This weekend, Austin has the exclusive opportunity to see the Disney remake of Pete's Dragon before it hits theaters in August, thanks to a special local connection. The Austin Film Society (AFS) is hosting a premiere on Sunday, July 31, at Paramount Theatre, with Texas director David Lowery in attendance.
Lowery is an AFS grant-supported filmmaker, most well-known for 2013's Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. While the family-friendly Disney film is quite a departure from his other dramatic works, Lowery felt compelled to bring the script to the screen.
“After spending a year working on the script, I shouldn't have been surprised to realize that the film had become very personal to me,” says Lowery, who co-wrote Pete's Dragon with Toby Halbrooks.
“When the opportunity came to direct it, I jumped on it. I really wanted to be the one to bring this project to fruition, even though I'd never in a million years have thought this would be my follow-up to Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. It's different from what I've done in that it's a studio film and a family picture, but thematically it's very much in line with my other work.”
The live-action film follows the adventures of an orphan named Pete, played by Oakes Fegley, and his best friend, a dragon named Elliot. It stars Bryce Dallas Howard as Grace, a forest ranger, and Robert Redford as Mr. Meacham, Grace’s father, who has long told tales of a fierce dragon. When Grace meets Pete, she sets out on a journey to discover the truth about Pete and the dragon.
Sunday's screening benefits the Artist Services program at AFS, which provides production grants and resources for aspiring filmmakers. Tickets range from $14 to $64 for a VIP experience, and all proceeds go to the program.
“I owe my career to the AFS, so it's great to be able to give back in this way and to help support the next wave of Texas filmmakers,” he says.
Lowery is already on to his next projects including a live-action Peter Pan film with Disney and The Old Man and the Gun starring Robert Redford.
“I'm still figuring out my style. It'll probably be a never-ending journey, but I find myself always striving for the perfect blend of ambition and simplicity. I also tend to make movies that are quiet, and still, and gentle, and emotional. I want to figure out how to make people uncomfortable,” says Lowery.