All the Fantastic Fest films were screened at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. Two of the festival's organizers, Paul Alvarado-Dykstra and Tim McCanlies, told me that they were inspired to pitch the festival idea to Alamo founder Tim League when the six-screen South Lamar location opened in early 2005. They loved the idea of a film festival that took place in a single location, so you didn't have to worry about driving around town to several different venues, finding parking, and trying to figure out how to find time to eat (Alamo serves meals). They were successful: Fantastic Fest was one of the least stressful film festivals I've attended.
The opening-night party was themed around the film shown that evening, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. The party took place at the nearby Elks Lodge, which had just the right retro feel to go with the general theme. We were greeted with the above centerpiece. Yes, those are pig heads (or something made to look astoundingly like pig heads) and a small chainsaw. There were also raw-meat appetizers. This was not a party for vegetarians.
Party attendees included some folks involved with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, including director Jonathan Liebesman and the film's star, Jordana Brewster.
How many opening-night festival parties feature actual working chainsaws? Not enough, I'm sure. This guy was using his chainsaw to create a sculpture, which turned out to be the torso of a woman with a chainsaw sticking out of her chest.
At the closing-night party, festival co-organizer and Alamo founder Tim League displays one of the awards -- a full beer stein. If the winner was present, he/she had to chug; if not, the jury assumed the responsibility. A half-size stein was awarded to the best short. If winners were present for the minor awards (actor/actress in each category, etc.), they received cans of Lone Star beer.
Frostbite producer Christian Hallman, who was also on the festival jury, and Simon Rumley, director of The Living and the Dead, which won the festival's general Best Film award. The film also won several of the smaller awards and since Rumley was the only person in Austin from the film, he had a lot of drinking to do.
Fantastic Fest co-organizer and Alamo programmer Kier-La Janisse (in the pink shirt) decided to organize a round of a horror-trivia board game after the awards ceremony. Yep. Fantastic Fest attendees were all a bunch of geeks. Me included.
The best and easiest way to see more photos from this year's Fantastic Fest is to check out the Flickr photos tagged with "fantasticfest."