A handy guide to SXSW Film Fest venues


Alamo on South Lamar

Note: A 2010 guide to SXSW Film Fest venues is now available.

SXSW Film Festival has six venues this year, and if you've never been to Austin you may not know where all the theaters are located and all of their little quirks. You might think it's possible to run from the Paramount to Alamo on South Lamar on foot in ten minutes, and you'd schedule movies accordingly, and then be sad later. Or you might make it through the entire festival without trying the root-beer float at Alamo Drafthouse.

I thought I'd offer a guideline to the Austin theaters playing SXSW movies to help visitors who want to maximize the number of films they see in a day or who want to make sure they're able to find decent meals in between or even during the movies.

The SXSW film venues are a little different this year -- the Arbor is no longer on the list. This is a shame in one way, because it's a very nice venue and a good place for locals with cars to see movies. On the other hand, trying to drive across town to catch a movie at the Dobie right after seeing one at the Arbor is something I'd rather not attempt again. SXSW has added another screen at Alamo on South Lamar instead, which is more convenient to downtown.

The official SXSW Venues PDF provides a list of theaters with a map, including nearby hotels and film party venues. This useful page also has info on bus service: "Cap Metro’s Film Fest Flyer (Route 3) stops within a few blocks of nearly all the Film Fest venues. Ride from downtown to the Dobie (from 8th and Brazos) or Alamo South (from 3rd and Colorado) for just 50 cents, or buy a Day Pass on the bus for just $1 a day. Buses leave around every 20 minutes and run from 6am to midnight on weekdays, with reduced schedules on weekends. See capmetro.org, call 474-1200, or see the CapMetro flyer in the 'Big Bag'" (which I assume is the bag you get at registration).

Update 3/6/07: The B-Side Unofficial SXSW Other Site Guide includes a venue page with a Google map display for each venue, which you can use to get directions to/from the venues. Here are the six SXSW theaters, with info on location, nearby food, and nearby wireless. If I've missed some tips and tricks that you think belong in this guide, please add a comment or email me and I'll be happy to update this entry.


AFF brings Trading Places writer to Austin


Austin Film Festival (AFF) is starting a monthly film series at Alamo Lake Creek, which kicks off Thursday night at 7:30 pm with a screening of Trading Places. It's a great chance to see Oscar-nominated Eddie Murphy in one of his early film appearances ... not to mention Dan Ackroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis in a fabulous wig, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, and the usual complement of odd cameos that you find in comedies directed by John Landis.

Plus, Trading Places writer Herschel Weingrod will be in attendance and will hold a Q&A after the movie. Alamo Lake Creek will offer a "prince and pauper" style menu, and I'm wondering what in the world that even means. Caviar and ramen? I'm not sure I'll be able to go, so if you do, report back and give us the scoop on the evening. Admission is only $4 (free if you're an AFF member).

Austin Studios garage sale on Saturday


I didn't see this news until today, but there's still one day left to visit the big garage sale at Austin Studios. On Saturday, from 9 am to 3 pm, you can buy props and stuff from The Hitcher. In fact, this blog entry on the Austin Film Society site implies that the garage sale may include items from other films shot at Austin Studios, such as Miss Congeniality. The sale takes place at Hangar 2 -- Austin Studios will probably have some signs out to navigate you.

I went to one of the Austin Studio garage sales about a year ago for a movie advertised as Coyote but which I confirmed was really Fast Food Nation. Check out my Celluloid Eyes entry about the sale, which includes photos of the kind of stuff you might find at tomorrow's event. The "Coyote" sale was fun to browse through, so you might see me at Austin Studios tomorrow morning if I can get up early enough.

David Lynch in Austin (without cows)


Filmmaker David Lynch decided to include Austin in his multi-city promotional tour of his latest film, Inland Empire, which he is self-distributing. On Wednesday night, every seat in the Paramount was filled for the local premiere of the three-hour film, followed by a Q&A session with Lynch.

Paramount marquee for David Lynch


I had hoped that Lynch would hold a red-carpet event with a cow, or perhaps hang out on the corner of Congress and Sixth with a cow to advertise Inland Empire, like he did to promote Laura Dern's performance. I'd heard he was planning to include a cow in the tour. However, no cows were sighted anywhere near the Paramount.

I was happy enough to have the chance to hear and see Lynch himself.

Sinus Show blows its last

The "MST3K"-style comedy of the Sinus Show will bow out of the Austin film scene this weekend, reports the Austin Movie Blog. The show featured 3 comedians making fun of cinema classics as Xanadu and The Terminator at one of the various Alamo Drafthouse locations in town. Now you'll have to make fun of those movies yourself, in the comfort of your own home. The final shows are this weekend's screenings of Die Hard and alas! They are sold out. I feel good that at least I got to take my wife to see their version of Showgirls. Of course we haven't seen the last of John Erler, Owen Egerton, and Jerm Pollet, but it is the end of an era. So long, Sinus Guys.

AFF hosts Anne Rapp script reading


Hearing someone's script read is a lot more fun than it might sound. At least, it is if you have a number of actors taking all the parts, as opposed to a very nervous screenwriting student muttering dialogue in a monotone. I went to a script reading at Austin Film Festival (AFF) a few years ago, for that year's winner in the comedy screenplay category, and had a great time.

