Only four hours of sleep. But the beer-soaked clothes are cleaned, and I'm as awake as I expect to be on day four of SXSW.
This afternoon I had the opportunity to chat with Erasing David's David Bond. His documentary on the lack of secure privacy in government databases is a wake-up call to anyone who thinks, "I've done nothing wrong, so there is nothing to worry about." Check out my review. You have another chance to see Erasing David at the G-Tech theater in ACC at 11 am. Not only will Bond be there, but one of the investigators tasked to finding him as he attempted 30 days off the grid. Based on our lively conversation today, I predict it will be a good Q&A.
Yesterday I took a quick tour of the incredibly packed Film/Interactive Trade Show. What a circus. Today, I actually spent a little more time there, or tried to. I just was not feeling it. But then, I hadn't had breakfast yet. It took me nearly 9 hours between an orange juice and an actual meal. I got a kick out of seeing the matador and the bull heading over to the trade show together.
Just realized I haven't let you all know that I'm interviewing one of the filmmakers from World's Largest, Amy Elliott, at Studio SX on Tuesday, March 16, at 11 am. Studio SX takes place on the fourth floor of ACC in Ballroom D. It'll be recorded so I'll share it with you later if you don't go ... but I hope you'll stop by and listen. Also, go see World's Largest if you get the chance, it's a good documentary.
Some actors and filmmakers just walk on stage for a Q&A like any ordinary person. But John C. Reilly, after the SXSW Cyrus screening at the Paramount on Saturday night, added a little flourish and style, doffing his hat for the audience. It was a charming moment.
Reilly was joined in the Cyrus Q&A by filmmakers Jay and Mark Duplass, former Austinites, and actor Jonah Hill. In the film, Reilly's character falls for Marisa Tomei's single mom, a lovely woman with a son who Has Issues, played by Hill. The movie played to a full house at the Paramount. The Duplasses mentioned that they used to go to the Paramount a lot for the Summer Classic Film Series back in the day, and would never have imagined they'd be the ones on stage to a packed, excited audience.
"We've been waiting almost 20 years to show a movie on a Saturday night at the Paramount," Mark said.
I am so tired. I hope this all makes sense. Today I managed to make it to The Happy Poet world premiere. I'm really glad I asked for a reserved seat as a guest of the filmmakers, because badges got turned away. It was in fact so packed, that the filmmakers were standing in the back to give up seats, and one guy was sitting on a table. Seriously, space was indeed reserved for Dave's butt.
As it turns out, all of us made a great choice to see The Happy Poet because it's a fun film. In fact, I have to say that The Happy Poet is my favorite film so far at SXSW. Writer/director/star Paul Gordon's delivery are very deadpan yet reflect the earnest wish of a man with little resources and no food service experience to open up an organic food stand. The cast is a charming ensemble, all portraying characters rooting for Bill (Gordon) as he struggles to start a business and find his voice.
Contributor Rod Paddock was lucky enough to get into a "first look" at Predators during SXSW and wrote up the following account of the event. The film is being produced and co-written by Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and was shot in part at local Troublemaker Studios.
On Friday night I was in possession of what has to one of the "golden tickets" of SXSW. This golden ticket was the combination of a SXSW Express pass and a red Predators ticket (see image). The combination of these two items gave me the chance be a part of the sneak preview of the Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal reboot of the Predator franchise: Predators.
After hours of waiting the house lights dimmed, and out came the master of ceremonies, Austin's native son Robert Rodriguez. He started the evening showing us the trailer for Predators. I don't think I have ever been so pumped after seeing a trailer. By every indication this movie is going to be off the hook and will satisfy Predator fans worldwide. The trailer introduces our protagonists, who find themselves transported to a Predator hunting planet. There are some heavy hitters in this cast: Lawrence Fishburne, Adrien Brody and Topher Grace. We also have one of my favorite actors, Walton Goggins (who you might remember from the FX show The Shield).
