Austin Film Festival 2020 Review: HORTON FOOTE: THE ROAD TO HOME

By Liz Lopez

Rating: A+

Anne Rapp (“Tender Mercies” script supervisor, among others) directed and produced the documentary, “Horton Foote: The Road To Home,” and the world premiere was at this year’s Austin Film Festival. For anyone who is not familiar with Horton Foote, he is a Wharton, Texas born playwright and screenwriter, who also started out as an actor early on in his career. Foote received an Academy Award for the Best Adapted Screenplay of “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1963) and his script for “Tender Mercies” received the award for Best Original Screenplay (1984). He is also a Pulitzer Prize winner for drama for the Broadway play, “The Young Man from Atlanta.” He is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 2000.

I recommend viewing this film that took years in the making. Rapp captured hours of footage when she and Foote drove around his hometown during the latter years of his life, before he passed away in 2009 in his 90s. He provides story after story about his family (and others) in his community, including the first story he created for his mother as a child. Among the interviewees in the film, is Robert Duvall who worked in Foote’s films, as well as playwright Edward Albee, a contemporary of Foote, Matthew Broderick, Richard Linklater, Bruce Beresford, Betty Buckley, and Elizabeth Ashley, as well as family and community members. One of my favorite parts of the film is the use of various actors giving voice to nine of Foote’s work in short monologues. It is through them that we learn so much more of Foote and his work, his community and experiences there that led to his award – winning career.

Among the diverse monologue performers are two Austin based actors, Yesenia Garcia (originally from McAllen, Texas), who performs as Alma Jean from “The Midnight Caller” and Rupert Reyes who performs as Will from the Pulitzer Prize winning play, “The Young Man from Atlanta.” Each of the actors were perfect for the roles they performed, but it is Reyes who brought so much depth and emotion to the character he portrayed. It definitely had me on the verge of tears as the camera focused closely on the actor. The cinematography by Mark Birnbaum and Bill Schwarz is excellent as they work the shots in both color and black and white, as they did for the monologues.

Serving as producer on the film alongside Rapp is the award – winning Austin-based filmmaker Miguel Alvarez (La Perdida, Tadpoles). He is Executive Producer for AFF’s award-winning television show, On Story. Miguel holds both a BS in Mechanical Engineering and MFA in Film Production from the University of Texas at Austin where he continues to lecture today.  

The film is available for viewing during the festival and we will announce news of the next available screenings of the film as soon as it is received. 

Source: Anne Rapp, Austin Film Festival, Este Bandido

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