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Saturday, fests, fests and more fests crowd downtown Austin and surrounding areas

Staff Writer
Austin 360

It's tacky to call it a problem: Austin is packed with entertainment options on a slow day, and Saturday is anything but, even without a Longhorns football game. According to the City of Austin, we'll set a record Saturday for most special events in and around downtown, with eight (not including the regular farmers' market). And plenty more - from the Hogeye Festival in Elgin to a battle of the bands for Bastrop fire relief - are happening in just about every available park, square and spare building in the area.

Below, we've assembled highlights, tips from veteran festgoers and parking ideas (jet packs, anyone?) for the big three downtown: the well-established Austin Film Festival and Texas Book Festival and the Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival, back for Year 2 with a new plan for getting folks through the food lines. Also, we have rundown of other downtown events and entertainment choices out there Saturday.

Now, go get entertained.

- Sharon Chapman

Austin Film Festival

The festival will be jam-packed Saturday night with screenings, including several with big local connections.

"Jeff, Who Lives at Home," the latest from former Austin residents the Duplass brothers, starts the evening off at 6:30 at the Paramount Theatre.

The movie deals centers on a guy (Jason Segel) who lives in his mother's basement, doesn't have a job and doesn't do anything about it.

If you can't get into "Jeff," you have other options. "Beneath the Darkness," the new thriller that was shot in Central Texas and stars Dennis Quaid as a maniac, will screen at 6:30 p.m. at the Texas Spirit Theater at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. And then there's "Fred & Vinnie," a new comedy about a couple of odd friends who test a long-distance relationship when one of them travels cross-country to visit the other. Steve Skrovan directs.

The most controversial but acclaimed movie of the evening will be "Shame," which screens at 9:30 p.m. at the Arbor. Michael Fassbender stars as a sex addict, and the graphic nudity caused quite a buzz at the Toronto International Film Festival. Steve McQueen ("Hunger") directs.

Many Austinites will probably want to check out "Austin High," a new stoner comedy about a local high school. The movie features just about every icon/cliché in the local repertory, including the bats, the Alamo Drafthouse, the pedicabs, the hippies, the stoners, the developers, the trailer park eateries and Leslie. Alan Deutsch directs. It plays at the Rollins Studio Theatre in the Long Center at 10:30 p.m., and it'll probably draw a big local crowd, so get there early.

And at 11:30 p.m. at the Alamo Ritz, "Below Zero," a quirky horror film from Canadian director Justin Thomas Ostensen, premieres.

The movie centers on a screenwriter who arranges to be locked in a meat freezer for a week so that he'll be forced to concentrate on his work. Edward Furlong plays the writer, who meets some unsavory characters in the isolated meat factory.

- Charles Ealy

When: Festival continues through Thursday. Conference continues through Sunday.

Cost: A film pass is $50 to $120, individual tickets are $9 (go the fest website for badge options, which can come with access to panels).

Venues: Paramount Theatre (713 Congress Ave.); Texas Spirit Theater at the Bullock Museum (1800 N. Congress Ave.); Hideout Theater (617 Congress Ave.); Alamo Ritz (320 E. Sixth St.); Alamo South (1120 S. Lamar Blvd.); Arbor (9828 Great Hills Trail); Austin Convention Center (500 E. Cesar Chavez St.); Rollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center (701 W. Riverside Drive).

Information/full schedule:www.austinfilmfestival.com .

From the veterans: At $50, the Film Pass is an excellent deal that offers a chance to see many movies. The Paramount is the largest venue and often a good bet for a seat. The Regal Arbor might seem out of the way for festgoers, but it has some of the most compelling titles on the schedule. You could get a pass and spend the entire week having a mini-festival of your own at the theater located far from the crowds.

The best people-watching is in front of the Paramount, where many of the movies premiere. A close second is the Driskill Hotel, especially the newly expanded bar area. Also try the usual spots along Congress and South Congress avenues, and expect more celebrity activity in the Second Street District, now that the W Austin and other attractions are firmly planted there.

Texas Book Festival

The book festival offers a steady stream of events for people of all ages. All events are free, open to the public and on the Capitol grounds or at the nearby Paramount Theatre.

Saturday's festival starts at 10 a.m., with former "Saturday Night Live" comedian Molly Shannon talking about her new picture book "Tilly the Trickster" at the Paramount. But if you're thinking about brunch, you might want to head over to the Cooking Tent at 10 a.m. to hear Hugh Acheson and Martha Hall Foose talk about Southern food.

The more serious-minded might want to visit the Lone Star Tent at 10 a.m. to hear Candice Millard, author of "Destiny of the Republic," talk about the remarkable, fatal saga involving President James A. Garfield. At the same time, Wall Street Journal reporter Cameron McWhirter will talk about the early days of racial strife in America, in conjunction with his new book, "Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America."

Journalist Jim Lehrer, who always has some interesting tales, will talk about his long tenure as the host of presidential debates at 11:15 a.m. in the House Chamber, while Peggy Post and Steven Petrow discuss the rise and fall of manners at 11:30 a.m. in the Senate Chamber.

