The perennially writer-focused Austin Film Festival (AFF) on Tuesday announced the first wave of films to be included in their 25th anniversary program, which takes place Oct. 25 to Nov. 1.
Films announced include “Boy Erased,” written and directed by Joel Edgerton, starring Lucas Hedges, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, and based on Garrard Conley’s memoir about a gay teenager forced to participate in a church-supported gay conversion program; and the regional premiere of “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” directed by Marielle Heller (“The Diary of a Teenage Girl”) and starring Melissa McCarthy as controversial celebrity biographer Lee Israel.
Also playing AFF this year will be “Little Woods,” Nia DaCosta’s directorial debut starring Tessa Thompson and Lily James as estranged sisters in a North Dakota fracking boomtown, and “The Long Dumb Road,” Hannah Fidell’s new road trip comedy starring Tony Revolori and Jason Mantzoukas.
This year’s Cannes Palme D’or winner “Shoplifters,” directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, will also join the fest’s slate.
AFF will host a variety of world premieres, including horror/thriller “The Black String,” which stars Frankie Muniz as a lonely store clerk who believes he is the target of a sinister occult plot.
Other world premieres announced include family cult drama “Fishbowl,” faith-grappling drama “Speaking in Tongues” and high school football documentary “Fathers of Football,” directed by Austinite Bradley Beesley. (Side note: Someone please make “Father of Foosball.”)
AFF also will host a screening of Roger Corman’s 1957 cult classic “Rock All Night,” presented by Robert Rodriguez and Corman himself, already announced as AFF’s Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking honoree this year. (If you have never read Corman’s book “How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime,” you really, really should.)
The complete list of programming, including over 100 more films as well as hundreds of panels, will be announced in late September.
Here is that first wave (all descriptions by AFF):
“The Black String” (world premiere)
Writers: Brian Hanson, Richard Handley
Director: Brian Hanson
Starring: Frankie Muniz, Cullen Douglas, Chelsea Edmundson
When a lonely 7-11 clerk has sex with a mysterious woman, his world begins to unravel in a horrifying fashion. Plagued by illness and nightmarish visions, the clerk believes he's the target of a sinister occult plot.
Writer/Director: Joel Edgerton
Starring: Lucas Hedges, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Joel Edgerton
Jared (Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, is outed to his parents (Kidman and Crowe) at age 19. Jared is faced with an ultimatum: Attend a conversion therapy program – or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith.
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Writers: Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty
Director: Marielle Heller
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Julie Ann Emery
The true story of best-selling celebrity biographer (and friend to cats) Lee Israel (McCarthy) who made her living in the 1970s and ‘80s profiling the likes of Katherine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee is no longer able to get published because she has fallen out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (Grant).
“Fathers of Football” (World Premiere)
Director: Bradley Beesley
“Fathers of Football” follows the triumphs and struggles of life in a small Oklahoma town, where high school football is not only the brightest stage, but also the best ticket out.
“Fishbowl” (World Premiere)
Writers: Stephen Kinigopoulos, Piero Iberti, Bennett Elliott
Directors: Stephen Kinigopoulos, Alexa Kinigopoulos
Starring: Rick Kain, Belle Shickle, Emily Peachey, Caroline Coleman
In a small town filled with secrets, a struggling family prepares for the Rapture.
Writer/Director: Nia DaCosta
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Lily James, Lance Reddick
A modern Western that tells the story of two sisters, Ollie and Deb, who are driven to work outside the law to better their lives.
“The Long Dumb Road”
Writers: Hannah Fidell, Carson Mell
Director: Hannah Fidell
Starring: Tony Revolori, Jason Mantzoukas, Taissa Farmiga, Ron Livingston,
College-bound teenager Nat offers itinerant 30-something mechanic Richard a ride during a stop-over in small-town Texas
“Rock All Night” (1957) presented by Roger Corman and Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Charles B. Griffith
Director: Roger Corman
Cloud Nine, the local teen hangout, has been taken over by a pair of escaped killers, who hold the local teens hostage. The bartender realizes it's up to him to save the kids.
Writer/Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Starring: Lily Franky, Ando Sakura, Matsuoka Mayu
After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them
“Speaking in Tongues” (World Premiere)
Writers: Nathan Deming, Lawrie Doran
Director: Nathan Deming
A lonely college student grieving the loss of his mother finds purpose at a local mega church’s summer internship evangelizing the ‘lost.’ As the summer continues, his new faith is put to the test.