Besides the Vienna and Rome film festivals in Europe this month, North and South America have screening events happening. With so many releases before the end of the year there is a lot to preview, but each event also delivers its own unique local flavor.
Austin Film Festival
The 16th annual film festival features an interesting mix of unique features, documentaries, and a serious filmmakers conference that attracts a strong Hollywood crowd. The opening film is Serious Moonlight starring Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton in a twisted romantic comedy, directed by Cheryl Hines (co-star of HBO hit, Curb Your Enthusiasm) who will attend. The closer is Up in the Air with George Clooney in a tale of a traveling man grounded by love, directed by Jason Reitman ( Juno, Thank You for Smoking), who will be present. Director Ron Howard ( A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, Apollo 13) will receive the Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award, presented by actor Michael Keaton. The conference of 80 panels includes Lawrence Kasdan (writer/director Body Heat, The Big Chill), actor Tom Skerritt ( A River Runs Through It, Top Gun), and Emmy-winner Matthew Weiner, creator of Mad Men and writer on The Sopranos.
Williamstown Film Festival
October 23-November 1
A small but thoughtful program of 40 films befitting this college town's 11th annual event. It opens with Handsome Harry starring Campbell Scott, Steve Buscemi, John Savage, and Aidan Quinn. Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson ( Diner, Bugsy, Wag the Dog) is presented with the festival's award after screening his new film Poliwood, a documentary about politics, Hollywood and the 2008 presidential conventions. Other films include Against the Current with Mary Tyler Moore and Joseph Fiennes, and films with Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, and Anne Hathaway. A special presentation will be made with director James Ivory for his classics, A Room with a View, Howards End, The Remains of the Day.
Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
October 23-November 15
The 24th annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) centers around Cinema Paradiso, a renovated classic theater, screening more than 100 new features, documentaries, and shorts from around the globe. Red carpet events, parties, Q&A with filmmakers, and tributes to actors entertain the regional audience. Before the screening of Wonderful World, Matthew Broderick receives the Career Achievement Award for his body of work including Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Stepford Wives, and The Producers. Another actor, Frank Vincent ( The Sopranos) whose films include Raging Bull, Do the Right Thing, and Goodfellas will be present for the screening of his latest, Chicago Overcoat.
Sao Paulo International Film Festival
Sao Paulo, Brazil
October 23-November 5
At the 33rd annual Sao Paulo Film Festival, Brazilian filmmakers are featured among the three sections of the program: International Perspective, Special Screenings and the New Filmmaker Competition. The festival screens more than 400 features, documentaries and shorts from around the world for the 250,000 in attendance. This year includes Broken Embraces by Pedro Almodóvar, The Battle of Red Cliff by John Woo, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller, The White Ribbon by Michael Haneke, Wild Grass by Alain Renais, and works by Ang Lee, Jane Campion, and many more.
Los Angeles, California
October 30-November 7
This 23rd annual event is Los Angeles's most prestigious film festival, screening 80 significant films for more than 65,000 attendees. It opens with Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson's animated adaptation of the children's book with voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman, and closes with A Single Man with Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. Screenings include an international program from South Korean to Romanian directors and masters such as Claude Chabrol and Werner Herzog's lastest. Tributes to Viggo Mortenson for The Road and Christopher Plummer at the screening of The Last Station are among the many highlights of the nine-day festival at Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. This year, an initiative to provide free seating will be made available to attendees in advance.