet influential creative artists of our time, guitarist Bill Frisell. Frisell said of the film, “It’s like the inside of my brain!” (World Premiere)
“The Blood is at the Doorstep”
Director: Erik Ljung After Dontre Hamilton, a black, unarmed man diagnosed with schizophrenia, was shot 14 times and killed by police in Milwaukee, his family embarks on a quest for answers, justice and reform as the investigation unfolds. (World Premiere)
Director: Luke Korem, Screenwriters: Bradley Jackson, Luke Korem
Sixty-two year old Richard Turner is renowned as one of the world’s greatest card magicians, yet he is completely blind. This is an in-depth look at a complex character who is one of magic’s greatest hidden treasures. (World Premiere)
“I Am Another You”
Director/Screenwriter: Nanfu Wang
Through the eyes of a young drifter who rejects society’s rules and intentionally chooses to live on the streets, Chinese filmmaker Nanfu Wang explores the meaning of personal freedom – and its limits. (World Premiere)
“Let There Be Light” (Canada)
Director/Screenwriter: Mila Aung-Thwin
Let There Be Light follows the story of dedicated scientists working to build a small sun on Earth, which would unleash perpetual, cheap, clean energy for mankind. After decades of failed attempts, a massive push is now underway to crack the holy grail of energy. (World Premiere)
“Maineland” (China, United States)
Director: Miao Wang
Chinese teenagers from the wealthy elite, with big American dreams, settle into a boarding school in small-town Maine. As their fuzzy visions of the American dream slowly gain more clarity, their relationship to home takes on a poignant new aspect. (World Premiere)
“Mommy Dead and Dearest”
Director: Erin Lee Carr
Child abuse, mental illness, and forbidden love converge in this mystery involving a mother and daughter who were thought to be living a fairy tale life that turned out to be a living nightmare. (World Premiere)
“Served Like A Girl”
Director: Lysa Heslov
Five women veterans who have endured unimaginable trauma in service create a shared sisterhood to help the rising number of stranded homeless women veterans by entering a competition that unexpectedly catalyzes moving events in their own lives. (World Premiere)
“The Secret Life of Lance Letscher”
Director: Sandra Adair
Witness the collision of memory, color, and chaos in this unprecedented journey through the visionary mind of collage artist Lance Letscher. (World Premiere)
Directors: Jairus McLeary, Gethin Aldous
Set entirely inside Folsom Prison, The Work follows three men during four days of intensive group therapy with convicts, revealing an intimate and powerful portrait of authentic human transformation that transcends what we think of as rehabilitation. (World Premiere)
aka stuff by and often containing famous folks
Director/Screenwriter: Edgar Wright
A talented, young getaway driver relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss, he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom. Cast: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx (World Premiere)
“Free Fire” (UK)
Director: Ben Wheatley, Screenwriters: Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
Bold, breathless and wickedly fun, Free Fire is an electrifying action comedy about an arms deal that goes spectacularly and explosively wrong. Directed by Ben Wheatley. Starring Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley, Jack Reynor. Cast: Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, Babou Ceesay, Enzo Cilenti, Sam Riley, Michael Smiley, Noah Taylor (U.S. Premiere)
“On The Road” (UK)
Director/Screenwriter: Michael Winterbottom
Michael Winterbottom follows acclaimed British rock band and Grammy nominees Wolf Alice on their tour, recording their gigs as well as the romance and routine of their daily life backstage. (North American Premiere)
“Song to Song”
Director: Terrence Malick
In this modern love story set against the Austin, Texas music scene, two entangled couples — struggling songwriters Faye and BV, and music mogul Cook and the waitress whom he ensnares — chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal. Cast: Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett (World Premiere)
High profile narrative features receiving their World, North American or U.S. premieres at SXSW.
