If you live in the Texas, I need not remind you that the past few weeks have yielded a literal inferno of emotions.
For those of you who aren't local and may not be aware, wildfires ravaged Central Texas the past couple of weeks, some of which are still ablaze days later. Firefighters were stretched to the limits as fires rapidly spread across the area, and thousands of people have been displaced. Ongoing coverage of the events can be found here.
Suffering the worst of the damage was the community of Bastrop, Texas. The wildfires have devastated the town, consuming over 1500 homes. It's been a terrible ordeal for everyone in the area, and everyone seems to know at least one person who was directly effected. It's a true natural diaster, and the sheer magnitude of the fire can be glimpsed in this terrifying photo.
While our courageous firefighters diligently continue to battle the blaze, efforts are underway to help relieve those displaced by the wildfire. The whole community is doing all they can with donations and fundraisers, and now one of Austin's favorite cinematic sons is doing his part as well.
Director Richard Linklater is an Austin icon who personifies independent film in a way few film makers can. His films all have a distinct charm, and are a departure from the normal Hollywood products that flood the multiplexes. Best known for Slacker, Dazed & Confused and Before Sunrise, he also created two unique (and somewhat trippy) animated features in Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly.
Linklater likes to keep things local when it comes to his brand of cinema, and for his newest project, Bernie, he filmed it predominately in the greater Austin area: Georgetown, Austin, Lockhart and Bastrop. Although the film itself is not yet scheduled for release, Linklater is taking the opportunity to give back and screen an advance sneak preview to help benefit the town hit so hard by the destruction.
As for the film itself being screened...
Bernie sounds like fun in a morbid sort of way, yet thankfully does not involve these guys:
No Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman or Terry Kiser, thank you very much.
So what is Bernie, anyway?
Based on a true story, it's a comedic take on a small town mortician (Jack Black) who befriends a rich widow (Shirley MacLaine). After he kills her for the money, he goes through great lengths to indicate that she's alive. No one is the wiser, that is, until a local district attorney (Matthew McConaughey) begins to investigate.
It's kind of a Linklater all-star matchup, as McConaughey and Black both have had some of their more memorable (and quotable) roles in Richard's films. Matthew was at his hazy best in Dazed and Confused, while Jack Black's performance in School of Rock, well... rocks.
So the thought of these two in a bizarre game of cat and mouse has a weird appeal that I feel has to be seen to be believed.
The laughs will be welcomed during these final hot throes of summer, and most importantly the screening is for a number of great causes. 100% of the proceeds will benefit the following organizations: Friends of the Lost Pines State Parks, Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry, and the Heart of the Pines Volunteer Fire Department.
The gesture to Bastrop is more of that Texas spirit to help one another, and Linklater himself explains:
"Since the film has been finished for a few months and isn't coming out until next year, we had scheduled a cast and crew screening for the 18th of September. After the catastrophic fires of the last week, we quickly jumped on the idea of opening it up to the public as an opportunity for Austinites and members of our artistic community to help our neighbors in Bastrop that have been so devastated. It seems like an appropriate movie for the cause - not only was it filmed largely in the Bastrop area, but it's a PG-13 comedy about small town Texas life. It's the least we can do for this wonderful community that opened its doors to us during production. It feels great that because of the generosity of the Paramount Theater, 100% of all ticket sales and donations with pass through to these important local non-profits that are doing so much to restore and maintain their community."
Oh, and one last thing. Linklater and Jack Black themselves will be in attendance. It promises to be a fun event for a great cause. A little laughter can go a long way, and what better way to help your neighbor than this screening for their benefit?
Now this, my friends, is a Bernie I could spend a weekend with.
Sunday, Sept 18th
Showtime for the Benefit Screening:
Sunday, Sept 18th
Sponsorship packages are available through the Austin Film Society that include 6 tickets and a pre-show reception with the cast and crew.