Austin Film Festival this week announced the first wave of films set to screen in its virtual 2020 festival.
The list of movies includes the world premiere of "Horton Foote: The Road To Home," a documentary directed by Anne Rapp that charts the creative life of Texas playwright and screenwriter Foote, who died in 2009. Among his many honors, the Wharton native won Oscars for the "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Tender Mercies" screenplays.
Also on the premiere slate: the world premieres of Paul Kowalski’s "Paper Tiger," Kathy Kuras’ "Open Field," Ivo Raza’s "Reboot Camp," Matthew Ya-Hsiung Balzer’s "The Catch," Will Bakke’s "The Get Together" and Aldo Miyashiro’s "Wake Show"; the North American premiere of Tyler Savage’s "Blinders"; the U.S. premiere of Jason Neulander’s "Fugitive Dreams"; and the Texas premiere of Khaled Ridgeway’s "Death of a Telemarketer."
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Austin Film Festival previously announced that this year’s event, set for Oct. 22-29, would be mostly virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic. The fest says a complete lineup will be announced late next month. Find more information and purchase badges at austinfilmfestival.com.
Read the festival’s descriptions of the first wave of films below.
"Horton Foote: The Road To Home,"
Director: Anne Rapp
"Horton Foote: The Road To Home" is a documentary that chronicles the creative journey of acclaimed Texas writer Horton Foote through his own eyes and voice at the end of his life. Foote, who was born and raised in Wharton, Texas, went on to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, the winner of two Academy Awards for screenwriting, an Emmy Award for television writing and was recipient of the National Medal of Arts, among numerous other theatrical and literary prizes. His long and successful 70-year career of writing consisted primarily of stories set in the small town of Harrison, Texas, a fictitious version of Wharton. Horton was known for his delicate yet deeply-layered and profound storytelling —about family, human connections, struggles, resilience and redemption.
North American Premiere
Director: Tyler Savage
Writers: Tyler Savage & Dash Hawkins
In the wake of a messy break-up, Andy Escobedo decides to start fresh, relocating from Austin to Los Angeles. Eager to make new connections, he befriends Roger, an unusual rideshare driver. But when Roger’s behavior gets too strange for comfort, Andy blows him off, choosing to focus on a budding relationship with Sam. This unhinges Roger, who begins to torment Andy, ensuring that his stay in L.A. is short-lived.
"Death of a Telemarketer"
Writer/Director: Khaled Ridgeway
When a smooth-talking telemarketer preys upon the seemingly perfect mark, he must pass a twisted test on ethics if he wants to live to sell another day.
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Writer/Director: Jason Neulander
In this allegorical road movie touching on themes of homelessness, mental health and addiction, two lost souls embark across a dreamscape America. Their darkly strange journey confronts them with their traumatic pasts, and bonds them in compassion and love.
Director: Kathy Kuras
She plays by NFL rules in NFL stadiums. She wins world championships. She’s at the top of her game. What does she have to do to level the playing field?
Writer/Director: Paul Kowalski
A widowed immigrant mother in L.A. fears her schizophrenic teenage son is turning into a school shooter. Inspired by true events, "Paper Tiger" unfolds as a timely conversation about gun violence, mental illness and immigration; it also plays as a riveting psychological thriller, showcasing Paul Kowalski’s feature debut as a crafted and cinematic roller coaster.
Writer/Director: Ivo Raza
After losing his life savings and his wife to a self-help guru, Seymour is on a mission to expose false prophets who fleece people for money. He teams up with his brother Danny, a filmmaker, and they start a fake self-improvement group called Reboot Camp. While Seymour transforms into the charismatic Gordon St. Pierre, a larger-than-life persona who teaches a path to bliss through a process called "rebooting," Danny films. They succeed handsomely as even the most ludicrous group activities are met with unbridled enthusiasm from the members. But as Reboot Camp grows, Seymour and Danny must request additional funds from the producer, who pushes them to hire his niece Claire to supervise.
Writer/Director: Matthew Ya-Hsiung Balzer
A troubled woman returns to her estranged family in coastal Maine. With her lobsterman father caught up in a turf war at sea, she and an ex-boyfriend make plans to hijack local drug runners.
"The Get Together"
Director: Will Bakke
Writers: Will Bakke & Michael B. Allen
A recent college post-grad, a soon-to-possibly-be-engaged couple and a failing musician all deal with the realities of growing up as their three stories intersect over the course of one night at a house party in Austin.
Writer/Director: Aldo Miyashiro
Leonardo Oviedo is an ambitious theater director whose plays haven’t accomplished the success he dreamed of. Seeking for some recognition, he decides to write a play for four characters; a one-performance only, where all actors have to die onstage. On that matter, he casts an old has-been actor, who is an alcoholic; an overweight actress; an endearing boy with intellectual disabilities; and a Black actor, who has only been cast for the color of his skin. The play brings on a media hype never seen before, is an instant success and everyone is eager for the opening night. With defenders and detractors, the whole country talks about Leonardo Oviedo, and he will be willing to get to the very end, to fulfill this sickening artistic ideal.