Firsts After 29 Years
Here in Festival Land we don’t have too many events that are so firm in the zeitgeist they can be called something as straightforward as, say, the Austin Film Festival. The event is nearing three decades since its start in 1994, and is the city's default film event outside of South by Southwest.
The 29th annual event spans eight nights (October 21-28) with Q&A sessions, competitions, and world premieres. One world premiere, for Sam & Kate on October 28, is a bundle of firsts. Oscar-winning actors Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek join their respective children, Jake Hoffman and Schuyler Fisk, for the first time as co-stars. The story follows two romantic couples of two generations, with each parent-child relationship intact in the film through fictional characters.
Sam & Kate is also the directorial debut for actor and surrealist painter Darren Le Gallo, who is no stranger to familial relationships in the film industry through his marriage to Amy Adams, who executive produced the film. Roger O’Donnell of The Cure is hopping on the list of debuts, with his first original film score, assuming it is the one he teased without naming the project in August. Vertical Entertainment will release the film on November 11.
The festival plans “33 World, North American, US, and Texas Premieres,” including titles like Daniel’s Gotta Die (starring Bob Saget in his last film), The Wild Man, and Dance Dads. The opening night film The Whale — an A24 film featured alongside The Inspection, by the same studio — tells the story of a gay widower estranged from his teenage daughter, whose binge eating is a focal point of the film.
Brendan Fraser stars, wearing controversial prosthetics to add hundreds of pounds; reviewers seem to agree that the film handled the subject with relative nuance and sensitivity. (Viewers should still keep in mind that A24 is not known for pulling punches.)
The festival also announced the full schedule for its Writers Conference, which builds out a writer’s career track over the festival’s four days with advice on research, editing, funding, collaboration, and creative maintenance. Conference admission comes separately from a festival badge.
Passes (starting at $80) all festival and conference schedules are available at austinfilmfestival.com.