City awaits annual Austin film festival

Amberly Tabor

     Every year in October, film fanatics, movie buffs, famous actors and actresses, and average students from around the country come together in Austin to sit around and watch movies. The inspirational experiences shared during this time leave lasting impressions on the film industry, and motivate aspiring screenwriters and directors to continue working in the art of filmmaking.

     The Austin Film Festival has been providing an opportunity for amateur screenwriters and filmmakers to present their creative works to the public since 1994. It was the first organization to focus on writers’ creative contributions to film. For the past 16 years, it has brought producers, screenwriters and agents together to celebrate and recognize the art of screenwriting for one week every year. Included in this seven-day event are showings of animated films, documentaries, advanced screenings, independent films and premieres.

     For one week in October, a film pass priced at 42 dollars gets you into opening night, centerpiece and closing night premiers, and 190 films in between. That rounds out to about 22 cents a movie. Movies these days cost around nine dollars each so even if you only see five movies, it’s definitely worth it. The venues for viewing these films are all across town, so wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, it’s easy to take an hour or so to pop into a theatre and experience the event.

     Films such as Harmony & Me, a story about the cliché heart-broken friend who always needs a shoulder to cry on, and Calvin Marshall, a humorous tale of a determined boy’s dream to make it into Major League Baseball, are premiering at the Austin Film Festival.  Other movies, such as PoliWood, which looks at the Republican and Democratic national conventions from the perspectives of a group of actors and filmmakers, are also playing at the festival.  Highly acclaimed film stars such as Steve Zahn (A Perfect Getaway, Sahara), Anne Hathaway (Get Smart, The Devil Wears Prada), Ben Foster (30 Days of Night, 3:10 to Yuma), Kevin Corrigan (Pineapple Express, The Departed), and Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality), among numerous others, allow these movies to seem more appealing to the general public. The combined talent of strong actors, filmmakers, directors and screenwriters cause the entire experience to be that much more enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing.

     During the Austin Film Festival & Conference, other prominent figures in the filmmaking industry are decorated for their efforts in raising the filmmaking bar higher and higher each year. This year, Steven Zaillan, Academy Award-winning screenwriter for Schindler’s List, will receive the Distinguished Screenwriter Award and Ron Howard, the director of The Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13, will be presented with the Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award. Also, several other hidden gems have been discovered and will be given awards for their significant impact on the industry.

     The Austin Film Festival runs from October 22-29, so be sure to buy a pass and check out all the new movies that will be the talk of the town. Also, keep an open mind and watch some of the more eclectic films, they’ll be sure to give you a new perspective on the artistic side of filmmaking.