Michael Bergeron
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Austin Film Festival preview

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kiss_kiss_bang_bang08Here are some of the highlights of the upcoming Austin Film Festival, running from October 24 through October 31. There are plenty of seminars, parties and panel going on throughout the entire festival (although the bulk of the conference will be during the first weekend).

On Thursday October 24 some of the panels include Conversations with Jeff Nichols (Mud) and Elaine May (Ishtar, A New Leaf). A script that was a finalist in the screenwriting competition at a previous edition of the AFF, Coffee, Kill Boss will have its world premiere at 7 pm. at the Paramount Theatre.

Some of Friday’s panels include Deconstructing Dr. Strangelove and Deconstructing Tootsie; Shane Black doing a Script-to-Screen analysis of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; Rian Johnson doing a Script-to-Screen breakdown of his debut Brick; and Richard Kelly do a Script-to-Screen examination of Donnie Darko. Among films unwinding are some prestige titles like Nebraska, August: Osage County and Big Sur (all opening later in the year).

I plan to get plenty of sleep because Saturday starts early. At 9 am. imagine trying to decide between A Conversation with Vince Gilligan (no doubt explaining everything about Breaking Bad); or, a Guide to Time Travel hosted by Roberto Orci (screenwriter of Star Trek Into Darkness), Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) and Rian Johnson (Looper), or, a neo-noir panel hosted by Shane Black (Iron Man 3) and Brian Hegeland (42). Later in the day Paul Thomas Anderson interviews Jonathan Demme.

After a Sunday morning get together affectionately called the Hair of the Dog Brunch, there’s more Breaking Bad answers at 10:30 am. when showrunner Vince Gilligan shows the first and last episodes of the hit series, then holds court at the Paramount Theatre. Later that afternoon Gilligan will hold a reading of his unproduced movie script 2 Face with actors including Will Ferrell, Thomas Haden Church and Linda Cardellini.

Another facet of the AFF is where filmmakers introduce classic films. To wit: Jim Taylor (writer) introduces Citizen Ruth; Elaine May introduces her directorial debut A New Leaf; Susan Sarandon introduces Romance & Cigarettes (in which she co-stars with James Gandolfini); Norman Steinberg (co-writer) intros Blazing Saddles (winner of that year’s WGA award); Brian Hegeland intros Cool Hand Luke; Barry Josephson intros Enchanted; Vince Gilligan intros The French Connection; Shane Black intros My Man Godfrey; Callie Khourie intros a movie for which she won an Oscar, Thelma & Louise; and Jonathan Demme introduces three films - Greaser’s Palace, Horses of God and Enzo Avitabile Music Life, the latter a music doc Demme helmed last year.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Free Press Houston will be posting updates and wraps throughout the festival.

— Michael Bergeron