Thursday, June 2, 2011

Liz Update- Incendies to open at Violet Crown Theater June 3rd

The film 'Incendies' that screened during SXSW 2011 is now coming to Austin as of June 3rd on behalf of Sony Pictures Classics. It will open at the new downtown theater, Violet Crown, located on 2nd St. between Guadalupe and San Antonio streets. Parking is not a problem, as your parking ticket is validated at the parking garage close by.

I was at the Violet Crown this morning and had a most enjoyable experience, along with the delicious coffee and pastry.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Liz has more updates from SXSW for spring and summer

Silly me! How could I forget to mention that 'Bridesmaids' was a WIP at the time of SXSW 2011, but it was screened as such on Sunday evening, March 13th. I had to be at another location at the time of the screening, so I was wholeheartedly looking forward to the final product when it was to be released theatrically in May. I invited a guest to the screening that I was invited to prior to opening day on May 13th since she had already seen the trailer. I enjoyed the comedy, but my friend is a complete fan of Wiig's comedy. We have still been talking about her script and how successful it has been at the box office since it opened. It has some very funny moments, but I won't spoil them for viewers who have not yet headed over to the theaters. Enjoy!!

I mentioned 'Kill List' previously as a SXFantastic film and how great it was. I wanted to provide the update that it was acquired by IFC Midnight and hopefully will hear when that film will have a theatrical release.

'Fubar: Balls to the Wall' screened during the festival on March 15th as a double feature with 'Fubar. Since the screening, 'Fubar: Balls to the Wall' is available on DVD, Blue - Ray and VOD as of April 19th. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy yet, but if I can get one, I will place a review on our site.

'The Beaver' from actor/director Jodie Foster and written by Austinite Kyle Killien screened during the festival and has since opened in theaters on May 6th. Gibson and the puppet make for a great drama and all the performances are good.

'Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW' by director Berg was screened twice during the festival. For as many years as I have participated in the SXSW festivals, I enjoyed the information on the history happening in our town. If you missed the article in the Austin American Statesman recently, please get a copy to see what this creative entrepreneur is doing in our fine city.

The independent feature film 'Apart' screened during the festival and released the digital from the film's soundtrack. Will keep you updated on more from this indie and you can download the song at

I know there is more to come, so I plan to keep you updated as much as possible.

The Interactive Festival this year also had the most attendees to date and provided many new opportunities and events. Plutopia is one of my favorites that I attended last year and seemed to have grown this year. I love the combination of activities that one can partake of and certainly know how to showcase what interactive really means with guest speakers, food, drink and more.
Even if you do not think you are tech savvy, there is something new to learn from the panels and the events that are in abundance. Did I forget to mention the fashion piece to this new this year?
Games of course and so much more.

As for the music, what can I say about 25 years of fantastic sounds in our city that probably has not been said. The city was abuzz with different sounds from around the world and people enjoying themselves to all genres in hundreds of venues. This is a great opportunity to listen to the sounds of Skampira from Colombia, Intimate Strangers from Chile, as well as going to a private party hosted by Jim Beam, featuring Kid Rock and new artists he introduced.

Liz has News and Continued Update on Films from SXSW 2011

Monday the 14th featured some great films during the festival that are some of my favorite.
'Win Win' with Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan and many other cast members each gave excellent performances and is another gem from the director, Tom McCarthy. The film was screened at the Paramount Theater with cast members in attendance at the Red Carpet. All members of the cast and filmmakers were very pleasant during the interview opportunities. What a thrill to see Paul Giamatti in person! It had a theatrical release in April.

'Beginners' by director/screenwriter Mike Mills was among the films in the Spotlight Premieres category during the festival. The cast includes Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Bastards), Goran Visnjic, among others. Lucky for film fans who did not catch either of the two screenings of this gem during the festival, as 'Beginners' is having a theatrical release by Focus Features in June. The comedy/drama inspired by Mills' father will begin to platform on June 3rd and is scheduled to arrive in Austin theaters on June 24th. I had the opportunity to speak with director Mills when he was in town for the festival and this information will be included in my review of the film for the June release.

'Incendies' from director/screenwriter Denis Villenueve is an Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, adapted from the play by Wajdi Mouawad. I was unable to schedule either of the film screenings into my work agenda, but it was in the Festival Favorites category. Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in theaters as of June 3rd and in Austin, it will open at the Arbor Theater and the new Violet Crown Theater in downtown Austin. I look forward to it.

