RTF at SXSW 2013


RTF at SXSW 2013

RTF SXSW Party - Sunday 3/10 - 6-9 pm - for alumni & friends - Progress Coffee - 500 San Marcos St Austin TX

Planning to be in Austin this March? If so, you're in for a treat. Once again, the Austin-based SXSW Film & Interactive Festival's lineup is filled with an exciting assortment of RTF student, alumni, and faculty work. Check this site frequently for updates as SXSW announces its lineup, RTF films' schedule, and awards.

Alumni, join us for our annual RTF SXSW mixer, Sunday, March 10 at Progress Coffee to see old friends and help us celebrate all of the RTF films at the fest this year. Also, tune in for @UTRTF at SXSW news on Twitter: #RTFSXSW.

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


Shorts | Features | Panels | MentorsMusic | 
Party | #RTFSXSW Twitter | Online Schedule | Printable Schedule


Giving back to the community, these RTF alumni are serving as mentors to the next generation of media professionals.



Still from Kat Candler's BLACK METAL

Narrative Shorts Competition | 8 m

After a career spent mining his music from the shadows, the actions of one fan creates a chain reaction for the lead singer of a black metal band.

Director/Producer -

Kat Candler (Lecturer)

Producer -

Kelly Williams (Lecturer, BS '99)




Narrative Short Competition | World Premiere | 17 m

After the departure of friend and drummer Mortimus, Black Metal bandmates Borknarg and Absu begin to lose hope that "Necronomica" will ever achieve its place as the most evil band in the world. Borknarg hatches a plan to take their band to the next level, but he fears it might cost him his friendship with Absu. And friendship is a powerful thing: it is the foundation of any truly evil band.

Director/ Screenwriter/ Editor/ Music -

Kyle Bogart (BS 06)

Director -

Cliff Bogart (BS 05)

Producer/ Cinematographer -

Richard Reininger (BS 06)


Still from BOY FRIENDS

Narrative Shorts | World Premiere | 7 m

Disturbed by a dream, a man awakens to realize his unconscious has called his self-awareness into question. When confronting himself, misfortune brings the temporal world into perspective.

Editor -

Guillermo Sanchez (BS '12)

Cast -

Nicholas Saenz (BS '05)

Assistant Director -

Ricardo Andrade (BS '08)

Color Correction -

Anand Modi (MFA Candidate)



Still from BOY FRIENDS

Shorts Program which includes FIRST DATE | 13 m

A man's date becomes a nightmare when he's hit with an attack of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 

Writer/Director/Producer -

Steven DeGennaro (Lecturer)

Cinematographer -

Drew Daniels (BS '08)




Narrative Spotlight | World Premiere | 92 m

This darkly comedic satire follows the exploits of reality TV producer Mickey Wagner whose amoral attempt to re-invent the reality genre involves putting an average family under all encompassing surveillance...without their knowledge. Unfortunately Mickey soon realizes that the family is boring. In a desperate attempt to salvage the show, Mickey begins to interfere by injecting conflict to create drama. As the show gets better, the family starts to disintegrate. Mickey rationalizes that all will be ok in the end, for once the episodes begin airing, fame will heal all the wounds.

Produced by alumni Jordan Levin and Jared Hoffman's company, Generate, REALITY SHOW reflects the joint work of alumni from Austin's RTF and UT's semester in Los Angeles program, UTLA.

Executive Producer - 

Jared Hoffman (BS 06)

Executive Producer - 

James T Moore (UTLA)

Editor - 

Rita K. Sanders (BS 01)

Assistant Editor - 

Matthew Blackburn (UTLA)

Assistant Editor - 

Aaron Crowley (UTLA)

Script Supervisor - 

Austin Harpole (UTLA)

VFX Artist - 

Chase Parsons (UTLA)

VFX Artist - 

Ty Eddingston (BS 12)

Camera Operator - 

Chris Neighbors (BS 11)



Still from PJ Raval's BEFORE YOU KNOW IT

Documentary Spotlight | World Premiere | 110 m

Award-winning filmmaker and Assistant Professor PJ Raval (one of Out Magazine’s “Out 100 2010” and Filmmaker Magazine's "25 new faces of independent film 2006") directed BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, which traces a year in the lives and a lifetime of experiences of several gay seniors against the backdrop of three unique retirement communities.

