Friday, April 28, 2017

From Texas Archive Of The Moving Image: Championship Bowling from Austin's Dart Bowl 1961

For some reason, probably because it was cheap and not weather-dependent, televised bowling was one of the staples of local, and even national, broadcasting for many years. Most people of a certain age probably have memories of thrilling to these weekend afternoon telecasts. Many more probably have memories of feeling glum and depressed because televised bowling is really boring.

At least that's how it seemed at the time. In fact, this 1961 bowling show, while not as exciting as a hot date, is at least an interesting look at how different things were a mere 56 years ago. For those of us who are familiar with the Dart Bowl - which was then called Capitol Bowling Center - it's shocking to see how little the place has changed.

Thanks to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image for once again preserving our heritage and deepening our appreciation for the people and places around us.

Here it is. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Watch This: Jonathan Demme's 11-Minute Video for New Order's "The Perfect Kiss"

As we remember Jonathan Demme, who died today at the age of 73, we will of course remember all of those films he directed that have changed the vocabulary of the cinema. As a craftsman he was, of course, a great master of angles and shots and all the technical aspects of film. His unique gift though, was perhaps his great empathy, a novelist's empathy. We know that he was a caring, good person in real life, but even if we did not have that from factual evidence, we would get it from his work.

This is not the place for a full remembrance of the man, who was so helpful to filmmakers as a member of our advisory board, and was one of our great shining stars of film, but we will be remembering him and appreciating him through his work soon.

Speaking of his work, which so often jumped to the beat of popular music, here is a characteristically excellent long form music video he made for the British band New Order in 1985. Demme's cinematographer here, by the way, is Henri Alekan, who also shot Cocteau's BEAUTY & THE BEAST and Wenders' WINGS OF DESIRE. Demme always traveled in interesting company.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Best AFS Trailers of the Past Year

Recently I was asking a distributor for a downloadable version of his film so we could cut an in-house trailer. This is an unusual request, but one we make frequently. The reason for this is that most trailers are cut for a very general market, and one that may not be as savvy or, well, steeped in good taste as ours.

So, we cut our own trailers for most of our shows and series. Every semester we have a pair of Senior Interns whose job is editing video. They apply to do this, and are selected and guided by the marketing and programming departments here. They come in with talent and, hopefully, at the end of their semesters, have learned a lot from their time at AFS. This is one of the many programs that AFS members and donors are supporting.

And each time I ask a distributor for permission I usually append a few of these trailers so the distributors can see what kind of high quality work we are turning out. It occurs to me that this process may interest some AFS members and theater-goers as well, so I am going to present a few trailers that I believe are among the absolute best of the past year.

There will be more NEW trailers soon, but for now, please savor these.

This haunting trailer for Polanski's MACBETH was cut by Graham Young.

Trinidy Patterson cut this omnibus trailer for the SURREALIST LOVE GODDESSES series. The series was a big audience success and the trailer went a long way towards that.

Isaac Marquez cut this one, for the bizarre Art/Horror film MESSIAH OF EVIL.

It would be hard to choose a favorite of Tricia Torley's many trailers, but I think this one for MOONTIDE, in the Ida Lupino series, is pretty representative of the quality standards she brought to the job.

Nick Kline accepted the challenge of editing a trailer for Chantal Akerman's JEANNE DIELMAN. 23 QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES and did a knockout job at it.

When Colin Rothamel turned in this draft of the ONE EYED JACKS trailer, I think I watched it six times in a row. It's so good.

Craziest Career Ever? The Amazing Life of Olga Karlatos

Has any performer ever had a weirder and more diverse resume than Olga Karlatos, born on this day in 1947?

Her first credited acting role is in the Greek New Wave landmark THANOS & DESPINA (1967), directed by her first husband Nikos Papatakis. Also known as SHEPHERDS OF DISASTER, this is the favorite film of THE LOBSTER and DOGTOOTH. AFS Artistic Director Richard Linklater presented a screening of the film at the Alamo Drafthouse last year.

A military coup sent her into exile where she worked with such fine directors as Wolfgang Peterson, Enzo Castellari (in the freak-folk Spaghetti Western masterpiece KEOMA), Fernando Di Leo, and Mario Monicelli.

She also became a regular in such international schlock as Rene Cardona Jr.'s reprehensible JAWS rip-off CYCLONE and Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE. Along the way, she naturally appeared in one of the only two films directed by cult Japanese artist/novelist Masuo Ikeda (OFFERING IN THE AEGEAN).

