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Sundance, Spirits for Austin Filmmakers

Sundance, Spirits for Austin Filmmakers

So, today was a big day for announcements in the Austin film scene. There were two major news items in the indie film world: 1. The rest of the features lineup for Sundance 2005, and 2. The nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards. And both announcements were full of great news for Austin’s community of innovative filmmakers.

At Sundance, it was announced that Austin-based filmmakers Kyle Henry and Luke Savisky would both have pieces in the Frontier program of the January festival. Kyle’s film is called Room, and it was produced by the wonderful guys at the 7th Floor as well as Jim McKay and Michael Stipe. Luke’s piece is billed as Frontier 6, but I’m not quite sure what it is. Luke is a wondeful projection/installation artist, and an exhibit by him can be almost anything that is art made from celluloid. I sent Luke an email trying to find out what this one will be, and I’m anxious to know.

Austin music scene legend Daniel Johnston is the subject of a film in the Documentary Competition, The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Full disclosure: This amazing doc features people I work with and for, including Austin Chronicle editor and SXSW co-founder Louis Black. Meanwhile, in terms of something with more of a loose association to Austin: in the American Spectrum program, very recent Austin resident and film scene regular Jay Duplass has his feature (made with his brother, Mark) The Puffy Chair premiering.

And, speaking of Austin and relocating, in the Special Screenings program is Reel Paradise. The fantastic doc, directed by Steve James, is about the Pierson family’s time in Fiji. John, Janet, Georgia, and Wyatt have since moved to Austin and become a wonderful part of the local film scene.

Things were equally exciting just across town for the indie Oscars. With the Independent Spirit nominations, Austin film pioneer Richard Linklater was nominated with stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for Best Screenplay with Before Sunset. And, in the Someone To Watch category, Austin’s Bryan Poyser was nominated for the work on his debut feature, Dear Pillow, which he made with filmmaking partner Jake Vaughan. For the sake of a somewhat full circle, The Duplass Brothers were producers on Dear Pillow.

And, if you wanna talk Texas in general when it comes to the Spirit nominees… it’s worth mentioning that Dallas-based Shane Carruth was nominated with his Dallas-made Sundance-winner Primer. And, Houston-raised Jonathan Caouette was nominated for his Houston-based personal doc Tarnation (which also played Sundance last year). No lone stars in this state.

Congratulations to everyone! Maybe there will be even more to report once the Sundance shorts lineup is announced early next week.

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