Life & Arts

Entertainment, live performance, food, cuisine, dining, theater, film, television, art, broadcasting, SXSW, and other arts and culture news in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

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Disclaimer: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The 19th annual Austin Film Festival is underway, and KUT is bringing you guest blogs from fest staffers highlighting personal picks. Today, assistant programmer Bears Fonté points to films from three auteurs playing the fest. “These writer/directors draw the audience into their own world with a confidence seldom seen in seasoned veterans,” Fonté says.

If you want your mind blown, make sure you make it to “Idol is Dead”, especially on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 10:15 p.m. at the Bob Bullock's Texas Spirit Theater. Writer/director Yukihiro Kato will be in attendance, direct from Japan. In the grand tradition of “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park,” and “Spice World,” “Idol is Dead” showcases the talents of J-Pop stars Brand-new Idol Society (BiS in Japanese shorthand). A fantastical origin tale involving murder, mad scientists, and a killer soundtrack, “Idol is Dead” is full of humor, hand-to-hand combat and horror. It’s a bit bizarre, a bit sexy, and a bit disgusting. This will be its one and only U.S. theatrical screening before its release with BiS’s new CD. You can check out the trailer on the AFF website.

themuslimsarecoming.com

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The Muslims are Coming” is a documentary that follows a group of Muslim comedians as they travel through small towns in the South. Their goal is to foster a dialogue about Muslim-Americans through humor.

“We go to places like Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia … you know, places where they love 'the Muzzies,'” says comedian Negin Farsad, the film’s director and star.

Even before the jokes start, as a viewer it’s difficult not to think, “what are they doing?” Early on, Farsad stands in front of a retirement-aged crowd in a sterile church community room, starting her set by detailing what the New York City club scene is like for a Muslim woman. It’s only when the crowd breaks into laughter the audience can take a breath, as tension begins to melt through Farsad’s self-effacing charms.

In a similar manner, vignettes like “Name That Religion” – hosted in town squares by Farsad and his troupe, in a booth labeled “Ask a Muslim” –may cause viewers to cringe a little in anticipation of any controversy. Our stomachs take a rollercoaster ride through the routines.

Austin Film Festival

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The Austin Film Festival kicks off today. Over the course of the festival, KUT News is featuring guest blogs from AFF staffers pointing to festival highlights. Today, Conference Director Erin Hallagan delivers her take on the festival, which she says is like convincing mom to stop at the candy store AND ice cream parlor all in one day.”

The crossover participation of those involved in the festival and conference this year is remarkable. Panelists are presenting films; filmmakers are speaking on panels; and of course registrants do their fair share of double-dipping as well.  And that’s what it’s all about.  The blend of the overall experience and its accessible interactivity is what makes Austin Film Festival truly unique. With a platter of incredibly active screenwriters and filmmakers, there is something for everyone and plenty of room for ideas to blossom.

Here’s some events and speakers that I wouldn’t miss:

SCREENING: Eric Roth presents “The Insider”

Friday, October 19th at 8:15 p.m.

Texas Spirit Theater

PANEL: A Conversation with Eric Roth

Saturday, October 20th at 9:00 a.m.

Driskill Hotel, Ballroom

flickr.com/photos/guvnah

Today the Austin Music Memorial accepts six new members into its ranks.

The Austin Music Memorial posthumously recognizes Austinites who have contributed to the city's musical and cultural community. After accepting nominations throughout the summer, the City of Austin Music Division has decided on its new inductees.

The Music Division describes what’s remarkable about each of the six new inductees below:

Donald Ray Walser (1934-2006)
Vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Don Walser performed at the Grand Ole Opry in 1999 and 2001, received a lifetime "Heritage" award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2000, and played with his “Pure Texas Band” at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.  Heserved for 39 years as a member of the Texas National Guard, retiring in 1994.  Walser was affectionately known as “The Pavarotti of the Plains” for his unique voice and memorable yodeling ability.

