SXSW announced its film lineup today, which is full of all kinds of features and documentaries. The big splashy Hollywood news is that the movie 21 Jump Street, starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, will premiere at the fest as its Centerpiece Film. In addition, the closing-night film will be the music documentary Big Easy Express from Emmett Malloy.
One marquee movie with a Texas connection is the Dallas-set Killer Joe, reuniting Bug filmmaker William Friedkin and playwright Tracy Letts, and starring Matthew McConaughey (and that's not the only film he's in that will play SXSW). Other notable movies playing the fest include Bobcat Goldthwait's God Bless America, the Will Ferrell-starring Casa de mi Padre and Guy Maddin's Keyhole ... among many many others announced.
SXSW Film has no Lone Star States category this year, but the overall lineup of narrative and documentary features includes many local and state connections. We'll have a full list later this month of all the Austin and Texas features and shorts screening at the fest this year. In the meantime, here are some Lone Star-connected films that stuck out in today's announcement:
- Gayby (Narrative Feature Competition)-- Jonathan Lisecki has expanded his popular 2010 short of the same name. It stars Jenn Harris and Matthew Wilkas (from the short) as well as Dule Hill and Samantha Buck. The cast also includes Austinites Alex Karpovsky and Anna Margaret Hollyman. Dallas-to-Austin filmmaker Clay Liford (Wuss) is director of photography.
- Somebody Up There Likes Me (Narrative Spotlight, pictured at top) -- The latest feature from Bob Byington (Harmony and Me) will have its world premiere at the fest. The movie stars Keith Poulson, Nick Offerman (also in Casa de mi Padre), Jess Weixler and Kevin Corrigan. The cast also includes local actors Chris Doubek, Andrew Bujalski, Allison Latta, Anna Margaret Hollyman (also in Gayby) and Jonny Mars ... and once again, Bob Schneider as a wedding singer. The trailer is already available on the film's website.
It's that time again ... we finally get to find out what will open the SXSW Film Festival this year. And like Kick-Ass two years ago, it looks like this opening-night movie will pack in the fanboys and fangirls: The Cabin in the Woods, directed by Drew Goddard and written by Goddard and Joss Whedon, who will be in Austin for the screening. The fest has also announced a few other movie selections and conference events.
The SXSW screening will be the world premiere for The Cabin in the Woods, although it unofficially screened in Austin already -- it was the worst-kept secret and supposedly a big favorite at a certain private local movie marathon in December. Mike saw it and says, "Cabin In The Woods is going to turn the world of horror upside down and shake it to see what falls out. It will change your entire perspective."
In addition to attending the opening-night premiere, Whedon will participate in one of the SXSW Film Conference's one-on-one "conversation" panels on Saturday, March 10.
Filmmaker Lena Dunham, who brought Tiny Furniture to SXSW 2010, will also be participating in a panel this year. She's been working on a TV series called Girls, and will discuss the show with several of her production team members and producer Judd Apatow. Austin filmmaker/actor Alex Karpovsky (who was in Tiny Furniture) will moderate the panel. Dunham will also host a sneak preview of three episodes of Girls, which premieres on HBO in April.
SXSW has announced its first round of confirmed sessions today for the 2012 Film Conference in March. SXSW Film Conference and Festival Producer Janet Pierson said, "We’re particularly thrilled with how well our PanelPicker interface harnesses the intelligence and passions of our creative community to help define the most interesting and relevant topics of the day."
Thousands of proposals were submitted for the SXSW film conference panels through the PanelPicker tool, which allowed anyone with an internet connection to submit a proposal, then let the public vote on them this summer. Nearly 40 sessions were announced today on a wide range of topics near and dear to filmmakers' hearts, including several "convergence" titles that are open to all Film, Interactive, Gold and Platinum badgeholders.
The confirmed Film sessions (panels and otherwise) are listed after the jump.
No wonder some hotels are already sold out of rooms for SXSW 2012. The 2011 fest saw a 20 percent jump in hotel room nights (47,500 nights, and that doesn't include couch-surfing).
Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Councilmember Mike Martinez were present on Tuesday as SXSW and Greyhill Advisors announced the details of the fifth consecutive study quantifying the dollar value of the music, film and interactive conferences, trade shows and festival. This year's magic number is $167.8 million of economic impact, which includes $44 million that SXSW contributes to the Austin economy during the non-fest portion of the calendar year. The study only includes those events "sanctioned" by SXSW.
There’s been a steady increase in the millions of dollars that flood the city for the nine-day trio of events. While SXSW is 25 years old, the study has only been done since 2007, when $95 million flooded the city. In 2010 that jumped to $113 million. You can read full economic impact report on the Greyhill blog.
The published report doesn't include specific numbers for SXSW Film other than to note that there were 1,500 passholders. SXSW was able to confirm with us that SXSW 2011 had 13,409 film registrants (actual film badges) and 66,842 that attended film screenings (passes and film, gold, and platinum badges, and I assume filmmakers and guests).
This is the second year SXSW has opened up the Panel Picker for its annual film conference, a tool that allows people to submit proposals for panels and other conference events. It's an ingenious way for the festival to vet proposals; instead of the staff or advisory panel coming up with all the ideas, anyone with a keyboard and an internet connection can submit a proposal, which is then voted on by the public, which gets a lofty 30 percent of the decision power. This is no small thing, since those who plan on attending the conference have the opportunity to weigh in on what they feel is relevant and keep the topics fresh. The only downside is that there are many panel proposals to read and decide among.
