'Serious Moonlight' to open Austin fest

'Up in the Air' chosen as closing picture

"Serious Moonlight" will shine on Austin as the 16th annual festival's opening-night film. Penned by the late writer-actress Adrienne Shelly and directed by Cheryl Hines, "Moonlight" will screen Oct. 22 at the Paramount Theatre.

Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air," which has been soaring through the fall festival circuit, will close the Austin fest on Oct. 29 at the Paramount. Both Hines and Reitman will attend their screenings.

This year's lineup includes 24 world and U.S. premieres. The weeklong festival and conference, which focuses on screenwriters, will also include Oren Moverman's "The Messenger" as its centerpiece film.

"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," "The Men Who Stare at Goats," "The Young Victoria," "Calvin Marshall," "American Cowslip," "Red Cliff," "Little Fish," "Strange Pond," "Herpes Boy," "The Donner Party," "Tenure," "Love the Beast" and "Harmony and Me" are also part of the program.

Additionally, the festival will showcase special screenings of "The Falcon and the Snowman," presented by its screenwriter Steven Zaillian, and "Apollo 13," presented by its director, Ron Howard, who will be in town to receive the festival's Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award.

"Serious Moonlight" became Shelly's final screenplay before she died, and Hines ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), who starred with Shelly in "Waitress," has made it her directorial debut. The dark relationship comedy stars Meg Ryan, Timothy Hutton, Kristen Bell and Justin Long.

"Air," which Reitman ("Juno") and Sheldon Turner ("The Longest Yard") adapted from Water Kirn's novel, stars George Clooney, Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga in a story about a corporate downsizer confronting his need for connection. Reitman won the narrative jury award at the Austin festival in 2000 for his short "In God We Trust."