After a number of small roles in American TV movies, and in Leone's ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, she capped her career in the only logical way, by playing Prince's mother in PURPLE RAIN.

After that, what can you do? How about going back to school. She did so, and graduated summa cum laude in 2003 from NYU with a Bachelor's in International Studies and a Masters the following year. Then, onto law school in England, and back in her adopted home of Bermuda, where she lived with her husband Arthur Rankin, Jr. of Rankin-Bass Productions fame. There, she became a barrister of the court at age 65. Whew.

Here is a picture of Karlatos on the day she was admitted to the bar in 2010.

If there is a more unusual career trajectory in movie history, we'd like to hear it.

"If your faith in humanity needs a little boost..." Austin Chronicle on New French Cinema Week

For the past two years, New French Cinema Week has taken over the AFS home theater for some of the best contemporary French-language cinema programming you will find anywhere, in collaboration with Premiers Plans, one of AFS' sister organizations in Angers, France (appropriately enough, Austin's sister city). This year, the AFS Cinema is under renovation and the Contemporary Austin and Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum have stepped in to help us bring these programs to you.

The Austin Chronicle's Josh Kupecki has a full writeup of the series here with excellent descriptions of each film.

Remaining screenings are as follows:

RAGING ROSE with director Julia Kowalski in attendance
@The Contemporary Austin at the Jones Center, Thursday (4/20/17), 8:30pm.
@The Contemporary Austin at the Jones Center, Saturday, 8:30pm.
@Texas Spirit Theater, Sunday, 5:30pm

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Don't Miss: A Weeklong Celebration of Contemporary French-Language Film at AFS

From RAGING ROSE (Crache Coeur), screening Thursday April 20

For the third year, AFS is partnering with Premiers Plans, a film festival and organization located in the Loire Valley capital of Angers, France, to create a cross-cultural dialogue about independent film. AFS and Premiers Plans will co-present the New French Cinema Week, showcasing four new award-winning French language first films by emerging European filmmakers.

This series begins this (Easter) Sunday, with a screening of IN BED WITH VICTORIA at the AFS Screening Room. The next three shows will be at the Contemporary Austin Jones Center (on the roof!) and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum's Spirit Of Texas Theater.

Austin and Angers are sister cities, and this program is supported by Austin Angers Creative, the city of Angers, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the French American Business Council of Austin, Bouvet Ladubay, Freestyle Language Center and the Alliance Française Cine-Club of Austin.

Here is more information, with ticket links, for all showings.

Sun, April 16, 2017, 5 PM
The AFS Screening Room
(1901 E 51 St)

With cinematographer Simon Beaufils in attendance.

In this deliciously entertaining comedy, a 30-something lawyer, recently divorced and acting as a single mother to two young daughters, finds herself at the center of multiple personal and professional crises that threaten to bring on a nervous breakdown. Director Justine Triet brilliantly navigates her main character’s thinly veiled neuroses, awkward sex life and relationship fiascos with humor and a delicate touch.

More info & tickets >>


Thu, April 20, 2017, 8:30 PM
The Contemporary Austin Jones Center
(700 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701)

With director Julia Kowalski in attendance.

This richly photographed portrait of a Polish-French high school girl in provincial France sharply depicts the dangerous intensity of a young woman’s unrestrained emotion in the midst of a first love. Young Rose’s Polish-born father runs a construction company that employs recently emigrated Poles. A new employee, Jozef, solicits Rose’s help in locating his estranged son, Roman, who is Rose’s age. Rose falls hard for Roman, which places her in the center of an unfolding drama between father and son.

More info & tickets >>


Sat, April 22, 2017, 8:30
The Contemporary Austin Jones Center
(700 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701)

With director/star Orelsan in attendance.

A lighthearted feature from one of France’s most famous contemporary hip-hop artists, UNCOMPLETED SONG marks the arrival of a new comic talent in director and lead actor Orelsan. The semi-autobiographical story follows two uncool, small town slackers who have talent but can’t overcome their daily dramas to focus on their debut rap album. Given one final chance to provide a completed song before their producers drop them for good, the guys find themselves facing a 24-hour deadline and a day from hell.

More info & Tickets>>


Sun, April 23, 2017, 5:30
Texas Spirit Theater at the Bullock
(1800 Congress Ave)

With director Lidia Terki in attendance.

