RTF at 2014 SXSW


RTF at 2014 SXSW

March 7–15 - Austin, Texas

2014 marks another great year at the SXSW film festival for RTF filmmakers. See the list below for all of this year's RTF at SXSW activities. Also, tune in for @UTRTF at SXSW news on Twitter: #RTFSXSW.

Alumni, grad students, and friends--join us for our annual RTF SXSW mixer, Sunday, March 9 at Brew & Brew to see old friends and help us celebrate all of the RTF films at the fest this year. In honor of our esteemed alumnus Matthew McConaughey's recent Best Actor Oscar win, we'll be serving #lemonmeringuepie along with other light refreshments.

If you have news about RTF films, panels, or other activities that should be included here, please let us know.

Features | Shorts | Panels | SXSWedu | Mentors | Jurors
 Schedule | Printable RTF@SXSW Schedule | Twitter
RTF Party



Thank you a lot still

Thank You a Lot (Narrative Spotlight)
Director/Screenwriter: Matt Muir (MFA '05)

A struggling, two-bit music manager will lose his job unless he signs a reclusive country music singer, James Hand, who also happens to be his estranged father.
Cast: Blake DeLong, James Hand, Robyn Rikoon, Sonny Carl Davis, Jeffery Da'Shade Johnson (World Premiere)



TWO STEP still

Two Step (Narrative Spotlight)
Director/Screenwriter: Alex R. Johnson
Producer: Charles Mulford (BS '06)
Editor: Benjamin Moses Smith (BS '06)

Two Step is a fast-paced Texas thriller in which the lives of James, a directionless college dropout, and Webb, a career criminal with his back against the wall, violently collide.
Cast: Beth Broderick, James Landry Hébert, Skyy Moore, Jason Douglas, Ashley Rae Spillers (World Premiere)




Above All Else (Documentary Spotlight)
Director: John Fiege (MFA '06, former lecturer)
Producer: Christopher Lucas (PhD '11)
Co-editor: Alvaro Torres-Crespo (MFA student)
Consulting producer: Paul Stekler (RTF Department Chair/Professor)
Sound recordist and additional camera: Keegan Curry (BS '13)

A former stuntman and high wire artist puts his family and future on the line when he rallies a group of East Texas landowners and activists to blockade the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. (World Premiere)




Arlo and Julie (Visions)
Director/Screenwriter: Steve Mims (RTF Lecturer)
Produced in an RTF class!

A neurotic couple’s obsession with a mysterious puzzle comically unravels their world, disconnecting them from reality and jeopardizing their fragile relationship.
Cast: Alex Dobrenko, Ashley Spillers, Chris Doubek, Sam Eidson, Hugo Zesati (World Premiere)





From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series - Pilot (Episodic)
Director/Screenwriter: Robert Rodriguez (BS '86/'08)

The Gecko Brothers are back. Based on the thrill-ride film, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is a supernatural crime saga from Creator, Director and EP Robert Rodriguez premiering March 11 on El Rey Network.
Cast: D.J. Cotrona, Zane Holtz, Eiza González, Jesse Garcia, Lane Garrison, and Wilmer Valderrama, and Don Johnson (World Premiere)



Hellion (Festival Favorites)
Director/Screenwriter: Kat Candler (RTF Lecturer)
Producer, Kelly Williams (BS '99, Lecturer)
Producer, Jonathan Duffy (BS ’00)
Co-Producer, Andrew Logan (BS ’04)
Actor, Chad Briggs (BS ’97)

When 13-year-old Jacob's delinquent behavior results in the authorities placing his little brother Wes with their aunt, he and his emotionally absent father must finally take responsibility for their actions and each other in order to bring Wes home. Cast: Aaron Paul, Juliette Lewis, Josh Wiggins, Deke Garner, Jonny Mars


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Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (Festival Favorites)
Director/Screenwriter: David Zellner (BS '96), Screenwriter: Nathan Zellner

A lonely Japanese woman abandons her structured life in Tokyo to seek a satchel of money rumored to be hidden in the Minnesota wilderness.
Cast: Rinko Kikuchi, Nobuyuki Katsube, David Zellner, Nathan Zellner, Shirley Venard




No No: A Dockumentary (Festival Favorites)
Director: Jeffrey Radice
Director of Cinematography, John Fiege (MFA '06, former lecturer)

In the 1970s Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter on LSD and courted conflict and controversy, but his latter years were spent helping others recover from addiction. No No: A Dockumentary weaves a surprising story of a life in and out of the spotlight. SXsports screening




