As the leaves begin to turn (not really) and the temperature begins to cool (again, not actually happening), it’s clear that fall is upon us here in Central Texas. But even more so than the slightly reduced electric bills due to being able to turn your AC off for one day, there’s no better sign that fall is here than to see the Austin Film Festival and Conference roll into town. It’s the third of the major festivals on Austin’s yearly film calendar, and like its brethren SXSW and Fantastic Fest, has a unique appeal. It is first and foremost a conference for industry folk, namely screenwriters, that often brings the likes of Mitch Hurwitz, Shane Black and this year, Sopranos creator and Not Fade Away director David Chase in to talk to crowds of industry hopefuls.
They also do show a number of films, which is ultimately what has our interest. Sure, there may be a lot to learn in the “Improving Your Logline” panel, but we’re not sure that too many of you would want to read the resulting article. So we’ll stick to the films, as we’ve done since 2006 when AFF became the first festival we ever covered as a site.
As we look down the line-up of AFF 2012, it’s hard not to think that we’re seeing the festival equivalent of a rebuilding year. The entire line-up of films is undoubtedly lean, with only a few hot titles. What once was a refuge for Toronto Film Festival hold-overs has become a mish-mash of hits that premiered at LAFF, NYFF, Tribeca, TIFF and Cannes. Will this year’s diversity prove to be full of surprises? One must hope. Otherwise it’s going to be a slow one for AFF.
That aside, we have come up with a fine list of five films that every Austin Film Festival attendee should have on their list. Based on buzz, our own reviews and even a few advance screeners, we’re certain that having these five films on your schedule will only enhance your AFF 2012 experience.
Silver Linings Playbook
Easily the highest profile film to come through AFF is the one in which Bradley Cooper wears a Philadelphia Eagles jersey and learns to love despite being completely crazy. There’s also something about learning to dance with Jennifer Lawrence. As silly as it sounds, its big Toronto Film Fest award win had us handicapping its Oscar chances, so that’s not something to ignore. Plus, David O. Russell, despite his methods, makes movies worth watching. Silver Linings Playbook plays on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 7:00p the Paramount Theater.
It’s a Disaster
When it debuted at the LA Film Festival this year, our own Kate Erbland gave It’s a Disaster an A. That kind of grade is not handed out lightly, even in the heightened environment of a film festival. It’s got a “delightful and game cast that exhibits consistent chemistry and humor” that includes David Cross, America Ferrara and a number of fresh faces. And it’s “a fresh spin on both the end-of-the-world theme and the trapped-with-people-you-hate-and-love trope.” None of these sound like bad things. It’s a Disaster plays on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 9:45p at the Paramount Theater.
The Kitchen serves as the only film on this list for which I can personal vouch, if that’s the sort of thing that matters to you. My full review is coming shortly, but I will say that this holdover from the GenArt Film Festival is a delightful, sometimes profain, often painfully honest ensemble comedy. Think Empire Records, but with less 90s jeans and a smaller set. The comparison rings true not just in the fact that both films have great ensembles of young, talented future-stars, but that both films feature a soundtrack that rocks. The Kitchen plays on Sunday, Oct. 21 at 6:30p at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum IMAX.
Yet another of our own festival favorites from early in the year, this time it was Simon Gallagher who took in The Sapphires at Cannes and said that it “is like the point where Dreamgirls and Cool Runnings meet, only with a more explicit socio-cultural message, and played out against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. And all in all it’s a largely undemanding, entertaining affair.” Here again we find a statement of things that do not, in any way, deter us from being excited about this film. Something musical, something vibrant, something entertaining. I’ll root for that. The Sapphires plays on Sunday, October 21 at 4:30p at the Paramount Theater.
Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde play a brother-sister pair of criminals who have just knocked off a casino. Now all they need to do is get out of the country via the Canadian border in the dead of winter. As Cole Abaius so eloquently said when we showed you the film’s trailer back in August, the frozen feces are set to really hit the fan. Eh..? Deadfall plays on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 7:00p at the Alamo Drafthouse Village.
For more Austin Film Festival 2012 coverage, keep it locked right here at Film School Rejects.
What are you seeing at this year’s Austin Film Festival? Let us know in the comments below.