So please allow me to direct your attention to a Slackerwood-inspired panel: Removing Barriers Between Press, PR, and Producers, submitted by yours truly. The original idea for the panel happened during SXSW 2011, when I surprised a producer of a great little film by mentioning that Slackerwood gets mileage out of reviews far beyond festivals. In some cases, we get serious spikes in page views more than a year after a review was posted.
For example, this month one of our top traffic-getting pages is a review of Main Street, which screened at Austin Film Festival last year and is about to get a limited theatrical and VOD release. Our list of top ten pages for 2010 includes a review of AFF 2010 selection DMI: The Spirit Molecule and also my review of AFF 2009 film The Donner Party. Cummings Farm may have been renamed All American Orgy but my AFF 2009 review was still being read by many, over a year after I saw the movie.
The indie film Bellflower has drawn a lot of attention since I caught it at SXSW earlier this year. Some people consider it this most fabulous movie they've seen in years; others found it repellant. I thought certain scenes were beautifully done but I had to fight the urge to want to give the characters a smack on the head to jump-start their common sense. And like most people who have seen the movie, no matter how they felt about it overall, I loved the cars.
Bellflower opens in Austin theaters this Friday; look for Don's review here on Thursday. In the meantime, I wanted to share some of my photos from the SXSW screening I attended. Writer-director Evan Glodell and some cast and crew members were there and held a Q&A afterward. But again, what got people even more excited was the presence of one of the cars from the film, Medusa, which emits actual flames.
After the jump, check out photos of Medusa showing off its flames, as well as the car-free Q&A. Sadly, I have no photos frrom the after-party, which featured a cricket-eating contest similar to the one in the movie.
It may seem hard to believe that planning for the 2012 SXSW Festivals and Conferences has already started, but that's how SXSW is able to offer a staggering amount of programming every year. The PanelPicker entry process for SXSW 2012 opened this week, and SXSW welcomes ideas for their daytime programming from the community.
Proposals will be accepted now through the end of the day on Friday, July 15. Are you knowledgeable on a particular film, music, or interactive related subject, or can come up with a panel of experts? Enter a proposal for a solo presentation, workshop or panel via the PanelPicker and your idea could possibly be included in the 2012 SXSW Festivals and Conferences.
SXSW is particularly looking for daytime programming to include the future of new media, music and filmmaking. To learn more about this year's panel submission process, read the PanelPicker FAQ, which contains answers to just about any question you can think of.
Updated April 12, 2011.
Slackerwood had eight contributors in Austin covering aspects of SXSW Film Festival this year: movie reviews, photos, interviews and daily recaps. The following list (after the jump) links to all our SXSW 2011 coverage.
We created a monster ... It's just sensory overload ... like the first day of school times twenty thousand people.
Prophetic words from Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW, Alan Berg's documentary about how four guys living on next to nothing created one of the largest benchmarks of alternative culture. Check out my interview with director Alan Berg for an insight of how it all began for South by Southwest.
Everything was bigger this year -- the number of attendees and campuses for SXSW Interactive, the crowds of people lining up at the Paramount Theatre for movie premieres, and the swell of music fans filling the streets of downtown and beyond for SXSW Music. Despite years of volunteering in "the belly of the beast" as I call downtown Austin during SXSW Music, I found it overwhelming. I joked that I'm no longer a SXSW veteran, I'm a SXSW old-timer as I no longer care about where the free food, drinks or parking are -- I just wanted to find a seat in a theater and a clean bathroom.
In an attempt to avoid the maddening fray, I went with a light schedule this year. I didn't have every moment planned as I've done in the past, which I found myself regretting only slightly. I didn't regret unplugging from the sensory overload of SXSW Interactive in an effort to balance Film and Interactive simply by cutting back on both.
In retrospect, I had some wonderful serendipitous moments that would never have happened had I stuck to a planned schedule. I also realize that it would have taken me several weeks of research and planning to filter through the hundreds of panels, films and events at SXSW this year, and then fit them into the scheduling tool du jour -- some worked, some didn't and some were often wrong. Here are my favorite aspects of SXSW Film 2011:
Twenty-five years ago, four guys organized what they expected to be a small gathering for local musicians to perform and get some exposure. Running it from the offices of the Austin Chronicle, the four -- Louis Black, Louis Meyers, Roland Swenson and Nick Barbaro -- didn’t expect that 700 people would show up for that first fest. Since then, South By Southwest has grown into the largest annual event in Austin and one of the largest and most recognized of such festivals in the world.
In Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW, producer/director Alan Berg chronicles the rise and history of SXSW through photographs, old footage and interviews not only with the founders, but also writers Michael Corcoran and Joe Nick Patoski, Creative Director Brent Grulke, entertainer Mojo Nixon and many others.
Set to a rocking soundtrack, the movie begins with a nostalgic look back at shows at Liberty Lunch and the birth of the Austin Chronicle and credits Louis Meyers with being the driving force behind the creation of the festival. It covers the explosive debut and growth of SXSW, the launch of wristbands, the theme of industry vs. consumers and how that led to the arson of the festival offices. A sizable portion of time is spent detailing influence of major record labels on SXSW as they sponsor events and push their latest acts as well as how free events and parties outside the official festival have sprung up in protest.
As someone who has only ever experienced SXSW through the film festival, I was disappointed that Film and Interactive, which have grown to equal the music festival in prestige (and in the case of film, exceed it in length by three days), were barely a footnote. Still, this was an interesting and educational documentary and enough fun that I watched it twice. The older footage provides a haunting glimpse of Austin-that-was, which brought a flood of memories of my first years here. This is a must-watch for anyone who has spent two decades or more in this city as well as anyone who enjoys the live music scene.
Visit the Outside Industry website for more information about upcoming screenings, etc.