Austin Film Festival gathers world of talent

Benjamin Smith

Yesterday marked the beginning of this year’s Austin Film Festival. The festival will run through Oct. 27 and seeks to balance local flavor with Hollywood flair. Among the many events that The Daily Texan will be on hand to cover are several red carpet premieres at the Paramount Theatre that are being billed as the highlights of this year’s festival.

“The Rum Diary”

Premieres: Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.
Writer/director Bruce Robinson and actor Johnny Depp will screen their adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s 1998 novel of the same name. The film stars Johnny Depp as Paul Kemp, a freelance journalist who moves from New York to San Juan in the late-1950s to write for a newspaper. Kemp soon becomes obsessed with Chenault (Amber Heard), the fiancé of ruthless property developer Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart). When Sanderson recruits Kemp to write spin for his scrupulous enterprise, Kemp has to decide to either oblige him or bury the man engaged to the object of his desires.

It has all the hallmarks of a Hunter S. Thompson narrative with the main characters being mostly crazed, alcoholic maniacs — but don’t expect another “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Best known for British cult classic “Withnail and I,” Bruce Robinson has a wholly different approach to filmmaking than “Fear and Loathing” director Terry Gilliam. Look for a more layered offering that focuses on the relationship between comedy
and tragedy.

An encore screening of “The Rum Diary” will be led by Depp, Robinson and UT radio-television-film faculty on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the SAC Auditorium. The Q&A session that follows the screening will be broadcast via satellite.

“Jeff, Who Lives at Home”

Premieres: Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m.
Writers/directors Jay and Mark Duplass will present the regional premiere of their emotional comedy “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.” The film stars Jason Segel as a borderline agoraphobic man living in his parent’s basement whose journey begins when he interprets a strange coincidence as a sign that he might have discovered his fate. The movie also stars Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer. As filmmakers, the Duplass brothers are best known for their films “The Puffy Chair,” “Baghead,” and “Cyrus,” but Mark Duplass is probably most recognizable from his starring role as Pete Eckhart on the FX comedy series “The League.” Jay Duplass, a UT alum, is known primarily as a director, though the two share writing, directing and producing credits on nearly every one of their films — including “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.” You can expect more of the same deadpan humor and pitiably endearing characters that are mainstays of the Duplass’ films.

“Sal”

Premieres: Oct. 23 at 12 p.m.
Writer/director/actor/producer/professor/painter/pilot/model/musician James Franco will screen his unconventional biopic of actor Sal Mineo, the teen star of “Rebel Without a Cause.” The film chronicles Mineo’s final hours on February 12, 1976, the day his life was tragically cut short by a senseless act of violence. During the Q&A session scheduled to immediately follow the film, Franco will probably write, direct, act in and produce the sequel.

“Beavis & Butt-Head”

Premieres: Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.
Series creator Mike Judge will preview about an hour’s worth of new episodes of his iconic animated series about two presumably orphaned teenagers whose lives comprise mainly of watching music videos, broken up with bouts of delinquency. The new episodes, however, will see Beavis and Butt-Head’s viewing preferences shift away from music videos and toward the cultural black holes of “Jersey Shore,” Ultimate Fighting and YouTube. MTV will begin airing fresh episodes of the revived series on Oct. 27 at 9 p.m.

Printed on Friday 21, 2011 as: Austin Film Fest gathers basket of cinematic talent