Jeff Nichols’ “Loving” will open Austin Film Festival

LOVING_onesheetAustin-based filmmaker Jeff Nichols‘ latest film, “Loving” will open the Austin Film Festival in October.

Nichols, whose “Midnight Special” has become one of the year’s best and least-seen sci-fi movies,  premiered “Loving” at Cannes in May. “Loving” is a look at the struggle of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), whose civil rights case, “Loving v. Virginia,” made Supreme Court history.

The complete list of programming at the 23rd annual AFF, including short films, competition titles, and conference panels, will be announced in mid-September, but here is the second wave of films announced:




Opening Night Film
Texas Premiere

Writer/Director: Jeff Nichols*

Cast: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, Nick Kroll

Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga star in the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who waged a decade-long legal battle that led to the overturning of the state of Virginia’s law prohibiting interracial marriage.

The Big Spoon

World Premiere
Writers: Mallory Culbert*, Carlyn Hudson*

Director: Carlyn Hudson

Cast: Zach Knighton*, Nick Stevenson*

Long-term couple Mallory and Ben plan to enjoy a romantic weekend alone in Mallory’s house, but their plans are ruined when Elle, Mallory’s flighty roommate, shows up with a surprise lover. As tensions rise, each couple is forced to question the strength of their relationship.

The Harvest Run

World Premiere

Writers/Directors: Steven Balvanz*, Aaron McAdams*

The Colby’s, a third generation farming family, gear up for the annual Harvest Run – a demanding seven-month journey that is essential to producing America’s annual yield of wheat and corn. Faced with the insurmountable hardships of the American economy and climate change, the year’s run proves more challenging than ever.


Holding Patterns

World Premiere

Writers/Director: Jake Goldberger*

Cast: Freddie Highmore, Odeya Rush, Haley Joel Osment, Christopher Meloni

Mid-twenties, unmotivated, and still living at home with his mother and stepfather, Charlie Brenner is given a surprising boost of confidence when he meets Amber (Odeya Rush,) a local barista. As they become closer, the line between friendship and intimacy is blurred, and the situation forces both of them to examine where they are in their respective lives. Charlie’s situation is further complicated by the sudden appearance of his estranged father.


Texas Premiere

Writer: Luke Davies

Director: Garth Davis

Cast: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara

Adapted from the non-fiction book A Long Way Home, Lion follows the challenges a young Indian boy faces after taking a wrong train, being separated from his family, and being adopted by Australians. Twenty-five years later, armed only with sparse information and Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family.


The Man Who Was Thursday

North American Premiere

Writer/Director: Balazs Juszt*

In a mind-bending metaphysical thriller, disgraced local parish, Father Smith, is called to Rome for spiritual rehabilitation. Upon Smith’s arrival, his spiritual mentor, Charles, tasks him with a mission to go underground to ascertain the mysterious leader of an archaist group of renegades.


No Retreat
World Premiere
Writers: J.D. Singer, Nicholas Zafonte*

Director: Nicholas Zafonte*
Fifteen years after graduating college, two college friends reconnect at a weekend writers’ retreat. As they struggle to attempt one last shot at a creative lifestyle, the drama of old regrets, insecurity, and unfinished romantic business takes its toll.


Suburban Cowboy

World Premiere

Writer: Ryan Colucci*

Directors: Ryan Colucci*, Dragan Roganovic

In this gritty story based on real events, a Long Island drug dealer find himself in over his head once one of his soldiers robs a dealer with a connection to ruthless Serbian gangsters. Now responsible for the debt, he is forced to take drastic measures.

Austin’s Nichols, other U.S. directors crack Cannes 2016 lineup


Although the modest Austin director Jeff Nichols would probably downplay such talk, it’s rather apparent that the taste-makers of European cinema consider him the new American auteur. His latest movie, “Loving,” was formally selected for the official competition for the Palme d’Or on Thursday at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which begins the second week of May.

Nichols’ “Midnight Special” was part of the official competition at this year’s Berlin Film Festival in February, and his 2012 movie, “Mud,” was selected for the Cannes official competition. What’s more, his 2011 movie, “Take Shelter,” won the top prize in the Cannes sidebar, Critics Week.

His latest, which focuses on the landmark civil rights case over an interracial marriage in Virginia in 1967, stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as the couple, with a supporting role for longtime Nichols collaborator Michael Shannon. In 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving were sentenced to prison for getting married, and the movie follows their case through the courts.

Nichols will be joined at the festival by many other high-profile English-language productions – a relative rarity for Cannes.

The biggest of those, by far, will be Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG,” which will screen outside of competition. It’s scheduled for wide release in the States in July, and the early screening in Cannes will surely launch a marketing campaign to make it one of this summer’s biggest box-office hits. Adapted from the Roald Dahl story about a Big Friendly Giant, It stars Rebecca Hall, Mark Rylance and Bill Hader.

Woody Allen’s “Café Society,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, will open the festival outside of competition.

U.S. director Jim Jarmusch will have two movies at the festival: the competition film “Paterson,” about a blue-collar bus driver, played by Adam Driver, and a special midnight screening of his new Iggy Pop documentary, “Gimme Danger.”

Denmark’s Nicolas Winding Refn will bring another Los Angeles-filmed tale, “The Neon Demon,” to the competition. It stars Elle Fanning in a horror tale about a young model who is preyed upon by jealous rivals.

Sean Penn will also be screening his latest, “The Last Face,” in competition. It stars Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem as aid workers who fall in love while working in Liberia.

British director Andrea Arnold will also have a competition film, and it’s the first time she has filmed I n the United States. It’s called “American Honey,” and stars Shia Labeouf, Sasha Lane and Riley Keough in a tale about people who are traveling salesmen for magazines.

Jodie Foster, meanwhile, will screen her latest, “Money Monster,” outside of competition. It stars George Clooney as a TV financial adviser who’s taken hostage by an angry viewer who lost money in the market (Jack O’Connell). Julia Roberts plays a TV producer involved in the situation.

Austin Film Festival regular Shane Black will be screening “Nice Guys” out of competition, as well. It stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in a buddy/crime comedy.

Other notable screenings include “Elle,” from Paul Verhoeven (“Basic Instinct”), starring Isabelle Hupert in a home invasion thriller; “I, Daniel Blake,” from British director Ken Loach, dealing with a carpenter and single mother who are on welfare; “It’s Only the End of the World,” from Canadian director Xavier Dolan, about a writer who goes home and announces he’s dying, starring Marion Cotillard, Lea Seydoux and Vincent Cassel; “The Handmaiden,” from South Korea’s Park Chan-wook; “Julieta,” from Spain’s Pedro Almodovar; “Personal Shopper,” from Olivier Assayas and starring Kristen Stewart; and “The Unknown Girl,” from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

In Un Certain Regard, U.S. director Matt Ross will screen “Captain Fantastic,” starring Viggo Mortensen as a father in the forests of the Pacific Northwest who has to move back to the city.