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SXSW announces midnight and short films

Joe Gross
jgross@statesman.com

The South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival unveiled its 11 Midnighter (read: genre) movies this week — including nine world premieres — as well as the complete short film lineup.

“These nine world premieres and two festival favorites are helmed by five first-time filmmakers and several SXSW alumni,” SXSW Senior Programmer Jarod Neece said.

The two “festival favorites” (as in, not world premieres) are Rodney “Room 237″ Ascher’s “The Nightmare,” a terrifying-looking documentary on sleep paralysis, and “Turbo Kid,” a Canadian / New Zealand production that looks awesomely bonkers.

The fest takes place March 13-21.

The 106 shorts were selected by SXSW programmer Claudette Godfrey from a record 4,935 short film submissions (!), an overall increase of 16 percent from 2014. They will screen as part of 10 curated shorts programs.

SXSW is an official qualifying festival for the Academy Awards Short Film competition, which means that winners of the Best Animated, Best Narrative and Best Documentary Short Film categories become eligible for the Oscars. Any British Short Film or British Short Animation that screens at SXSW is eligible for British Academy nomination.

The films in the Short Film Program are eligible for jury awards within their respective screening categories, announced during the SXSW Film Awards at 8 p.m. March 17 at the Paramount Theatre. Other awards will include Narrative Feature Competition and Documentary Feature Competition, Design Awards and Special Award winners.

Owen Egerton to direct ‘Follow’

Austin screenwriter, novelist and performer Owen Egerton will make his directorial feature film debut with “Follow” this spring, from his own script that Egerton describes as a “psychological horror set in Austin.” It’s based on two stories from his collection “How Best to Avoid Dying.” The cast includes Noah Segan, Don Most and Southern Longoria.

Seth Caplan (“In Search of a Midnight Kiss”) and Chris Colbert (“Best Man Down”) will produce, with Drafthouse head guy Tim League as executive producer. It is also based on Egerton’s short film of the same name, which screened at SXSW in 2013.

L.A. Film Critics Awards

Los Angeles Film Critics Association named “Boyhood” best picture on Feb. 8. Richard Linklater picked up best director for the film, with Patricia Arquette winning best actress and Sandra Adair winning for editing.

The Douglas Edwards experimental/independent film/video award went to movie poster dealer and former Austin resident Walter Reuben, 69, for his debut feature, “The David Whiting Story.” (Yep, the man made his debut feature film when he was past retirement age.)

Former winners in this category include Gus Van Sant for “Mala Noche,” Derek Jarman for “The Last of England” and Thom Andersen for his instant classic documentary “Los Angeles Plays Itself.”

Reuben lived in Austin from 1971 through 1988, when he directed some experimental shorts, including “How Others Remember Us” (1986), “From Bad to Worse” (1986) and “How to Lose Weight” (1987).

The Austin Film Society will screen “The David Whiting Story” at 8 p.m. Feb. 17.

Upcoming screenings

In keeping with all things Valentine’s Day (more or less), the Alamo Ritz is screening Peggy Ahwesh’s “The Deadman” (based on the novel by George Bataille) and Doris Wishman’s “Let Me Die a Woman” as part of Experimental Response Cinema’s third installment of “Avant Erotica.” It’s a hunk of high weirdness for those bored of 50 shades of everything.

The 4C Environmental Conference presents Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney and Magdalena Segieda’s documentary “FrackNation” at 8:30 p.m. Monday at Stateside at the Paramount. It’s Irish journalist and documentary filmmaker McAleer’s examination of hydraulic fracking.