Jez Jerzy [George the Hedgehog] made it's International Premiere at the festival this evening as part of the SXFantastic set of films. If you can imagine a skateboarding hedgehog who drinks beer, there is plenty of action between the hedgehogs and humans. Screenwriter Rafa Skarzycki has a very vivid imagination. As much as I was not looking forward to a story about a hedgehog during the festival, I actually started to forget George is not a human and worried about his fate with the mad scientists!

'Septien,' written and directed by Michael Tully had it's premiere screening on Monday afternoon [14th] and unfortunately was unable to catch this or the subsequent screenings. Prior to screening at SXSW 2011, it was at Sundance 2011 and is scheduled to be make its New York premiere at the upcoming Bam Cinemafest in June. As of July 6th, IFC Midnight will present 'Septien' in New York and nationwide Video On Demand via IFC Midnight.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Liz is Looking Back and Forward at SXSW 2011

One of the things I wish I had been able to have done was see Jake G. on the March 11th Red Carpet event at the Paramount Theater for 'Source Code', but then I was not the only media person who wanted to be there. I did not get a spot. Sorry to repeat that I wanted to see Jake, but I really, really did want to see him, even from a few feet away. I was glad to have seen the film and great performance, as well as that of Vera Farmiga. It had a theatical release in April for film fans to enjoy, so Jake fans got their fill (or hope they did).

I had the Red Carpet opportunity that evening over at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar for 'Girl Walks Into a Bar' and photographed the actors in the film -Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Carla Gugino and director, Sebastian Gutierrez. That truly was a treat, although I was unable to obtain a seat in the theater for the actual screening of the film. There were no seats available for media that worked, or else, no one made sure that all the working media be included. Somehow that does not seem right, so I began to feel as if this was not the right way to start out the 2011 film festival. Fortunately, it did not shape the rest of my experience at SXSW this year. Other than the screening during SXSW, it has not been screened in Austin that I know of. It is available to view on the Internet.

I managed to make my way back over to the Paramount for the 9:30pm 'blacktino' screening that had lots of buzz outside the theater with many in the cast in attendance. Unfortunately, it was not until after the screening that I found out a local actor and dance artist, Jesse Rodriguez, was in the film. I enjoyed his performance and there is a great dance scene in the film! As an aside, he also teaches elementary children the art of hip hop dance and the kids really enjoy learning this art. It would have been great for him to have been a part of the cast that was present and recognized during the premiere of the film at the historic theater. I have not heard of a theatrical release of this film yet, perhaps a DVD will come along soon? I have nothing official in writing yet, so stay tuned and we will keep 'blacktino' fans posted.

Fox Searchlight Pictures has acquired the drama 'Sound of My Voice' that had it's premiere at the State Theater next door also on opening night and I missed it during the festival. It will be having a theatrical release in the near future, but I do not have a firm date to announce yet. 'Insidious' was screened that evening at midnight and I throughly enjoyed meeting and conducting interviews of the filmmakers. The director and the writer/actor were very animated and it was a pleasant experience after a long night.

On Saturday (12th), while I was in the badge line to view 'The Innkeepers' at the Paramount, I had the luck of standing next to the 'Pee-wee Herman Broadway' celebration after the 4pm screening at the State Theater. Pee-wee was the middle of crowd who tried to gather around to either meet him, take pictures or just plain get free popsicles from the truck that had the graphics for the upcoming television show. As I stood in the area to photograph Pee-wee, he decided to video tape the crowd and placed the camera in my face. I have no idea where that tape is now....or whose camera he was using. Oh no!

I have not heard of a theatrical release for 'The Innkeepers' that did have a couple of scenes that were somewhat frightening, but it is good overall and I enjoyed Sara Paxton's performance. I stayed at the Paramount after that screening and was able to get a spot into the screening of 'Super' with Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. It was a bit over the top for me with the super action character (Wilson) and his teen sidekick (Page). It did have a slow theatrical release after the festival and made its way to Austin for a week.

'Bellflower' and 'Attack the Block' also screened that evening at the Alamo Ritz and both are scheduled to have a theatrical release this summer, although not sure what date 'Bellflower' is making it to Austin. It is scheduled to open in New York and Los Angeles on August 5th.

