Eight documentaries to screen in competition at event from October 29-November 5
A documentary on the man with possibly the worst hair of any politician ever (yes, even worse than Donald Trump) is among the titles selected to screen at the Austin Film Festival, which runs from Oct. 29-Nov. 5 in the Texas capital.
TRAFICANT: The Congressman of Crimetown, about the late, legendary US Representative James Traficant (D-Ohio), will join seven other documentaries in Documentary Features category. Traficant, who died last year, was known for an oddly shaped wig he sported and for colorful speeches from the House floor, which he always ended with his trademark, "Beam me up!"
Traficant was expelled from Congress and served a seven-year prison sentence after he was convicted of accepting bribes, tax evasion and various other charges. The documentary, directed by Eric Murphy, was the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign. It premiered in March at the Cleveland Film Festival.
Alongside the non-fiction category, the Austin Film Festival -- which describes itself as "the premier festival recognizing the writers' contributions to film, television, and new media" -- will screen narrative features, retrospectives and television programs. Director John Singleton and Oscar-winning actor Chris Cooper will be honored for their contributions to film (Cooper's latest film, Coming Through the Rye, in which he plays author J.D. Salinger, will screen at AFF).
The festival boasts the world premiere of the documentary Since: The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, directed by Phil Furey. Two hundred and seventy people were killed when the aircraft exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988. Libya's leader Moammar Ghadhafi accepted responsibility for the bombing, although he claimed not to have ordered it personally.
Playing in the Marquee Features category are two more documentaries, including By Sidney Lumet, directed by Nancy Buirski. The film is an honest appraisal of the work of the late filmmaker Sidney Lumet, with the director himself doing the appraisal. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
AFF will host the world premiere of the documentary We're Still Here: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited from director Antonino D'Ambrosio, the story of the recording of Cash's album Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian.
The full line-up of documentaries selected for the Austin Film Festival:
>By Sidney Lumet directed by Nancy Bairiki
>Clarence directed by Kristin Catalano
>In Defense of Food directed by Michael Schwarz
>Monsterman by writer/director Antti Haase
>Mully by writer/director Scott Haze
>No Más Bebés by director Renee Tajima-Peña
>Of Dogs and Men by director Michael Ozias
>The Sex Temple by director Johan Palmgren
>Since: The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 by director Phil Furey
>Sympathy For the Devil: The True Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment by director Neil Edwards
>TRAFICANT: The Congressman of Crimetown by writers Eric Murphy and Salvatore Cardoni; directed by Murphy
>We're Still Here: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited written and directed by Antonino D'Ambrosio
>Zen & The Art of Dying by Broderick Fox
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.