Austin Film

Photo Credit: Crystal Marie Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

Although it may lack the blow-out party feel of South by Southwest or the genre-focused love of Fantastic Fest, this year’s Austin Film Festival is poised to stand out with a great mix of Oscar hopefuls, indies, shorts and guest speakers. The lineup gives Austin its own miniature version of the Toronto Film Festival, with a number of likely award contenders premiering over the weeklong event. Here is a list of some of The Daily Texan’s most anticipated events. The festival runs until Oct. 31. 


“August: Osage County” — Friday, 6 p.m., Galaxy Highland 10 Theatre:

Meryl Streep. What else is there to say? The long-anticipated adaptation of the Tony-award winning play casts Streep as the drug-addicted matriarch of a dysfunctional family brought together by the death of her husband. Ewan McGregor, Julia Roberts, Abigail Breslin and Benedict Cumberbatch round out the cast. 


“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” — Friday, 8:45 p.m., Galaxy Highland
10 Theatre 

Idris Elba plays Nelson Mandela in this adaption of the South African President’s autobiography. While it’s hard to imagine anyone attempting a role that Morgan Freeman played in 2009’s “Invictus,” so far there is no role too big for Elba. 


“Cavemen” — Saturday, 7 p.m., Paramount Theatre

Director Herschel Faber’s film — starring Skylar Astin, Camilla Belle and Chad Michael Murray — is about a Los Angeles womanizer who realizes he is sick of one-night stands. He wants to find a meaningful relationship. But when he meets his perfect match, he must choose between her and the girl who realizes all of his sexual fantasies. Faber, who also wrote “Cavemen,” was a semi-finalist in Austin Film Festival’s Comedy Script Competition. 


“1982” — Sunday, 8 p.m., Paramount Theatre

Tommy Oliver’s “1982,” tells the story of a father’s attempt to protect his daughter from the horrors of drug abuse after her addict mother returns home. The film has a dark premise and promotes a great chemistry between father and daughter. The film stars Hill Harper, Bokeem Woodbine and Quinton Aaron. Oliver will attend the Texas premiere.     


Vince Gilligan Presents: “Breaking Bad (The Alpha & The Omega)” — Sunday, 10:30 a.m., Paramount Theatre

If the popularity of public screenings of the final season were any indication, Austin loves “Breaking Bad.” Show-runner Vince Gilligan, who will be honored with the Outstanding Television writing award at this year’s festival, will present the first and last episode of his groundbreaking series. If that isn’t enough Gilligan, the showrunner will also present at a screening of “The French Connection” on Saturday afternoon.

Callie Khourie Presents: “Thelma and Louise” — Sunday, 6:15 p.m., Texas Spirit Theater

Screenwriter Callie Khouri will present her Oscar-winning story “Thelma and Louise.” One of the best movies of the 1990s, “Thelma and Louise” tracks two women on a cross-country flight from the law after murdering a man in self-defense. Susan Sarandon and Greena Davis were both nominated for their lead performances, and the movie also launched the career of a guy named Brad Pitt. 


“Inside Llewyn Davis” — Monday, 7:30 p.m., Paramount Theatre

The Coen brothers’ new film, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” tells a tale of the 1960s New York City folk scene. The matchup between Justin Timberlake and the writing/directing duo is uncertain, but the pop star has a reportedly small role. Oscar Isaac stars as the titular character struggling to make ends meet as a folk singer in the bleak city winter. 

“12 Years A Slave” — Wednesday, 7 p.m., Galaxy Highland 10 Theatre

For awards junkies, this is a must see. Director Steve McQueen’s brutal portrayal of the true story of Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 1840s, premiered at Telluride to rave reviews and is poised to be a frontrunner in most major Academy Award categories. The film is making its Austin premiere at the film festival, so expect it to be one of the most crowded events. 

Barbara Morgan, founder and executive director of the Austin Film Festival, is preparing for the opening day of the festival, currently in its 20th year. The festival has grown from a screenplay competition into a nationally recognized event that includes 150 panel discussions.

Photo Credit: Gabriella Belzer | Daily Texan Staff

Austin Film Festival has a red carpet and celebrity appearances, but since its inception, the festival has celebrated the hard work behind the glamour. 