I am looking forward to the opportunity to see 'Attack the Block' with Luke Treadaway who I did get to meet while he was in town. It is great for Treadaway to have had two films he performed in during the 2011 SXSW festival. Treadaway is also in 'You Instead' with Natalia Tena (Harry Potter) that screened that evening/same theater and several other times during the festival. It is a great treat to watch and hear the music at the festival where it was shot. 'You Instead' is scheduled to have a theatrical release in September, but not sure if the U. S. yet.

'Kill List' was also screened at midnight that night as part of the SXFantastic Fest films and it is a film not to be missed when it comes through theaters. It does have plenty of violent scenes, but it is a really great script and impressive performances. 'The City Dark' and 'The Dish and the Spoon' screened on Saturday evening and will now have a New York premiere this coming weekend at the Rooftop Films Summer Series, after screening at the SXSW 2011 Film Festival.

Sunday, March 13th, the Spanish language film 'Que Pena Tu Vida [F*** my Life]' from director Nicolas López made it's U. S. Premiere at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar and was well received, with additional screenings added. It is a fun film to watch as a romantic comedy goes and the performances are enjoyable.

'Hesher' was screened at the same theater that evening and it is a good script that may be a bit too much for some viewers, but luckily, it has had a theatrical release as of May 13th in Austin if anyone missed it during this festival. I am very impressed with the Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance of the character 'Hesher' and Rainn Wilson is also in this film. Wilson, like Luke Treadaway, had two films he performed in that were screened during this festival.

'The Future' was screened at the Alamo Ritz that evening to a full house of film fans. Many were left standing outside the theater and I was able to squeeze in before people were sent away due to being at maximum seating capacity. For fans of the director, Miranda July, be on the lookout as there does seem to be a theatrical release in the making, hopefully this summer. It is a very different film for me and the story is one to take in slowly, with elements I really enjoyed.

'The Greatest Movie Ever Sold' screened during the festival this afternoon and I missed any opportunity to meet director Morgan Spurlock. Darn! I really enjoyed the documentary that was one of the films in the Festival Favorites category. I am certainly glad it did have a theatrical release in April and was able to catch this film. Spurlock has his comedic side and this is a great aspect he adds to his documentary.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Liz has an update from Rooftop Films Summer Series featuring three SXSW 2011 films

Rooftop Films will have a special weekend of select films screened in March at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas as they now make their New York premieres. The Rooftop Films 15th Annual Summer Series will be held on June 3-5th in Brooklyn. The Summer Series will also include a selection of 2011 SXSW Shorts.

The feature films are 'The Dish and the Spoon' (Alison Bagnall), 'No Matter What' (Cherie Saulter) and 'The City Dark' (Ian Cheney). The SXSW shorts include 'Heliotropes' (Michael Langan), 'Howling at the Moon' (Jason Tippet/Elizabeth Mims).

Tickets and information at

Monday, March 21, 2011

Movie Doc's Friday and Saturday

Running on fumes, I managed to watch four more movies on Friday and Saturday. Friday afternoon, I watched 3 back to back films. I began with BOB AND THE MONSTER, an interesting and well done documentary on rock singer Bob Forrest of the band Thelonious Monster and his battles with drug abuse and his eventual recovery and new calling as a drug counselor. I followed this film with the winner of the best narrative feature in both the Jury and Audience categories, NATURAL SELECTION. Writer/director Robbie Pikering presents a dark comedy which tells the story of Linda White, a barren, devout Christian housewife who discovers an ugly truth about her husband when he suffers a stroke. Pikering does a wonderful job with this film and Rachael Harris offers an amazing performance as Linda White. The film also earned awards for best breakthrough performances (Rachael Harris and Matt O'Leary), best screenplay (Robbie Pikering), best editing (Michelle Tesoro), and best score/music (iZLER, Curt Schneider). My last film on Friday was another dark comedy about a dysfunctional family. ANOTHER HAPPY DAY by writer/director Sam Levinson boasts an excellent cast of talented actors including Ellen Barkin, Kate Bosworth, Demi Moore, Thomas Haden Church, George Kennedy, Ellen Burstyn, and relative newcomers Ezra Miller, and Daniel Yelsky. Perhaps dysfunctional is an understatement when describing the family in this movie. This family has some serious deep seeded problems which Levinson presents with an unusual, but effective mix of humor and drama. This is one movie that should not be overlooked when released in theaters and hopefully come awards season. Saturday, because I had some family matters to attend to, I only made one movie. I finally got to see the movie which won the audience award in the Midnight Feature category. I say finally because when first considering which films I wanted to see this one was high on my list, but because of schedule conflicts, I missed all the previous screenings. From executive producer Edgar Wright (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, SCOTT PILGRIM) and director Joe Cornish, ATTACK THE BLOCK combines horror, humor, and non stop thrills is a film which deserves its audience award. Fans of Edgar Wright and horror/comedies with a small dose of sci-fi should take notice of this excitingly fun motion picture. A South London street gang is forced to stop terrorizing their neighborhood and defend it when a new terror in the form of space aliens attacks. Be sure to look for this film in theaters when it arrives. I get the feeling that this one might fly below the radar and could be easily missed. Mark Saldana The Movie Doc

