The Omnivore: April

MISSING THE BIG PICTURES

Boston and Austin have plenty in common: They’re both state capitals on notable rivers, they both mine their colleges for rich veins of intelligentsia, their names rhyme…. And each also has a celluloid culture that boasts leading graduate film programs and multiple art-house cinemas. Sadly, that’s where filmic comparisons end. While movie execs from New York and L.A. regularly flock to Austin for a fresh infusion of indie cool, Boston remains a wallflower.

On paper, this makes no sense. Austin, after all, is a weird oasis in a state that generally abhors anything "alternative." Hub-side, Emerson and BU have exceptional film programs, the area is packed with eager talent, and this month brings the flourishing independent film festival. The Massachusetts Film Office has arguably put us ahead of Austin in terms of major studio productions (though too many have been in the vein of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, too few like The Departed).

What we’re missing are influential homegrown directors to foster a cohesive film community and champion it locally and abroad. That’s what Texas’s capital has, thanks to the ongoing support of famed Lone Star auteurs like Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused) and Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums). True, Ben Affleck did come home to make Gone Baby Gone, and Departed scribe William Monahan has another Boston thriller, Edge of Darkness, opening this fall. And don’t forget Andrew Bujalski, our most buzzed-about indie It-boy in years—that is, until he departed the Hub in 2008, relocating to Austin.