In Austin, you can set your watch by the fall film festivals. We don't just have SXSW in the spring. Starting around Labor Day, it feels like we have a film festival practically every week, from Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (aGLIFF) to the Austin Polish Film Festival, Austin Asian American Film Festival and of course Fantastic Fest. One of the oldest and biggest of these local autumn fests is Austin Film Festival (AFF), which spans eight days and seven screening venues, and includes a screenwriters' conference. In 2009, AFF celebrated its 16th year.
AFF focuses on screenwriters even in its film programming selections, as was evident with the opening-night film. Serious Moonlight is best known as the last script written by the late actress/filmmaker Adrienne Shelly. I admit I wasn't fond of the movie, but director Cheryl Hines was a trip -- mock-vampy on the red carpet (as shown above), and full of excitement about her film. Her screening was up against heavy competition: Matthew Weiner brought an episode of Mad Men to the festival and didn't reveal which one until just before it screened. (It turned out to be this season's "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency" episode.) Weiner also was featured in panels during the conference portion of AFF.