Like-Minded Cinema Geeks
It’s hard to believe that the Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater made his first mark six whole years before his genre-bending, stream-of-consciousness, voice-of-a-generation debut film, Slacker. In 1985 Linklater cofounded the Austin Film Society, the pioneering nonprofit resource for filmmakers and creators of other innovative media, which will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary on Thursday with the Make Love Watch Party. Linklater, whose movie Boyhood scored an Oscar nomination earlier this year, began AFS as a young movie junkie frustrated by the difficulty of finding local screenings of world cinema (Bergman, Bresson, Buñuel, et cetera) in the nascent age of video. “Since he couldn’t afford to pay for the prints to travel to Austin, he started the film society as a way to bring together like-minded cinema geeks who could pool their money to pay for the film prints that they wouldn’t get to see otherwise,” said Holly Herrick, Austin Film Society’s associate artistic director. “AFS’s first shows cost $2.” Three milestones measure the success of the Austin Film Society, which now counts among its advisory board members the filmmakers Elizabeth Avellán, Jonathan Demme, Mike Judge, Terrence Malick, Robert Rodriguez, John Sayles, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino. In 1996 the AFS Grant was created to fund emerging filmmakers, awarding a total of $1.5 million to Texans, which has resulted in 461 independent film projects made in the state. In 2001 the AFS founded Austin Studios, a 100,000-square-foot production facility that has generated $1.4 billion for the Austin economy through film and television productions. And in 2012 AFS established its own dedicated theater space, AFS at the Marchesa, allowing it to expand its programs significantly. Tickets to the Make Love Watch shindig, featuring an appearance by Linklater, short film screenings, and a From Dusk Till Dawn–themed bar, are $20, but admission is free with the purchase of an AFS membership.
Austin Studios, November 12, 6 p.m., austinfilm.org
Folks Around the Fire
The people of George West, in South Texas, watch TV and use the Internet just like most do, but when it comes to their favorite mode of entertainment, it is good old-fashioned storytelling. The annual George West Storyfest, founded in 1989, presents several different events showcasing a variety of oral storytelling genres: the Texas State Liars’ Contest, Ghost Stories, Sacred Stories, and Cowboy Poetry, among others. The oral storytelling tradition is strong in these parts because it was home to J. Frank Dobie, Texas’s chief folklorist, who was born in Live Oak County in 1888. Dobie put the passed-down stories he heard about rural Texas onto paper in such books as Tales of Old-Time Texas, Coronado’s Children, and The Longhorns. Dobie Dichos (or “Dobie Said”), Storyfest’s opening night program, now in its fifth year, makes his impact known far and wide. Around a campfire on the grounds of the historic Oakville Jail, listeners will gather while Texas authors read from Dobie’s works or simply reminisce about the narrator who inspired Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy. This year’s authors include Carmen Tafolla, the 2015 state poet laureate, reading Dobie’s “Godmother Death and the Herb of Life;” Bruce Shackelford, an Antiques Roadshow appraiser, reading another, “The Prize George West Steer;” and Andrés Tijerina, president of the Texas Institute of Letters, reading his essay “El Mesquite: La Posta de Palo Alto,” about Elena Zamora, Dobie’s English teacher growing up in Alice, and the influence she had on him as a young man. Texas author William Jack Sibley, whose grandparents were ranchers around George West and knew Dobie personally, conceived of the program and will serve as master of ceremonies. “Dobie was the first—and for a long time, the only—writer who wrote about places and people that I knew of and or had heard about personally,” Sibley said. “It was a real visceral association for a budding writer. A person could write about anywhere, including flat, scrub-brush, hell’s anvil South Texas, and make it as interesting and captivating as ancient Rome or as thrilling as pirate lore.”
Various locations, November 6–8, georgeweststoryfest.org
Take a Bow
By order of the Seventy-fifth Legislature of the state of Texas it was resolved, on June 19, 1997, that the guitar is the official state musical instrument of Texas. That seems almost too obvious. The guitar, presumably because of its role in rock and roll, is a sexy choice, and this state has certainly produced an exorbitant amount of exceptional guitarists. But why not go with an instrument that’s less likely and yet still carries major cachet? Why not the fiddle? Though not as pervasive as the guitar, the relative contributions Texans have made with that instrument are close to being on par with the guitar. Just think, western swing was invented by a Texas fiddler, Bob Wills, and contest fiddling, a nationwide competition style that blends speed and flair, was devised, more or less, by a Texas fiddler, Benny Thomasson. The state can also claim some of the biggest names in fiddling, from Eck Robertson, in the first half of the twentieth century, to Johnny Gimble, in the second half, to Amanda Shires, who’s incorporating the instrument into today’s Americana scene. And those are just the fiddle’s artistic contributions; its cultural contributions run deeper. In Civil War–era Texas, the fiddle crossed party lines, gaining popularity among the Mexicans, blacks, and European immigrants. This legacy will be on display Saturday at the second annual Festival of Texas Fiddling, with a series of workshops and performances by purveyors of Polish, Creole, and Tejano styles, plus Texas Old Time and, of course, western swing. The event is a collaboration between Texas Folklife and the Texas Dance Hall Preservation, the flame-keeper of such historic Texas dance halls as La Bahia Turn Verein, the 1879 German-built hall where all the fiddling will take place.
La Bahia Turn Verein Dance Hall, November 7, 11 a.m., texasfolklife.org
Say you really like beer and are able to drink a six-pack in an eight-hour span—which just happens to be the duration of Untapped, Texas’s multi-city festival pairing craft beer and indie music, taking place in Dallas on Saturday. Now consider this: Untapped serves its beers as two-ounce pours. That means you can conceivably sample 36 different beers if you don’t take too many bathroom breaks and don’t mind missing parts of live sets by such acts as the Flaming Lips, Dr. Dog, and the Pharcyde. What may seem like a lot is only one-sixteenth of the festival’s total offerings, which equate to roughly four hundred beers by one hundred breweries. You may not be able to try them all but that’s okay, because this event is just the beginning of the ten-day North Texas Beer Week, and the research conducted here will no doubt help maximize the opportunities ahead. Public service announcement: The aforementioned scenario necessitates either an Uber account or a reliable designated driver.
Fair Park, November 7, 2:30 p.m., untapped-festival.com
Out of the Woods
“White Only” read the faded letters on the wall above a water fountain in the Dallas County Records Building when, in 2003, the plaque obscuring the verbiage fell off. Instead of crying foul or sweeping the political incorrectness under the rug, the powers that be allowed the Dallas artist Lauren Woods to turn the damning Jim Crow–era discovery into a learning tool, keeping it a functioning fountain but adding a video monitor to broadcast sixties civil rights protests in order to drive home the historical calamity. As part of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s “Tuesday Evenings at the Modern” speaker series, Woods will discuss the 2013 piece, titled “A Dallas Drinking Fountain Project,” along with other works.
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, November 10, 7p.m., themodern.org
Are We Having Fun Yet?
The fun has probably only just begun for Fun Fun Fun Fest, the indie rock festival that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this weekend. The affair’s organizers have the magic touch for riling up jaded hipsters, with a carefully curated lineup of legacy acts, like Jane’s Addiction and Wu-Tang Clan; comedians, like Tig Notaro; and out-of-the-box performers, like Bill Nye the Science Guy. Oh yeah, and Fun Fun Fun Fest also has the taco cannon, a piece of artillery that makes love, not war. Auditorium Shores, November 6–8, funfunfunfest.com