Note: A 2010 guide to the SXSW Film Festival is now available.
[Editor's Note: Jenn originally posted this survival guide to her blog last week, and I thought it was so enjoyable and useful that I asked permission to repeat it here.]
I've been a badge holder for SXSW film for the last several years, with the exception of last year, when I had a film pass. If you're going to really do a film festival, and get 4-6 screenings in a day, with all that line standing, you can make it easier on yourself with:
I emailed Tommy Pallotta a couple of weeks ago and asked him about doing an interview via email for his documentary American Prince, which is premiering at SXSW 2009. The former Austin resident is living in Amsterdam these days, so email seemed like the easiest way to communicate. Pallotta sent me what's essentially a very cool short article about the film. He told me to feel free to put it in interview format, but I love the story that this article tells and I don't want to break it up with questions and extra formatting.
American Prince is about Martin Scorsese's hard-to-find documentary American Boy and the man Scorsese profiled 30 years ago, Steven Prince. The two films will screen together during SXSW at Alamo South Lamar: on Saturday, March 14 at 7:30 pm, and again on Tuesday, March 17 at 11 am.
Check out some clips from the documentary and a very cool poster from the film over at Cinematical. And although this has nothing to do with American Prince per se, I recommend reading the Filmmaker Magazine interview with Pallotta about why he no longer uses Facebook or other social media.
Slackerwood still has interviews, helpful guides, and other SXSW-related info that will be appearing this week, so keep checking your RSS feed, or bookmark, or whatever you use. (We may even have non-SXSW news, amazingly.) Here are some bits of news and information that you surely want to know before Friday:
- B-Side SXSW 2009 Festival Genius -- Have you tried this yet? It's lots of fun and also can be very useful. Check out B-Side's handy video overview and tutorial. You plug in the titles of the films you want to see at SXSW this year, and Festival Genius makes you a tidy little schedule with no overlaps. The only drawback is that Festival Genius doesn't care if you have to run back and forth three times from Alamo South to Paramount, but maybe you don't care either, if the films are good enough.
- SXSW Advance Tickets -- If you're a SXSW Film badgeholder, watch the linked video for info about the new Advance Ticket system, which ensures you get into the movies you want to see most.
One of the most intriguing trailers I've seen for SXSW this year has been for St. Nick, the feature from writer-director David Lowery that will premiere at the festival. I've attached the trailer after the jump so you can see for yourself.
David has a great blog called Drifting: A Director's Log where he often writes about the projects he's working on. His short films have screened at Slamdance, SXSW, and Austin Film Festival.
I recently conducted the following email interview with Lowery about St. Nick. If you're a vegetarian, you especially want to read to the end of this interview (why? you'll find out). St. Nick is playing during SXSW three times, each time at Alamo Ritz: Sunday, March 15 at noon, Tuesday, March 17 at 2:30 pm, and Friday, March 20 at 12:30 pm.
In previous years, the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards took place on the opening night of SXSW, which presented a dilemma for some festgoers. Fortunately, Austin Film Society moved the annual fundraising gala this year to the Thursday night before the SXSW Film Festival begins.
Some other changes are going on with Texas Film Hall of Fame, too. AFS has added "Party in the Red Room," in which attendees can watch the awards as a live simulcast from an "enormous party tent" next to the studio where the award ceremony is held. It sounds like fun and is more affordable than the tables at the in-person awards. The Red Room party (no Shining references, please) is being hosted by Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Friday Night Lights and fabulous bottle-smasher) and Paul Saucido.
Thomas Haden Church will be the emcee for the actual awards ceremony this year. I've listed the award recipients and presenters after the jump.
[Editor's Note: Please welcome our latest contributor, Jenn Brown.]
With SXSW just around the corner, and Tim McCanlies' latest film, The Two Bobs having its world premiere, it's a perfect time to review one of his earlier films, Secondhand Lions. McCanlies is a well-known figure in the local filmmaking scene as a writer, director, and co-founder of Fantastic Fest. His script for 2003's Secondhand Lions was known in Hollywood as one of the best unproduced scripts around, taking 10 years to make it the screen.
