SXSW 2013: Six Degrees of Texas Connections


Matthew McConaughey, Bernie red carpet


On Tuesday afternoon, SXSW announced the opening-night movie and several world premieres for its 2013 film festival, as well as some additional Film Conference sessions.

The big local connection is that "A Conversation with Matthew McConaughey" has been added to the SXSW Film Conference lineup. The Austin actor appeared in four films last year, including Killer Joe and the Central Texas-shot Bernie, both of which screened at SXSW 2012. I notice there's no moderator announced for that panel yet -- SXSW, feel free to call me. I would be happy to volunteer my services.

The full lineup will almost certainly offer some promising local films, but so far there's no Frost Bank Tower in the mix. I view this as a challenge. Let's find out what other Austin and Texas connections I can tease out of the movies and other panels announced yesterday. This is Slackerwood -- we can always find something.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (opening-night film) -- This comedy about superstar magicians stars Steve Buscemi, Steve Carell, Jim Carrey and Olivia Wilde. Damn. All I have is that Carrey was in I Love You Phillip Morris, which is based on a book by a Houston reporter (Steve McVicker) and is partially set in Texas. I've got to do better than this.

Downloaded -- This documentary about Napster and music downloading is directed by Alex Winter, who would like it if people remembered him for his filmmaking and not his role in the Bill and Ted films. No Texas connections I could find. Batting a thousand here.

Drinking Buddies -- Success! This movie is written and directed by Joe Swanberg, who premiered his first feature (and several subsequent ones) at SXSW here in Austin, back in 2005. The cast includes Olivia Wilde (is this a trend? I don't mind), Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson (also in SXSW 2012 film Safety Not Guaranteed), Ti West (directed SXSW 2011 selection The Innkeepers) and Frank Ross (directed SXSW 2010 feature Audrey the Trainwreck). Ah hah, a genuine local connection: Former Austinite Anish Savjani, who has produced some excellent Austin indies, is one of the producers.

Everyone's Going to Die -- It's a British film. I'm not even going to bother looking.

Evil Dead -- Sigh. I've been trying to pretend this remake doesn't exist, but now that its world premiere is at SXSW I have to face it. Stunt woman Amanda Dyar is a native Texan.

Good Ol' Freda -- Another British film, this time a documentary about the Beatles' longtime secretary Freda Kelly. Unless she moved to Bastrop late in life I'm assuming there are no Texas connections.

Spring Breakers -- Harmony Korine, whose film Trash Humpers was the talk of SXSW 2009, will return with this feature. The cast includes James Franco, actress Selena Gomez from Grand Prairie, Texas, and Vanessa Hudgens, who once shot the film Bandslam here in Austin. That last one was a reach. Here's a really tenuous one: Franco was accepted into the University of Houston's writing program, but decided not to go.

"Bates Motel: Story to Screen with Carlton Cuse" -- It's not just a panel but also a screening of the TV series pilot Bates Motel. Executive producer Carlton Cuse is credited in the press release for Lost but some of us will always remember him as one of the producers of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., a delightful one-season series that was occasionally set in Texas. Bates Motel is of course based on Psycho, which was inspired by Ed Gein, who also inspired The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Hey, you wanted Austin film news in this article and by God, I will find it for you one way or another.

"Humanizing Heroes: Storytelling Beyond Sports" -- I would be surprised if you could discuss sports and sports movies without mentioning something Texan. No moderator's been announced yet for this panel and I can think of several appropriate locals.

"Jeffrey Tambor's Acting Workshop" -- This session has become a perennial favorite at SXSW Film. So I suppose Jeffrey Tambor is an Austin resident 1/52nd of the time ... but then so are a lot of other people who love SXSW. We'll see them all from March 8-16 this year.

Now, what did I miss? If your aunt from Harlingen moved to LA and did craft services on one of these movies, let me know.

[Photo credit: Matthew McConaughey at Bernie red carpet, SXSW 2012, by Dinkins / De Jong for Slackerwood. All rights reserved.]