Actor: Geoff Marslett (Sr. Lecturer, MFA alum)
Editor: Tim Tsai (MFA alum)
Camera / Underwater Camera / Associate Producer / Assistant Editor: Riley Engemoen (BS alum)
Colorist and Titles: Dan Stuyck (MFA alum, lecturer)

"Yakona" is a visual experience through the crystal clear waters of the San Marcos River and its headwaters at Spring Lake. Follow the river on an impressionistic journey from its point of view as it flows from source to sea, through the changing seasons, through time and memory. Experience its relationship with the natural world and its interactions with humankind. Through "Yakona", the voice of the river calls on humanity's higher nature, inspiring its protection by revealing its beauty and life-giving spirit.



Exists (Midnighters)
Actor: Samuel Davis (BS '12)

When brothers Brian and Matt Tover secretly sneak out to their Uncle's long abandoned cabin in East Texas for a party weekend with their friends, they find themselves stalked by the legendary Sasquatch.
Cut off from the world, and knowing help isn’t coming, the kids must try to make it out of the woods alive while hunted by a creature that’s smarter, stronger, and more terrifying than they would have ever believed exists.




SEQUOIA (Narrative Spotlight)
Editor: Franklin Peterson (BS ’03)

A very lively woman with a very deadly cancer visits a national park with the intention of ending her life there-- but her suicide plans are continually thwarted, not least of all by her family, which finds itself unamused with her death wish



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Rat Pack Rat (Midnight Shorts)
Director: Todd Rohal (lecturer)
Producer: Clay Liford (BS '97)

A Sammy Davis, Jr. impersonator, hired to visit with a loyal Rat Pack fan, finds himself delivering last rites at the boy's bedside.




MOLLY still

Molly (Shorts Competition)
Director: Craig Elrod (BS '05)

After a breakup with his girlfriend Molly, Byron and his best friend organize a complicated breakdown.





Austin Film Society Selected Shorts: "AFS Shortcase"

The Austin Film Society announced its SXSW AFS Shortcase lineup, which includes the works of several RTF Filmmakers:

The Horrible Life of Dr GhoulDon Swaynos (BS ‘02)  - A down-on-his-luck late-night tv horror host faces a comically uncomfortable situation with his estranged wife. The cast includes Chris Doubek, Kerri Lendo and Byron Brown. Kelly Williams (Hellion) is one of the producers.

HousekeepingCatherine Licata (MFA ’13, Lecturer) -- In this short drama, what at first appears to be almost a Stepford family is revealed to be a more complex and unhappy situation. A mother alone at home with her baby while the rest of the family is away spends an average day cleaning house. Writer/director Catherine Licata keeps the audience guessing with suggestions of an impending disaster, but as the story unfolds, the truth is surprising. Licata's actors communicate volumes in unspoken words as themes of loss and longing are revealed. Austin filmmaker Russell Bush (Vultures of Tibet) was the film's cinematographer.

Jenny and StephElizabeth Chatelain (MFA ’13)  -- This short is a coming-of-age tale in which two sisters bond as they learn to trust one another through the events of a very bad night. Young Piper Byers in the role of Jenny displays uncommon depth and maturity in her performance. Chatelain also directed the IDA winning documentary My Sister Sarah.

See the DirtChelsea Hernandez (BS ‘10), Erik Mauck -- Scott MacMillan is an ordinary Georgetown, TX teenager with an unusual habit. His collection of vacuum cleaners numbers in the hundreds, and after a newspaper article, local residents now bring their rare old vacuums to add to his collection. This short documentary from The Road to Livingston filmmakers screened at AFF 2012.

Whitewash (Shasparay Lighteard) -- Whitewash, a film created under the Polari Queer Youth Media Project, guided by MFA student/Producer Evan Roberts, is a powerful affirmative statement on the importance of remaining true to oneself when pressured to conform to the expectations of others. Lighteard narrates her story in a humorous, well-written short whose quality exceeds those of many adult filmmakers. If this is any indicator, the future of filmmaking is in good hands.

The Yellow WallpaperNidhi Reddy (BS ‘13)  -- This short is based on the early feminist short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman about a woman confined by her husband to her upstairs bedroom as she loses her sanity, obsessing on the color of the wallpaper. Reddy has a brilliantly original animation style, and The Yellow Wallpaper was 2013 Grand Prize Winner at the Texas Union Film Festival, University of Texas at Austin. Reddy received an AFS Grant recipient in 2013 for her film Untitled Freakshow Animation.

