Jette Kernion's blog

SXSW 2008: The Duplass Brothers and 'Baghead'



I vividly remember the screening of The Puffy Chair I attended during SXSW 2005. The brothers who wrote and directed the film, Jay and Mark Duplass -- why did their names sound so familiar? And their mom, who was in the film, handed out buttons with little puffy chairs on them afterwards, and she looked vaguely familiar too. I thought about going to talk to them after the screening, but they were mobbed.

So I called my mom, because I suspected this might be a case of the old familiar "New Orleans has one degree of separation, not six" syndrome. I was right. In fact, my mom had just seen Cindy Duplass over at the grocery store and had heard all about her sons' new movie. Years before, my mom had bugged me over and over again about how I should try to get in touch with one of my little brother's high-school cross-country team buddies who had moved to Austin, but I didn't see why I would want to hang out with one of his bratty, jock-y friends. And now that track-team kid, Jay Duplass, had teamed up with his little brother Mark to make movies, some of which had played Sundance.

I ended up emailing the guys and then meeting them in person in 2006, when they showed The Puffy Chair at St. Edward's University and did a long Q&A about the business of indie filmmaking. We had several things in common: that weird background of both New Orleans and Austin, film geekiness, and a delight in making slightly mean jokes about my brother.

Jay and Mark Duplass will be back in Austin next week for SXSW to show their latest feature, Baghead. The minute I heard the title, I had to wonder if they were inspired by a certain New Orleans sports-based trend that occurred in my childhood. And I was right ... sort of. We did a quick email interview earlier this week about the film.

SXSW 2008: Updated Guide to Film Fest Venues


Alamo on South Lamar

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

You might remember Slackerwood's handy SXSW film-fest venue guide from 2007. We've compiled an even handier guide for 2008. The theaters have changed slightly, primarily due to the downtown Alamo Drafthouse location moving to Alamo Ritz. (The old Drafthouse venue is now a trendy nightclub ... where the Facebook Film Garage is being held during SXSW. Very strange.)

These guidelines to Austin theaters playing SXSW movies are intended 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 between or even during the movies. The most important thing to remember is that you can't walk between all the SXSW venues and you shouldn't try. To get to Alamo on South Lamar or even the Dobie, consider finding a cab, bus, friendly Austinite with a car, or even renting a bicycle to use during your time at the fest.

If you're interested in taking the bus (which costs a whopping 50 cents per trip, or $1/day), Capital Metro's Route 3 can take you from downtown to Alamo South Lamar, and you can take Route 1/101 or the Red Dillo (which is free) from Congress Ave. to the Dobie. I recommend using the Trip Planner to figure out your schedule, and allow plenty of time especially during rush hour.

Here are the six SXSW 2008 theaters, with info on location, nearby food, and nearby wireless access. If I've missed some tips and tricks (or good nearby places with wireless), please add a comment or email me and I'll be happy to update this guide.

SXSW 2008: Yes, 'X' is That Josh Brolin


Josh Brolin

When I wrote about SXSW short films recently, I mentioned a film called X that was directed by Josh Brolin. I wasn't sure at the time whether the filmmaker was actor Josh Brolin, who's been in a couple of films shot in Texas: Grindhouse and No Country for Old Men (pictured above).

As usual, SXSW film fest director Matt Dentler has the scoop for us: The director of X is in fact that Josh Brolin, and the Eden Brolin who stars in the film is his daughter. The short will play three times at SXSW, and both Brolins plan to be in attendance at the first screening on Saturday, March 8. (It's playing before the documentary Tulia, Texas and of course you should stay for both.) I notice it's playing at Dobie, which is not a large theater, so if you're a Josh Brolin groupie you should plan to get there early.

Check out the SXSW listing for X for details on its scheduled screenings as well as a trailer for the film.

Austin's Got Indie Spirit


Everyone's been running around this week predicting Oscars and planning Oscar parties and wondering if Jon Stewart is going to be very funny as this year's host. But that's not the only award show taking place this weekend.

Film Independent's Spirit Awards (which I always call the Indie Spirit awards because I'm lazy) will be held Saturday afternoon, the day before the Oscar broadcast. You can watch the ceremony on IFC starting at 4 pm our time, or tune in early for a red-carpet event beforehand that's televised beginning at 1:30. If you're a Matt Dentler groupie, you're in luck because the SXSW film-fest head is one of this year's red-carpet hosts.

If you don't have cable (like me) or enjoy watching awards with a big group, head over to the Austin Studios screening room on Saturday afternoon for Austin Film Society's viewing party, starting at 4 pm. AFS will have snacks, drinks, and a lot of love for the local filmmakers who are up for awards. A list of Austinites whose films are in the running is on the AFS page. Best of luck!