Director/Producer -

PJ Raval (Assistant Professor, MFA 04)

Producer -

Sara Giustini (BS ’03)

Cinematographer -

Mike Simpson (BS ’07)

Editor -

Kyle Henry (MFA 99)

Additional crew -

Russell O. Bush (MFA ’12), Drew Xanthopoulos (MFA 11), Jessie Dorfman (MFA ’11)



Still from Bryan Poyser's THE BOUNCEBACK

Narrative Spotlight | World Premiere | 92 m

The raucous nightlife of Austin, Texas, is the setting for this outrageous and heartfelt comedy about two ex-couples burned by love. A John Cassavetes Award nominee at the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards,  RTF alumnus, and screenwriting lecturer, director Bryan Poyser premiered his last feature LOVERS OF HATE in the US Dramatic Competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.


Director -

Bryan Poyser (Lecturer, BS 96 )

Producers -

David Fabelo (BS 05), Megan Gilbride (MFA ’04)

Cinematographer -

PJ Raval (Assistant Professor, MFA 04)

Editor -

Don Swaynos (BS 02)




Still from Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess

Festival Favorites | Narrative Feature | 92 m

In 1980 -- back when the machines seemed clumsy and we seemed clever -- an eccentric group of computer chess programmers gather at a hotel to discuss the state of artificial intelligence, and for a tournament pitting man and machine against one another. Known as the "Godfather of Mumblecore," a genre of independent films heavily focused on naturalistic dialog, former lecturer Andrew Bujalski wrote and directed COMPUTER CHESS, his fourth feature film. Keep your eye out for RTF's beloved office manager, Bert Herigstad (far right in the photo), who makes appearances in the film.

Director/Screenwriter/Editor -

Andrew Bujalski (former Lecturer)

Co-producer -

Carlyn Hudson (BS 09)

Cast -

includes Bert Herigstad (RTF's Office Manager)

First Assistant Camera -

Drew Xanthopoulos (MFA '11)



Still from Paul Stekler's Getting Back to Abnormal

Documentary Spotlight | World Premiere | 92 m

New Orleans' long history of political dysfunction and complicated racial dynamics gets a new lease on life when Stacy Head, a polarizing white woman, wins a seat on the city council after Katrina. Four years later, she needs to get black votes to be re-elected. But will her record of blunt racial talk doom her chances? GETTING BACK TO ABNORMAL follows the unlikely odd couple of Head and her irrepressible black political advisor Barbara Lacen as they try to navigate New Orleans' treacherous political scene. With its cast of only-in-New-Orleans characters, GETTING BACK TO ABNORMAL is a provocative and amusing look at race in America, set against the backdrop of New Orleans' rich culture. RTF Department Chair and nationally recognized documentary filmmaker Paul Stekler jointly directs and produces with other veteran New Orleans' documentary filmmakers Louis Alvarez, Andrew Kolker, Peter Odabashian.

Director/Producer -

Paul Stekler (RTF Department Chair), Louis Alvarez, Andrew Kolker, Peter Odabashian



Still from Sean H A Gallagher's GOOD NIGHT

Narrative Spotlight | World Premiere | 83 m

Leigh's 29th birthday party takes a sudden turn when she announces that the evening may be the last time her friends see her alive. A night of questions, coping and debauchery immediately follow. Awarded UT's first ever Samuel Fuller Award for Cinematic Intransigence, Sean H. A. Gallagher produced, wrote, and directed.


Director/Producer/Screenwriter -

Sean H. A. Gallagher (BS ’02)


Jason Eitelbach (College of Communication Tech Services)

Editors -

Don Howard (Professor) & David Fabelo (BS ’05)

Principal Cast -

includes Todd Berger (BS ’01)


Still from Geoff Marslett's LOVES HER GUN

Narrative Spotlight | World Premiere | 99 m

After being attacked on the streets of New York, Allie leaves her unfocused life and lame boyfriend for Austin, Texas. As she settles into a slower pace, her fears continue to haunt her. She quickly falls into Texas gun culture as a means to feel safe. Can she maintain healthy relationships, or will the weapons she uses to protect herself cause problems worse that the ones she tried to escape? LOVES HER GUN is award-winning director, animator and teacher Geoff Marslett's first live-action feature film. His previous feature MARS (an animated sci-fi, rom-com) premiered at SXSW 2010, and he has directed numerous short films including "Monkey vs. Robot", "Bubblecraft", and part of "Slacker 2011".