The Austin Film Festival began 20 years ago and has grown from a screenplay competition to a nationally recognized festival filled with world-renowned films and guests. Its founder and current executive director, Barbara Morgan, believes the genesis of the festival was a case of kismet. 

“I was doing some music promotion in addition to having a finance company in Austin,” Morgan said.  

She was at a dinner party with a friend who started talking about how Austin had no public film festival. 

“I said ‘Hey, what if I started a film festival? Would you guys help?’ And the ball just rolled from there,” Morgan said. 

The ball never stopped. Today, the Austin Film Festival screens high-profile films, including Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” and the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis.” 

“We would never have gotten those 20 years ago,” Morgan said. “It was probably four or five years into our existence before we got some really solid big films. But we fall right after Toronto [International Film Festival], so it’s a great trickle down for us to be able to have a lot of U.S. premieres.”

The Austin Film Festival is divided into two parts: the film series and the conference, which consists of various panels featuring well-known producers, directors and writers as well as film scholars and historians. The centerpiece of the conference is the screenwriting competition, a contest that this year alone brought in 8,600 submissions across all categories. 

“It takes all year to do it,” competition director Matt Dy said. “We got about 1,000 submissions our first year, and the winner got optioned and made into a movie.”

It is this competition that makes AFF a writer’s festival above anything else and is a perfect example of its governing ethos: fostering new creative voices and giving them feedback and ways to break into the industry. 

“We do 150 panels on every topic imaginable, but it is focused on story, on narrative storytelling,” Morgan said.

Despite the presence of A-listers such as Susan Sarandon and “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan, it is work by inexperienced filmmakers, some of whom are UT students, that is the central focus of AFF. 

The Festival’s staff boasts a surprising number of UT alumni, and many of its interns and volunteers are current students. Dy, for instance, is a 2005 graduate from the radio-television-film program and said he essentially trained for his current position as an intern during his time at UT. 

“I told the guy who ran the competition that I was gonna take his job one day,” Dy said. “And I did. It took less than 10 years.”

Another of Dy’s coworkers and a fellow UT alumna, Allison Frady, had a less direct interest in working in the film industry but a surprisingly similar experience. 

“I graduated from UT in 2009 with a degree in PR,” Frady said. “I was an intern [with AFF] in 2008 and then officially became full-time in 2009.” 

As the development director of the festival, Frady is in charge of everything from corporate sponsors to event planning and reservations, but before that, she worked as Morgan’s assistant. Frady said these kinds of jobs are so vaulable for students who want to work in film because “you really go through the nitty gritty everday tasks, and in the film industry, those are all over the map.”  

When asked if she has ever had a moment where she realized that she made it, festival director Barbara Morgan admits she’s had them from the beginning. 

“We were very lucky. I mean, the very first year we started we had five Academy Award-winners,” Morgan said. “But I have to say, when Oliver Stone agreed to come in 1998 … that was something that presented itself as the difference between something that was a smaller local event and something that was national.”

Morgan isn’t sure what the festival will look like in another 20 years, but she hopes it will still keep the same focus on growing new writers. 

“I hope we’ll be very much an iteration of what [we are] today,” she said. “What I’d like to see is more people who have come through our competition … be able to break into the industry because that’s what our intent always was when we started. Was to be an access point.”

As one of their many volunteer initiatives, the Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement held a volunteer involvement fair on Wednesday where organizations encouraged students looking for a way to give back. 

A few of the organizations involved were AmeriCorps, the Girl Scouts, YMCA, Austin Film Festival and the child support division of Attorney General Greg Abbott. The fair was organized through the efforts of the Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement to bring together student and volunteer options outside of the University with a community impact. 

“Some students who volunteer are exploring career opportunities and others simply just want to help their community which is a reflection of UT as a whole,” said David Galvez who works for the engagement center.

There is a push by the engagement center to incorporate service into curriculum at UT. 

“One of the pillars of the civic center is to transform courses into service-learning, right now there are 22 academic disciplines that use the service-learning method,” Pinchett said.

