Celebrating its 20th year, the Austin Film Festival began screening noteworthy films Thursday at various locations around the state capital.
The festival, also known as AFF, brought people from different parts of the film industry together. Conference panels and Q-and-A sessions aimed to complement the screenings and please moviegoers and film buffs citywide. In addition to showing dozens of films spanning a variety of genres, the star-studded festival featured sponsored parties and opportunities to speak with cinema heavyweights.
Filmmaker Ron Judkins premiered his latest movie “Finding Neighbors,” marking a return to the craft for the first time in more than 10 years since his 1999 AFF Audience Award Winner “The Hi-Line.”
“We’re in an industry that celebrates youth,” Judkins said, adding that his advice to older filmmakers and writers is “don’t disappear.”
“Finding Neighbors” was mostly shot in Judkins’ California neighborhood. The writer-director said the film is mostly autobiographical, taking a cue from his former neighbors in Los Angeles who thought he was spying on them.
On the film’s website, Judkins provides an opportunity for fans to see how a scene came to fruition from his real life experiences, displaying sketches for the film along with an actual photograph of the location.
Much like “Finding Neighbors,” “Big Sur,” which made its Texas premiere at AFF, was shot on the location it depicted in the film—the Big Sur region of California’s central coast. The film, which features actor Josh Lucas, is based on a 1962 Jack Kerouac novel of the same name.
Lucas plays Neal Cassady, a friend of Kerouac’s and also a major figure of the Beat Generation. The film stars Kate Bosworth as Billie, mistress and girlfriend to both Kerouac and Cassady. It was on the set of “Big Sur” that Bosworth met her now-husband, the film’s director Michael Polish.
The film focuses on Kerouac’s meteoric rise to fame after the publication of his most famous book, “On the Road.” An insatiable taste for women led to a complexity between Cassady and Kerouac that is depicted in “Big Sur,” which recounts the three brief journeys he made to the eponymous region.
Orian Williams, a producer on “Big Sur,” said it took six years to produce the film because it was difficult to acquire the necessary funds.
“It’s not terribly easy to get these films made. It’s independent filmmaking,” Williams said, adding that the subject matter contributed to the film’s delay. “(I)t’s about a guy who’s so crucial to how we write and think, and look at art.”
Williams, a Baylor University alumnus, said he did not delve into “On the Road” until college, but was excited about the subject matter.
“Big Sur” is not the only Kerouac tale to have been made into a film. “Kill Your Darlings,” a movie based on a murder within the author’s circle of friends, was released in theaters earlier this month.
“Big Sur” will hit theaters Friday.