Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Short Cuts

By Marjorie Baumgarten

AUGUST 11, 1997:  This week brings us two painful examples of how the task of getting your film in the can often represents a mere fraction of the work that's required to get your movie onto the screen. Case #1: Letter From Waco. Don Howard's idiosyncratic documentary about his hometown`s four dominant passions -- race, religion, death, and football -- has been winning acclaim wherever it's been seen. The 60-minute movie, produced for the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, took top prize in the documentary category at both this year's SXSW and USA Film Festivals. Now, the national television premiere of Austinite Howard's film (which was shot by Austin camera ace Lee Daniel) is set for Tue. Aug. 12 on most PBS stations throughout the country. But don't try and settle in and watch it here on KLRU that night. There will be an inscrutable two-week lag before Letter From Waco premieres on our local PBS channel. KLRU programmers have chosen to shunt the premiere screening to August 26 at -- get this -- 10:30pm. Adding insult to injury, it's not even being presented in prime time. Is this really the best that Austin can do for its "best"? KLRU's support for programs like The Territory proves that the station does understand the importance of providing a television showcase for independent film and video. But in the case of Letter From Waco, KLRU has fumbled badly. As we went to press, the folks at the Austin Film Society were trying to put together a premiere screening party on Aug. 12 at some site with a satellite feed. Call 'em at 322-0145 to see what has coalesced... Case #2: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Shot here in Austin a couple of years back and starring then-unknowns Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey and local legend Robbie Jacks as Leatherface, the movie (which used to be known as The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre) has languished on the distributor's shelves ever since. As we reported back on June 20, producer Robert Kuhn filed suit against Columbia/TriStar Home Video for various breaches of contract. Now, Army Archerd reports in Variety (7/29) that the movie will be released on August 29 in a "revised version" via Cinepix Film Properties. Kuhn reports that, in addition to the name change, the revisions include the editing of two scenes (the film is now 10 minutes shorter) and a new music edit. Kuhn has been told that 20 prints will be released in 12 cities on Aug. 29. Once again, will Austin (which gave the film such a good reception at its SXSW screening in 1995) be one of the lucky dozen cities? Representatives of CFP report that the closest Texas Massacre premieres to Austin will be in Fort Worth and Humble. Jeez, where's Joe Bob Briggs when you need him?... Quick announcements: CineFestival runs at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio through Aug. 10. Call 210/271-3151 for their 20th anniversary schedule... The Austin Chronicle hosts a gay & lesbian singles party on Aug. 14, 6-9pm at Gallery Lombardi (920 W. Third) to benefit the Austin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival which begins the next week... For info regarding an Aug. 11 screening of Towers Open Fire and The Cut-Ups as part of a tribute to William S. Burroughs, call Kelley, Thomas, or Bruno at 481-0493... Terrence Malick's Badlands is the movie of the week at the Austin Film Society's Summer Free-for-All (Tue., Aug. 12, 7pm, Texas Union Theatre).




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