Highlighting the lowlighting at Cinematexas 2003

Most people driving north to Austin this weekend are gearing up for the Austin City Limits festival, oblivious to the fact that darker, more subversive kicks are offered throughout town: The increasingly ambitious Cinematexas festival, which started as a showcase for student work but now has its fingers in all sorts of international cultural pies, is already underway. A day's worth of screenings have passed, but most of the exciting stuff is still to come.

The Alamo Drafthouse will be a trippy classroom for Science is Fiction on Thursday, September 18, featuring a compilation of educational films by the late Frenchman Jean Painlevé. His quirky shorts are full of a wit and visual flair rarely seen in educational movies; in them, seahorses wave in the current to the orchestral music of Darius Milhaud, and a vampire bat creeps about an unsuspecting guinea pig while a Duke Ellington trombone section wails. Gallic narrators deliver deliciously lively commentary while an octopus writhes across dry land and liquids crystallize like a kaleidoscopic rainbow.

Friday, September 19 kicks off Eye + Ear, a music microseries featuring Dutch punk band The Ex, Tijuana's killer Nortec Collective, saxophonist John Butcher (who will appear at the 811 Art Lounge in San Antonio on Monday, September 22), and more. It also offers a screening of Naomi Uman's diptych "Leche"/"Mala Leche," an intriguing study in documentary technique that contrasts one poetic, beautiful black-and-white film with a dry, stiffly prosaic color one. The two films add up to a sad look at the experience of Mexican ranchers who come to California for work.

On the University of Texas campus, journalist Alexander Cockburn will talk about the media and government as part of Parallax View, a series of confrontational political events which will include (on Saturday, September 20) appearances by poster artists Robbie Conal and Eric Drooker.

The festival has short films at its heart: Scores of shorts by local and international filmmakers are scattered throughout the schedule, grouped in programs of a half-dozen works each - but organizers have picked a few challenging longer pieces which are a decidedly mixed bag. Only the bravest avant-garde champions will endure James Fotopoulus' The Nest, and appreciators of Howard Hawks and critic Manny Farber should be warned that Jean-Pierre Gorin's film has less to do with them than with model-train enthusiasts. But Babette Mangolte's The Models of Pickpocket, which is nothing more than a series of interviews with the cast of the 1959 film, will be fascinating for cineastes obsessed with Robert Bresson (non-obsessives should look elsewhere).

This year's marquee name is Far From Heaven director Todd Haynes, who will present some of his short films and be ready to discuss all of them. Now is the time to hit him with questions about Superstar, the legendary movie in which Barbie dolls tell the tragic story of Karen Carpenter - a cult classic which can't legally be screened in public thanks to a lawsuit brought by Karen's brother.

The fest's last day brings a second screening of one of its biggest treats, a survey of work by German animator Oskar Fischinger. From the '20s through the '40s, Fischinger made pioneering "visual music" that turned classical works into an explosion of abstract shapes and patterns. His legacy can be seen on MTV and in Fantasia, a project he worked on for a while but felt was beneath him.

Space doesn't allow a full list of highlights, but suffice to say that there is plenty of stuff to do in Austin this week that doesn't involve standing around in the heat. Go with open eyes, and leave the sunscreen at home. •


The festival runs through Sunday, September 21. For specific information on screenings - or for passes - go to Tickets are also available in Austin at Vulcan Video, 33 Degrees, and Waterloo Records.

Thursday 9|18

The Hideout Theatre/Cabaret
(617 Congress, 512-682-6914)

2:30pm UT 6 10 Under 10

4:30pm Int'l 4 I Am Today's Lesson Plan

6:30pm Command Performance: Films by UT RTF Faculty

9:15pm Int'l 3 A Change Forewarned

The Hideout, upstairs

6:30pm Int'l 8 Enduring Freedom

8:30pm Int'l 10 One Too Many Mornings

The Yard Dog
(1510 S. Congress, 512-912-1613)

8pm Backyard BBQ

8:30pm Int'l Blow Up

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Downtown
(409 Colorado, 512-476-1320)

7pm Int'l 11 50 Miles of Elbow Room

9:15pm Science is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painlevé

New Gallery
(Doty Fine Arts Building, first floor, UT campus)