Pinchett said an example of such a course was an accounting class that filed tax returns for low income Austin residents which ended up bringing in $31 million in returns. 

“There is also a Spanish class in which students work closely with ESL students with the hope of getting their English more proficient,” Pinchett said.

“The center is essentially a database that compiles organizations which offer community service opportunities for students” said Nancy Vasquez, a sophomore who works at the center.

Katie Pritchett, the civic engagement coordinator and Educational Administration graduate student, said a large number of UT students do volunteer work.

“74 percent of the student population volunteers, which is more than the turnout for each football game,” Pinchett said. 

The type of volunteering that students engage in follows no specific pattern or field.

Galvez ssaid there are a variety of organizations and clubs with which students volunteer.

“The Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement is affiliated with hundreds of organizations and there is a myriad of opportunity ranging from youth outreach to hospital work,” Galvez said.

The Center — and their initiatives including the fair —  link students to organizations that interest them and allow them to then practice those interests in the real world.

“We think of ourselves as a bridge for UT students looking to volunteer,” Galvez said. 

The Record

Local actor and stunt supervisor Aaron D. Alexander stars as “ Ulysses”, the film’s antagonist. As leader of the West, Ulysses seeks to claim the Eastern territories which has led to the bloody war that the film revolves around. 

Photo Credit: Andrea Macias-Jimenez | Daily Texan Staff

The Record

 Click here to view the Sleepless Cities behind the scenes photo gallery. 

On Saturday, April 14 at approximately 3 p.m., an adult man was killed at one of the university’s learning facilities in cold blood. The suspect was about six-feet-tall, dressed in a vest and pants. The murder occurred in the midst of 20 or so on-lookers, who saw the murderer fight the victim fiercely before the latter was stabbed in the stomach with the suspect’s sword. The victim fell to his knees with a yell and collapsed, lifeless, on the floor. A few seconds later, a man watching the fight from an HDTV on a table a few feet away yelled a three-lettered word, and the onlookers, who up to this moment had been petrified, burst into movement. The victim got up on his feet and conversed with the perpetrator, miming key moments in the fight as the set around them was prepared for another take. 

The man at the HDTV is Steven Hendrix, fresh-faced, easy-going and sporting a tribal graphic T-shirt, jeans and skater shoes. He speaks to his assistant director quietly about the take, lost in intense reflection over what he just saw on-screen and how it connects with the other shots in the film. Once he’s processed the lingering take, he speaks to his actors, makes adjustments, has a word with his director of photography, Ricardo Palomares, and orders action. 

Hendrix is a radio-television-film senior and native Austinite directing “Sleepless Cities,” a short film written by recent RTF graduate Zach Endres and produced by fellow senior Irene Georghiades. The film follows Imogen (Rachel Myhill) in her quest to avenge her murdered father from the fierce Ulysses (Aaron Alexander), who killed him while taking control of Imogen’s land. As a director, Hendrix oversees the creative vision of the entire project, from pre-production to distribution, all the while guiding the actors to preform their roles in a way that works thorughout the entire film. Beyond that, Hendrix takes charge of balancing out all of the problems that, and he says this with confident if not slightly reproachful certitude, “will occur.”

Sleepless Cities is one of 12 undergraduate RTF thesis films being produced this semester, all of which will be screened on May 11, at 2 p.m. in the CMB’s Studio 6A. The thesis class is only offered once every year, in the Spring, and provides the time and resources for student filmmakers to amass a film that will hopefully compile and showcase all that they’ve learned in their time at the university. As the crowning project of a student’s university career, the film serves as a sort of bridge between the student and the professional filmmaking worlds. It becomes a sort of calling card, and as any agent or talent scout or famous producer who may glance upon the film in the festival circuit or elsewhere will tell you, that card better be good.

This is not the first time that the Endres-Georghiades-Hendrix trifecta has made a film. They have collaborated before, first without Hendrix in “The Teleported Man,” which won the Esurance Audience Award at the 2012 Austin Film Festival, and later in a short called “Rough Waters,” which premiered on The Longhorn Network in March earlier this year. 

“The crew members were friends I’ve been working with for years,” Georghiades said in an email. “The difference was the scale of production.”