But the most difficult choices of the day will come around noon. At 12:15 p.m., New Yorker writer Susan Orlean will reveal the quirky details behind superstar dog Rin Tin Tin in the House Chamber. But other movie fans might prefer the 12:30 p.m. discussion in Capitol Extension, Room E2.030, with biographer Patrick McGilligan. His new book is "Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director."

The big event of each year at the festival, however, comes at 3:15 p.m. in the House Chamber, when the Texas Tribune's Evan Smith presents the Texas Writer Award. This year, it's going to two people: Lawrence Wright ("The Looming Tower") and Stephen Harrigan ("Remember Ben Clayton").

- Charles Ealy

Full schedule/more information:texasbookfestival.org

Kid-friendly: Yes, with tents for children's reading, activities and entertainment.

Signings: Leave your dog-eared copies at home. Only books purchased at the fest will be signed (proceeds from sales help keep the fest free). Authors arrive in the tent at Congress Avenue and 10th Street about 15 minutes after their sessions. The children's book-signing tent is at Colorado and 13th streets.

From the veterans: Most author talks will be packed. Arrive early to get a seat and plan your movements. You'll pass through metal detectors for events inside the Capitol.

There's more: The fest continues Sunday. Additional venues include First United Methodist Church Sanctuary, Family Life Center (First United Methodist Church), Alamo South Lamar and Alamo Ritz.

Plus: A Lit Crawl Saturday night includes the Scoot Inn, Texas State Cemetery and Cheer Up Charlie's.

Music/food: Yes, to both. You also could head to Auditorium Shores when you need a meal or want to hear some tunes …

Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival

To avoid the lines and crowded feel of last year's inaugural festival, Trailer Food Diaries founder Tiffany Harelik, who is producing the event with C3 Presents, says that the folks in the trailers are better trained and equipped to handle the rush and that the site will extend to the other side of the tree line that cuts through the middle of Auditorium Shores. "We had no idea how many people would come last year," she says. "But now we have a better idea and can plan for it." Because the 40 or so food vendors will be more spread out, it'll be easier to tell which line you are in, and each vendor has to have at least eight people working and four points of sale. They've also arranged the two music stages to be on opposite ends of the park so the crowd will be more evenly distributed.

- Addie Broyles

Details: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Auditorium Shores, West Riverside Drive.

Cost: Free admission, sampler menu items are $3, other food and drink prices vary (only water can be brought in).

Kid-friendly: Face-painting, storytime, chalk drawings, jugglers, acrobats and more in a special area open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Pet-friendly, too: The dog area also is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with dog "fortune tellers" specializing in behavior questions and other canine activities. Dress your dog for the pup parade at 5:45 p.m. No off-leash dogs.

Music: Delta Spirit headlines at 6:30 p.m. With Boy, Alabama Shakes, Dale Watson and Hacienda during the day.

Full schedule, more information:www.gypsypicnic.com

Additional information from staff writers Michael Barnes and Matthew Odam.

Hillary Jordan will participate at 10 a.m. Saturday in a panel titled `Wrestling With the Classics' at the Texas Book Festival. Also appearing will be authors Mat Johnson and David Liss. Capitol Extension, Room E2.036. She'll also appear at the `Five Things' Lit Crawl event at 8 p.m. at Cheer Up Charlie's, 1111 E. Sixth St.

Parking

Saturday's potential for crowds did not sneak up on city officials.

"We've seen this coming for quite some time, and we've coordinated with all the events," Leah Fillion of the Transportation Department said this week. "Each promoter has gone above and beyond this year because they all understand there are other events going on."

The first suggestion: Don't drive. Walk, ride a bike - Mellow Johnny's will have bike stations set up at Auditorium Shores, bring your own lock - or take the bus (www.capmetro.org).

If you're driving, these garages and lots near the book fest are free Saturday and Sunday:

• Granger Parking Garage, 12th and Guadalupe streets

• Capitol Visitor Garage, 12th and Trinity streets

• State Lots 8 and 11, West 15th and Colorado streets

• State Garage A, East 14th Street and San Jacinto Boulevard

• State Garage F, East 13th Street and San Jacinto Boulevard

• State Lot 15, Ninth and Colorado streets

These, near Auditorium Shores and downtown, come with a fee:

• 301 Congress Ave. ($7)

• 300 San Antonio St. ($7)

• One Texas Center Garage, Barton Springs Road and South First Street ($7)

• Austin Convention Center, Second and Brazos streets ($8)

• Austin City Hall, Cesar Chavez and Guadalupe streets (free until 5 p.m.; $5)

Sources: www.gypsypicnic.com , texasbookfestival.org .

The weather

The heavily tented book fest and the all-outdoors food fest are perhaps most dependent on weather and the forecast favors fun: Mostly sunny, with a high of 84 and a low Saturday night of 64.