Monday, January 11, 2016

Watch Rare Texas-made Indies at the Bullock Museum

The Bullock Texas State History Museum will screen six rare Texas-made indie films as part of their Texas Focus Film Series this Thursday, January 14 at 7pm. Created by UT Austin film students, these short films were first compiled and screened in 1981
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when director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia) introduced them at the Collective for Living Cinema in New York City. Under the guidance of SXSW and The Austin Chronicle co-founder Louis Black, these films have been newly restored and are now being presented together as a package for the first time in Jonathan Demme Presents Made in Texas. UT Press is distributing the DVD.
Following this Thursday's screening, Louis Black will moderate a Q&A with Tom Huckabee (The Death of a Rock Star), Sandy Boone (Invasion of the Aluminum People), Paul Collum (Speed of Light) and other talent. We asked Rachel Manning, the Film & Theater Coordinator at the Bullock Museum, to introduce their Texas Focus film series and explain the significance of these films and local filmmaking.

Don't miss this! An opening reception with a cash bar starts at 6pm. Get your tickets here: Texas Focus: Jonathan Demme Presents MADE IN TEXAS

What is the mission of the Texas Focus Film Series?

Texas Focus aims to highlight the creative energy and wide-ranging, unique qualities of Texas through the art of cinema. This selection of films will bring Texas to the world through many lenses and visions of this great state.

Still from Fair Sisters
In this homage to Demme’s Caged Heat, things go awry when a rough girl gang busts in on a back room poker game.

Why are regional films like these important?

Regional film is important because it not only highlights aspects about a location that are often unseen in Hollywood films, but they also explore the creative nature and outlook of filmmakers from that region, which is unique in itself. 

Still from The Death of a Rock Star
Real life events of The Doors ethereal frontman, Jim Morrison, frame this experimental short film.
How do the Whole Shootin’ Match and the short films in Made in Texas characterize or capture our region — what makes them Texas? 

There is nothing in each of the films to signify Texas per se, except for a city street or skyline in a shot or two. What these films do is capture the aesthetic and spirit of early independent filmmaking, which was happening in and around Austin during this time. These films are not connected to a studio and do not have the look and feel of a studio production, but rather reflect the environs and locations that were available to the filmmakers. They are homegrown in that sense, and the DIY nature of how these films were made comes across. 

Still from Leonardo, Jr.
A tribute to the silent comedy master, Buster Keaton.
What is the legacy of these films; how have more mainstream filmmakers been influenced by these films?

Filmmakers such as Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez have been influenced by these films and their unique take on Texas filmmaking. Jonathan Demme of course was endeared to these films to point of curating them for the Collective for Living Cinema in 1981.

Still from Speed of Light
Reminiscent of Demme’s Crazy Mama, this story of an outsider searching Central Texas for her lost child is permeated by Cold War anxieties.
What’s the best way for local film enthusiasts to get involved and hear about screenings?

Great question! Film fans that want to follow what's going on in the world of cinema at the Bullock should keep an eye on the Bullock's Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook page, along with our Facebook film fan page. Additionally, film enthusiasts can follow us by signing up for email newsletters specific to the topic they're interested in, whether it be a specific film or everything we have to offer!

Still from Invasion of the Aluminum People
A contemporary and surreal take on science fiction horror of the 1950s.

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