Winning the big Target Filmmaker Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival, was Austinite Steve Collins for his debut pic, Gretchen. The film, a darkly funny look at teenage angst and love, premiered at SXSW this year and managed to walk away with the $50,000 cash prize at LAFF. As a new father and filmmaker, Steve must be so thrilled. Congratulations to the whole team!
Last night, after a long and winding road of travel, I made it back to Austin in time for the big, Austin Film Society benefit premiere of Richard Linklater’s Austin-made A Scanner Darkly. Despite having a sneak peek screening during SXSW this year, I hadn’t actually seen the whole film from beginning to end. As I’ve chronicled on this blog, I’ve kept in pretty close contact with the production, thanks to producer Tommy Pallotta. I visited the set, saw clips during the editing process, and have had long chats with many of the talented animators (especially lead guys Jason Archer and Paul Beck). But, last night in the Paramount theater, I finally witnessed the finished product. As the screening ended and I walked over to the post-party at the Austin Museum of Art, I was relieved. I knew so many of the people who worked on this film, and it’s always stressful when you’re gonna see something made by people you like and hang out with. But, I really truly loved it. It’s such a funny, mind-bending, and poignant film. The depiction of drug addiction, rehab, and the system for both is an important issue and Linklater handles it very well. In addition, the chemistry between the four leads is spectacular. Many people will note the wonderful onscreen presence of Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey, Jr., and for great reason. Downey is golden and hilarious in this film, and if his performance isn’t recognized with all kinds of awards, something is definitely not okay. All in all, the only disappointing this about Scanner, is that now I have to wait several weeks to see it again.