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Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The Austin Film Festival kicks off tomorrow, and KUT News is featuring guest blogs from AFF staffers pointing to several festival highlights. Today we hear from festival founder and Executive Director Barbara Morgan on “family” themed films at the festival. But we’re not talking CGI pandas here - these films explore the bonds of family and community in a decidedly adult way:

As the Executive Director and founder of the Austin Film Festival, I have had the joy of “discovering” many films over the last nineteen years. The excitement that emanates from the perspective of these fresh voices is what makes my job unique. Anticipating the new talent which we get to introduce to the public is the inspiration that makes my job so thrilling. One of the themes which jumped out from this year’s crop of films was the idea of “family.” Each of these films is infused with the spirit of the most elemental aspect of the human existence.  Enjoy!

Liars, Fires and Bears

Nine year-old Eve, hardened by years of neglect as a foster child, never misses an opportunity. 

Tamir Kalifa for KUT

"The people of Austin are overwhelmingly friendly, warm and open to the acceptance of other cultures."  

That's one takeaway from visiting Pakistani  journalist Samreen Ghauri, who attended the Austin City Limits Music Festival this weekend. Below, read Samreen’s thoughts about ACL, Austin’s role as the “Live Music Capital,” and how music can help bridge cultural divides.

The annual Austin City Limits Music Festival actually has no limits. No limits to the fun, music, and food, but more importantly, no limit to the company of loved ones. The festival truly depicts the American way of life: enjoying life with a full sprit and enthusiasm.

I easily connected with the festival, because in Pakistan we have similar events. I belong to a traditional eastern society that has a rich cultural and musical heritage. In our society, music is a large part of daily life: at religious occasions, social events and cultural gatherings, music is always on.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

South by Southwest Interactive announced the bulk of its 2013 programming today – some 450 panels, discussions and events covering everything tech you can think of. The five-day tech festival has eclipsed its music counterpart in registered attendees in recent years. 

Marquee names included among the festival's “Featured Sessions” include Univeristy of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers on innovation in higher education; Whole Foods founder John Mackey on “conscious capitalism;” Craigslist founder Craig Newmark on the future of journalism; video game developer-turned-space tourism advocate Richard Garriott de Cayeux; and “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory” creator Chuck Lorre.

The first Interactive keynote has also been announced for 2013: Matthew Inman of comedy website The Oatmeal.

Tamir Kalifa for KUT

The 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival concluded last night. 

KUT Austin was out at Zilker Park all weekend. Take a look at our photos from the festival grounds, along with more photos from Friday morning's KUT Live at the Four Seasons concert featuring Quiet CompanyFirst Aid KitJovanotti and Antibalas.

KUT Austin

If you couldn’t tell already from the hum in the streets, the 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival is here.

KUT kicked things off at the Four Seasons this morning, hosting a concert featuring four ACL performers: Austin rockers Quiet Company, the Swedish folk sisters of First Aid Kit, Tuscan vocalist Jovanotti and Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas.

Naturally, KUT was on hand to document the performances. Here's two videos from this morning.

flickr.com/kevharb

The 2012 Austin City Limits Festival is less than 24 hours away.

Thousands of ACL attendees are probably compiling lists of bands to see, foods to eat, and places to go. But it's going to be a challenge: There's over 100 different acts performing at the festival, close to 40 different vendors serving all types of food and drink, and tons of events and parties going on all over downtown Austin.

While we can’t put your list together for you, maybe we can help you get started.

Here's some picks compiled by KUT's Austin Music Matters team: 

From Susan Castle, KUT Music Host:

Wells Dunbar, KUT News.

The social trivia game Qrank (pronounced "crank") is no more.

Co-founders and Austinites Rodney Gibbs and Michael Baird posted a  message titled “Goodbye” on the game’s website on Monday, and announced that that morning’s edition would be the last of the daily quiz.

Qrank had been voraciously consumed by a legion of loyal players since 2010. As explained on the game’s website, the goal was to “choose 15 of the 20 possible questions and answer them quickly and accurately to beat your friends and earn achievements.” The game was available on Facebook and as a mobile app.

But while Qrank maintained close to 25,000 “likes” on Facebook and more than 8,500 Twitter followers, interaction with all of those fans waned over the last several months.

For Paul Thomas Anderson, moviemaking is not just an art; it's also about time management.

"At its best, a film set is when everybody knows what's going on and everybody's working together," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "At its worst, [it's] when something's been lost in communication and an actor's not sure how many shots are left or what's going on, and the makeup department's confused."

