I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Fantastic Fest in Austin, since it's a brand-new film festival that was put together in a short time. Would it all be chaos and long lines? Would I be able to get into the movies I wanted to see? The lineup of films looked, well, fantastic, but I still felt a bit wary. However, opening night was great and everything seemed to happen flawlessly.
Although a couple of movies screened on Thursday afternoon, the festival officially opened Thursday night with a special sneak preview of Zathura, with director Jon Favreau and actor Dax Shepard in attendance. The movie is not quite complete—the closing credits weren't on the film yet—but the rest of the film looked finished to me.
When I arrived at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar to pick up my badge, I found myself at an unexpected but nice cocktail party in the theater foyer. People offered me wine and tempting little tidbits. A red-carpet setup for Zathura included some cool models of the robot and a spaceship from the film. It was much more pleasant than merely standing in line for the metal detector and purse search before entering the theater.