While the 30th anniversary is something to celebrate the buzz at this years installment of the Austin Film Festival is bound to be regulated to the recent WGA strike. The AFF is a film festival dedicated to writers, with a written competition and an opening weekend conference geared towards scriptwriting.
The guest list is a who’s who of recognizable scribes many of which are presenting retrospective screenings. What’s Up, Doc? presented by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski is just one of many cool retro screenings.
Shane Black, Emerald Fennell, and Whit Stillman are among many seminar hosts.
AFF unwinds with a small percentage of films that have buzz and release dates. Films like Saltburn, American Fiction, The Holdovers, The Bikeriders, and note that while the previous titles are opening next month Bikeriders may get pulled to next year because of the as yet unresolved SAG strike and is only tentatively scheduled for a December 1 release.
The meetings in hotel lobbies and seminar sessions will reveal a lot of insider information about how writers deal with the entity that is Hollywood. In previous editions I’ve attended I remember more than one memorable discussion about everything from studio politics to where to park for the least amount of money.
Then there’s a tier of films that represent true independent cinema. Films that you may only ever see at this venue. Films made outside the box and looking for a distributor or streamer.
Herewith are some off-the-radar recommendations of films playing at the AFF. The Austin Film Festival runs from Thursday, October 26 for a solid week to November 2.
- Forked – Real life foodie documentary filled with rejection and failure. Famous chief Susan Feniger back engineers street food but her proposed brick and mortar sites run into a wall; cameos by other celebrity chiefs including her Food Network co-host Mary Sue Milligan.
- The Highest Brasil – Existential Irish comedy that may involve sex, utopia, and sea monsters.
- Jonah – A Canadian alien abduction drama. Cast and director in attendance.
- First We Bombed New Mexico – Documentary about communities affected by the Trinity Atomic test.
- Grapefruit – Involving drama with Rosanna Arquette as a recovering alcoholic whose recently divorced son returns to the nest.
- This Is Not Financial Advice – An indie version of Dirty Money only with cryptocurrency and actors you’ve never seen.
- The Philadelphia Eleven – Powerful documentary about 1974 incident when women ordained as priests met resistance.
- Invaders from Proxima B – Family oriented alien in the backyard plot with the twist that the extra terrestrial is a stand-up comedian from another galaxy being pursued by weirdness.
- Arman & Elisa – Iranian boy newly immigrated to Luxembourg strikes up a relation with a local girl.
- The Problem With People – Written by and starring Paul Reiser as one of two cousins (the other’s Colm Meaney), distantly related and from different parts of the globe, who meet in the Irish countryside to work out generations of lies.
- Bolt From the Blue – eccentric comedy involving Alaskan experiments to “capture lightning as a source of renewable energy.”
- Don’t Tell Larry – Wacky comedy, filmed in Dallas, about competitive office politics. Larry gets hired and everything goes whack.