DVDTalk attends South by Southwest
DVDTalk attends South by Southwest
exclusive coverage by Neil Lumbard>
Day One Write-Up:
To say that I am excited to be at the South by Southwest 2011
Film Festival is an enormous understatement of gigantic proportions.
Yes, that sentence runs a bit awkwardly, perhaps intentionally (perhaps
not?), but being here is literally the experience of a lifetime. I have
long desired to attend this famous film festival, and at last I have
arrived at the glorious event with my arms open, my mind wide, and a
newfound willingness to experience the best the festival has to offer.
This is just all so brand new and exciting to me.
Yesterday was a huge test in arranging my schedule to best fits the needs of my film coverage for this year's festival. There are so many interesting, unique, and challenging film projects premiering that it can become a bit difficult to pinpoint exactly which screenings to attend. What are the most important events to try and see? How should I fit in panels or workshops at the Austin Convention Center? It left me in a panic when I also realized how hard it can be to navigate between the different events as they are frequently occurring simultaneously. To try and attend the largest number of events possible is no easy task and it becomes even more difficult when one try to determine how to cover the best material that will fit the interest of this site's readership.
As someone who is not an Austin resident, at least not in this stage
of life (I have often wondered if I should move to this community of
film and art lovers), I checked in a bit later than I had hoped at my
hotel, and with my somewhat scattershot schedule in place I headed for
downtown. The first place I went to was the Austin Convention Center.
The place is a mammoth undertaking to even behold visually. The amount
of effort that must have been invested towards creating this convention
center, and also planning events for it would be substantial -- to say
the least of it. Navigating it is another challenge, with four floors
to go between and explore for the various panels, shops, rest centers,
eateries, and other interesting sights. The convention center even has
it's own built in screening theater. How cool is that? I explored and
then I continued to explore. It's like entering a exciting maze that
demands you inquire into every crevice of the center.
When it came to preparing for the evening events, I knew that the film that would perhaps be in highest demand for a review on this site would be the Duncan Jones directed Source Code, which was going to have it's world premiere as a headlining film for the festival's opening night. Jones has found great success with Moon, and for many audience members expectations were heading through the roof and reaching towards the skies of the moon itself. Pun intended. I was curious about receiving some film-badge tickets to the screening but those apparently went quickly (should one desire them they apparently disappear before 8:30 AM. Good Grief.) I had to stand in line for about an hour to get into the film, but it was worth it: even if simply for the fact I was able to attend such an exciting event and cover the film with an early look at this upcoming Summit Entertainment release.
Source Code was premiering at the Paramount Theater venue and so was blacktino which had it's world premiere afterwards. I was lucky enough to attend both screenings for this first evening. It was a bit frustrating to be forced into leaving the theater and then to go stand in line for another 40 or so minutes just to get back in. Oh wellâ€¦ what's a film critic to do in that kind of situation anyway. Go back in time for eight minutes and re-arrange a way to not leave the theater and stand in line? No real life Source Code opportunities exist (yet).
As silly as it might sound, I ended up being pretty happy about having to stand in line. I met an art director who gave me his business card. He seemed to be an interesting character, and a friendly one at that. As an aspiring film-maker it seemed like I had made at least one good connection through that chance encounter. I also met a cute girl who was friendly enough to talk to me about some of the films playing at SXSW, and I ended up giving her my e-mail (for whatever that's worth). As a certified geek I felt lucky to have even done that much. I doubt anyone reading this cares too much, yet it won't stop me from sharing that information. Because -- 1) I have the power. 2) The power of the long waiting lines at SXSW will not be denied their due recognition!
Both opening night film premieres I attended were followed by
enjoyable Q&A sessions afterwards with the film-makers and casts.
It was truly a joy to experience this. It felt like I was being given
an open invitation to a genuine film experience for the memory books.
These moments will be cherished.
Look for my reviews of Source Code and the crowd-pleasing Blacktino to arrive shortly.