She refers in part to the temple that sits furtively on the sixth floor of the CMB, that, if viewed from the outside, is merely wood and textured paint and hours and hours and hands upon hands of laborious efforts. Yet from within it’s hard to deny that one is not inside an ancient building corroded by time and grime. 

Though lots of student short films are produced in the RTF program every year, not very many build and furnish massive sets, have their fight sequences choreographed by professionals, or have their own blood effects crew standing by. 

“The scope of ‘Sleepless Cities’ was bigger than anything I’ve produced to date,” Georghiades said. “The size of the crew, script content and location challenges all contributed to the difficulty of production, and at the same time the feeling of accomplishment when we wrapped.”

The producer wasn’t the only one challenged by ‘Sleepless Cities.’ Endres, who had a script go through to the second round of the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition, a coveted accomplishment, also treaded new ground in the project. While usually dealing with a character’s internal struggles, and often writing drama and black comedy, Endres found himself shifting gears for this particular screenplay. 

“This is the first time I’ve had the chance to fully realize an alternate reality, a new world,” Endres said in an email. “And this is the first time I’ve written an ‘action’ film. 

Though “Sleepless Cities” is bountiful in  action sequences, Endres tried to ensurethat these were not gratuitous. He described the film as a conversation between two adversaries that, while sporting a good amount of action, also displays his own tendency toward more cerebral work. 

“Sleepless Cities” incorporates elements from director Hendrix’s past work. The combination of heavy dramatic moments, dark humor and the fantasy/adventure tale complete with fighting and blood are things he’s used to and builds on in his thesis. Thinking of the projects he’s made since starting the RTF program, and even on some of his commercial work, he sees a pattern. 

“I love creating content and bringing fresh ideas to life,” Hendrix said by email. “Of course, once you start making movies it stays in your blood forever. Now if anybody will ever watch them, that’s a different story.”

Here, Hendrix arrives at the point that many RTF students often find themselves fighting. In the information age, it is much easier to distribute fresh work to eager eyes. But how to reach the right crowd, the one that will appreciate the film the most, and maybe even the crowd that will help monetize it and future projects, remains a mystery. The sets, the effort, the time; none of it comes cheap. Crowdsourcing has helped a great amount of filmmakers foot the bill in recent years. “Sleepless Cities” raised $3,080.00 On Indiegogo. But a clear path toward professional fiction filmmaking remains elusive. 

This doesn’t faze Hendrix too much, at least for now. 

“In the end, if I did my job right, you’re thinking a little bit,” Hendrix said. “Questioning what you watched as well.” 

And in the controlled darkness of the set, as the next take unfurled following a cry for action, the film had found its first audience.

Check out the trailer here

Follow @DT_TheRecord‚Äč on Twitter here.

Correction: The first version of this article mentioned that Endres, Georghiades and Hendrix had worked together on "The Teleported Man", which is not true. Only Endres and Georghiades worked on that film. The article has been corrected for accuracy.

The Record

Renowned local actors Brian Villalobos and Akasha Banks Villalobos re-enact the infamous shower scene from Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho. The pair has been featured in numerous RTF and local productions, earning them a coveted and much-respected place in the Austin film industry.

Photo Credit: Andrea Macias-Jimenez | Daily Texan Staff

As hard as they tried, Akasha and Brian Villalobos couldn’t get away from filmmaking — or each other.

The couple has been married for six years but are still on rocky ground with their favorite art form.

Both Akasha and Brian graduated from UT. Akasha studied radio-television-film with hopes of becoming an editor, and Brian studied journalism with the belief it would lead to a more successful career than acting. Even though both of them aspired to act, continuing to audition for plays, the fear of instability kept them from being theater majors. 

Since graduating in the early 2000s, Brian and Akasha have worked a variety of odd jobs: waiting tables at Pluckers, ushering at an IMAX theater and writing for the San Antonio Current. Today, Brian and Akasha co-teach a film class at Gonzalo Garza Independence High School in partnership with Austin Film Festival. Their students write scripts and are involved in all aspects of production.

