♦ The Austin Film Festival, taking place October 26th to November 2nd, has found a second title for its closing night lineup in the Margot Robbie starrer I, Tonya. The film directed by Craig Gillespie depicts the events centering around real-life ice skater Tonya Harding and her fall from grace. Joining Robbie on-screen are Sebastian Stan as ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and Allison Janney as Tonya Harding’s mother. In attendance at the screening is the film’s writer, Steven Rogers. I, Tonya joins previously announced Chappaquiddick on AFF’s lineup for the final night. Both films focus on real events as Chappaquiddick focuses on the details of Ted Kennedy and the drowning of campaign specialist Mary Jo Kopechne.
♦ Director of the recently divisive mother!, Darren Aronofsky will be a keynote speaker at the 2018 South by Southwest conference. “A provocative, and virtuoso filmmaker, we’re thrilled to host Darren Aronofsky as one of SXSW Film’s 2018 Keynotes,” said Director of Film for SXSW, Janet Pierson. “He’s been an original since his first independent work, and we know it will be a blast for our passionate SXSW audiences to hear his story.” Aronofsky joins a lineup that so far includes writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, director Barry Jenkins, psychotherapist Esther Perel, entrepreneur whurley, country artist Keith Urban, TV host W. Kamau Bell, executive Steve Ballmer, and author Luvvie Ajayi.
♦ CBS has announced their eight selections for participants in the 2017-18 Writers Mentoring Program. Among the elite group is drama writer Munis Rashid who grew up in Sugar Land, Texas and attended University of Texas, Austin. Munis graduated from the American Film Institute in 2016 with an MFA in Screenwriting. The mentoring program sees the participants walked through the development process by an executive mentor. It also includes a 16-week workshop that teaches them about the television business and provides them with networking opportunities. Alumni of the program have gone on to work on Grey’s Anatomy, Legends of Tomorrow, NCIS: New Orleans, Young Sheldon, Star Trek: Discover, and S.W.A.T.
♦ Recent events surrounding Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment are throwing the entire industry under fire for one Texas lawmaker. Rep. Matt Shaheen has taken to Facebook to express his renewed incentive to see the Texas Film Commission be eliminated in the wake of the recent allegations. “What is just as troubling is an apparent culture of acceptance and coverup by many in Hollywood. This is profoundly hypocritical given these are the people who constantly lecture the American people on how we should live our lives,” stated Shaheen in his release. The Texas Film Commission has already seen a defunding, gaining only $22 million of the $72 million it had hoped for its incentive program.
By Ellen Lloyd