Archer champion Lauren Pierce escapes a corrupt juvenile correctional facility with Rebecca, a fierce but alluring inmate and together they must survive a desperate warden who is bow-hunting his prey to make sure his secret stays buried. Cast: Bailey Noble, Bill Sage, Jeanine Mason, Michael Grant Terry, Kurt Fuller, Dendrie Taylor, Grace Victoria Cox, Andrew Caldwell (World Premiere)
“The Ballad of Lefty Brown”
Director/Screenwriter: Jared Moshé
Aging sidekick Lefty Brown (Bill Pullman) has ridden with Eddie Johnson (Peter Fonda) his entire life. But when a rustler kills Eddie, Lefty is forced from his partner’s shadow and must confront the ugly realities of frontier justice. Cast: Bill Pullman, Kathy Baker, Jim Caviezel, Tommy Flanagan, Peter Fonda, Joe Anderson, Diego Josef, Michael Speers, Lewis Pullman, Joseph Anderson (World Premiere)
Director: Peter Mackie Burns, Screenwriter: Nico Mensinga
Daphne is London. Daphne is the crowd of faceless strangers we brush past everyday. Daphne is being young and always searching for more. Daphne is life, an unpredictable mixture of comedy and tragedy. Cast: Emily Beecham, Geraldine James, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Nathaniel Martello-White (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Adam Keleman
Sherry Graham, a self-destructive makeup saleswoman, hopes a new man and business venture will provide her a fresh start. After her plans are foiled, she takes control of her life in a dramatic turn of events. Cast: Caroline Dhavernas, McCaleb Burnett, Elizabeth Marvel, Charlie Hofheimer, Jen Richards, Daniel Eric Gold, C.J. Wilson, Taylor Richardson, Mary Catherine Garrison (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Aaron Katz
A heinous crime tests the complex relationship between a tenacious personal assistant and her Hollywood starlet boss. As the assistant unravels the mystery, she must confront her own understanding of friendship, truth, and celebrity. Cast: Lola Kirke, Zoë Kravitz, John Cho, Greta Lee, Michelle Forbes, Nelson Franklin, Reeve Carney, Ricki Lake, Jessica Parker Kennedy, James Ransone (World Premiere)
“Going to Brazil” (France)
Director: Patrick Mille, Screenwriters: Julien Lambroschini, Sabrina Amara, Patrick Mille Four childhood friends are reunited at a wedding in Rio. But when they accidentally kill a young man during a party that gets out of hand, they are forced to flee the city in a crazy adventure. Cast: Alison Wheeler, Vanessa Guide, Margot Bancilhon, Philippine Stindel, Patrick Mille (International Premiere)
“Hot Summer Nights”
Director: Elijah Bynum
Hot Summer Nights is a dark coming-of-age story set in Cape Cod, Massachusetts during the sweltering heat of summer 1991. Cast: Timothee Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Alex Roe, Maia Mitchell, William Fichtner, Thomas Jane, Emory Cohen (World Premiere)
“Hounds of Love” (Australia)
Director/Screenwriter: Ben Young
In the mid 1980’s seventeen-year-old Vicki Maloney is randomly abducted from a suburban street by a disturbed couple. As she observes the dynamic between her captors she quickly realizes she must drive a wedge between them if she is to survive. Cast: Ashleigh Cummings, Emma Booth, Stephen Curry, Susie Porter, Damian de Montemas, Harrison Gilbertson, Fletcher Humphrys (North American Premiere)
At 13 years old and the eldest of three kids, Lane struggles to keep her family together as her iconoclast mother moves without warning through the communes and dusty back woods of Northern California. Cast: Sophia Mitri Schloss, Katherine Moennig, Sara Coats, Linas Phillips, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sarah-Eve Gazitt, Annette Toutonghi, Harry Curtis, Ronin West, Shayla Timbermoon (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Aaron Burns
A pregnant woman, who is taking care of her son with development problems, is at her breaking point when a caregiver from the Philippines steps into her life. Diana suspects that she’s using voodoo against her after the quick improvements of her son. Cast: Daniela Ramirez, Cristobal Tapia Montt, Aida Jabolin, Matias Bassi, Ignacia Allamand, Nicolás Durán (North American Premiere)