“It’s like parent-producing,” Brian said. “A lot of these kids, it’s their first time making a movie, so we are trying to strike a balance of shooting a movie in a day and trying to make it as good as possible. And to give them intense experience and to come away with a love of it and feel like they’ve done something they can be proud of.”

If either of them had wanted Hollywood-level superstardom enough, they would have moved to New York or Los Angeles. But the do-it-yourself atmosphere of Austin has inspired new ambitions in both Brian and Akasha.

“I have something very specific to say and I can’t sit around and wait for someone to say it for me,” Brian said. “I feel like that’s what pulls me to want to make movies.”

While Brian and Akasha avoided acting through teaching and writing jobs, they started missing it in early 2011. They started acting heavily in UT student films. 

“The great thing about UT stuff is they finish it because it’s due. Other things just go nowhere,” Akasha said. “It’s less intimidating when you are starting because you’re learning, they’re learning. It’s perfect. My best stuff is still UT stuff.”

Akasha remembered being so busy in one semester that filmmakers would argue over what time they could have Brian or Akasha. They have since pulled back in their involvement at UT, but not for a lack of interest in the industry.

“We are doing all of this because we love movies, right? But we haven’t really been in the kind of movies we love,” Akasha said. “Until we’re writing them, we aren’t expressing much, just these little parts of other people’s expressions.”

They’ve worked as actors outside of the University as well. Ben Moody, the writer, director and co-founder of Blue Goggle Films, worked with Brian and Akasha in a web series “BIT Parts” and on short films.

“The two of them do have a short-hand between one another and can almost complete each other’s sentences,” Moody said. “Watching them work together is inspiring as they are both bursting at the seams with creative energy.” 

They realized early on that Austin was not New York City or Los Angeles. Narrative film directors and producers come through to cast small speaking roles, but they are few and far between. Most of the work is in commercials. As Akasha said, the chance of being right for a role is slim to none.

“I’m not holding out in the hopes that it will become this ‘third coast.’ I’m not waiting for it to become some sort of film metropolis,” Brian said. “I’m staying because I really love this city. I’m staying because I want to make some things here.”

The high school film class has given Brian and Akasha a taste of what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera.

“This is my first taste of producing something I didn’t write and direct, and it’s crazy,” Brian said. “It’s so much easier to show up on set and act and leave.”

But they know themselves well. As soon as either one of them becomes disenchanted with acting, an opportunity arises that they can’t turn down.

“[Filmmaking] is our true true love, but it’s surrounded by stuff that keeps trying to convince you that you’re not in love with it,” Brian said. “Like a relationship.”

Brian and Akasha laughed realizing the hot and cold relationship they have with filmmaking is much like their own relationship.

The pair met while acting in a play in 2001. Early on, their relationship was an awkward back and forth of friends who want to be more but can’t find the right moment.

They broke up a series of times, never following through because of a shared lease or simply missing each other too much. It was love that brought Brian and Akasha together and it has continued bringing them back to film.

RTF majors Mark Dennis and Ben Foster have begun the pre-production stage of their second feature length film, Enduro. Dennis and Foster are currently filming a pitch trailer to gain the attention of potential talent and investors.  

Photo Credit: Becca Gamache | Daily Texan Staff

Ben Foster and Mark Dennis were paired together for a short film assignment in 2005. This month, they returned to Austin to begin filming their second feature length film.

As Dennis and Foster join the ranks of successful former UT students such as Robert Rodriguez and Wes Anderson, these rising filmmakers are worth keeping an eye on. 

“Our strengths and weaknesses really evened us out to be an effective team,” Dennis said. “I realize that anything I do with Ben is always the best thing I ever do, so this seems like the right path to be on.” 

Together, Foster and Dennis produced a handful of shorts and began to build a team of other RTF classmates. The pair made a few extra curricular short films in 2007, but the filmmaking duo had their eyes on making a full-length feature film. Following graduation, Dennis and Foster did just that. 

“Mark emailed me three scripts on New Year’s Eve of 2008 and the most compelling and interesting of the three also happened to be the least complete,” Foster said.

“Strings,” the duo’s first feature film, started as a 60-page draft about a musician whose therapist manipulates patients into committing crimes. 

