One of the highlights of this year's festival is the
presentation of films made by Texans. The Texas
Filmmakers Showcase at the USA Film Festival, which runs
through Thursday at the Angelika Film Center, 5321 E.
Mockingbird Lane, may be the best yet. EvenHand
especially is the kind of fresh, well-crafted film
we haunt festivals hoping to see. Staff critic Jane
Sumner, who covers Texas filmmaking, takes a look at
this year's offerings.
Rolling Kansas (7 p.m.): El Paso native
Thomas Haden Church co-wrote and directed this wacky but
essentially sweet-spirited tale of four friends who hit
the road in search of a magical forest of marijuana.
More low buffonery than high times. Shot in Austin,
Coupland and Lockhart. In attendance: Mr. Church.
America's Deadliest Storm (5 p.m.): A
work-in-progress documentary of the deadliest natural
disaster to hit the United States features historians,
islanders and one of the last survivors of the storm
that killed 6,000 people. Directed by Dallas veteran Ken
Mandel. World premiere. In attendance: Mr. Mandel and
producer Rick Leal. Also screening Monday at 7 p.m.
May 1 at the Angelika Film Center and
Cafe, 5321 E. Mockingbird. Visit GuideLive.com
for a complete schedule and ticket
(7 p.m.): With boffo performances, Joseph
Pierson's sensitive direction and Mike Jones' subtly
nuanced screenplay shot in his hometown of San Antonio
two years ago, this comic-sad tale of a small-town Texas
cop and his wild-cannon partner is a satisfying,
realistic must-see. Hal Hartley fave Bill Sage and stage
actor Bill Dawes share thesp honors. In
attendance: Mr. Sage.
Breaking the Barrier (7 p.m.): Kate
Dawson, who's made a living writing, producing and
editing TV news programs, met Sid Steiner as a kid in
first grade in Austin. When the charismatic steer
wrestler with the good looks, flashy garb and tattoos
gained notoriety as a rodeo rock star, she followed him
on the circuit for a year, chronicling the double-edged
sword of stardom. In attendance: director Ms. Dawson,
Mr. Steiner and parents, Bobby and Jolene Steiner.
Shelter Dogs (5 p.m.): Houston native
Heidi Reinberg produced this affecting behind-the-scenes
look at the commitment and philosophy of animal welfare
pioneer Sue Sternberg, whose New York kennel houses
adoptable dogs in homey suites with furniture and music.
Poignant and heartwarming. In attendance: Ms. Reinberg.
Hit (9:20 p.m.): In this wry "mocumentary,"
featuring the Fort Worth improv comedy troupe Four Day
Weekend, a filmmaker tracks the diminishing fortunes of
a once-feared crime family down on its luck. It doesn't
all work, but when it does, the humor is laugh-out-loud
delicious as when a wise guy wearing a Baby Bjorn
carrier goes to collect an overdue debt owed the family.
In attendance: director Blake Calhoun, cast and crew.