Friday, March 18, 2011

WUSS Screening

The director and stars of WUSS at the Alamo South Lamar screening

Movie Doc's Wednesday and Thursday

It's time for me to play catch up now and post about the films that have kept me busy these past couple of days. On Wednesday evening, I went to the Paramount to watch THE BEAVER with director Jodie Foster in attendance. The film stars Mel Gibson as a father and business executive struggling with major depression. He finds an unusual form of escapism and communication by using a beaver puppet. I really did not know what to think of the movie when I first heard the premise and saw the trailer. All I can say is that the film is truly remarkable and something that film fans should experience. If you think you know what to expect from this film you may just be wrong. With all the bad press and personal problems Gibson's had recently, I am not sure how audiences will treat the film. Whatever problems the man has, there is still no denying his talent as an actor. Following this, I headed to the Alamo South Lamar for HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. This grindhouse tribute/throwback was first conceived for a fake trailer contest held by Robert Rodriguez a few years back. He was seeking an additional faux movie trailer to play during his GRINDHOUSE collaboration with Quentin Tarantino. I LOVED the trailer when I first saw it. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the full length film treatment. The attempts at humor fail through most of the film. The structure and pacing of the plot is so uneven that I felt bored and unamused during the screening. The film lacked the sharp wit and cool writing and style which made the feature length MACHETE a perfect extension of its fake trailer. Thursday fortunately, I remained at the Alamo South Lamar for two screenings. I say fortunately because downtown has become so crazy congested with people and traffic ever since the Music portion of the festival began. I was grateful to get a break from this. The first film I watched was a Chilean romantic comedy called F*CK MY LIFE. While normally not a fan of romantic comedies, the film with its mix of relavant satire, screwball comedy, and likable characters kept me invested and entertained even if the plot was somewhat formulaic. Director Nicholas Lopez manages to take an often tiresome plot and refreshes it with well developed characters and rich humor. The final film of the evening was a movie called WUSS. Director Clay Lifford takes us into the sad and frightening world of Mitch Parker (Nate Rubin), a high school English teacher who gets attacked by his drug dealing student Re-Up (Ryan Andeson) and his cronies. Mitch has to decide how to handle this scary new development as Re-Up continues to torment him and also has to come to terms with his timid personality and arrested development. Speaking of which, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT's Tony Hale has a hilarious role in the film as Mr. Crowder the band teacher. Lifford mixes dark comedy and real drama, which actually gets seriously disturbing at times. Nevertheless, the comedy does work tremendously well and had me laughing constantly. The acting by Parker, Anderson, and Alicia Anthony, who plays Maddie Worth, is excellent.