So I would definitely recommend the script reading that AFF is hosting for Anne Rapp's latest screenplay, Double Wide. Rapp, who lives in Austin, previously wrote two scripts for films directed by the late Robert Altman: Cookie's Fortune and Dr. T and the Women.

The actors reading Double Wide include Johnny Hardwick, the writer/actor from King of the Hill that all the female writers were crushing on at AFF one year (he does not look or sound like Dale Gribble in person); local disc jockey Dale Dudley, whom I think was reading at the AFF script reading I mentioned above; actress Kit Gwin; and Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel.

The script reading will take place at Capitol City Comedy Club on Sunday, Jan. 28, and admission is free.

Pan's Labyrinth, Volver in Austin

Some notable foreign-language/arthouse films are finally opening in Austin on Friday:
  • Pan's Labyrinth—Playing at Alamo South Lamar, Dobie, and Arbor. I saw this movie at Fantastic Fest, and considered it my favorite movie of 2006. I'm looking forward to seeing it again. Read my Cinematical review for more details.
  • Volver—Playing at Arbor. Pedro Almodovar's latest film is getting a lot of attention. I liked it, but not as much as some of his earlier films (Law of Desire), and not quite enough for my Top Ten of 2006. Penelope Cruz stars in the story about two sisters trying to deal with the (figurative, or literal?) ghost of their mother. Although I like watching movies in theaters, I think this film would be just as watchable on DVD, frankly.
  • Curse of the Golden Flower—Playing at Alamo South Lamar, Dobie, Arbor, Cinemark Tinseltown (Pflugerville), and AMC Barton Creek (in the mall). Someone nicknamed this film "Curse of the Golden Corset" and now that title has stuck in my head more than the actual one. The film does include lots of shots of young women about to pop out of their tops. Imagine if Douglas Sirk had made a movie about a Chinese imperial family in 900 AD, but with a big battle scene. Very pretty, and enjoyable on a superficial level -- if you're going to see it, see it in a theater.
Other movies opening this week: Alpha Dog, Notes on a Scandal, Primeval, and Stomp the Yard. (I'm finishing my Stomp the Yard review now, but the short version is that it was more watchable and interesting than I expected.)

Ladies and gentlemen, an Idiocracy trailer


Idiocracy DVDFinally, everyone has a chance to see Mike Judge's film Idiocracy, like it or not, since it's being released on DVD today. To help you decide, Amazon has posted a trailer for the film. Yes, that's right, an actual trailer! I have no idea if this was whipped up especially for the DVD release, or if it was one of the trailers that Fox allegedly created when they were trying to figure out how to market this movie. (As we know, they finally decided not to market it at all.)

The trailer is very odd if you've seen the movie, and I think it sells the comedy aspects of the film poorly. Maya Rudolph isn't in the trailer at all, despite being a co-star, and Dax Shepherd is barely visible as well. It is all about Luke Wilson. Although the trailer does reveal the plot about Wilson's character being the smartest person alive when he is sent to the future, it does not show just how stupid the future U.S. citizens are. And of course it contains none of the riffs on large corporations, which are often the funniest part of the movie. Finally, the trailer simply isn't cut very well -- maybe it's because the trailer editors had to cut around a lot of language that was considered inappropriate for an Amazon trailer (all of that "fag" and "tard" business), but there are abrupt cuts made in mid-dialogue. I'm not sure (heh, "not sure") what the target audience is supposed to be for the trailer, but that may illustrate the whole marketing problem for the film, right there.

By the way, Slackerwood now has categories, and I set one up especially for Idiocracy -- so if you want to read all the coverage posted to the site about this film, just click the little "Idiocracy" link next to the entry byline. I also wrote a column summarizing the situation for Cinematical a couple of months ago. I feel like Bilge Ebiri (at ScreenGrab, Nerve's film blog) and I have covered the hell out of this movie in the past four months, and I hope someday we are rewarded by getting to find out exactly what the hell happened ... from Mike Judge.

In the meantime, yes, I am buying the Idiocracy DVD -- although at nearly $20 on Amazon, it's pretty damn pricey for something the studio is trying to dump. The only special features are some deleted scenes, although I don't care much about special features myself. However, I would have loved seeing some of the other trailers Fox put together that were ultimately rejected. [Trailer link found via Movie Marketing Madness.]

Volunteers wanted for SXSW

The call is out - it's time to volunteer for SXSW. If you can't swing the dough for a badge or pass, you can put in some time (4 nights or 30 hours) and get in to the rest of the festival for free. Plus the volunteer shirts for SXSW are usually pretty cool -- the sort of thing you'd actually wear willingly after the event is over. Check out sxsw.com or e-mail vol at sxsw.com for more info.

Spike and Mike 2007 - it's coming!


Dr TranThat touring cavalcade of animated perversion known as Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation is coming back to the Alamo Drafthouse downtown. This is one of my favorite events of the year, and it may actually inspire me to hire a babysitter and get our butts to the theater.

Unlike other animation events that have gone before it Spike & Mike celebrates the bizarre, the disgusting, the just plain weird and wonderful. Without it I might not have discovered Dr. Tran or Don Hertzfeldt, and how sad that would be!

The fun begins Thursday, January 18th and continues through the 28th.

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