October in Austin might mean the Texas-Oklahoma game to some people, or the welcome end of triple-digit temperature hell to others, but for movie lovers it brings us a week of Austin Film Festival, which celebrated its 15th year last week. I can remember when the festival was limited to one hotel and a couple of movie theaters, and the films were just something to do at night after the screenwriters' conference. This year, the conference spread out over several venues and the film festival itself, which lasts a full week, screened films in nine different locations around town.
The Paramount Theatre, which seats about 1,200 people, was packed for the opening-night film, W., with actor James Cromwell in attendance. This was a specially apt venue for the Oliver Stone film because if you walk outside the Paramount and look down the street, there's the State Capitol. The Governor's Mansion -- well, what's left of it right now -- is in walking distance of the theater. If we could only have blocked off Congress Ave. (hah), we could have posed Cromwell with the Capitol prominent in the background. Cromwell not only stuck around after the film for a Q&A, but stayed for the screenwriters' conference the next day to lead a conversation-style session about acting.