Austin Debuts with "Overnight" and New Doc Competition
by Brian Brooks
Selections of "mainstream" and "independent" narrative, documentary, shorts, international work and retrospectives are slated for the Austin Film Festival taking place October 14-21 in the Texas capital. Opening the festival is doc "Overnight" by Mark Brian Smith, about a bartender, whose ambitions to succeed as a filmmaker, catapulted him into the likes of Miramax co-chief Harvey Weinstein to turn his script, "The Boondock Saints" into a feature film.
Austin will launch its inaugural documentary festival competition this year. Among the film vying for a prize is filmmaker Angela Shelton's aptly titled, "Searching for Angela Shelton." The film, which has been profiled on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "48 Hours" among others is the filmmaker's journey to meet every other Angela Shelton in the United States, discovering that she and 24 of the 40 people sharing the same name also have another thing in common -- they're victims of abuse. Also set to screen is Danny Schechter's "WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception." The film examines the media's role in reporting on the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and argues that the it was complacent in its questioning of the onset of war. Sixteen other films will also screen in this section.
The festival's narrative competition selection includes the world premiere of Noam J. Christopher's "The Street," about a man living alone in a small New York City apartment and his quest for intimacy. "Second Best," by Eric Weber (regional premiere) focuses on a group of high school friends who were expected to excel, but have only made marginal strides in life, while Jordan Hawley's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" (regional premiere) is about an L.A. writer of sleazy biographies who transplants himself on the east coast in search of respectability, but is challenged when he meets "the woman of his dreams." Also screening as part of the competition are three titles from India, which are also part of the festival's special Bollywood Showcase. Retrospectives hosted by Austin attendees Barry Levinson, Garry Shandling and Adam McKay are also set.
Films traveling the festival circuit are also slated for the event, including Dylan Kidd's Toronto 2004 feature "P.S." starring Laura Linney, Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden and Paul Rudd. Also from Toronto is Alexander Payne's "Sideways," which is slated along with Sundance 2004 competition feature "The Woodsman" by Nicole Kassell, starring Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. Also on tap is James Wan's Toronto 2004 offering "Saw" with Danny Glover, Leigh Whannell and Cary Elwes and others. Closing the festival is Cannes 2004 competition feature, "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" by Stephen Hopkins, starring Geoffrey Rush and Charlize Theron.
The Austin Film Festival is a non-profit organization that promotes the "art, craft and business of writers and filmmakers and recognizing their contributions to film, television and new media."
[ For more information and a full slate, please visit http://www.austinfilmfestival.com. ]