The up-and-coming Northside Festival, which runs from June 13-20, is reminiscent of SXSW, with arms focusing on music, film, and new technology. The music part started five years ago, with the film portion following a year later. For those wondering, the inclusive geographic designation "Northside" loosely encompasses the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. The festival itself has a neighborhood feel, attracting like-minded cinephiles and artists who mingled and greeted each other after the screenings Monday evening, including the intriguing A Teacher.
The SXSW/Austin connections continued throughout the evening. A Teacher was filmed in Austin and also played at SXSW. Its New York premiere took place at the Nitehawk Cinema, the city's first in-theatre dining establishment that tips its hat to Texas' Alamo Drafthouse.The upcoming Oscilloscope release, which will come out just as kids go back to school, focuses on the relationship between a teacher and a student in her senior AP Lit class. Shot with muddy, expressive camerawork, the movie focuses more on the psychological implications of the affair, and less on the torrid details. The focus is not on what will happen if they get caught, but what possessed these two people to pursue an illicit relationship.
This is the kind of film that hinges on the right casting, and writer/director Hannah Fiddel, who was present at a Q&A after the screening, wrote the part of the teacher for Lindsay Burdge, a longtime friend she admired as an actor. The high school senior, Will Brittain, was a University of Texas student who showed up to the casting call in a big camo truck, while smoking a cigarette. "Little did he know, he had already gotten the part," Fiddel joked. In the movie, Brittain's character is supremely confident, taking his teacher to his family's ranch and driving her around in an expensive SUV that pales in comparison to the teacher's clunky Volvo. A Teacher doesn't embellish the backstories of their characters, but in the Q&A Fiddel said that she made the teen more well-off because she imagined that the kind of high school senior who would pursue a teacher would be the kind of boy who was always given everything he wanted. This transfixing indie will be worth a watch when it hits theatres on September 6.