Jette Kernion's blog
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.
I'm working on the 2009 SXSW Film venue guide this week, and updating everything including some of the old photos of the theaters. I love this photo from SXSW 2007 and wanted to try to find a way to include it, but of course the Alamo Drafthouse at 409 Colorado is no longer with us. So I'm posting the photo now, instead. Get your SXSW nostalgia out of the way, and then you can start looking forward to SXSW 2009, where five Alamo Drafthouse screens will be devoted to festival films.
Now I'm going to try to find a decent photo of the ACC theater. Expect the guide within the week!
This week, I've been working on updating the annual Slackerwood Guide to SXSW Film Festival Venues for 2009. It's a fun project -- trying to figure out where the best free wireless might be near Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar (nothing nearer than Flipnotics), where to eat non-fast-food near the Paramount (the Driskill 1880 cafe has a good soup and salad), and so forth. The guide has been surprisingly popular in the past couple of years so I want to make it as helpful as possible.
This year, I'm asking for help ahead of time, so I don't miss anything. Check out the 2008 venue guide. What's missing? What's changed? Please post your advice in the comments section.
I already know about two big changes SXSW has made this year -- one happy, one somewhat sad. The happy news: SXSW will provide a shuttle service during the first part of the film festival (the conference dates) that badgeholders can use to get from ACC and the Paramount to Alamo South. So I don't feel as compelled to do my yearly "Please don't try to walk from ACC to Alamo South!" plea. (Every year, someone finds me and tells me that I was right.) SXSW will be using three screens at Alamo South this year, so it'll be hard to avoid the venue, not that you'd want to.
The kind-of-sad news: Dobie Theater is no longer a SXSW venue. This makes sense, because it's not downtown and it's a smaller theater. And I can't say I'll miss it too much, because I'm short and it's difficult to find a seat where I can see the screen properly in the Egyptian theater (shown above) without twisting my neck. On the other hand, parking was available and I do love the theater decor. Dobie and the Arbor used to be the theaters where you'd find a lot of Austinites during SXSW, and had a better chance of getting a seat if you had a film pass instead of a badge. Instead, I wonder if the locals will prefer Alamo South, which has free parking and is far away from the SXSW Music crowds.
On Sunday night, SXSW and Fantastic Fest teamed up to host a 10th anniversary screening and cast reunion at the Paramount for Office Space, which Mike Judge filmed in Austin (okay, and a couple of scenes in Dallas) in 1999. The Paramount was completely sold out, which means that we saw Office Space with 1,200 people. That's an experience I highly recommend.
I wrote about the event for Cinematical, but I thought I'd include more photos here. The above photo is a shot of the red carpet ... yes, that's a "Jump to Conclusions" mat, just like the one in the movie.
The evening started with a red carpet, and writer/director Mike Judge showed up first with his daughters. The young women looked very happy to be the center of photographic attention:
Last week, at the Austin Studios party, city councilmember and mayoral candidate Brewster McCracken hinted he'd make a special announcement soon that would involve the two filmmakers sitting behind him, Robert Rodriguez and Richard Linklater. So this week, he unveiled the "Your City - Your Vision - Your Ad" competition.
If you live in Travis County, you can submit a 25-second television ad that shows your vision for the future of Austin. The entries will be judged by a panel that includes Rodriguez and Linklater, Richard Garriott, and Elizabeth Avellan. The winner's ad will be broadcast in April on Comedy Central (as a local ad only), during The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
Updated Feb. 3 with more local films.
The SXSW 2009 feature-film lineup was announced late last night. You can check out all the films here. And of course there are lots of big-name films and actors: you can see Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man, or Seth Rogen in Observe and Report; Spike Lee's documentary Passing Strange and Kathryn Bigelow's drama The Hurt Locker. But I know that you're all really interested in seeing the films that are coming out of Austin, right? So that's what I'm listing here.
I don't have a comprehensive list of every film playing SXSW that was shot in Austin or involves Austin cast or crew. And I may have some details wrong here -- this list involved a lot of guesswork. Here's what I've got so far:
- The Overbrook Brothers -- The feature-film debut of local filmmaker John Bryant, whose twisted sensibility has brought us such hilarious short films as Momma's Boy and Oh My God.
- The Two Bobs -- Local writer-director Tim McCanlies (Smallville, The Iron Giant) shot this comedy in Austin (some of it not far from my house, as I recall). I suspect the cast and crew are mostly local too -- I recognized the cinematographer, P.J. Raval (Trinidad, Trouble the Water).
- Beeswax -- Andrew Bujalski's latest film was also shot here. The cast includes local filmmakers David and Nathan Zellner, Kyle Henry, and Bryan Poyser.
Last night, Austin Studios threw a big bash to celebrate the grand re-opening of their newly renovated facilities. The party started with a ribbon-cutting and christening ceremony for one of the redone studios.
Rebecca Campbell, executive director of Austin Film Society, started things off with some details about the renovations, but all eyes were on the two guys who would be performing the ribbon-cutting: Robert Rodriguez and Richard Linklater. Well, some eyes were off to the right to notice local actress Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Friday Night Lights), who sat next to Austin City Council member Brewster McCracken. (She's not in the photo below, but look for her in her leopard-print coat in subsequent photos.)
January is possibly the crummiest month of the year for new releases in movie theaters, although in smaller cities like Austin we do at least get some of the Oscar contenders this month, so it's not too terrible. In which case, February would be the worst month ... I don't want to think about it. Let's look on the bright side and see what kind of good stuff is playing around town this week.
- Alamo Kids Club is showing The Adventures of Baron Munchausen for free at noon on Saturday at Alamo South Lamar. It's not Terry Gilliam's best movie by any means, but if you're going to see this film, see it in a theater where you can enjoy all its lavish big-screen gorgeousness. Hopefully the smaller children won't get restless and distracting.
- If you happen to be near Waco on Saturday instead, head over to the WISD Playhouse Theater for a screening of the documentary Six Man, Texas that will benefit a rural school scholarship program. Details on the film's website.
I bought a new camera nearly a year ago, could you tell? Suddenly you could actually figure out who the people were in the photos I took in dark movie theaters. And now I've got lots of photos to share that I took during Austin movie-related events in 2008. I started an entry that turned out to be huge and unfocused, so I've broken it up into several sections. Today we'll start with my favorite photos of well-known actors and other film-related people. My very favorite is the one at the top -- Morgan Fairchild and ZZ Top at the Texas Film Hall of Fame. But I took a few more that night that I also liked.
In case you hadn't realized -- or you're like me and time just slipped by and you lost track of it -- the Austin Jewish Film Festival begins Saturday night and runs through next Friday, January 30. Most of the films are screening at Arbor, with a few also playing on the UT campus, at Texas Hillel, and even in Georgetown.
You can still buy tickets for the opening-night films at the Arbor: Someone to Run With (with the screenwriter in attendance) and Emotional Arithmetic. AJFF also has film badges and passes available. The whole festival has a nice mix of films, and there's nothing much good opening in theaters this weekend, so why not check it out?