The mandolinist Chris Thile, better known for his work with the bluegrass band Nickel Creek, and the novelist Junot Díaz, who won a Pulitzer for his novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, are among those awarded 2012 "genius" grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The 23 MacArthur fellows will receive $500,000 over the next five years. They are allowed to do whatever they wish with the money, whether that's continue their work or change fields.

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Rain or shine, the annual St. Elias Mediterranean Festival is kicking off this weekend.

The festival, now in its 80th year, promises Mediterranean delights from Lebanon, Palestine, Greece, Eritrea and Romania. According to the festival, “Gyros, Kibbee, Baklava, Spanakopita and Mici are only the beginning as you feast outdoors on delicacies from the Orthodox world.”

Along with a feast of foods, the festival will offer shopping in a festival marketplace, dance demonstrations and children’s activities at the Kid’s Oasis. Music and live dancing will be provided by Laand Greek Ensemble.

flickr.com/mirsasha

Have you ever seen a dizzy golf ball? 

The Austin Children's Museum assures you will. The museum is dedicated to what they call informal learning; one exhibit, called "Ready, Set, Roll," teaches children about physics by sending golf balls through all manner of gravity-defying courses.

The Austin Children's Museum is expanding their facilities. Today, its leaders broke ground at their new location in the Mueller development in central east Austin. 

New exhibits will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, highlighting hands-on interactive learning. The museum will also encourage activity, with the grounds featuring interactive outdoor elements.

Dan Monick, facebook.com/fionaapple

Update 5 (Oct. 11): A sad denouement in the Fiona Apple saga: Word comes today that singer-songwriter Apple will not be rescheduling her postponed Sept. 20 ACL Live performance; instead, it will be canceled. According to the social ticketing platform Ticketfly, customers who purchased tickets will be refunded the purchased amount in five to ten days.  

Update 4 (Sept. 24): The Fiona Apple arrest saga, in the words of indie music website Pitchfork, "just keeps getting crazier." On Friday, Sept. 22, Pitchfork posted video of Apple's performance in Houston, the day after her canceled Austin concert.  The performer excitedly spoke about her time in jail, making reference to "inappropriate and probably illegal" behavior on the part of four sheriff's office employees, and cryptically referring to secret evidence of her mistreatment she left behind at the jail: 

I'm the only one who holds the key, and you and I will be intimate forever because I will hold that secret forever. Unless of course the celebrity that you had so much interest in but you wanted to accuse me of bringing up while you laughed at me all night? 

You can read more here (some language may not be safe for work.) 

Today, Hudspeth County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Rusty Fleming released a statement telling Apple to "just shut-up and sing." The letter also seemingly brags about Hudspeth County's reputation for arresting traveling musicians and celebrities on drug-related charges: 

[Have] you ever heard of Snoop, Willie or Armand Hammer? Maybe if you would read something besides your own press releases, you would have known BEFORE you got here, that if you come to Texas with dope, the cops will take your DOPE away and put YOU in jail...

A make-up date for Fiona Apple's Austin performance has yet to be announced, but her North American dates are currently scheduled through Oct. 21. 

Update 3: KUT News has received this statement from the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office: 

September 20, 2012

Sierra Blanca, Texas

On September 19, 2012 at approximately 8 pm. a 2004 White and Blue Prevost Tour Bus traveling eastbound on I-10 approached the U.S. Border Patrol Checkpoint located in Sierra Blanca, Texas. During a routine check of U.S. citizenship the inspecting Border Patrol agent, a canine detected the presence of concealed humans and/or controlled substances emitting from the inside of the vehicle and requested the driver to pull into the secondary inspection lane for further inspection. The agent requested all subjects to exit the bus so that a canine working the checkpoint could conduct an inspection of the vehicle. Upon entering the bus the canine alerted to a blue colored back-pack. A further search produced a glass container containing marijuana weighing 0.010 lbs. Also inside the glass container was a small plastic container holding a brown-clay-like substance that later tested positive for hashish. (Also weighing .010 lbs)

Fiona Apple Maggart, freely admitted that the controlled substances belonged to her and she was placed under arrest by U.S. Border Patrol agents and detained. At approximately 930pm the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office was contacted and upon arrival, Ms. Maggart was taken into custody and transported to the Hudspeth County jail. The next day September 20 Ms. Maggart posted a $10,000 bond and was released shortly after.

