Austin Cinematic Limits

As many of you probably know, I have been juggling an all-consuming day job with various writing gigs, essentially leaving no time for anything else (life, sleep); and, as the saying goes, all work and no play makes Don a dull boy. We have enough Jack Torrance’s in this world, and before I start running around abandoned hotels with an ax, I figured it was in my best interest to start hacking away at my current workload.

I was extremely honored when Film School Rejects head honcho Neil Miller contacted me about writing this column. Ever since this site’s inception, I have had great respect for Neil. Knowing that he thought that I was up to the task at hand was akin to winning an Academy Award for me, and that was even before I realized just how rewarding this column would be.

I was a little surprised at first at just how excited the Austin film community was about having FSR dedicate a weekly column to them. Not to discredit other sites that I work for, but I quickly learned that FSR carries a heck of a lot of weight in Austin. The mere thought that FSR cared about what was going on in the Austin film community meant so much to people. Who knows if or when some of the filmmakers I have covered over the last ten months would have ever graced the pages of FSR; for them, this was their time in the spotlight. All I can say is that I am glad that I was able to help make that happen, but that is also the reason that I am so distraught about having to make this decision.

First and foremost, I took the reins of Austin Cinematic Limits to help the Austin film community. Not only do I consider several members of this community to be my friends, but I think the local film community is very important to our city as a whole. If we can get our shit together, the independent film community in Austin can really help our local economy. If anyone can understand my decision to resign from FSR, it would be the Austin film community; they also must balance what pays the bills with what they love to do, because what they love to do can’t pay their bills. We just need to figure out a way to get the talented people in Austin compensated for their talent, hard work and dedication. Once that happens, I foresee our local film scene really exploding. Before that can happen, we need to begin supporting our own. There are a few exceptions, but I believe that if a local film cannot get support from venues, critics and audiences in Austin then we cannot expect the film to succeed elsewhere.

Many of you may not know this, but Austin has more film critics per capita then most cities in the world. More importantly, most of these writers work for national and international outlets. Of course, film critics are a very finicky lot, so they don’t like everything. Just as I don’t like most Hollywood blockbusters, there are several critics who tend to dislike independent/low-budget cinema. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but local filmmakers do need to get the attention of the critics who might like what they are doing. (For example, it shouldn’t be hard to find some local critics who are willing to support the new wave of genre films being made in Austin.)

So, we need to get more Austin-oriented films screened in Austin. Austin has one of the biggest film festivals in the world (SXSW), one of the biggest screenwriting conferences and film festivals in the world (Austin Film Festival), one of the best genre festivals in the world (Fantastic Fest), one of the longest running LGBTQ festivals in the world (aGLIFF/Polari), and a really amazing Latin American film festival (Cine Las Americas). There are also several other ever-growing ethnic festivals, including the Jewish Film Festival, Polish Film Festival and Nordic Film Festival. Then, if we miss any festival-standouts from throughout the year, we have year-long programs hosted by Austin Film Society, Austin Film Festival and Cinema East dedicated to make sure we get to see those films. As a film critic whose chosen “beat” is the film festival circuit, I cannot imagine a better place to live (unless, of course, you are really wanting to see Cinema Six).

During the ten month lifespan of this column, I was able to witness the premieres of several local productions, including: Pictures of Superheroes, Saturday Morning Massacre, America’s Parking Lot, Satellite of Love, Fourplay, Somebody Up There Likes MeHellion, A Quiet Girl’s Guide to ViolenceThe Incident at Public School 173, The Teleported Man, Wolf (San Antonio), and  Sironia (Waco). Watching these films tour the festival circuit has made me incredibly proud of the local film community. Its so great to hear about all of the awards that these films are winning along the way — and the best news of all is when they sign a distribution deal. Considering this only covers about 25% of the films made in Austin this year, I doubt many other U.S. cities can hold a candle to the quantity or quality of Austin’s productions. Yeah, that’s right, the talent in this city is pretty freakin’ amazing!

It seems quite appropriate that for my final Austin Cinematic Limits post I finally have the opportunity to announce the Austin premiere of Cinema Six on November 30, thanks to Slackerwood and Blue Starlite Drive In! This is a film that I have been heralding for a majority of the lifespan of Austin Cinematic Limits; and I think after SXSW and Austin Film Festival’s rejections, my love for Cinema Six has grown all that more intense. Honestly, I like Cinema Six more than most of the films I saw at SXSW and Austin Film Festival this year — but that’s all water under the bridge now, I am just happy that we can finally give Cinema Six the hometown premiere it deserves!

As for other upcoming screenings — on November 12, Cinema East is hosting the regional premiere of Joe Swanberg’s latest film All the Light in the Sky at Violet Crown Cinema fresh off its world premiere at AFI Fest. I am an unabashed fan of Swanberg’s work, and All the Light in the Sky is definitely one of my favorites. If that is not enough of a selling point, then I should probably pull out all the stops and inform you that I will be moderating the post-screening Q&A with Swanberg (via Skype).

So, on that note… Hopefully Austin Cinematic Limits will resurrect like a phoenix from its ashes in the not-so-distant future, and hopefully my name will grace the bylines of FSR again soon too.

Austin Movie Events This Week

11/12 – Violet Crown Cinema – Cinema East presents All the Light in the Sky  featuring a post-screening Q&A with writer-director Joe Swanberg via Skype. (More info)

11/12 – AFS Screening Room – AFS’ Narratives-in-Progress presents Hannah Fidell’s A Teacher. (More info)

11/13 – Violet Crown Cinema – AFS and TIFN present Jonny Mars’ America’s Parking Lot. (More info)

11/13 – Alamo South Lamar – AFS begins its latest Essential Cinema series — Music in the Blood, Poetry in the Soul: Wales on Screen — with Patagonia. (More info)

11/14 – Alamo South Lamar – AFS Doc Night presents 5 Broken Cameras. (More info)

11/15 – Jones Auditorium (St. Edward’s University) – Cine Las Americas continues their Transitions in Spanish Cinema series with a FREE screening of Visa to Paradise. (More info)

11/17 – Spiderwood Studios – Alamo Drafthouse’s Road Rage Drive-In 2012 series continues with a screening of Wild at Heart. (More info)

11/17-11/18 – Alamo South Lamar – AFS and Alamo Drafthouse co-present two screenings of  Celine and Julie Go Boating. (More info)

11/18 – Alamo Ritz – Alamo Drafthouse’s Cinema Club presents Samuel Fuller’s Forty Guns with special guest Louis Black. (More info)


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