Among the world premieres at SXSW 2010 is Texas native Chad Feehan's feature writing/directing debut, Wake, which screened at the Paramount this afternoon. Wake is a twisty thriller featuring The Bone Collector's Josh Stewart and Soprano's Jamie-Lynn Sigler as a couple on the way to a wedding when they decide to stop for the night in a roadside motel. Instead of a restful night's sleep, strange encounters force them to deal with a haunting secret from the past, including a overly helpful and creepy hotel clerk.
Very slowly two apparently unrelated storylines evolve that eventually collide with devastating results. While atmospherically shot, Wake suffers from simultaneously trying to be too clever and making sure all the pieces are tightly assembled. One of the more frustrating aspects of catching films at festivals is finding ones with an intriguing concept that doesn't quite work as delivered to the screen.
Despite my wishes, I was felled by a migraine overnight. I had hoped to make it to some panels, a press conference and 4-5 screenings.
Thankfully, I didn't miss out on Wake or Micmacs, as I'd seen them earlier. I hope you had a chance to see Micmacs, because Jeunet was here in town, and he's such a great, distinctive director. My review of Micmacs has to wait, but the one for Wake should be up soon. Wake is one of those films that's a bit frustrating while proving the director is one to watch.
I also missed the world premiere of Mars, by Austin's own Geoff Marslett. Jette and I talked with Marslett a few weeks ago, and I was really hoping to be there for the panel and the premiere. I did hear the line was already to 7th Street an hour before the screening was scheduled to start, so I can safely say it was a sold-out crowd. And thankfully, Mars screens twice at the Alamo Lamar.
Just how much privacy do we have these days? Director David Bond decides to find out on a personal level by attempting to disappear for 30 days in the documentary Erasing David.
With a wife and child at home, he plans to leave home and avoid two trained investigators who will try to chase him down. In the beginning, Frank M. Ahearn, privacy consultant and co-author of How to Disappear (Volume 1) advises Bond of ways he can be tracked and just how easily surveillance can be initiated. But the comical interludes with Ahearn set up some very real and understandable paranoia.
Erasing David picks up where Ondi Timoner's We Live in Public leaves off -- instead of choosing to live in public and seeing the results, Bond focuses on a relatively ordinary life and how invasive the lack of data privacy is within the Information Age.
Every film festival wants its Opening Night Film to make a statement that sets the tone for the rest of the festival, and SXSW 2010 opened with the aptly titled Kick-Ass.
The anticipation was high; the crowds enormous. To put it into perspective, someone tweeted that there were 7,000 film bags prepared, meaning 7,000 potential people in line for Opening Night. The line was so long it circled the entire block, and not all badges got in. That's a first in my experience at the Paramount, with 1,200 seats. Even the 2004 special screening of Hellboy did not encircle the block. I suspect the extremely positive reaction from us BNAT11 attendees helped. Or perhaps it was the balls-out promotional work the Lionsgate people are doing, with taxis and SUVs covered in Kick-Ass branding. There was even a Kick-Ass inspired floodlight making a rather amusing statement on the side of a downtown building (pictured above).
I feel sorry for the folks that didn't get in, but know this: Many of the reserved seats were for guests who were also badgeholders. I admit, I line leeched, but I also got to say hello to friends I hadn't seen in a while.
Why Day 0? Because SXSW Film hasn't really started, of course. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a busy day. Hundreds of people were in line well before 3 pm to pick up their badges a day early. Even with hiccups, though, I got my badge in 15 minutes as well as my press tag. The line kept growing but people moved through quickly once it got going.
They were still working hard to set up all the panel rooms and spaces being used for SXSW but things were clearly coming together yesterday afternoon. So I hope everyone got a good night's sleep because it's going to be the last you get for 10 days, if you're doing the whole festival.
The downside was for about an hour I had no internet access on my T-Mobile Blackberry, which sucked tremendously. It didn't help that some bright bulb decided to run a 5,000 tweet campaign for some charitable cause, which I'm sure helped make it impossible for me to respond to people who needed a timely response. Perhaps it was karmic backlash for having no problems last year when all the iPhone users were having issues.