No other information is available at this time. 

Update 2 : KUT News just heard from ACL Live at the Moody Theater. Tonight's concert has been postponed. Additional information will be posted on the theater's website and on social media this afternoon. The concert will be rescheduled, with all tickets for good for the future performance.

Lionsgate Entertainment

Today marks the start of the largest genre film festival in the United States – Fantastic Fest.

The festival is known for being a little out there, but Fantastic Fest and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League says that’s what makes it special.

“In the last five years or so it seems like it’s been the rise of the nerd,” League tells KUT News. In light of the comic book-based blockbusters filling theaters, League says the nerd demographic represents “a pretty significant arm of the spending economy and a lot of the movies coming out from Hollywood are geared towards us."

Many films set to premiere at this year’s festival many are highly anticipated by nerds and non-nerds alike. For example, writer/director Rian Johnson’s time-traveling  Looper is sure to get genre crowds excited. Also making a debut at the festival is a remake of the 1984 ‘the Soviets are invading’ flick Red Dawn

flickr.com/serfs-up

If you’re feeling holiday withdrawal during the weeks between Labor Day and Halloween, there’s good news: today you can celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the quirky holiday. International Talk Like a Pirate Day was created in 2002 after columnist Dave Barry wrote a piece in the Miami Herald about the piratical exploits of Oregonians John Baur and Mark Summers (otherwise known by their pirate aliases, Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy). Baur and Summers began Talk Like a Pirate Day among their circle of friends while playing racquetball in 1995 and appealed to Barry to publicize the event seven years later. 

Today, International Talk Like a Pirate Day is celebrated with events all over the world, from Texas to Japan.

Little Brown and Company

The Yellow Birds is a critically acclaimed novel from a young author, Kevin Powers. Listen to him read from his book's opening passage above.

An Iraq war veteran, upon returning to the states, Powers earned a graduate degree from UT’s Michener Center for Writers. A spare but poetic story, The Yellow Birds follows 21-year old Private Bartle as his vow to protect an even younger private amid fierce conditions in 2004 Iraq is tested. But the novel isn’t simply a war story; skipping forward and backward in time, Powers captures the confusion and pain of war on a more intimate, emotional level.

flickr.com/bjornlifoto

Tim League is a pretty big deal in the movie business. He’s founder of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – which in turn led to distribution arm Drafthouse Films. He also founded Rolling Roadshow and Fantastic Fest. But Tim League could soon be best known for his role as a judge in an internet cat video contest.

That’s right, internet cat videos. If you're one of the few humans left on earth unfamiliar with the concept, you can head over to a little website called YouTube and type in “cat.” You’ll get funny cats, funny cats in water, how to wrap a cat for Christmas and about 1.8 million others. Internet cat videos are big.

Just last month, Minneapolis hosted the first ever Internet Cat Video Film Festival. The idea was attributed to the Walker Art Museum’s “cat-lady-in-residence” but went on to draw an estimated 10,000 attendees. Internet cat videos are truly big time.

Edith Lutyens and Norman Bel Geddes Foundation / Harry Ransom Center

Artist, author, city planner, design star and futurist Norman Bel Geddes may not be a household name. But his retro-futuristic designs – most iconically captured in the “Futurama” exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair – inspire an entire generation of artists, designers and filmmakers to this day.

I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America” is a sprawling exhibit opening at the Harry Ransom Center on the University of Texas campus today, charting Bel Geddes’ evolution for an Art Deco-inspired theater set designer to perhaps the most important futurist of his time.

“He is a man of all trades,” says Helen Baer, Associate Curator of Performing Arts at the Harry Ransom Center. “He can do theater design, industrial design; he also gets into city planning and urban planning later on in his life. And he is also a successful author. So he does a little bit of everything, and he’s for the most part self-taught."

flickr.com/goincase

Now you can know which artists are playing when at this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest, set to take place November 2-4 at Auditorium Shores. The daily schedule has been released.