A 70-year old Algerian woman crosses the Mediterranean for the first time in search of her migrant husband, who had traveled to France 40 years prior to find work that would support his growing family. After many months of receiving money but no news, Rekia has decided it’s time to bring Nour back to his homeland. Director Lidia Terki uses a script and images that evoke classic poetic realism, eschewing a traditional narrative for a sensual, cinematic depiction of the emotional experience of immigrant life.

More Info & Tickets >>

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

VICE Reports on the AFS & Holodeck Records Live Event at SXSW

AFS was honored to be asked by SXSW to coordinate an event for this year's fest with our friends from Holodeck Records' stable of talented artists.

As the annual spectacle of SXSW raged outside, a very lucky 50-or so folks crowded into the back room at the Hideout to enjoy a live score of the beautiful and strange 1965 Japanese art-horror film KWAIDAN.

Here's the report from Dan Gentile of VICE's deep youth-culture imprint Thump.
When the lights rise after three full hours of Kwaidan, there's a palpable mix of awe and restlessness in the crowd. This wasn't something that would be recreated the following day on the rooftop of Whole Foods or in a crowded club; it was one of those rare one night only SXSW experiences that 49 people will brag about for the rest of the week. No matter what else they see that night, though, it probably won't make for as strange a story as seeing a bunch of Texans re-score a Japanese horror film.
Months before the SXSW screening and live score, a packed house at the AFS Cinema got to experience this very special synthesis of sound and image.

Here is a short film that shows some of the behind-the-scenes preparation, interviews with the musicians, and parts of the performance itself.

Monday, April 10, 2017

AFS Viewfinders Podcast: Lisa Hart Carroll on Acting & the Actor as Filmmaker

Lisa Hart Carroll in her first film role, in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT

For every actor who becomes a star, there are 500 more who wear out their shoe leather going to auditions. Lisa Hart Carroll hit the jackpot early, getting cast in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT in an important supporting role in a film that would prove to be a major critical and audience success, and which, in 2017, would receive the Star Of Texas Award at the Texas Film Awards. Subsequently she played a number of roles in films, but, not surprisingly, none matched TERMS for quality or opportunity.

Fortunately for all of us, Carroll has emerged from the experience with a lot of life lessons, good humor, and, best of all, good stories. She is a serious student of acting, and much of our discussion is about other actors, their styles and techniques.

Acting is, for all its foreground visibility, one of the most undervalued of the professional disciplines that comprise filmmaking as a whole. In our free and wide-ranging discussion we talk about the tricks of the trade, various acting styles, and, for some reason, Lon Chaney Jr.

Listen to the episode here, or search 'AFS Viewfinders' in your podcast app.

Friday, April 7, 2017

A Look Inside the AFS Cinema Renovation

The main theater is being outfitted with sound improvements, a new screen and a cosmetic facelift

We know how eager everyone is to get inside the renovated AFS Cinema and check out the next wave of movie culture in Austin. We have huge plans, and are just waiting for the doors to open so we can welcome everyone back in. There will be a second screen added, upgrades to the existing main theater room, a completely new lobby and bar area, and a large, versatile event space.

Here are some photos, showing the lobby under the knife. The project is farther along now, but this gives everyone who is familiar with the contours of the old space an idea about the scope of the effort.

We'll be announcing more details about the renovation and opening date soon. If you are not already signed up to receive AFS emails, now's the time. Sign up here.

We loved these piles of dirt, by the way, but we ultimately decided the lobby was better without them.

These construction dudes are the best.

This is a head-on look at where the bar used to be. There's a new bar going in alongside a streamlined ticket counter. Also, a new event hall entrance has been created, for comfort and ease of use.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Watch This: Aki Kaurismäki's DOGS HAVE NO HELL

It's tempting to compare Finnish writer/director Aki Kaurismäki (born on this date in 1957) to Jim Jarmusch or the Coen Brothers, but, to be perfectly honest, there is no satisfying comparison. He, like those stateside peers, is sui generis.

There's great joy in discovering Kaurismäki, and in fact his characters are always experiencing discoveries. Much of the comic tension in Kaurismäki comes from the deadpan way his protaganists receive the wonders of the universe. Dip into his work anywhere. It's a rare and fine spirit you will find.

Here is a short film from Kaurismäki, created as part of an omnibus film, THE TRUMPET & THE CELLO - TEN MINUTES OLDER from 2002. It features a wonderful Kaurismäkian hero and, another trademark, a great rock song.