Part of Mar 2012 by

Slacker 2011 at SXSW Film 2012

Armed with a globe and a bag loaded with cans of Lone Star, a beery Bob Ray (Hell on Wheels) delivers us into Slacker 2011 on a bus. Ray hops onto a pedicab and commences a sprawling monologue to no one and anyone riffing on this and that and everything in between. Ray’s character — fittingly named in the end credits as “Should Have Stayed at the Bus Stop” — is the first of many to be re-imagined from Richard Linklater’s original Slacker (1991). From Ray’s introduction, the narrative baton is passed a total of 22 times from one quintessential Austin filmmaker to the next, including: Spencer Parsons (I’ll Come Running), Berndt Mader (Five Time Champion), Amy Grappell (Quadrangle), Karen Skloss (Sunshine), Paul Gordon (The Happy Poet), David Zellner and Nathan Zellner (Goliath), Jay Duplass (Cyrus), John Bryant (The Overlook Brothers), Sam Wainwright Douglas (Citizen Architect), Ben Steinbauer (Winnebago Man), Geoff Marslett (Mars), Bradley Beesley (Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo), Clay Liford (Wuss), and PJ Raval (Trinidad). That right there is a nice little snapshot of some of my favorite filmmakers — but, most amazingly, they all reside in Central Texas. Slacker 2011 does many things quite well; but, most importantly, it serves as a testament to the amazing cinematic talent that currently hails from Austin.

Everyone knows that Austin is the independent filmmaking capital of the United States; and as an Austin-based film critic, I get asked the same exact question every year at SXSW Film. Which Austin-based films are worth checking out at this year’s festival? My answer this year is to use Slacker 2011 as your guide. Basically, if the filmmaker or actor participated in Slacker 2011, that’s a testament to the quality of their talent.

Not to play favorites, but David Zellner and Nathan Zellner’s KidThing (which features appearances by Sam Wainwright Douglas, Heather Kafka and several other Slacker 2011 alumni) has already screened at two of the most lauded film festivals in the world — Sundance and Berlin — and now Kid-Thing promises to be one of the must-see films of SXSW Film 2012. Other noteworthy films with Slacker 2011 alumni include: Bob Byington’s Somebody Up There Loves Me (starring Nick Offerman and Kevin Corrigan, two of the few non-Austinites with roles in Slacker 2011); Jonny Mars’ (who acted in Paul Gordon’s segment of Slacker 2011) documentary Americas Parking Lot (Mars also stars in Kat Candler’s Hellion); Jay Duplass’ (along with his brother Mark) The DoDecaPentathlon; Ben Steinbauer’s documentary short film Brute Force; PJ Raval’s music video African Mayonnaise stars Slacker 2011 standout Paul Soileau (Raval is also cinematographer on Sunset Stories); Ashley Spillers stars in the Texas Short film Magpie; and I am probably missing a few others. But, really, how many other U.S. cities (other than New York City and Los Angeles) have produced that many high quality independent films in any one year? Exactly.

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