A guide to the schedule and programming


You can stay and watch something on Netflix. Again. Or, and just listen to us, you could support a local cultural institution as they make a big comeback to cinema in person.

The Austin Film Festival will showcase the newest and most exciting films in town from October 21-28, showing at venues such as the Paramount and Stateside theaters. Founded in 1994, the festival is often the first local stop for films that make waves in wide circulation – previous selections include “Call Me By Your Name”, “Marriage Story”, “Can You Ever Forgive Me”, ” La La Land “,” Carol “and more. This year’s sensational titles include “The French Dispatch”, by University of Texas alumnus Wes Anderson; and “Spencer,” the biopic about Princess Diana by filmmaker Pablo Larraín.

But if you’re really used to queuing for a movie depending on your mood, we hear you. Pandemic and all that. There is something good about curation.

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Timothée Chalamet and Lyna Khoudri featured in the film "The French Dispatch."

That’s why we asked Casey Baron, Director of Programming and Industry Relations at the Austin Film Festival, for his recommendations on what to see based on multiple moods. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

American statesman: OK, my first one – if anyone is looking for something weird. And obviously not to encourage them to show up on an illegal substance, but let’s say they just like to get a little creepy with their viewing. What should they check?

Casey Baron: I myself am a huge fan of the genre in particular. Science fiction or really any of the subgenres grabs my attention. This year, part of our opening night programming will be “Karmalink”, co-written and directed by Jake Wachtel. Jake will also join us for a question-and-answer session after the screening. … It’s that kind of really interesting sci-fi tale about a young boy, all filmed in Cambodia, and his realization that the memories he has, that he explores, are not his, and they come from a completely different place. …

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Also ” Memory “, of course, from Neon. Apichatpong’s new film Weerasethakul is very exciting through and through. Tilda Swinton does an amazing job in this film. Another film, quite interesting, about obsession in a certain way. But for Tilda, it’s this obsession with a sound that captures her just one night, and right at the top of the film. Well, so we just hit go. It’s the kind of adventure that, on the one hand, is a film about discovery and self-discovery. But then again, it’s also almost like a trip of inquiry, too, for this character, who’s just trying to figure out, “What is this? Why am I so obsessed with this? But also, “How does this impact my life where I can’t sleep, where I can’t think of anything else, where I meet strangers in the world, and I don’t know if are these just random inventions of my imagination or actually out there? “…

What about someone who doesn’t want to escape to an alternate reality, and who wants to understand a little better some of the issues unfolding in the world today?

My mind goes straight to our opening night function, “The same storm” written and directed by Peter Hedges. It was shot completely from a distance. But the film also has such a fascinating way of discussing through its characters the need for human connection, and the need to find our people and to find our community, even in a situation like our ongoing pandemic that we all face which has changed our daily life so much. …

"The same storm" opens Austin Film Festival for 2021, telling a tale of connection to the COVID era.

Another movie that certainly comes to mind would be “Larry Flynt for the president.” … This film covers the overall journey of Larry Flynt (editor of Hustler) and deals with so many different topics, whether it’s First Amendment rights, whether it’s the need for a free press (which) does isn’t necessarily tied to some sort of government agencies, or whatever, that can hamper the impact of free thinking. …

Let’s say someone is tired of the real world. They want something that will make them laugh, or a slightly more whimsical or lighthearted escape fare.

“Little mom” is such an awesome film by Neon, Celine Sciamma’s sequel to “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, which we screened at the festival in 2019. This film is really whimsical and wonderful. It follows these two young girls who meet as our protagonist visits her grandmother’s house and begins cleaning up and cleaning up the space after her unfortunate death at the start of the film. You can really see this very young friendship blossom into something very beautiful, but also see this protagonist learn more about herself and the family line in a truly inventive way. …

"Little mom" is the latest film by French director Céline Sciamma.

“Cicada” would be another, oddly enough. … What I find so interesting about it is that it really delves deep into old Korean cultural myths, but also social structures. … The film has this musical juxtaposition which also goes against the family drama which is very structurally set up from the outset for the audience. It’s an interesting movie on many levels, as it has that natural family drama that everyone would expect but subverts it.

