Another successful Austin Film Festival and Conference has come and gone. On Thursday, Oct. 23 "The Humbling" starring Al Pacino, Greta Gerwig and Kyra Sedwick opened the festival. The Austin Film Festival is known as "The Writers Festival" and screenwriters such as Richard LaGravenese (The Bridges of Madison County), James V. Hart (Contact), Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) and Peter Craig (The Town) conducted panels on such subjects as "The Art and Business of Film," "Biopics: Truth, Fact, and Fiction" "Script to Screen: Dead Poets Society." These panels continued through Sunday.
Other films that played during the first four days of Festival were "The Last Five Years" starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan, the new animated film "Big Hero 6" from Walt Disney, "Dawn Patrol" starring Scott Eastwood and Rita Wilson, the documentary "Red Army," "Teacher of the Year" starring Matt Letscher, "Wild" starring Reese Witherspoon, and "7 Minutes" starring Jason Ritter and Luke Mitchell.
I arrived on Monday for the last four days of the Festival. First up was a selection of shorts, including the very funny film from the United Kingdom called "How I Didn't Become a Piano Player."
The featured film of the day was writer/director Mike Binder's "Black and White" at The Paramount Theatre. The film stars Kevin Costner as a grieving widower who is drawn into a custody batter over his granddaughter (Jillian Estell) who he has raised since her mother died in childbirth. Octavia Spencer plays the matriarch of the family who tries to get custody of her son's child. Mike Binder gave a Q & A after the film and actresses Jillian Estell, and Paula Newsome were in attendance.
On Tuesday I saw "Flutter" which was shot outside of Austin in Bastrop, TX. The film is about a young mother (Lindsay Pulsipher) struggling to raise her son after his father has left to try and become a singer. I then saw the excellent, moving documentary "Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me." The film, directed by James Keach, follows Glen Campbell, the great country singer, who before a nationwide tour is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. We see the struggles of dealing with Alzheimer's on a daily basis, all the while Glen performs on tour. I ended the night with the drama "Something, Anything" starring Ashley Shelton as Peggy, who soon after marriage, miscarries and has a spiritual crisis that makes her reassess all aspects of her life.
On Wednesday I was the docu-drama "The History of Time Travel," a film about what would happen if someone invented a machine that would allow you to travel through time. I then saw the fascinating documentary "61 Bullets" about the continuing debate on whether Dr. Carl Weiss assassinated in 1936 the legendary Louisiana politician Huey Long. I ended the night with the comedy/drama "The Sound and the Shadow" about a sound engineer and a young girl who team up to try and find out who took a missing child.
On the last day of the Festival, I saw the funny documentary "The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats its Young." The film is about a race that takes place in the Tennessee mountains that is so tough that only ten people have completed the course in the last 25 years.
The closing night film was "Rosewater", the drama written and directed by Jon Stewart. The film is about BBC reporter Maziar Bahan's time in an Iranian prison, where he spent over 100 days in solitary, being tortured both mentally and physically. The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Shohreh Aghdashloo. Jon Stewart and Maziar Bahan conducted a very funny and lively Q & A after the film.
This was my third year attending the Austin Film Festival, and it just gets better every year. If you a budding screenwriter or just a lover of film, I highly recommend attending the Austin Film Festival.
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