Headliners on Friday include Run DMC, Dillon Francis, and Twin Sister. The Saturday shows will culminate in performances by Refused, Girl Talk, Diamond Rugs, and A$AP Rocky. And Sunday’s top billed artists are Turbonegro, Etienne de Crecy, Black Moth Super Rainbow and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

Tickets are on sale now. A three-day regular pass is $175. For the first time ever, Fun Fun Fun Fest is letting people buy passes in two-installments of $87.50. You can get the VIP treatment for $325. And students can obtain a three-day pass for $140. 

Reshma Kirpalani/KUT News

Tamara Hoover describes her East Austin establishment, Cheer Up Charlie's, as more than just a bar. 

"It's actually a community project," Hoover says. "People from the community coming in, bringing their acts, bringing their music, bringing their charities, and it's everybody's home." 

But recently, the bar has received complaints from another nearby community, the Guadalupe Association for Improved an Neighborhood. 

Country music legend Willie Nelson is out of a Denver hospital and feeling better. Denver NBC affiliate KUSA broke the news yesterday that Nelson was admitted to hospital, because he was "suffering from breathing problems due to the high altitude and emphysema,” according to an announcement made to the crowd gathered for a fundraiser performance at Castle Pines Village, a gated residential community about 25 miles outside of Denver.

But this morning, Nelson’s publicist says the 79-year-old is feeling fine and will be at the House of Blues tomorrow night in Dallas.

Photo by KUT News

The Creative Director for South by Southwest Music has died. Brent Grulke died this morning from surgical complications.

Grulke had worked at SXSW since its launch in 1987. He became the music festival's creative director in 1994.

In a 2005 interview with KUT's Jennifer Stayton, Grulke explained the best way to enjoy SXSW and not feel intimidated by the festivals mammoth lineup of bands.

"I always tell people that if there are a couple things that they really want to see - just find a couple of things that you really want to see," he said. 

Larry McMurtry is perhaps best known for novels like The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment and Lonesome Dove; but the author also has a career as a bookseller.

His store, Booked Up, spills across four buildings in his small hometown of Archer City, Texas, and houses nearly half a million rare and used books. But starting this Friday, McMurtry is holding an auction to whittle down that number — by a lot.

flickr.com/kevharb

The release of the 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival’s schedule grid wasn’t the only big Austin City Limits news today: Music festival producers are in talks with Austin officials to extend the popular three-day event by an extra weekend starting next year.

C3 Presents, the company that produces ACL Fest and other big events nationwide, would also donate some of the increased revenue it would gain each year, in addition to the amounts they already give, to help improve Austin parks.

“We’ve been discussing working with Auditorium Shores for almost two years,” Austin Parks and Recreation Director Sara Hensley tells KUT News. “It’s dusty, it’s truly muddy, there’s no grass there. For me, it’s just an opportunity to take a park area that’s just heavily used and make it a lot better and a lot more vibrant for the community and visitors.”

Vania Stoyanova

Deborah Harkness isn’t as well known as J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer. But with the publication of “Shadow of Night,” the second tome in her supernatural “All Souls” trilogy, that may be about to change.

“Shadow of Night” picks up right where her last book, “A Discovery of Witches,” left off, with heroine Diana Bishop and her vampire lover, Matthew Roydon, pulling off a daring escape. But she soon learns her escape – which sends her through time to 16th century England – poses additional threats.

Set in a supernatural world where demons, vampires and witches intermingle and overlap with the  historical figures Harkness studies as a professor, the “All Souls” trilogy has already been acquired by Hollywood. KUT News recently spoke with Harkness on her work, its reception, and what’s next.

The Austin Film Society is using a $75,000 grant to come up with a plan for incorporating another building into the Austin Studios campus at the former Mueller Airport.

The National Endowment for the Arts grant will go towards redeveloping the old National Guard building at Mueller into a space for the community and filmmakers to come together.

AFS Deputy Director Sarah Ann Mockbee says Austin has a vibrant film scene but, right now, it’s not that accessible to everyone.

Run–D.M.C. Reunion Headlines Fun Fun Fun Fest

Jul 10, 2012

In its second year at Auditorium Shores, underground music festival Fun Fun Fun Fest continues to grow. This morning, festival organizers Transmission Entertainment announced seminal New York hip hop group Run–D.M.C. will play the festival this fall. Fun Fun Fun Fest gets underway November 2.

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