Austin Film Festival 2015: Must See Films

Coming hot on the heels of last month’s Fantastic Fest, Austin, Texas is bracing for another onslaught of cinematic mayhem this week as the 22nd annual Austin Film Festival kicks off. More informally known as “The Writer’s Festival,” AFF focuses on the contributions of a good script and what it means to make a great film, which has typically been an underappreciated role in the industry.

Kicking off today, and continuing for eight days in downtown Austin, Austin Film Festival brings professional and amateur screenwriters together to celebrate film, and the beauty of a quality script. As with every year, there are hundreds of screenings of movies both old and new. Here’s a look at some of the biggest highlights premiering this year.  

Legend

The second big-screen adaptation of real-life British gangsters and identical twins, the Kray brothers, who were first portrayed in 1990 by actual twins Gary and Martin Kemp. This time it’s Hollywood heavyweight Tom Hardy chewing the scenery while playing both roles. It also promises to take the audience through a “secret history of the 1960s,” and the events that made the twins memorable.

Casual

While quality scripts in television are also a focus of the festival, Jason Reitman’s new comedy series, which is available to stream now exclusive to Hulu, skewers the sitcom perception of a normal life. Reitman, as well as creator Zander Lehmann and the cast will also be in attendance to discuss their show, and likely the role of online services such as Hulu in creating smart, original content.

Until 20

Texas-born James Ragan was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 13, and was told he had “until 20” before he’d be gone. After three years in production, this film looks at how one man lives his life knowing when he’s going to die.

Sympathy For The Devil: The True Story of the Process Church of Final Judgment

A documentary out of the UK that explores the true nature of the Process Church, which has been accused of everything from inspiring Charles Manson to the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Members of the church itself give personal accounts of their time there to shed some light on the years of rumors that have plagued them.

Booger Red

A documentary/narrative hybrid by filmmaker Berndt Mader that looks at an East Texas crime, based around a fictional reporter interviewing actual people. Hopefully its execution doesn’t fall under the weight of it’s own meta nature.

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Burning Bodhi

It’s impossible to not describe this as Big Chill for the millennial generation, which shifts the tone to better align with their “fun”-eral way of approaching deat, but keeps the pondering of the meaning of life when dealing with your first dead friend. Kaley Cuoco also gets a chance to prove her chops beyond The Big Bang Theory and Priceline.com commericals.

Jack’s Apocalypse

After a politician fails in every conceivable aspect of his life, and spirals into addiction, he gets a last minute chance to redeem himself. Courtesy of the apocalypse, of course.

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Memoria

Another re-telling of the “young, disillusioned slacker finding himself/his place in the world” stories, this time co-starring James Franco, so look for some chance of artful subversion. There’s very little info out there about it, although there are a handful of YouTube videos from people who worked on it over a number of years. What a time to be alive.

We’ll be on hand at Austin Film Festival all week long! Check back for our daily reviews and recaps!

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