Mark Saldana’s Interview with director Anlo Sepulveda and actors Roberta Colindrez, Anis Mojgani, and Jacqueline Leal from the film OTIS UNDER SKY Monday afternoon I was blessed with the opportunity to interview the director and lead actors from a film that is visually gorgeous, has characters who should win the hearts of any audience, and was achieved without a definitive script. This was no easy feat, but at the same time felt liberating and exciting for the cast and crew of OTIS UNDER SKY. Mark Saldana: How did this film idea come about? Is it based on any personal experiences? Anlo Sepulveda: Otis is loosely based on a guy I knew named Garrison. He was a bull rider who really got into Eastern philosophies and eventually moved to Morocco, grew a beard, and learned Arabic. In the movie, Otis is not a bull rider, but his interest in Eastern religions and philosophies were inspired by Garrison. MS: You’ve directed shorts and documentaries prior to this film. How did this film differ from your previous work? AS: The whole production spanned over a larger period of time. It was much more time consuming than shorts. My work in documentaries did prepare me for the task, though. I took this approach to OTIS in that I shot it much like a documentary is. MS: Would this fall under the category of guerilla style filmmaking. AS: Exactly MS: How challenging was it to produce a film unscripted? AS: Very challenging, but my wife Mandi who produced the film kept everything organized and on track. MS: How challenging was it for you the actors? Anis Mojgani: Challenging, but beneficial and fun. Roberta Sepulveda: Very liberating without the structure of the script. Awesome, but stressful MS: I have not seen the film yet. What should I expect going into this film if you could describe in a few words? AS: It is a gentle tale of love and loss, a struggle for connection in a often disconnected world. AM: It attempts to be sincere without being cynical. RC: There is a theme of growth, a duality of connection and disconnection, growth and learning Jacqueline Leal: Visually beautiful. MS: Anis, tell me about your career as a poet and spoken word artist. AM: I have been writing poetry for 12-15 years now and doing spoken word for 5 or 6 years. I have done shows at schools and colleges. It comes from a quieter and organic place very much involved in the imagination. MS: Roberta, I read in the press kit that you are currently a cast member for the Neo-Futurist. Tell me about this. RC: It is a unique Avant Garde aesthetic in NYC. 18 artists write, direct, perform about 30 plays within 60 minutes. MS: What projects do you all have next? AM: I’m getting married, planning a wedding. After this I will be working on a children’s book and finishing a script. RC: I just hired an agent and plan to seek more work with the agent’s help now. Until then I will continue with Neo-Futurism and I have started writing a screenplay. AS: I started working with Paul Collins on a documentary on the San Marcos River. Also will continue to seek distribution for OTIS UNDER SKY JL: Will act in a surfer film and a film thriller in Uganda.

Mark Saldana The Movie Doc

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Liz at SXSW- From horror to romantic comedy and dramas

Wednesday was an interesting day of films for me as I stayed in the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar area for most of my business from 9:30 am to almost 6pm.

I was able to attend another one of the SXFantastic film screenings, selected by the Fantastic Fest folks. I viewed 'Kill List' and it is a very good film and great departure from the previous film I saw, Jez Jerzy (George the Hedgehog). 'Kill List' keeps the viewer very much intrigued with the characters and their actions, as compared to one about a hedgehog. Both hail from different countries, but I prefer the film with humans over the one about a hedgehog, who somehow thinks and acts as if he is a human, including getting the girl; a human girl at that!

I took a break over at Casa Garcia's and had some yummy food to keep me going for the rest of the day. The staff is always very attentive to me and give me a quiet space to think, or just get refueled while I run from one screening to another during this city's film festivals (this is my fourth since September 2010).

Later that afternoon, I was glad to catch the film from Chile, 'F*** My Life' (Que Pena Tu Vida) and it is a film that connects the viewer with the man-boy who has his ups and downs in life. Typical to some people, he does not know what he has until he gives it up, then he crys about it- almost forever. It is funny to see the protagonist go from day to day in his pursuit of whatever he is chasing that day. There are some very funny scenes and if a romantic comedy is your fancy, there is another screening tonight at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar Theater at 8pm. There are still single ticket sales available to the films, but I would advise to arrive early to secure tickets.

Just as a reminder, Sudor Frio (Cold Sweat), from Argentina, is also screening tonight at the Alamo South Lamar Theater tonight too, starting at 11:30pm. This is part of the SXFantastic films presented, so it will be a drastic change from the romantic comedy of 'F*** My Life'.

I ran back into the Capital area looking for parking in order to try to get into the film screening of 'The Beaver' by director Jodie Foster. How lucky I was to find a free space close enough to get into the badge line and join my friends and fellow critics. I am so glad I did not miss this film and throughly enjoyed the film with the cast that includes Jodie Foster, Mel Gibson and Anton Yelchin. The Q&A after the film was also quite informative. I certainly hope this has a theatrical release in the near future.

Jodie flew in from Paris where she is shooting another film and was flying back to finish the project. The audience in attendance was very lucky to have had the opportunity to hear from her during SXSW, considering her other current film work. Keep your eyes open for this drama, based on a screenplay by Austin based writer, Kyle Killen.

Hope the rest of this day is a good one for you. I am wearing green just in case for this holiday.
Feliz Dia de San Patricio!
sub-title= Happy St. Patrick's Day!!