AUSTIN, Texas—If you’re not a regular Fantastic Fest attendee or a disciple of folks like Richard Linklater or Wes Anderson, it may surprise you just how much Austin, Texas loves film. Just know there’s a reason major movie outfits like the Alamo Drafthouse and Mondo started and succeed here.
Within this sneaky cinema town, perhaps no event outpaces the annual Austin Film Festival & Conference. It’s a non-profit-led, eight-day movie love affair with panels devoted to screenwriting (both practical industry advice and folks like the team behind Arrival sharing insight on crafting believable sci-fi) and a wide-reaching film program. This year, buzzy A-list work like Armie Hammer’s Call Me By Your Name or Margot Robbie’s I, Tonya shared the schedule with “documentaries” about Apollo 18, actual documentaries on famed political cartoonists, and a slew of independent filmmakers (from both Texas and beyond).
That last category caught our eye in particular because of an unexpected overarching theme—curses. Among the handful of films we managed to catch, many relied on an inexplicable, supernatural omen to bring the story together. Luckily, none of ‘em left us muttering the four-letter variety on the way out. Instead, each took a familiar brand of ominous curse and used it within a new context.