You mentioned “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”. One of the things I really love about the Austin Film Festival every year is seeing movies that reappear later in awards season. What do you think are the things that people should check out that you think will be candidates for the awards, or that they might hear much more about later?

Specifically “Come on” from A24, the new Mike Mills movie starring Joaquin Phoenix and Woody Norman – which awards season is written on. Mike does a fabulous job with the script. Joaquin Phoenix plays that uncle in Woody Norman’s life and really comes to try and help him out as Joaquin’s sister (who is) Woody’s mother faces some relationship challenges. Joaquin and Woody take this hike across the country to capture some interviews Joaquin does for work. This presents Joaquin in an interesting light, I think, from an actor’s perspective, especially considering that his most recent high-profile job is “Joker,” for a lot of people. It’s like I’ve never seen him … so light-hearted, and had such great chemistry with Woody, who is clearly himself on a star trajectory.

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“The worst person in the world” Joachim Trier’s new film, which we’re teaming up with Neon to show at Paramount this year, is certainly on top of a lot of people’s minds when it comes to the international conversation about best picture award as well. What an extraordinary romantic comedy. I feel like even calling it a romantic comedy doesn’t do it a favor, because it’s a genre that mixes up in different ways. He goes to surreal places. He goes to places with a heavy heart. …

And of course, “Spencer,” the closing night film (with) Kristen Stewart. I frankly think she’s at the forefront of the best actress conversation in every way. … It’s such a magnanimous film. Pablo Larraín also does a fantastic job from a directing point of view: talking about color, talking about cinematic vision and visual language.

Kristen Stewart is Princess Diana in "Spencer," which will close the Austin Film Festival.

People who want to support local filmmakers who have films showing at the festival and really want to get a taste of what the Austin or Texas movie scenes are doing right now – what should they see?

We are delighted that Chad Bailey Werner is returning this year with “The one you’re with.” … We teamed up with Chad last year for the screening of “The Get Together” at the Paramount Theater, the world premiere of this. So we’re very happy to be able to support him in this endeavor this year, very Project Austin, shot (and) written here. Similar to “The Same Storm,” we’ve obviously had a lot of movies this year that tried to argue with COVID as a subject or theme. …

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“Whoever You Are With” specifically explores this idea of ​​a one night stand (where) you also have something much more when the world stops around you, for days and months. I feel like they had a lot of fun with it from a movie point of view. …

Next to that, “Jockey.” Greg Kwedar and Clint Bentley are also festival and program alumni, so we are delighted to support them and Sony Pictures Classics. This new movie covers the character of Clifton Collins Jr., who is this elderly jockey who is just trying to find his way. He’s on his last legs, looking for a final hurray. But here’s supporting actor Moises Arias, basically saying, “Hey, I’m your son and I’m about to put the wrench into things a little bit.” …

Is there anything else that you really think people should check out?

“Down with the king” is our flagship film this year. This is actually our first spotlight spot. We’re really excited to welcome Diego Ongaro for the screening this year, (the) screenwriter and director. The star (and real hip-hop artist) Freddie Gibbs plays this rapper who is no longer captivated by the traps and the allure of this rap lifestyle and decides to embark on a new adventure: to support his family in this life. Midwestern farmer. But of course that call, or that kind of itch, is still there. It becomes a tale of troubled paths or desires for Freddie. …

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Beyond that, I would say for us, it’s just good to be back in person. I cannot say it enough. Funny, I recently went to see “Shang-Chi”. We have a co-writer Dave Callaham coming for our writers conference this year. And this movie was such a wonderful experience from a cinematic standpoint, being in the house, seeing amazing action and wonderful visuals on screen. There’s nothing quite like the movie experience, the movie experience, and I just can’t wait to reintroduce our audience to that this year. …

I think the last two years have, at the very least, shown me personally, and I feel like I can also speak on behalf of everyone at the festival, that what we do matters. There is absolutely a need for cinema and this kind of shared experience.

If you are going to

To attend the Austin Film Festival, guests must provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result within 48 hours of picking up their badges or tickets. Photo ID matching the name on the health document must be presented.

The festival will also have a virtual component this year. To view the full Austin Film Festival program and purchase badges and individual tickets for screenings, visit austinfilmfestival.com.


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