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"A Conversation with Robert Rodriguez & Diego Luna"
Professor Charles Ramírez Berg organized and moderated the inaugural keynote event for a new part of SXSW called SXAmericas, which will provide panels and events concerning Latinos from Latin America and the US. The event involved a conversation with RTF alum Robert Rodriguez and Mexican actor-director Diego Luna, whose latest film as director, "Cesar Chavez," won a 2014 SXSW audience award (“narrative spotlight”).

Gigabit coming to Austin
Given America’ mediocre broadband service, Google Fiber has generated great attention and expectation across the country. From more than 1,100 communities that have applied, Austin is chosen as the second city to experiment with the gigabit broadband network. This panel focuses on the process, dynamics and impact of the installment of Google Fiber in Austin. First, what's going to be the impact of Google Fiber and other gigabit Internet service on the city, in terms of entrepreneurship, education, and health? Second, how should the public, private, and non-profit sectors work together to make sure that members of disadvantaged social groups would be included in our digital future? The experience in Kansas City shows that community groups can play a vital role in mobilizing disadvantaged neighborhoods. 

Panel speakers include Juanita Budd from Austin Free-Net and Professor Wenhong Chen from UT Austin. The panel will be moderated by Professor Sharon Strover from UT Austin.

"The Old Masters vs. Photoshop"
Paul Toprac (Sr. Lecturer, Associate Director of the Game and Mobile Media Applications Program), Sheldon Pacotti (Lecturer) - Do traditional arts forms inform gaming and new media art? John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design, stated: "It is not about the old and the new. It is about what is good." How do today’s game developers draw from the old to create the new to makes things interesting? Are there connections between classical art, literature and video games? Will using timeless methods to design complex characters, worlds and gameplay experiences change the way games are consumed? Or, is something completely new happening in the arts? This panel will address these issues, as well as issues regarding whether getting a traditional arts or literature background helps or hurts compared to those who just focus on the digital arts.

"Working remotely - Making Films Across States"
The panel will use the SXSW 2013 feature documentary Assistant Professor PJ Raval's BEFORE YOU KNOW IT as a case study looking at how the film was created with the subjects living in three different cities as well as the producer living in North Carolina, director in Austin, DP in NYC, editor in Chicago, assistant editor and composer in LA and motion graphics in Montreal. Through the use of technology such as Skype, Dropbox and Wetransfer as well as taking advantage of air transportation and hard drives, the film was developed, produced and edited by a crew living across North America. Panelists include: Producer Sara Giustini (BS ’03), Director PJ Raval (Assistant Professor), Editor Kyle Henry (MFA '99), composer Jimmy LaValle and DP Mike Simpson (BS ’07).

Meet the Insiders: Funding and Special Organizations"
Hosted by Rose Vincelli Gustine of IFP, this Meet the Insiders session will allow the audience to interact with eight of the top grantmakers and gatekeepers from the nonprofit film world. Panelists include Rahdi Taylor (Sundance Documentary Fund, MFA '97) Lois Vossen (Independent Lens) Anna Rose Holmer, Eleanor Whitely (NY Foundation of the Arts), Iyabo Boyd (Chicken and Egg Pictures), and Juliana Steele (Fractured Atlas).

"Navigating Partnerships: Film and Advocacy"
Social change advocates are savvy about the power of media, often partnering with film and media artists to advance their missions. This climate offers new opportunities, but artists may find themselves in the political hot seat without adequate preparation and advocates can lose control of their message. Director/Cinematographer John Fiege (Lecturer, MFA ’06) is one of the three panelists who will explore a range of issues including who controls story and message and how to establish clear roles. A facilitated discussion will bring attendees together to share stories about managing the relationship between the artist, subjects, and the NGOs, non-profits, or citizen groups. Attendees will then form small groups to create a crowd-sourced guide of ‘best practices’ for managing the practicalities and ethics of these partnerships

"Using Games to Kickstart Education"
Digital literacy is the future of communication and commerce and creates learning experiences that develop students' capacities for critical thinking, creativity, imagination and innovation. Digital communication requires skills learned through study of the fine arts, as well as the skills of using new technology. Digital games combine the power of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills in a program that fuses the arts and humanities with hands-on experiential learning into complex eco-systems within, and extending beyond, the game space to involve networks of people in a variety of roles and rich interactions. Learning STEAM skills represents a critical activity within this larger, highly engaging system where the future economy is contingent upon students’ success. This SXSW Gaming Session at the Long Center is FREE and open to the public. However SXSW Interactive, Film, Gold and Platinum badges gain priority seating

Presenters include RTF Lecturer Bruce Pennycook and Director of the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy, Warren Spector (MA ’80). Spector has been making games for 30 years. The recipient of lifetime achievement awards from the Game Developers Conference and Cartoons on the Bay, his work has been featured at the Australian Center for the Moving Image and the Smithsonian Institution.