Inspired by the story and unfettered by how incomplete the script was, Dennis and Foster jumped into casting and were shooting by March 2008. “Strings” was shot in Austin, San Antonio and New York City for an estimated $65,000. Behind the camera, they added more members to their production team and cast the film using Austin actors only. 

After three years of production, the film premiered at the Breckenridge Festival of Film and was screened at over a dozen other prestigious film festivals such as the Hollywood Film Festival and the hometown favorite Austin Film Festival. 

“We took home an award at nearly every festival and I think gave our actors and crew something to be really proud of,” Foster said. “Having a successful first film has given us a little clout and I think has really facilitated getting ‘Enduro’ started.”  

“Enduro,” the newest effort from Dennis and Foster, tells the story of a young man searching for his girlfriend who has disappeared into a new-age cult. He changes his appearance in order to infiltrate the cult, but the stress of the situation triggers the return of his imaginary friend, whose violent behavior plagued his childhood. 

“For ‘Enduro,’ the goal is making people think and feel more. ‘Strings’ set a bar for us with an emotional storyline. I think ‘Enduro’ is going to be even more of a love story than ‘Strings’ was,” returning “Strings” producer Spencer Greenwood said. 

Dennis and Foster are currently producing what they are calling a “pitch trailer” for “Enduro.” They are shooting only the elements of the story required to create a trailer. Dennis and Foster plan to use this trailer to pitch the concept and the story to potential talent and investors in Los Angeles.

To produce the “Enduro” pitch trailer, Dennis and Foster have reunited with much of the team from “Strings,” and though they’re now based in Los Angeles, they have returned to Austin to shoot. 

“When I think of making a movie in L.A., all I see are obstacles and rules. When I think of Austin, I think ‘I can do anything here and still go to Trudy’s for happy hour,’” Dennis said. 

Among the new additions to the Foster/Dennis camp is local actor, Johnny Walter. 

“I think with our recent success at festivals like Sundance and South By Southwest this year, Los Angeles and New York can’t not look at Texas as a key player in the film industry,” Walter said. “And I’m lucky enough to be working alongside two brilliant filmmakers from Texas that are doing just that — making a name for themselves on both coasts — while shooting at home.”

Published on February 6, 2013 as "UT alumn return for second movie". 

Bill Murray in a scene from “Hyde Park on Hudson.” Photo courtesy of Focus Features.

Of all the major film festivals that occur in Austin every year, the 19th Austin Film Festival & Conference is the most distinctly Texan. From its sponsors (including the delectable Salt Lick BBQ) to its films (several from UT alumnus are playing this year), Austin Film Festival is all about Texan pride and showcasing some of the Oscar season’s biggest films.

The festival kicked off last night with “Not Fade Away,”  David Chase’s first production since “The Sopranos” ended five years ago. Drawn from Chase’s youth, the film chronicles a Jersey youth (John Magero) growing up in the ‘60s and trying to make it in the music business. The film shows that Chase hasn’t lost the ability to craft strong characters and that he’s even become more stylistically bold, something that avid “Sopranos” watchers might think impossible. James Gandolfini, playing Magero’s father, gives a tender, wistful performance, and he may be the best thing about “Not Fade Away.”

Other hot tickets at this year’s festival include “Francophrenia,” the next step in James Franco’s subtle, extended satire on the nature of celebrity. A documentary filmed during Franco’s time with “General Hospital,” the film promises to be a bizarre look at the dynamics of a soap opera set. Franco will be in attendance for Friday’s screening at the Paramount, so make sure to get
there early.

The idea of Bill Murray playing Franklin D. Roosevelt is too good to pass up, and lackluster early reviews won’t dissuade me from checking out “Hyde Park on Hudson” Saturday afternoon. Later that evening, the audience will be treated to David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” an exploration of mental illness starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Both have received huge accolades for their performances, and Russell has made a habit of churning out entertaining crowd-pleasers with real substance to them.

Another major player at the festival is Denzel Washington’s latest Oscar hopeful, Robert Zemeckis’ “Flight.” A reportedly complex portrayal of addiction, “Flight” received rave reviews from the New York Film Festival. Anyone with an aversion to intense plane crash scenes should probably stay far away.

