Texas Goes to Sundance
At last year's Sundance Film Festival, nine feature films and three shorts were made by Texans, including Dallas director David Lowery's much buzzed-about Ain't Them Bodies Saints. Though this year's Sundance lineup has a lighter Texas load, there are still a number of films to watch for.
Announced as part of the Sundance lineup at the last minute, this Richard Linklater film, shot over a 12-year period, stars Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater (the director's daughter) and Ellar Salmon. Shot in and around Austin every year since 2002, this innovative film, which was and still remains somewhat shrouded in secrecy, follows the story of a divorced family and the "emotional and transcendent journey of childhood to adulthood."
Dallasite Toby Halbrooks — who recently won the Piaget Producers Award, along with James Johnston — wrote and directed this short film, which tells the story of a young girl who watches her father dig a hole in their backyard. Halbrooks had two films at last year's Sundance: the aforementioned Ain't Them Bodies Saints and Upstream Color, which was directed by fellow Dallas filmmaker Shane Carruth. Currently Halbrooks is working on a screenplay with Lowery for Disney.
The feature version of Austin director Kat Candler's 2012 Sundance short of the same name, this highly anticipated drama stars Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame, Juliette Lewis, Josh Wiggins, Deke Garner and beloved Austin-based actor and producer Jonny Mars, who starred in the original short. Hellion follows the story of two wayward young brothers, Jacob (Wiggins) and Wes (Garner), and their relationship with their distant and grieving father (Paul). This gritty feature is already being hailed for its powerful performances and haunting Texas landscape.
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Directed by Austin filmmakers (and Sundance alumni) David and Nathan Zellner, this character study follows the story of Kumiko, an oddball whose incessant watching of one American film on VHS causes her to head from Japan to Minnesota in search of nonexistent buried treasure.
Listen Up Philip
A trio of Dallasites — Halbrooks, Johnston and Lowery — helped produce this film directed by Alex Ross Perry. Starring Elizabeth Moss and Jason Schwartzman, the film follows Philip (Schwartzman), who is awaiting the publication of his sure-to-succeed second novel, and his deteriorating relationship with girlfriend Ashley (Moss). When Philip’s idol, Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), offers his isolated summer home as a refuge, Philip finally gets the peace and quiet to focus on his favorite subject: himself.
No No: A Dockumentary
This documentary about pitcher and LSD-lover Dock Ellis features an array of Austin talent, including first-time director Jeffrey Radice, filmmaker and Austin Film Society board member Mike Blizzard, and filmmaker Sam Douglas. Promising to be an entertaining and heartwarming doc, No No tells the story of the man known for pitching a no-hitter while high on acid.
Ping Pong Summer
Written and directed by Michael Tully, a recent Austin transplant and husband of Austin Film Society director Holly Herrick, this film, set in 1985, follows the story of Rad Miracle, a "shy, 13-year-old white kid obsessed with two things: Ping Pong and hip-hop." This coming-of-age story features a diverse cast, including Susan Sarandon, Lea Thompson, Amy Sedaris and Robert Longstreet.
Rat Pack Rat
This short by Austin transplant Todd Rohal tells the powerful story of a Sammy Davis Jr. impersonator who "hired to visit a loyal Rat Pack fan, finds himself performing the last rites at the boy's bedside." Rat Pack Rat also features the producing talents of Austin filmmaker Clay Liford and former Alamo Drafthouse persona Zach Carlson.