"Meet the Insiders: David Wingo and Graham Reynolds"
Meet the Insiders offers an inside track with composers David Wingo, long time composer of David Gordon Green and Graham Reynolds, long time composer of Richard Linklater. This is an open forum to ask these insiders anything. Kat Candler (lecturer) is moderating.

"Big Data & Sensors: Blowing Up Transportation"
In 2008, for the first time, half the world's population is living in towns and cities. By 2030, the urban population will reach 5 billion – 60% of the world's population” (UN Population Division.) Nearly all global population growth will occur in cities—particularly in the developing world. With finite budgets and a growing urgency on limiting energy usage and pollution, transportation is rapidly becoming the critical issue for cities around the world. Transportation is also a primary example of the potential for big data, sensors, and social media to help cities meet modern-day challenges. From optimizing multimodal transport to managing traffic flow, the infrastructure conversation is rapidly moving from roads to data. Data enables a smarter, mobile lifestyle; however, this shift creates entirely new challenges as entrepreneurs and policymakers alike are forced to work within legacy policy frameworks for everything from funding allocation to privacy and open government.”

Presenter US Representative Blake Farenthold (BS’85) is a lifelong resident of Texas, born and raised in Corpus Christi. He is currently serving his second term in Congress, representing the 27th District of Texas, which includes the Texas Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi and vicinity to Madagorda County and Inland to Bastrop. It Includes Victoria, Wharton, Bay City, Luling, Edna, Yoakum, Gonzales, Refugio, Halletsville and Shiner. 

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Holly Custard (PhD '12), Associate Director at the UT Austin Center for Teaching and Learning, will be moderating a SXSWedu panel that will dive into the known and potential impact of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Three UT Austin faculty members leading MOOCs this school year will share their experiences to better understand why, how, and what students are learning in this space.

Bahaa Ghobrial (PhD student) will be participating on a SXSWedu panel that will discuss what students are getting from online tools and MOOCs, what they need, how they prefer to learn, and how technology (MOOCs and blended approaches) meets those needs—or doesn't. The panel includes another UT student, Dr. Steve Mintz (Executive Director of the Institute for Transformational Learning at UT), and Dr. Anant Agarwal (President of edX, an online learning venture of Harvard and MIT).

Juan Garcia (BS ’03), Executive Producer and co-creator of Energy at the Movies, will be speaking about “edutainment” and creating educational programming for broadcast and broadband on the “From Campus to Primetime” panel at SXSWedu. Together with UT Austin professor and host Dr. Michael Webber they will discuss the evolution of Energy at the Movies from a Plan II Honors course to a nationally syndicated PBS television show.

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DOCUMENTARY SHORTS JURY: Heather Courtney (MFA '00, lecturer) is a documentary director/producer. Her most recent film, WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM, won an Emmy, the Independent Spirit Award, and a SXSW Jury Award

ANIMATED SHORTS JURY: Geoff Marslett (Sr. Lecturer, MFA '00) is the writer/director/animator/actor responsible for 2010's animated sci-fi rom-com MARS and 2013's SXSW award winner LOVES HER GUN.

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PJ Raval (Assistant Professor) and Andrew Garrison (Associate Professor) - Mentors: Filmmakers: Documentary

Deborah McIntosh (BS '07), Kelly Williams (Lecturer, BS '99) - Mentors: Producers/Production I

Megan Gilbride (MFA '04, Lecturer) - Mentors: Producers/Production II

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RTF@SXSW mixer flyer

Alumni, grad students, and friends, join RTF for our annual RTF @ SXSW mixer!
Celebrate this year's films, old times, and the onset of spring.
Light refreshments will be served.
DATE: Sunday, March 9
VENUE: Brew and Brew (formerly "Progress Coffee) - 500 San Marcos St. Austin, TX 78702
TIME: 6 – 9 pm
Add to your SXSW schedule: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_OE03520
RSVP to rtfdepartment@gmail.com.



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