Austin Film Fest

Art Outside: Learn how to walk on stilts at Art Outside, a three-day fesival held on campgrounds, features performance artists, musical artists, visual artists and workshops. Musical artists featured in this year’s festival include Residual Kid, Desert Dwellers and Bird of Prey. Fire spinning, aerial acrobatics, stilt walking and acrobatic yoga are all performances highlighted during the three days. Art Outside’s final round of tickets go on sale Sept. 1 for $90 and tickets are also available at the gate for $110.

Texas Book Festival: Book signings, readings and appearances from authors such as Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz, P.J. O’Rourke and Tony Danza have been a few main attractions at the Texas Book Festival. The literary event is held annually at the State Capitol and last year’s festival included vendor tents from more than 80 publishers, authors and organizations. Books in every genre, from children’s literature to political satire, are featured. The event is free and open to the public.

New Braunfels Wurstfest: Celebrating Bavarian culture with polka music, great beer and an incredible amount of food, Wurstfest is worth the hour trip from Austin to New Braunfels. With a slogan like “Sprechen sie sausage?,” the annual celebration gives patrons a reason to don a dirndl and indulge in pork chops, potato pancakes, hamhocks and, of course, bratwurst. Tickets can be bought at the gate, and it is recommended to take cash, as ATM lines can get packed and most vendors only take cash.

Austin Record Convention: More than just a marketplace for old records, the Austin Record Convention hosts vendors with vintage record players, collectable lunch boxes and band merchandise such as pins, T-shirts and posters. Patrons can dig in boxes to hunt for out of print vinyl from every genre and converse with other vinylphiles. Regular admission is $5 for both Saturday and Sunday, early shopper admission is $25 for Friday-Sunday.

Other fall events to check out in Austin:

Pecan Street Festival: Sept. 28 & 29; Sixth Street
Fun Fun Fun Fest: Nov. 8-10; Auditorium Shores
ACL Fest: Oct. 4-6 & 11-13; Zilker Park
Formula 1 US Grand Prix: Nov. 15-17; Circuit of the Americas
St. Elias Mediterranean Festival: Oct. 18-19
Austin Museum Day: Sept. 22; Various Venues
Austin Free Day of Yoga: Sept. 2; Various Venues
Fantastic Fest: Sept. 19-26; Alamo Drafthouse and Various Locations
German-Texan Heritage Society Oktoberfest: Oct. 19
Fall Plant Sale and Gardening Festival: Oct. 5 & 6; Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Austin Film Fest: Oct. 24-31; Various Venues
East Austin Studio TourNov. 16-17 & 23-24; Various Venues
Austin Celtic Festival: Nov. 2 & 3; Fiesta Gardens
A Christmas Affair: Nov. 20-24; Palmer Events Center
Austin Powwow and American Indian Heritage Festival: Nov. 2; Toney Burger Center
Día de los Muertos: Nov. 2; Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cutlural Center
Austin Ice Cream Festival: Aug. 17; Fiesta Gardens
Austin Pride Week: Sept. 1-8; Various Locations
State Fair of Texas: Sept. 27 - Oct. 20; Fair Park, Dallas


Michael S. Wilson stars in the stoner comedy “Austin High,” written by UT graduates Kirk Johnson and Will Elliott. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Green Photography 2010)

The Austin Film Festival, which begins today and runs through Oct. 27, has the good fortune of falling just before Oscar season kicks into high gear. The festival usually has the lucky distinction of bringing many of the year’s biggest Oscar players to the screens of Austin weeks, if not months, early. While last year’s highlights included films such as “Black Swan” and “127 Hours,” this year’s festival has slotted in many promising independent features along with Oscar contenders such as “The Descendants.” Here are five films The Daily Texan is looking forward to at this year’s festival.

Austin High
Screens: 10:30 p.m., Oct. 22, Rollins Theater
9:30 p.m., Oct. 24, Rollins Theater

Recent UT alumni Will Elliott and Kirk Johnson penned ultimate stoner comedy “Austin High,” which focuses on a high school whose staff is made up of the same slackers who attended a few decades ago. The film is pretty much tailor-made for the Austin Film Festival, almost fetishizing various Austin locations and performers, and is a pretty entertaining film to boot, boasting some strong performances and a penchant for blatantly absurd humor.

Beneath the Darkness
Screens: 6:30 p.m., Oct. 22, Texas Spirit Theater
5:00 p.m., Oct. 23, Alamo Ritz

When local hero Ely (Dennis Quaid) exposes himself as a closet murderer, a group of teenage witnesses try to avoid meeting the same fate as an unlucky friend. The film promises to be an entertaining teen-based thriller featuring an against-type performance from Quaid and came about after director Martin Guigui and writer Bruce Wilkinson met at the 2003 Austin Film Fest.

The Descendants
Screens: 7:00 p.m., Oct. 26, Paramount Theatre

The biggest Oscar contender at this year’s festival is easily Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants,” his first film since 2004’s “Sideways.” George Clooney stars as Matt King, an absentee father who finds himself in charge of raising his two daughters after his wife is critically injured. Early reviews are touting Clooney’s performance as the best of his career, and Payne’s sensibilities for meshing the comedic and dramatic promise to give audiences plenty to talk about.

Martha Marcy May Marlene
Screens: 9:45 p.m., Oct. 20, Paramount Theatre

Sean Durkin’s feature debut stars Elizabeth Olsen as Martha, a woman fundamentally broken by her time in a cult run by Patrick (John Hawkes) and living with her sister (Sarah Paulson) in the aftermath of her escape. The film is an experiential marvel, blending together the past and present with clever edits, a dreamlike structure and an inescapable sense of creeping dread that pervades the film and Olsen’s stunning lead performance. This is a film that deserves to be rewatched and discussed and is one of the most ambitious films of the year.

Screens: 9:30 p.m., Oct. 22, Regal Arbor

Michael Fassbender has had a pretty great year so far, stealing the show in “X-Men: First Class” and drawing buzz for his performance in Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method.” With “Shame,” he reunites with “Hunger” director Steve McQueen to play a sex addict confronted with his impulses when similarly damaged younger sister Carey Mulligan shows up at his doorstep. “Shame’s” first trailer promises a tantalizing, gorgeously composed experience, and the film’s banishment to the Regal Arbor suggests that it may be too raunchy for the screens of the Paramount, all the more reason to make the trek to North Austin to check it out.

Printed on Thursday, October 20, 2011 as: Austin Festival returns with promising films