It always says something positive when a festival crowd, constantly pressed for time, always running from screening to screening sticks around for the Q&A after the film. In the case of Assassination of a High School President, it was no surprise to see the butts in the seats well after the credits were done rolling.

The story of a whip-smart high school newspaper reporter and his quest to solve his school’s greatest mystery and to feel the warmth of the female touch at the same time, Assassination was the unequivocal surprise hit of the Sundance Film Festival back in late January, landing itself at the very top of my Best of Sundance list. It was dark, funny and immensely intelligent — and now it can add the fact that it is a definitive crowd pleasure to its resume.

Director Brett Simon, star Reece Thompson and writers Tim Calpin and Kevin Jakubowski were on hand to take questions from the thoroughly entertained Austin crowd — a crowd that very noticeably found both the humor and the noirish roots of the film. While introducing the film, director Brett Simon said that he was excited to see the film with an Austin audience, the best audience in the world. It was that audience that would ultimately feel the energy generated by his film — an audience that will probably walking away from this film just as the Sundance audiences did, marking this as the surprise film of the entire week.

Assassination of a High School President is set to release in theaters sometime in August 2008 — we don’t intend to let you miss it. Because if you do, you’ll be missing out on the best film of the entire year so far.

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