At this festival the primary focus is on the screenwriter. There are multiple opportunities to meet and ask questions of some of our most successful writers. There's also a screenplay and teleplay competition which opens all sort of doors for winners. There's a great success story about last year's teleplay winner Scott Richter.
I had the pleasure of meeting one of this year's semi-finalists, Tom Basham, at the annual Film Texas BBQ. If we're related we aren't sure how, but it's nice to know someone named Basham has some scriptwriting talent!
If there's a better film in 2008 than Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire I haven't seen it. Having already received audience raves at Telluride and Toronto the film is about a trio of children growing up from the slums of Bombay. Central character Jamal (Dev Patel) is on the verge of possibly winning $1 million on India's popular version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" when he is arrested on suspicion of cheating. His explanations on how he knew the answers takes us to flashbacks on his youth and his relationship with his brother Salim and lifelong love Lakita. Even when it's mountains of garbage and even a particularly gross and humorous scene about an outhouse, the film is simply beautiful. Boyle's attention to background as well as foreground, and his uncanny ability to bring the most genuine performances from small children, have given writer Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty) the best possible treatment of his screenplay. Speaking after a standing ovation upon the conclusion of the film Boyle talked to the Austin crowd about working with children: "When they're good they don't have any baggage. They just say a line. No agenda, nothing. Suddenly you see how pure it is, like mountain spring water."