“Most Hated Woman In America”
Director: Tommy O’Haver, Screenwriters: Tommy O’Haver, Irene Turner
Darkly funny, true story of the rise and untimely demise of Madeline Murray O’Hair—crank, swindler, iconoclast, and America’s most outspoken atheist. Cast: Melissa Leo, Adam Scott, Juno Temple, Vincent Kartheiser, Josh Lucas, Peter Fonda (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Noël Wells
After a death in her family, struggling LA-based comedian Emily Martin returns to Austin. There she finds herself in the awkward position of staying with her ex and his new girlfriend until the funeral, while trying to close old doors from her past. Cast: Noël Wells, Nick Thune, Britt Lower, Daniella Pineda, Andre Hyland, Doug Benson, Armen Weitzman, Sergio Cilli (World Premiere)
Small Crimes is a delightfully suspenseful, blackly comic tale that follows a disgraced former cop, fresh off a six-year prison sentence for attempted murder, who returns home looking for redemption but winds up trapped in the mess he left behind. Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jacki Weaver, Robert Forster, Gary Cole, Molly Parker, Macon Blair, Pat Healy (World Premiere)
“Small Town Crime”
Directors/Screenwriters: Ian Nelms, Eshom Nelms
Ex-cop, Mike Kendall, finds the body of a young woman and, in an act of self-redemption, becomes hellbent on finding the killer. While his uncouth, quirky detective style helps break the case, his dogged determination puts his family in danger. Cast: John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson, Octavia Spencer, Robert Forster, Clifton Collins, Jr., Michael Vartan, James Lafferty, Daniel Sunjata, Caity Lotz, Jeremy Ratchford (World Premiere)
This Is Your Death is an unsettling look at reality T.V. where a disturbing hit game show has its contestants ending their lives for the public’s enjoyment. It captures the sad truths about the world’s desire to be famous. Cast: Josh Duhamel, Famke Janssen, Giancarlo Esposito, Sarah Wayne Callies, Caitlin Fitzgerald, James Franco (World Premiere)
“Us and Them” (UK)
Director/Screenwriter: Joe Martin
Working class Danny aims to kick start a revolution by turning the tables on the establishment with a deadly game of chance. Cast: Jack Roth, Tim Bentinck, Andrew Tiernan, Daniel Kendrick, Sophie Colquhoun, Paul Westwood, Carolyn Backhouse, Louis Dempsey (World Premiere)
“Win It All”
Director: Joe Swanberg, Screenwriters: Joe Swanberg, Jake Johnson
Small time Chicago gambler, Eddie Garrett, agrees to watch a duffel bag for an acquaintance who is heading to prison. When he discovers cash in the bag, he hatches a plan to win big, against the advice of his gambling sponsor and his brother. Cast: Jake Johnson, Aislinn Derbez, Joe Lo Truglio, Keegan-Michael Key (World Premiere)
Director: Matthew Salleh
Barbecue is about more than grilling a piece of meat. It’s a ritual performed religiously across the world. For some it’s a path to salvation. It is the pride of nations. And the stories told around the fires become a way to bring the world together. (World Premiere)
“Bill Nye: Science Guy”
Directors/Screenwriters: David Alvarado, Jason Sussberg
A famous television personality struggles to restore science to its rightful place in a world hostile to evidence and reason. (World Premiere)
Director: Pat Kondelis
The untold story of the summer of 2003 at Baylor University that exposes the attempted cover-up, and the corruption that became the most bizarre scandal in college sports history. (World Premiere)
“Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web” (New Zealand)
Director: Annie Goldson
Discover the story of the most wanted man online. (North American Premiere)
“Meth Storm: Arkansas USA”
Directors: Craig Renaud, Brent Renaud
With unparalleled access on both sides of the law, METH STORM: Arkansas USA is a thrilling non-fiction cops and robbers drama told from inside the American drug war.