Director -

Geoff Marslett (Sr. Lecturer, MFA 00)

Cinematographer -

Amy Bench (Lecturer, MFA ’10)


Still from Jacob Vaughan's MILO

Narrative Spotlight | World Premiere | 90 m

A man discovers that his chronic stomach problems are due to the fact that he has a demon baby living in his colon.

In 2003 Jacob Vaughan produced, shot, and edited the Independent Spirit Award nominated film DEAR PILLOW (written and directed by fellow RTF alum and current lecturer Bryan Poyser). He also edited the Independent Spirit Award winning IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS and was an additional editor on the Duplass Brothers’ CYRUS and JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME. He also edited BLACK ROCK, which is scheduled for release in March.

Director/Writer -

Jacob Vaughan (BS ’96)


still for PIT STOP

Festival Favorites | Narrative Feature | 92 m

In a small Texas town, two gay men are leading parallel lives. There’s Gabe: a contractor who’s getting over an ill-fated affair with a married man and finds solace in the relationship he still harbors with his ex-wife, Shannon, and their daughter, Cindy; and there’s Ernesto: a Hispanic lumber yard worker in the midst of splitting up with his live-in boyfriend, Luis, as he receives news from the hospital that his former love, Martin, is in a coma. At the end, when Gabe and Ernesto meet each other for a one-nighter–having endured all the struggles and heartbreaks and wondering if they’ll ever find love again–they face the possibility that they might just be meant for each other.

Producers -

Kelly Williams (Lecturer, BS 99), Jonathan Duffy (BS 00)

Director -

Yen Tan

Editor -

Don Swaynos (BS 02)



Festival Favorites | Narrative Feature | 94 m

Two highway road workers spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind. Directed by David Gordon Green (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, HBO's "Eastbound and Down") and produced by Berndt Mader (MFA '07), whose first feature, FIVE TIME CHAMPION, premiered at SXSW in 2011. Starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch.

Producer -

Berndt Mader (MFA 07)

Assistant Editor, Dailies Colorist -

Dan Stuyck (Lecturer)

Production Assistant - 

Lauren Kinsler (MFA Candidate)



Still from REWIND THIS!

Documentary Spotlight | World Premiere | 94 m

An exploding industry without rules! Backyard filmmakers with zero budget and a surplus of dreams! Unchecked global piracy! The race to control media consumption! Videotape changed the world and laid the foundation for today’s digital culture. Low-cost equipment created unprecedented opportunities. Major studios and small indies operated on an even playing field for the first time ever. The story of the home video revolution is a tale of both technological advancement and human ambition. VHS vs. Beta! Porn invades the home! Direct to-video madness! It's all here, along with a rogue’s gallery of directors, rental employees, XXX vets, box artists, collectors, and more. Associate Professor and film archivist Caroline Frick contributes to the conversation. Join the pizza party!

Cinematographer - 

Christopher Palmer (BS '04)

Editor - 

Christopher Palmer (BS '04)



Documentary Spotlight | World Premiere | 92 m

“Our procedure has been always haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted. It is an unreal dream.” - Justice Learned Hand.

In 1986 Michael Morton’s wife Christine is brutally murdered in front of their only child, and Michael is convicted of the crime. Locked away in Texas prisons for a quarter century, he has years to ponder questions of justice and innocence, truth and fate. Though he is virtually invisible to society, a team of dedicated attorneys spends years fighting for the right to test DNA evidence found at the murder scene. Their discoveries ultimately reveal that the price of a wrongful conviction goes well beyond one man’s loss of freedom. Directed by Al Reinert, two-time Academy Award nominee—for being a documentary filmmaker ("For All Mankind") and a screenwriter ("Apollo 13").

