2014 Austin Film Festival—Alex White’s Top Five Films

by Alex White

As the 2014 edition of the Austin Film Festival (AFF) has come to a close, now is the time for the films and their representatives to build upon their AFF experience and success in the hopes of gaining distribution.

AFF prides itself on having a storytelling focus and the 2014 film slate featured some of the strongest stories and screenplays the festival has ever presented on their screens. In fact, AFF programmed a healthy portion of its 2014 feature films from outside the United States and featured a significant number of foreign screenwriters along with their American counterparts.

While full reviews of these films will arrive in the coming days, it’s finally time to give the best of the best of this year’s festival their due. Without further delay, here are my personal top five films of the 2014 Austin Film Festival:

  1. One Eyed Girl – Winner of the AFF dark matters best picture jury award, One Eyed Girl is an impeccable entry from Australia and the cream of the crop of this year’s festival across all categories. The debut feature from writer/director Nick Matthews tells a story of a deteriorating psychologist and a mysterious young girl lost inside a mysterious cult with unrelenting intensity. Led by the powerful performances from Mark Leonard Winter and Tilda Cobham-Hervey, One Eyed Girl shines thanks to a comprehensive story that properly establishes and develops characters with the complexity they deserve. As mentioned before, AFF is a storytelling focused festival and One Eyed Girl’s story deserves all the accolades the festival could bestow.


  2. Skin Deep - Winner of the AFF narrative feature honorable mention, Skin Deep helped establish the Australian dominance of the 2014 AFF film program. Like the number one film on this list, this Aussie feature takes a somewhat familiar base idea and builds upon that idea with sheer brilliance. Directed by Jon Leahy and led by writer/actress Monica Zanetti and Zara Zoe, Skin Deep brings honesty and clarity to the struggles of young adults facing significant and debilitating struggles in their lives. The entire movie plays like an extended episode of UK TV series Skins when the show was at its finest. Stories that treat young adults with the respect they deserve are few and far between but thank goodness Skin Deep does exactly that.

  3. The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young – The only documentary in this top five and winner of the AFF documentary feature audience award, The Barkley Marathons informs and educates its audience about its topic with determined clarity and skill. Thanks to the directing team of Annika Iltis and Timothy James Kane, this doc presents the absolute absurdity of the mythical all-terrain footrace with meticulous depth and a healthy dose of humor.

  4. The Last 5 Years – Fresh off its world premiere in Toronto in September, the film adaptation of the off-broadway award winning musical held up to the pressure of playing on the opening night of the festival with ease. Despite having almost every line sung, this adaptation manages to avoid audience fatigue thanks to thoroughly convincing performances from Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick. In addition to those lead performances making this musical exceptional, the warm/cold hues in the images created by director Richard LaGravenese add a fascinating layer of complexity to an already intricately designed story and score. Good luck not crying your eyes out through the final musical number that not only ends the film on a perfect emotional note but is one of the best songs from any musical in 15 years.

  5. Rosewater – A noble and strong directorial debut from comedian Jon Stewart, Rosewater manages to tell the difficult, complicated and sensitive story of Maziar Bahari’s imprisonment in Iran with remarkable competency. While the high level of danger Bahari faced during imprisonment doesn’t always come across on the screen, Stewart’s first filmmaking effort compels the audience to engross itself in Bahari’s story thanks to the sensitive performance from Gael Garcia Bernal.  While Stewart may not make any more movies any time soon, this production certainly proved he has the ability to make many more films in the years ahead.

Tilda Cobham-Hervey in 'One Eyed Girl'

Tilda Cobham-Hervey in 'One Eyed Girl'

Photo courtesy: Projector Films

ONE EYED GIRL International Trailer (2015)

ONE EYED GIRL is a dark thriller about a psychiatrist, haunted by the death of a former patient, who stumbles across a…
  • Video Release: August 29, 2014
  • Length: 1.97 min
  • Views: 4670


Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at Larry411.com

Comments (0)

There have not been any comments submitted for this entry to date.

Leave a Comment

You need sign in to comment on entries on Larry411.

  • Author: Larry Richman
  • Posted: November 06, 2014
  • Visiblity:
    • Total Views: 1596
    • Current Year: 27
    • Current Month: 13
    • Current Week: 4
    • Last 30 Days: 14
  • Tags: None