“Muppet Guys Talking – Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched”
Director: Frank Oz
Five of the original Muppet performers come together for the first time ever to share behind-the-scenes secrets of the Muppets. Includes rare performance footage, surprising stories and insights into how Jim led his team to produce legendary work. (World Premiere)
Never before have we watched as much porn as today yet the traditional porn industry is dying. The arrival of web sites showing amateur clips has transformed the way porn is made and consumed. Behind this transformation lies one opaque multinational. (World Premiere)
Directors: Jeff Malmberg, Chris Shellen, Screenwriter: Chris Shellen
Once upon a time there was a tiny hill town in Tuscany that found a remarkable way to confront their issues – they turned their lives into a play. (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Jason Pollock
What happened on August 9th, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri? On that hot summer day, Officer Darren Wilson killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Stranger Fruit is the unraveling of what took place that day, told through the eyes of Mike Brown’s family. (World Premiere)
“Todrick Hall Documentary”
Director: Katherine Fairfax Wright
After building an empire on YouTube, Todrick Hall leaps beyond his comfort zone and deep within his own backstory to create his most dazzling and vital work yet, but with only a few weeks and a few coins, will he crush it or will it crush him? (World Premiere)
“The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin”
Director: Jennifer M. Kroot
The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin celebrates one of the world’s most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels inspired millions to reclaim their lives. (World Premiere)
“Walk With Me” (UK)
Directors: Max Pugh, Marc J. Francis
Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, Walk With Me is a cinematic journey into the world of a monastic community who practice the art of mindfulness with Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh. (World Premiere)
aka stuff by folks who are less well known or that maybe defy easy category and are not in competition
Director/Screenwriter: Peter Vack
Adah and Aaron are recovering addicts who are struggling to stay sober. After meeting in their psychoanalyst’s waiting room, they fall in love, relapse on poppers, and become the biggest assholes in New York City. Cast: Betsey Brown, Jack Dunphy, Peter Vack, Patrick LaBella, Jane Brown, Ron Brown, Eileen Dietz (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Josh Greenbaum
The stranger-than-fiction true story of George Lazenby, a poor Australian car mechanic who, through an unbelievable set of circumstances, landed the role of James Bond despite having never acted a day in his life. (World Premiere)
Director: Mike Ott
A look at how the American Dream and Hollywood affect those they touch. Cast: Cory Zacharia, Patrick Llaguno, Neil Harley, Kevin Gilger aka K-Nine Dog the Impersonator, Carolan J. Pinto, Mark Borchardt (North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Kristoffer Borgli
The inside story of how Amir (29) scammed his way to viral fame, fooled an advertising agency, and almost became the international face of a well-known energy drink – before everything went wrong. Cast: Amir Asgharnejad, Brett Gelman, Adam Pearson, Annie Hamilton, Alexandra Marzella, Hugo Armstrong, Joe Hartzler, Andrew Lauer (World Premiere)
“Flesh and Blood”
Director/Screenwriter: Mark Webber
Mark Webber boldly explores family dynamics using his real family as the cast and real-life situations for the story. Combining reality with fiction he exposes a disturbing truth: his family tree is full of broken branches that may never be repaired. Cast: Mark Webber, Cheri Honkala, Guillermo Santos, Madeline Brewer (World Premiere)
Director: Bob Byington, Screenwriter: Onur Tukel
A comedy about babies that don’t age. Cast: Kieran Culkin, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Nick Offerman, Martin Starr, Kevin Corrigan, Megan Mullaly, Noel Wells, Stephen Root (World Premiere)
Directors/Screenwriters: Laura E. Davis, Jessica Kaye
A woman learns her estranged father has died and returns with her brother and new lover to her childhood home of Belize, where she must face her past while fighting for intimacy in the present. Cast: Jessica Kaye, Daniel Ahearn, Mark Webber, Shamira Gill-Card, Myrna Manzanares, Louis Oberlander (World Premiere)
Director: John Carroll Lynch, Screenwriters: Logan Sparks, Drago Sumonja
Lucky follows the spiritual journey of a 90 year old atheist (Harry Dean Stanton), having outlived and out smoked his contemporaries, as he comes to terms with his own mortality, and searches for ever elusive enlightenment. Cast: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt, Beth Grant, James Darren (World Premiere)
“Paa Joe & The Lion” (Ghana, United Kingdom)
Director: Benjamin Wigley
A true story about the art of love and death. A thought provoking and cinematic documentary film rooted in the universal themes of love, death and legacy set against one of the most beautiful art-forms in the world – Ghana’s very own fantasy coffin. (North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Theo Anthony
