Austin Festival Opens with "Pleasantville," Closes with
by Eugene Hernandez
A number of world and U.S. premieres top the lineup of films scheduled
to screen at the 1998 Austin Film Festival, which, along with the Heart
of Film Screenwriters Conference, begins today in Texas. The U.S.
Premiere of "Pleasantville," written and directed by Gary Ross, kicks
off the festival tonight, while Bryan Singer's "Apt Pupil," written by
Brandon Boyce, closes the event on October 8th.
Six world premieres are on tap for the festival's competition section,
including "Temporary Girl" written and directed by Lisa Kotin, "Too
Pure" written and directed by Sunmin Park, "Chocolate for Breakfast"
directed by Emily Baer who co-wrote the screenplay with the film's star
Brooke Hailey, "Chow Bella" written and directed by Gavin Grazer, "My
Mother's Early Lovers" written by Sybill Smith and the film's director
Nora Jacobson, and "Rhinos" written by Austin resident Chad Nell and the
film's director Randy Olsen. U.S. premieres include "Spin the Bottle"
which was written by Amy Sohn and the film's director Jamie Yerkes, and
"La Cucaracha" which was written by Texas native James McManus and
directed by Jack Perez. McManus and Perez also made "The Big Empty"
which is screening in competition at the festival.
Festival film program director Jason White told indieWIRE that the event
received over 600 submissions this year, a healthy jump from the 400
movies submitted last year. Along with the increase in submissions,
according to White, the 5th year festival has seen a noticeable jump in
overall film quality.
"I am excited about the competition films," White proclaimed yesterday,
"I think that quality is higher the writing is better -- what we always
look for is a good story." White added that this year has also seen a
healthy jump in films written and directed by women. As a bit of
trivia, White told indieWIRE that this year marks the third year in a
row that the festival will screen a movie featuring Jon Cryer --
screening in competition is "Went to Coney Island on a Mission From
God...Be Back By Five," which was written by Cryer and the film's
director, Richard Schenkman. In a prepared statement White quipped, "It
wouldn't be an Austin Film Festival without a Jon Cryer film."
This Saturday at the Paramount Theater in downtown Austin, the festival
will offer a special world premiere screening of the re-edited and
re-mastered debut feature by Joel and Ethan Coen. The Coens will be on
hand for a post-screening Q & A session along with cinematographer Barry
[The Austin Film Festival continues through October 8th and the Heart of
Film Screenwriters Conference continues through October 4th, for more
information, call 1-800-310-FEST.]