Austin Film Festival 2021 – Director Peter Hedges explains why the Austin Film Festival means so much to him: A shared rain will fall in The Same Storm – Screens

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Mary Louise Parker in AFF 2021 opening film The Same Storm

“I love this festival because it’s a writer-centric festival,” says Peter Hedges, screenwriter and selection director for the opening night of the Austin Film Festival 2021. The same storm. “It’s the only writer-centric film festival I know of. And writers are, you know, sometimes the unloved bastard child of the movie world.”

But there’s Hedges himself, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for his Nick Hornsby screenplay. About a boy in 2002 – and that was a decade after Lasse Hallström shot Hedges’ first novel, What is Gilbert Raisin eating?, which the author has also adapted for the screen. And, considering Hedges’ more recent projects (April songs, 2003; Dan in real life, 2007; Timothy Green’s Funny Life, 2012; and Ben is back, which opened the AFF in 2018), thinks that we will have to look elsewhere for a sufficiently unloved bastard.

Hedges smirked, allowing the point. “It’s not a problem for me, because I’m still directing what I write,” he says. “But I have a long relationship with the festival, I’ve been going there for, probably, 2000? It’s always wonderful to make a film that opens any festival, but that we can open the Austin Film Festival has special meaning for me.

The same storm is what you might call the pandemic Hedges movie – filmed during these particularly tough months of 2020, about that socially restricted time, and starring a cast of 24 in-home actors, a cast that includes Elaine May, Sandra Oh , Mary- Louise Parker, Noma Dumezweni, Moses Ingram, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ron Livingston, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Alison Pill, Joshua Leonard and Judith Light.

About six weeks after the start of the pandemic, Hedges watched a live reading on Zoom by Marisa Tomei and Oscar Isaac of a one-act play, “Beirut,” directed by Robert W. Wilson’s MCC Theater Space. New York. “What struck me about the reading was how intimate and moving it was – that each of the actors controlled their own cameras and played with each other. It was more intimate than the Most of the movies. It was like a It’s a Cassavetes movie, where it’s so real and raw, and it was totally moving. And I immediately thought, “Oh, I can write something that could. to be interpreted that way. ”And I started writing a play for a group of actors that I would like to be in, I tried to write it in such a way that the best actors were ready to do the job. raw and unglamorous. the writing, I started to think that maybe there was a way to film it, so it wouldn’t be just a one-off read. And I learned from other people who had came up with different recording strategies – people were adapting the technology And I saw that we could use people’s devices as their p ropre cameras and record, for example, one actor then the other, then cut them together, but record them at the same time – so that they actually play. each other, so it would seem real and human and full of surprises. “

A mosaic of the real and the human and full of surprises seems a decent assessment for The same storm, which debuted at the Telluride Film Festival in September. But, as we wait in line to see this new creation from Hedges, let’s not lose sight of the tiles previously placed in our own mosaic of journalistic realities: why does AFF have “special meaning” to the filmmaker?

“I like [Austin Film Festival] because it’s a festival centered on writers … And writers are sometimes the unloved bastard child of the world of cinema. – Peter Hedges

“I first came to Austin because that was where we were going to shoot What is Gilbert Raisin eating?“He said.” And I came with some trepidation because, as an Iowa-born writer, I wanted Iowa to be portrayed as Iowa. But I came to Austin and I remember we had a production office downtown, and I walked into the art department, and they had taken pictures of my dad’s hometown in Iowa. The walls of this huge room were covered with it – every square inch of this city had been photographed, as a sort of reference. And we immediately started spotting. We went to Manor and Lockhart and Pflugerville, and we found places that looked like Iowa. So I was here the whole time Gilbert raisin shoot, for many months, for the preparation and the shooting. It was my first movie, and it was an immersive experience in Austin, so I have a lot of memories there, powerful memories. And that was almost half of my life ago. “


The same storm is a star of the game. October 21 at 7 p.m. at the Paramount Theater.


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