6-8pm Bama Kantor reception

Friday 9|19

The Hideout

2pm UT 2 Demolition Derby

4pm Int'l 9 Come Again, Sweet Love

6pm Naomi Uman: Leche/Mala Leche

8:15pm Int'l 1 Monkey No Love

10:15pm Int'l 6 Total Information Awareness

The Hideout, upstairs

5:30pm Int'l 7 Another Green World

7:30pm I Try Again: Face/Off Holland

9:30pm New Mexican Documentaries

Texas Union Theatre
(24th & Guadalupe, near the UT Tower, 512-475-6636)

3pm UT 4 TV Party

5pm UT 3 On My Turf

7pm Int'l 8 Enduring Freedom

9pm Jean-Pierre Gorin on Manny Farber

(Speedway & 24th, UT campus)

7pm Keynote: Mark Dery

9pm Homebrew: Indie and student games and mods

Waller Creek Auditorium
(710 E. 41st, 512-467-7756)

8pm Austin Eye + Ear: Kaffe Matthews & John Butcher

Arthouse at the Jones Gallery
(700 Congress, 512-453-5312)

6-8pm William Pope.L reception

Vortex Theatre
(2307 Manor, 512-478-5282)

11pm Austin Eye + Ear: Nortec

Burdine Hall
(26th & Wichita)

Parallax View

5pm Geoff Bowie: The Universal Clock

6:30pm Alexander Cockburn

Saturday 9|20

The Hideout

11:45am Int'l 50 Miles of Elbow Room

1:45pm James Fotopoulos: The Nest

3:45pm Int'l 4 I Am Today's Lesson Plan

5:45pm Tehran Now: Face/Off Iran

7:45pm Int'l 9 Come Again, Sweet Love

10pm Int'l 5 You Are Here

Texas Union Theatre

Noon UT 5 You Are Here

2pm Int'l 7 Another Green World

4pm UT 1 Dear Miss Lonelyhearts

6pm Int'l 10 One Too Many Mornings

8pm Todd Haynes: Assassins

Harry Ransom Center
(Guadalupe & 21st, UT campus, 512-471-8944)

1pm I Try Again: Face/Off Holland

3pm Babette Mangolte: Models of Pickpocket

Alamo Drafthouse

Midnight Int'l/UT Midnight 2: Circle of Life

(603 Red River, 512-477-EMOS)

10pm The Ex with Attack Formation & America is Waiting

Terra Cognita

6, 8, & 10pm Richard Maxwell: Showcase

Creative Research Laboratory
(2832 E. MLK, 512-322-2099)

6-8pm Parallax View/Terra Cognita opening reception

Flawn Academic Center #21 (UT campus, west of the Tower)

Parallax View

11am Christoph Keller: Radical Subjectivity

Noon Jason Simon: Production Notes

1pm Robbie Conal

2pm Eric Drooker

3:30pm Richard Porton, Kevin Brownlow: Winstanely, Nick MacDonald: The Liberal War

Sunday 9|21

The Hideout

12:30pm UT 4 TV Pary

2:30pm Int'l 3 A Change Forewarned

4:30pm UT6 10

Under 10

The Hidout, upstairs

2:30pm Tehran Now: Face/Off Iran

5pm The Texas Show

Alamo Drafthouse

Noon Int'l 1 Monkey

No Love

2pm New Mexican Documentaries

4:30pm Oskar Fischinger Retrospective

6pm Int'l 2 Energy Fools the Magician

Texas Union Theatre

1pm Todd Haynes: Dottie Gets Spanked

3:30pm UT 1 Dear Miss Lonelyhearts

5:30pm UT 2 Demolition Derby


Games Without Borders

3:30pm Ed Halter: War Games

5:30pm Paul Slocum: How to Make a Pop Band Out of '80s Computer Trash

7pm Cory Archangel: Burgertime

Waller Creek Auditorium

6pm Improv Trio: John Butcher, Kaffe Matthews, Andy Moor

Terra Cognita

6, 8, & 10pm Richard Maxwell: Showcase

Flawn Academic Center

Parallax View

Noon Micah Magee: Canbaz

1pm David Martinez: We Interrupt This Empire

1:30pm Juliana Fredman & Dan O'Reilly-Rowe: Notes From the Resistance

2pm The 4th World War

3:15pm Open forum to discuss the 5th World Trade Organization Conference

Burdine Hall

Noon Alexandre Sokurov: Confessions

UT, Studio 4E

1:30-4:30pm Cinemakids 03

Club DeVille
(900 Red River, 512-457-0900)

9pm Cinematexas Awards Ceremony •

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