Associate Producer - 

Joshua Riehl (RTF Senior)

Co-producer, Editor, & Camera Op - 

John Aldrich  (BS '94))

Add'l Cam Op; 2nd Unit Cinematographer - 

Drew Xanthopoulos (MFA '11)



Narrative Feature | World Premiere | 86 m

Metal-loving gamer geek, Scott Weidemeyer, lives with his ornery grandmother and works a lousy job at a donut shop. But every Tuesday night, he is the omnipotent Game Master, guiding his role-players through a tabletop journey of fantasy and adventure. However, when neo-nerd hipster Miles joins his game, Scott begins to resent the admiration Miles receives from the other players. To make matters worse, the health of his grandmother begins to falter, and his estranged mother visits town, reminding Scott of a childhood he’d just as soon forget. Caught in a spiral of rage and delusion, Scott is forced to take drastic steps to reclaim his honor, and his identity as the Game Master.

Cinematographer - 

Ellie Ann Fenton (BS '05)



In addition to sending a large number of filmmakers to the Festival, the department has faculty members participating in the event as well. S. Craig Watkins, Paul Toprac, Karen Kocher, and Laura Dixon each will be participating on panels this year.

Making Apps with Youth: How-To & Lessons Learned (SXSWEDU)

Monday, March 4 • 4:30PM - 5:30PM • Hilton Austin Downtown Salon A

Karen Kocker

Educators who embrace mobile technology incorporate lessons that deploy phones as instruments of data-collection, documentation and research. Yet not all digital engagement in the classroom is equal (there's a big difference between using mobile devices to look up pollution sites versus having students build an app that collects and sonifies smog data). Too few models have engaged young people in app creation versus consumption. This is a missed educational opportunity, as app design is an interdisciplinary process that incorporates science, marketing, theater & math. The broad appeal of mobile tech, and personal connection young people feel with their phones, open alternative paths to programming for kids who don’t reach for a C++ textbook in their spare time. In this panel, youth app designers and leading educators from landmark app-making programs discuss the step-by-step process of how you can incorporate "citizenship-driven" app design – from ideation to iteration -- in your classroom.

Presenters: S. Craig Watkins (Associate Professor), Asha Richardson, Kurt Collins, Elisabeth Soep

Games R Art

Friday, March 8 • 5:00PM - 6:00PM • Palmer Events Center • Room 4-5

Paul Toprac

Linear narratives and static written words no longer dominate communication. New forms of communication are fundamentally changing the way interactive media producers, including game developers, engage audiences. Success at communicating through digital media is critical for self-expression and success. The arts are to digital communication what grammar and spelling are to the written word. Digital communication requires mastery of skills as old as humankind, skills learned through study of the fine arts, as well as the new skills of using technology. Digital games combine the power of arts and technology as complex eco-systems within and extending beyond the game space to involve networks of people in a variety of roles and rich interactions. Learning represents just one activity within this larger, highly engaging system. Discover how the arts build critical 21st century skills for student success in school and life.

PresentersPaul Toprac (Associate Director Game Development & Senior Lecturer)Amy Barbee (Executive Director, Texas Cultural Trust;Katie Salen (Executive Director/Professor Institute Of Play/Depaul University); Warren Spector (VP/Creative Director Junction Point-Disney Interactive Studios)

Storytelling Devices in Interactive Documentary

Tuesday, March 12 • 11:00AM -12:00PM • Austin Convention Center, Austin Suite

Karen Kocker

Using real world examples from a sampling of interactive web-based documentaries, the panel will discuss the specific “Cinematic” and ”Digimatic” devices that makers of interactive documentary are employing to engage their viewers. Our big question is: Once you get past the interface, are people really engaging with the content of these projects in a meaningful way? We will consider ways that interactive filmmakers could more consciously exploit the unique aspects of the digital platform to engage their audiences.

Presenters: Karen Kocher (Lecturer) , Laura Dixon (Assistant Instructor), Florian Thalhofer, Bart Marable



Kent Zambrana (BS '05) will be performing at Maggie Mae's on March 13th with his band Letting Up Despite Great Faults.