Across walls, fences, and alleys, rats not only expose our boundaries of separation but make homes in them. “Rat Film” is a feature-length documentary that uses the rat—as well as the humans that love them, live with them, and kill them. (U.S. Premiere)
After bonding over their mutual disinterest in relationships, self-proclaimed loners, Beck and Liam, decide to go away together on a ‘friend’ trip where things get weird. Really, really weird. Cast: Renée Felice Smith, Matt Bush, Eric Christian Olsen, Linda Hunt, Nelson Franklin, Brandon Kyle Goodman, Sally Struthers, Georgia Mischak, Owain Rhys Davies (World Premiere)
Director: Jennifer Reeder, Screenwriters: Fawzia Mirza, Lisa Donato
A secret new romance with Alma forces Zaynab to confront her complicated relationship with her recently widowed mother. In this coming-of-age Muslim melodrama, Zaynab copes by taking up Lucha-style wrestling. Cast: Fawzia Mirza, Shabana Azmi, Sari Sanchez, Audrey Francis, Charin Alvarez, Mark Hood, Molly Brennan (World Premiere)
Directors: Albert Birney, Kentucker Audley, Screenwriters: Albert Birney, Kentucker Audley, Meghan Doherty
A small town gorilla joins a local TV program and a series of on-air mishaps threaten to shatter his identity, sending him on an adventure of self-discovery where reality and fantasy start to blend. Cast: Albert Birney, Kentucker Audley, Tallie Medel, Meghan Doherty (World Premiere)
aka TV stuff
Director: David Slade, Screenwriters: Bryan Fuller, Michael Green
Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s award-winning novel, American Gods follows Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) in a hidden world where a battle is brewing between Old Gods and New. Cast: Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Pablo Schreiber, Bruce Langley, Yetide Badaki, Jonathan Tucker, Mousa Kraish, Betty Gilpin, Gillian Anderson (World Premiere)
“Dear White People”
Director/Screenwriter: Justin Simien
Based on the critically-acclaimed 2014 film by the same name, Dear White People is a send-up of the now post “post-racial” America that weaves together a universal story of finding one’s own identity, as told from a biting millennial point of view. Cast: Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, Antoinette Robertson, DeRon Horton, John Patrick Amedori
“I LOVE BEKKA & LUCY”
Director/Screenwriter: Rachael Holder
Two inseparable and idiosyncratic best friends face the evolution of their friendship when one of them gets engaged. Cast: Jessica Parker Kennedy, Tanisha Long, Alexis Denisof, Christopher Nicholas Smith (World Premiere)
“I’m Dying up here”
Director: Jonathan Levine, Screenwriter: Dave Flebotte
Set in L.A.’s celebrated, infamous stand-up comedy scene of the 1970s, this new series delves into the inspired and damaged psyches that inhabit the hilarious, but complex business of making an audience laugh. Executive produced by Jim Carrey. Cast: Melissa Leo, Ari Graynor, Clark Duke, Michael Angarano, Andrew Santino, Stephen Guarino, Erik Griffin, RJ Cyler, Al Madrigal, Dylan Baker (World Premiere)
Showrunner, Director: Michael McDonald, Pilot Director: Ben Falcone, Screenwriters: Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf, Rachel Ramras
The series is inspired by the real lives of Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf and Rachel Ramras, who watched as their friends from The Groundlings went on to star in blockbuster comedies and win Oscars, while they were waiting for their one big break. Cast: Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf, Rachel Ramras (World Premiere)
Director: Tom Harper
Based on the New York Times best-selling and Pulitzer Prize finalist novel, The Son is a sweeping family saga that spans 150 years and three generations of the McCullough family. Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jacob Lofland, Henry Garrett, Paola Nunez, Carlos Bardem, Zahn McClarnon, Jess Weixler, David Wilson Barnes, Sydney Lucas (World Premiere)
24 BEATS PER SECOND
Showcasing the sounds, culture and influence of music & musicians, with an emphasis on documentary.
“As I Walk Through The Valley”
Directors: Ronnie Garza, Charlie Vela
As I Walk Through The Valley is a journey into the underground music scene of Texas’ southernmost border-region. Follow four generations of Valley musicians as they struggle to find a voice of their own in the land of charro beans and Tejano legends. (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Karam Gill
G-Funk is the untold story of three childhood friends from East Long Beach who helped commercialize hip hop by developing a sophisticated and melodic new approach – merging Gangsta Rap with elements of Motown, Funk, and R&B. (World Premiere)
“Give Me Future (aka Incoming Transmission)” (United States, Cuba)
Director: Austin Peters Cuba as you have never seen it before.
A Life in Waves explores the life and innovations of composer and electronic music pioneer, Suzanne Ciani. (World Premiere)
“Long Strange Trip”
Director: Amir Bar-Lev
Emerging from the Bay Area’s vibrant 1960s counterculture, the Grateful Dead were a motley crew whose unique sound sprang from an eclectic blend of influences: bluegrass, folk ballads, R&B, free-form jazz, classical, and jug band.