Austin Film Festival offers more than just screenings. It also offers numerous panels delving into all aspects of the business as well as Q-and-A sessions with the festival’s major award recipients. Yesterday early-bird attendees were lucky enough to sit in on a conversation with David Chase. Upcoming events include chats with James Franco, “The X-Files” creator Chris Carter, “Prometheus” screenwriter Damon Lindelof and “Freaks and Geeks” creator Paul Feig. Oh, and just a little someone named Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Walking Dead”).

Screenwriters will find endless panels awaiting them, from “Layered Storytelling” to “Writing for Video Games” to topics as specific as “The First Ten Pages.” There are also case studies of individual films, such as Max Landis’ presentation of his original screenplay for this year’s “Chronicle,” and a discussion of what had to be changed or beefed up before the film hit the big screen.

Fans of HBO’s late horse-racing drama “Luck” will find plenty to like in this year’s festival, including a staged reading of the unproduced first episode of the drama’s canned second season.

Screenwriter Eric Roth will be on hand and will host several other panels throughout the festival. Dustin Hoffman won’t be present at the festival, but his directorial debut, “Quartet,” will screen Tuesday evening. The film focuses on a retirement home for opera singers and the events that follow when an ex-lover-turned-enemy arrives on the eve of their biggest concert.

An event like the Austin Film Festival wouldn’t be complete without some Texan independent cinema, and films like “The Girl,” which stars Abbie Cornish as a woman forced to shuttle illegal immigrants across the border, promise to be uniquely Texan and quite compelling. UT alumnus Todd Berger will lead a panel showing how his film, “It’s a Disaster,” made it to the big screen.

A comedy about the end of the world, “It’s a Disaster” locks four couples in a house as the apocalypse rages outside. Predictably, some dormant issues arise. Finally, “Congratulations,” the story of a man whose marriage proposal was shot down upon arriving at his engagement party, boasts a creative concept and lots of room for comedy.

This year’s Austin Film Festival boasts a slate full of big films worth getting excited for, small films that promise to reward the time invested in them and panels that could make a huge difference in creative output. Any Austin film fan should make sure to attend for an experience equally entertaining, illuminating and just plain Texan.

Printed on Friday, October 19, 2012 as: Film festival screens latest works features interviews with creators

For a film and dining experience, the Alamo Drafthouse offers a wide selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts, along with cinematic delight.

Photo Credit: Hayden Bernstein | Daily Texan Staff

Alamo Drafthouse

One of the signature Austin movie chains, the Alamo Drafthouse's mixture of food, beer and great movies has left a definitive footprint on the developing Austin movie scene. CEO Tim League has always been looking for ways to bring new and exciting films to audiences (along with weekly screenings of classic films), and the company’s newly founded distribution wing, Drafthouse Films, has been putting some interesting, quality films on screens across the country. There are nearly half a dozen Drafthouses in Austin, but the best location is on South Lamar (1120 South Lamar Boulevard), where Fantastic Fest is held annually, and the newly constructed Slaughter Lane (5701 West Slaughter Lane) location is a marvel, both for its creative design and its custom-made cocktail lounge.

The Paramount

The Paramount is one of the oldest theaters in Austin, and the sheer amount of history in the 1,300-seat theater never fails to impress. Events like South By Southwest and Austin Film Festival frequently choose the Paramount for their showcase exhibitions, and the theater also hosts an annual summer movie series that’s packed with iconic classics and underappreciated gems.

Violet Crown

Violet Crown is fairly new to Austin, having been open just over a year. Even so, the theater is a frequent exhibitor of art house cinema and a reliable source of films that stray far from the beaten path. The Crown is also notorious for its insanely comfortable seating, and the theater’s artsy aesthetic, trendy downtown setting and eclectic programming make it an essential date location. Major bonus: free valet parking with ticket purchase.

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum

The most impressive theater in Austin is easily the Bob Bullock, which boasts the city’s only genuine IMAX screen and is also only a short walk from campus. The exhibition is consistently flawless, and visual feasts like “Prometheus” and “The Dark Knight Rises” can only benefit from being blown up to such a massive scale.