It's the 1960s, and Walter (Haley Joel Osment) is a weenie, even by his mother's low standards, so she abandons him to his great-uncles in rural Texas, with hopes of getting part of their rumored wealth. Garth and Hub (Michael Caine, Robert Duvall) after a mysterious 40-year absence, are back home and not taking retirement any more gracefully than the presence of greedy relatives and traveling salesmen. After Walter suggests they spend some of their money, the uncles start spending their wealth on the most outrageous items, starting with a skeet machine and culminating with a lion.
Real quick, because I just got back from Watchmen and it's my bedtime, but I have to pass on the news that SXSW Film is adding two more events to its schedule, with two very interesting filmmakers:
Sam Raimi will be at the Paramount on Sunday, March 15 at midnight to present a work-in-progress version of his latest film, the horror movie Drag Me to Hell. And here I was saying I wasn't planning to see any midnight movies this year ...
Jonathan Demme will also be in Austin to show us his latest film, the music documentary Neil Young Trunk Show, on Saturday, March 21, the last night of the film festival. And here I was saying I wanted to spend the last two days of the film fest away from downtown ...
The SXSW website has more details here.
Update: A SXSW 2011 guide for non-badgeholders is now available.
Several commenters on the SXSW 2009 Guide to Film Fest Venues asked about the best way to enjoy the festival if they are using film passes instead of badges, or if they want to buy individual tickets for a few movies.
The SXSW film pass is the film-fest equivalent of the Music fest wristband. You're in a second-tier line, and are admitted into a screening after the badgeholders line has been let into the theater, if space permits. Passes for 2009 are $70 and are now available at Waterloo Records or any Austin-area Alamo Drafthouse. Someone asked me whether they'll be able to buy film passes halfway through the festival -- I don't know if there's a limited number and if they ever sell out. Anyone?
Editor's Note: We're starting a new feature at Slackerwood -- reviews of movies and DVDs that have a strong connection to Austin. If you're interested in contributing, let me know.
What better way to start Austin-related reviews on Slackerwood than with such a quintessentially Austin movie as Eagle Pennell's The Whole Shootin' Match? When I heard Watchmaker Films was releasing this movie in a set with The King of Texas, the documentary about Pennell, I knew I had to write about it here.
I watched The Whole Shootin' Match on a plane from Austin to Orlando, on my laptop. It turned out to be the perfect movie for the trip -- catching glimpses of Austin in the 1970s in a fascinating example of regional filmmaking from the time, as I headed closer to some of the most artificial places on earth. And now I'm back in Austin and I want to watch the movie again, this time maybe sharing it with a group. I figure when you want to re-watch something within a week of the first time, it must be a pretty damn good movie.
Note: A 2010 guide to SXSW Film Fest venues is now available.
Update, March 4: Another cool and helpful video from SXSW. This one explains the tiers of admission for SXSW movies, including the new "advance ticket" system that badgeholders can use.
Update, March 2: Check out our extra guide for locals who plan to buy film passes or tickets this year.
Update #2, March 2: SXSW has created a fun video guide to the film-fest venues on YouTube. The video includes some excellent visuals, so be sure to check it out.
Welcome to the third annual Slackerwood guide to SXSW film-festival theaters and venues. These guidelines are intended to help you get the most out of your filmgoing experience during the festival: the best seats, the least crowded theaters, and decent meals and wireless access between or even during the movies.
A few significant changes have occurred since the 2008 guide. The biggest and best change is that SXSW will run a shuttle for SXSW Film badgeholders and passholders from Friday 3/13 through Tuesday 3/17, 10 am to 2 am, that stops at Austin Convention Center (ACC), the Paramount, and Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. This will make it so much easier for out-of-towners to get to Alamo South, at least during the first part of the fest.
The other big change is that Dobie Theatre is no longer a SXSW venue, which may disappoint locals who liked the ease of parking and the lack of downtown crowds. Instead, SXSW will be using three screens at Alamo South, which will consolidate the venue choices and make it easier to move between theaters.