“May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers”
Directors: Judd Apatow, Michael Bonfiglio
An intimate portrait of the acclaimed North Carolina band the Avett Brothers, as they create their hit album “True Sadness.” (World Premiere)
Director: Geremy Jasper
Straight out of Jersey comes Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$, an aspiring rapper fighting through a world of strip malls and strip clubs on an unlikely quest for glory. Cast: Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett, Siddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, Cathy Moriarty
After taking a DNA test, Latin America’s most decorated artist – Rene Perez (AKA Residente), embarks on a global adventure, to trace the footsteps of his ancestors and record his latest album. (World Premiere)
“Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live… and More”
Director: Benno Nelson
A celebration of the musical legacy of Memphis’ best-known secret – Big Star – performed by a collective featuring members of Big Star, the dB’s, Let’s Active, the Posies, R.E.M., Semisonic, Wilco and Yo La Tengo with the Kronos Quartet and more. (World Premiere)
A diverse selection of international filmmaking talent, featuring innovative narratives, artful documentaries, premieres, festival favorites and more.
“Bad Lucky Goat” (Colombia)
Director/Screenwriter: Samir Oliveros
After accidentally killing a bearded goat with their father’s pick-up truck, two incompatible siblings in their teenage years, embark on a journey of reconciliation. Cast: Honlenny Huffington, Kiara Howard, Elkin Robinson, Michel Robinson, Ambrosio Huffington, Jean Bush (World Premiere)
“The Challenge” (France, Italy)
Director/Screenwriter: Yuri Ancarani
In The Challenge, the director crosses the Persian Gulf to accompany a falconer to an important competition. Among SUVs, Lamborghini, private jets and Mad Max-like dune bashing contests, the film tells the story of an intense weekend in the desert. (North American Premiere)
“The Cloud Forest” (Mexico)
Director/Screenwriter: Mónica Álvarez Franco
A small community in Veracruz is the guardian of one of the ecosystems facing the most risk: the cloud forest. By redesigning their needs, education and relationship with other people and with nature, they search for a simpler and sustainable life. (World Premiere)
“Divine Divas” (Brazil)
Director: Leandra Leal, Screenwriters: Carol Benjamin, Leandra Leal, Lucas Paraizo, Natara Ney
Eight iconic performers of the first generation of Brazilian transvestite artists go on stage to celebrate their 50th career jubilee. The film depicts the human, personal dimension behind these icons, deconstructing gender stereotypes. (North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Ceylan Ozgun Ozcelik
Her nightmare is reality, and the reality is a nightmare. Cast: Algi Eke, Ozgur Cevik, Kadir Cermik, Asiye Dincsoy, Selen Ucer, Ipek Turktan Kaynak (North American Premiere)
“Satan Said Dance” (Poland)
Director/Screenwriter: Kasia Roslaniec
Satan Said Dance is an Instagram film in times of the selfie. A kaleidoscope of moments from life of Karolina – a scandalous writer obsessed with parties, drugs, sexuality and complex relationships, on her way to self-destruction. Cast: Magdalena Berus, Lukasz Simlat, Tygo Gernandt, Hanna Koczewska, Marta Nieradkiewicz, Danuta Stenka (North American Premiere)
Director: Rubén Imaz, Screenwriters: Fernando del Razo, Rubén Imaz
Romero Kantún is a retired fisherman, who lives mired in nostalgia, but feels that it is time to reclaim what he lost decades ago, when he discovered the great oilfield that ended fishing on his island and won him the fishermen’s rejection. Cast: José Carlos Ruiz, Gabino Rodríguez, Mónica Jiménez, Waldo Facco (U.S. Premiere)
“Win By Fall” (Germany)
Director: Anna Koch, Screenwriters: Anna Koch, Julia Lemke
At the age of 12, Janny, Lisa, Debby and Michelle leave their home for a sports school in the East German province to become wrestlers. A documentary about coming-of-age between boarding school corridors, wrestling gyms and boy band posters. (North American Premiere)
aka stuff what has played at other festivals.
Director/Screenwriter: Alexandre O. Philippe
A feature-length documentary about the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, 78/52 takes an unprecedented look at the ‘man behind the curtain’ and the screen murder that profoundly changed the course of world cinema.
“The Big Sick”
Director: Michael Showalter, Screenwriters: Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani
A couple deals with their cultural differences as their relationship grows. Cast: Kumail Nanjani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupani Euler, Zienobia Sfiroff, Adeel Akfitar, Bo Burnhani, Mary Aidy Bryant, Kurt Braunohler
Director: Jeff Orlowski, Screenwriters: Davis Coombe, Vickie Curtis, Jeff Orlowski
Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.
