The wide release of Danny Boyle's film, Slumdog Millionaire, as well as the attention the film attracts, takes me back to the Austin Film Festival (www.austinfilmfestival.com) in October, which honored Boyle this year and screened Slumdog Millionaire.
The AFF, now in its teenage years (founded in 1994), spotlights the creative contribution of writers and draws a crowd to Texas each October. In addition to Slumdog Millionaire, the festival screened W, Oliver Stone's film tracking the 43rd president from West Texas oilfields to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by way of the Governor's Mansion. As I made my way down crowded Congress Avenue to see W in the historic Paramount Theater, I struck up a conversation with filmmaker Will Hartman whose short Easy Pickins screened at AFF. Hartman was waiting in line and talking with two Ohio University film students — Joshua B. Young and Cody John Vandenberg — who made the trip to Austin on a grant. Hartman himself had gained some funding from the state of New Mexico to spend 7 days filming. When I mentioned Ed Harris' film Appaloosa, Hartman brightened, "The bartender in Appaloosa, he's the lead in my film." Check out the schedule for 2009. A film pass (about $40) gets you into several events as well as close to 200 films.