I will keep everyone updated on my experience with the festival over
the next few days. Keep reading! There's some fun stuff coming up, and
I may even have a few surprises up my sleeve too.
Day Two Write-Up:
I know, I know. It's been
a while since I updated with more information on my SXSW coverage. It's
been one hell of a ride to be participating in this festival.
Seriously, dudes (and dudettes), this is one of the most exciting
experiences I have ever had and to say that I have been heavily
stimulated or on sensory overload is a vast understatement. Anyway, the
radical fun continued beyond day one. My coverage didn't just up and
die a slow miserable death either. Believe me, I was busy attending a
bunch of events (or certainly trying to -- sometimes I failed with a
sad and miserable attempt to get into a screening).
The second day was taken a little bit slower in the morning. I think
I was literally exhausted by the first day. In the future, it may be
easier to jump through one event or film to another but as a first time
attendee it really was quite overwhelming to be surrounded by the
non-stop antics of everything going on around me. I grabbed some
breakfast at a local resteraunt and headed over to the convetion center
earlier in the morning. After I arrived at the covention center I
explored the place even more than I did the first day and actually
tried to check out some of the press rooms/areas. This was a definite
highlight of attending the entire event. I was able to network with a
number of individuals. I even met some writers working for some other
websites I admire (though I won't mention those sites here -- they wont
get free advertising from me, sorry). This was just an excellent way to
explore the depths to which other writers were also covering the event.
I met a really fantastic guy in particular by the name Niall McKay, a
gentleman who is a documentary film-maker also running the San
Francisco Irish Film Festival (www.sfirishfilm.com -- Hey, I'll
advertise that site for
free). He seemed to know a lot more about the documentaries playing at
the festival than I did. My overall impression of him was that those
were the kinds of films he was primarily covering for whatever source
he was writing for during SXSW. The cool thing about meeting this guy
was that he wanted some advice on what films were getting the most buzz
or were supposed to be from some of the most impressive film-makers,
and to the best of my ability I tried to give him a rundown of some of
the films playing at the festival I thought might be interesting to
him. Getting to do something like that served as a huge reminder to me
that it's impossible to literally know or cover every aspect of an
event like SXSW which gave me a spectacular wave of relief just by
providing myself with the knowledge that I wasn't alone in trying to
figure out everything noteworthy going on at SXSW.
Outside of the Paramount Theater >
Later that evening, I attended Ti West's (The House of the Devil)
premiere of The Innkeepers over
at the Paramount -- which was quickly become my favorite venue of the
festival, both in terms of it's high-class atmosphere (with a balcony
and sides) and even because of the cool fact that a lot of the films
premiering at the festival that most interested me were being presented
over there. This new feature film by Ti West was obviously one of the
most anticipated films of the entire festival for horror junkies due to
the cult-like nature of the writer/director's previous effort, The House of the Devil, which had a
surprising amount of acclaim and fandom. I wasn't really sure what to
expect from West's newest effort but I knew it would be a good idea to
attend because I'm fully aware a lot of DVDTalk readers love this
director's work and that many of you folks would be excited to hear any
verdict whatsoever on his newest creation.
The next film I watched at the festival was Super. Unfortunately, I didn't stay for the Q&A to this film so I don't really have anything cool to report in that regard. Woah! I'm surprised by that myself. Super is the hotly anticipated James Gunn (Slither) written/directed effort starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page as crime-fighting wannabee self-made heroes. I would have stayed for that session but I rushed over to the Ritz for the midnight showing of Attack The Block, the feature film debut from writer/director Joe Cornish (who worked with Edgar Wright on the script for the upcoming Ant-Man and the script for Spielberg's Tintin) . Unfortunately, I didn't manage to make it inside the screening. It was a full crowd and I was one of those unlucky individuals turned away. Thus ending the evening film fun.
NOTE: Check back soon for more updates on the rest of my time spent with SXSW, and for my reviews on the films I have been seeing at the festival, which will be arriving shortly too!
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