Director/Screenwriter: Nacho Vigalondo
An unapologetic party girl (Anne Hathaway) dreams of a fresh start only to discover a mysterious and fantastical connection between herself and a city-wrecking monster on the other side of the globe. Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson
Some good news lead to chaos. Cast: Franjo Dijak, Nataša Janjić, Janko Popović Volarić, Goran Bogdan, Milan Štrljić (U.S. Premiere)
Director: Brett Haley, Screenwriters: Brett Haley, Marc Basch
The Hero tells the story of movie star Lee Hayden whose career high as Western film icon is now several decades in the past. Cast: Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Krysten Ritter, Nick Offerman, Katharine Ross
A man watches his life unravel after he is left by his blind girlfriend. Cast: Brett Gelman, Judy Greer, Michael Cera, Nia Long, Shiri Appleby, Rhea Perlman, Fred Melamed, Gillian Jacobs, Martin Starr, David Paymer
“Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press”
Director/Screenwriter: Brian Knappenberger
The trial between wrestler Hulk Hogan and Gawker Media pitted privacy rights against freedom of the press, but ended up as a case study in how big money can silence media through legal means. An examination of the free press in an age of inequality.
Director/Screenwriter: Alice Lowe
Alice Lowe (Sightseers) is a triple threat as the writer, director and star of this pitch-black comedy about a pregnant woman whose unborn child spurs her on to murder. Cast: Alice Lowe, Dan Renton Skinner, Jo Hartley, Tom Davis, Leila Hoffman, Kate Dickie, Kayvan Novak, Mike Wozniak, Tom Meeten, Gemma Whelan
Director/Screenwriter: Michael O’Shea
This atmospheric New York tale about love, loss, and vampires follows Milo, a 14-year-old boy with a dark secret. The surprise of the Cannes Film Festival 2016. Cast: Eric Ruffin, Chloe Levine, Aaron Moten, Carter Redwood, Danny Flaherty, Larry Fessenden, Lloyd Kaufman (North American Premiere)
Director: Jennifer Brea
When Harvard PhD student Jennifer is struck down at 28 by a fever that leaves her bedridden, doctors tell her it’s “all in her head.” Determined to live, she turns her camera on herself and a hidden world of millions confined to their homes.
Directors/Screenwriters: Andrew Smith, Alex Smith
Based on the masterpiece, American short story, Walking Out, follows David (Josh Wiggins), a typical teenage urbanite as he travels to rural Montana to go hunting with his estranged, ‘off the grid’ father, Cal (Matt Bomer). Cast: Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman, Alex Neustaedter, Lily Gladstone, Ken White, Scott McMillion
One-offs and the like
Director: Ridley Scott, Screenwriter: Dan O’Bannon
In space, no one can hear you scream. Cast: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto
Cartoon Network Screening
Join Cartoon Network for fun, games and NEW, NEW, NEW, NEW episodes of “The Amazing World of Gumball,” “We Bare Bears,” “Ben 10” and “Teen Titans Go!” But don’t go anywhere before the big surprise!! (U.S. Premiere)
“Earth” (with live score by DakhaBrakha) (Ukraine)
Director: Alexander Dovzhenko
Earth. This 1930’s silent film tells the story of farmers resisting Stalin’s plan to collectivize their farms. This performance features DakhaBrakha playing their own live score for this classic of Soviet cinema.
“Ghost in the Shell”
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Ghost in the Shell questions human existence in the fast-paced world of the information age, this award-winning, cyber-tech thriller has established itself as one of the leading Japanese animation films of all time. Cast: Atsuku Tanaka, Akio Otuska, Koichi Yamadera, Yukaka Nakano, Tamio Oki, Tessho Genda, Namaki Masakazu, Iemasa Kayumi
“Hype!: 20th Anniversary Screening”
Director: Doug Pray
Hype! rocks the definitive story of the birth and explosion of the Pacific NW music scene known globally as “grunge.” With humor and intense live performances, “Hype!” immerses you in the vibrant subculture and media madness of early ‘90s Seattle.
Director: Phil Keoghan, Screenwriters: Phil Keoghan and Louise Keoghan
Television personality Phil Keoghan retraces the 1928 Tour de France riding an original vintage bicycle, with no gears, as he tells the forgotten ‘underdog’ story about the first English speaking team to take on the toughest sporting event on earth.
Austin writer Philipp Meyer’s “The Son” is scheduled to start shooting this month in the Austin area, and Pierce Brosnan, the former James Bond, will be replacing Sam Neill as Eli, the patriarch of an oil and ranching family.
