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Austin Film Festival announces its 2011 slate

Charles Ealy

The Austin Film Festival and Conference announced its lineup Tuesday, including some of the best movies from this year's slew of international festivals as well as several high-profile Texas-made independent films.

"Like Crazy," which won the grand jury prize for best picture at the Sundance Film Festival, will be one of the biggest regional premieres. The heartbreaking love story stars Felicity Jones, who won a special jury prize as best actress at Sundance, as well as Anton Yelchin.

"Shame," which caused a sensation at the recent Toronto and Venice film festivals with its focus on a sex addict, also will play in Austin. Other highlights include "The Artist," a black-and-white silent movie that wowed audiences at the Cannes Film Festival and garnered the best actor award for French star Jean Dujardin; "The Descendants," which had its premiere in Toronto and stars George Clooney; "Sal," a biographical look at the final days of the actor Sal Mineo, directed by James Franco and premiering in Venice; and "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," which premiered in Toronto and stars Jason Segel and Ed Helms. It is directed by former Austin residents Jay and Mark Duplass.

The festival will also host the world premieres of the documentary "Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters" and the horror film "Beneath the Darkness," which was shot in Central Texas and stars Dennis Quaid. And in a first, the festival will host a 3-D screening of the new animated film "Puss in Boots."

The weeklong festival, which kicks off Oct. 20 , will coincide with the Texas Book Festival at the Capitol on Oct. 22 and 23 . "If you love writing, you'd better be in downtown Austin that weekend," said Barbara Morgan, executive director of the film festival, which highlights screenwriting.

The film and book festivals, in fact, are teaming up to do various panels that weekend, including one with screenwriter Jim Uhls and novelist Chuck Palahniuk. "They're going to do a panel about how they brought 'Fight Club' to the screen," Morgan said.

She also is looking forward to a Polly Platt tribute, which will feature a screening of "Bottle Rocket," presented by Luke Wilson, as well as a filmed introduction by Wes Anderson. Platt, an original board member for the festival, died in July at 72.

Thomas Jane, the star of HBO's "Hung," will participate in a reading of "The Nice Guys," a new script by Shane Black ("Lethal Weapon").

"We have two new programmers this year, Stephen Jannise and Stephen Belyeu, and they have picked some very edgy movies that I'm really excited about," Morgan said.

Independent Texas films that will have their world premieres at the festival include: the stoner comedy "Austin High," directed by Alan Deutsch; the drama "Deep in the Heart," directed by Christopher Cain; the high school reunion comedy "Searching for Sonny," directed by Andrew Disney; the drama "A Swingin' Trio," directed by Kelvin Phillips; the drama "Sironia," directed by Brandon Dickerson; and the thriller "Uncertain, TX," directed by Eric Steele.

Other Texas independent film screenings will be held for "Strings," directed by Mark Dennis, and "An Ordinary Family," directed by Mike Akel.

The opening night film, as well as the centerpiece and closing night films, have not yet been announced.

This year's previously announced award recipients include John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and the director of animated hits such as "Toy Story" and "Cars"; screenwriter Caroline Thompson ("Edward Scissorhands") and Hart Hanson, the writer and creator of television's "Bones."

Film passes and festival badges are on sale at a discounted rate until Sept. 30 and can be purchased at www.austinfilmfestival.com.

Festival screenings kick off Oct. 20 and continue through Oct. 27. For a complete list of the festival lineup, visit www.austin360.com/movies.

cealy@statesman.com; 445-3931