The new casting was first reported by Deadline.com, which said Neill dropped out of the project for personal reasons.
The AMC series is based on the book by Meyer and written by Meyer and fellow Michener Center for Writers grads Lee Shipman and Brain McGreevy.
“The Son,” a 2013 Texas epic about the McCullough family, has been hailed as some of the best fiction to come out of the state in recent years.
It deals with Eli McCullough, who was kidnapped by Comanches as a child and goes on to found an empire. It also follows the fortunes of his children and their heirs.
Besides starring as Bond, Brosnan is also known for the 1980s NBC series “Remington Steele.”
Date/time:Tuesday, March 15, panel at 2 p.m. at Four Seasons and evening show at Austin Music Hall, 8-11 p.m.
The panelists: 2 p.m. panel with Brandon Stroud, Pro Wrestling Editor, Dorian Roldán Executive Producer, Eric Van Wagenen, Executive Producer and Showrunner, Joseph Chaisson Executive Producer, Rey Mysterio Jr.
4:30 p.m. press conference with Eric Van Wagenen, Executive Producer and Showrunner, Ivelisse Velez, Wrestler, Vampiro, Commentator and Wrestler, Rey Mysterio Jr., Wrestler, Catrina, Wrestler, and Johnny Mundo, Wrestler.
Evening show at Austin Music Hall with those and other wrestlers.
The gist:The creators and performers of “Lucha Underground,” a TV series that mashes the world of wrestling with that of telenovelas (Spanish soap operas) now in its second season, discussed some of the successes and challenges they have encountered during the filming of the first season. And in the evening, for the first time ever, the characters of this show took it outside their usual venue in Boyle Heights, L.A. on the road and presented it at the Austin Music Hall. Lucha Underground is an El Rey Network production, Austin Filmmaker Robert Rodríguez’s network. Rodríguez was not in attendance at the panel or press conference.
The takeaway:About 50 Lucha Underground fans waited since 12 p.m. noon outside the Austin Music Hall for the 8 p.m. show to get a glimpse of their Lucha Underground superheroes, wrestlers who fight, conspire and sometimes cry in this show.
The producers wanted to “create something a bit different from the wrestling world, something that would bring the Comic Con and the Sci-Fi crowds,” said Eric Van Wagenen, executive producer and showrunner. And added “one of the challenges is to get more eyeballs on the product.”
For the wrestlers, being in a TV series has meant having a bit more downtime, different from being on the road almost 360 days a year, said long-time wrestler that goes by Vampiro. “We can recover physically and the level of stress goes way down,” he said. Plus, “it builds anticipation for the audience,” from one season to the next.
They producers commented on how this is more of an indie project, with indie filmmaking values.
“The creators, the writers, everyone is one the same page, there’s no ego,” said Vampiro. He especially likes the camaraderie on the set, he said.
The show has some fantasy, supernatural elements embodied by Catrina, the lady dressed in black. “I’m allowed to do over-the-top things, play with her, test the waters, including the lick of death,” said the enigmatic Catrina.
The storyline in the telenovela-like format has allowed some of the actors to learn to “dial it down” when they’re on the set, said Johnny Mundo. “People go to hear music, see movies, TV, to feel something,” said Mundo, “at the heart of it is the emotion.”
For all the wrestlers it was exciting to be performing outside of “The Temple” for the first time, the location in Boyle Heights, L.A. where there are the “sweat, blood and tears of so many people…it has magic,” said Vampiro. This was a dry run for them, he said, so they might do more live events around the country from time to time.
Rey Mysterio, Jr., who comes from a Mexican wrestling dynasty, thought his wrestling days were over. He said he was looking forward to spending more time with his wife and family when the opportunity of this show came along. It’s all about “enjoying yourself and making the fans happy,” he said. “It’s been a good environment.”
The show naturally integrates the Mexican and the American culture of L.A. without too much effort, said Wagenen. “This show is a love letter to L.A. and the integration of Mexican culture,” he said.
Aside from El Rey Network, Lucha Underground is available on iTunes, where it went to the top 10 shows on its first week and is #1 in the sports category, said Wagenen. They’re also looking at international deals, he said.
And, judging from the enthusiasm of the mixed and raucous crowd ranging from Mexican-Americans dressed in the luchador garb to Anglo families with small children, Austin is ready for more Lucha live.