SXSW 2008: The Latest on the Film Fest


Matt Dentler, by Wiley WigginsSXSW Film Fest is only two weeks away, and more news about various aspects of the festival pops up every day. Here are some of the recent highlights:

  • The lineup for SXSW Global Doc Days has been announced. This is a new documentary event for SXSW, available to badgeholders with film-fest access. From March 8-11, Global Doc Days will feature screenings of recent nonfiction films from eight countries. It's like a giant buffet for doc lovers. I can't wait.
  • Over at Cinematical (where I'm a contributor), Scott Weinberg interviewed SXSW Film Festival head Matt Dentler, pictured at right. Cinematical also has been posting trailers for various SXSW films. Keep an eye on the site's SXSW category this year; at laest five of us will be covering SXSW movies and events, so there should be plenty of interesting writing.
  • Speaking of Matt Dentler, if you aren't visiting his blog for your SXSW updates, you're missing all kinds of cool stuff. He'll point you to the SXSW trailers page and the SXSW parties page, plus links to trailers and other news items.
  • Over at SpoutBlog, Karina Longworth is doing what I'm hoping you'll start seeing on Slackerwood next week: short e-mail interviews with various SXSW filmmakers. So far she's talked with Brandon Linden (Bootleg Wisconsin), Frank V. Ross (Present Company), and Mary Bronstein (Yeast). Visit the blog's SXSW 2008 category to see the latest previews from the festival.

I'm working on an update of the guide to SXSW movie-theater venues, plus Slackerwood will have lots of other great SXSW stuff. Keep watching our RSS feed, you won't want to miss any of it.

[Photo credit: weevil on Flickr. Original photo here. Used under terms of Creative Commons license.]

Damn, I Missed It: 'Semi-Pro' Audience in Costume


I didn't go to the Semi-Pro preview screening at Alamo South Lamar last weekend, and boy did I miss out. Attendees were required to wear outfits resembling the team uniforms from the movie: a singlet for the Flint Tropics, gold shorts and sweatband, and those long athletic knee socks I remember my dad wearing to exercise in the 1970s. I had to wonder how many people would go to the trouble to buy or make such a costume, just for a free movie. Okay, so Will Ferrell would be there too -- that might make a difference.

Photos from the event show a packed theater full of wildly enthusiastic Austinites, with every single one dressed in the requisite gear. Some had groovy Seventies wigs, too. Even Alamo founders Tim and Karrie League were wearing the outfits, although I've seen Tim wear much weirder things in the name of film, so that was no surprise. I suppose it's also no surprise that Alamo South had a basketball goal set up in the lobby and people were playing impromptu games before and after the film.

More than 150 photos (including the one above) were taken by David Hill photography, which has a complete set of 168 images from the event. In addition, Sarah of Posh Deluxe has written a terrific entry about the Semi-Pro screening that includes photos. And Austinist interviewed Will Ferrell this weekend, and has photos of the actor from that session.

Next time, I'll go get -- and wear -- the damn outfit. (Especially if I have a better camera by then, since my current camera would never be able to capture the glorious golds of the uniform as well as these photos do.)

[Photo credit: David Hill Photography on Flickr. Original photo here. Used under terms of Creative Commons license.]

The Real Star of Alamo's "Kindly Rewind" Contest


frost tower with moon, by Mr. Wright

I wrote an article for Cinematical today about the Kindly Rewind short-film contest that Alamo Drafthouse and AMD are sponsoring. If you have a few minutes and you want some light entertainment, you can't do better than to head over to the Filmmaking Frenzy site and watch some of the Kindly Rewind entries. You don't have to register on the site unless you want to vote for the entries, but voting is a nice way to support the shorts you like: the winner gets a fancy video-editing computer setup from AMD, and the winning shorts will be shown before Be Kind Rewind at original Alamo theaters.

My husband and I watched at least a half-dozen of the shorts this weekend, and caught the first minute or two of a dozen others. I realized, while watching these, what the real star of Kindly Rewind was: the Frost Bank Tower. This iconic building in Austin showed up in almost every short we saw, whether it was as a futuristic building in Blade Runner or as one of the many downtown Austin sites in March of the Penguins. It was also shown to good effect in Koyaanisqatsi.

Austin landmarks are often the best parts of these shorts. One of my favorites so far has been The Blues Brothers, because the film was transposed entirely to Austin. "Ray" isn't Ray Charles in this movie, but Ray Hennig of Heart of Texas Music (who legend claims sold Stevie Ray Vaughan his favorite Fender Strat in 1973). Bob's Country Bunker becomes the Broken Spoke. Other films also use Austin locations well: Nick Robinson's Beastmaster jumps off the Town Lake bridge, the Cliffs of Insanity in The Princess Bride are on Capitol of Texas Highway, and one version of Jurassic Park involves the Mangia dinosaur.

But it's the Frost Bank Tower that appears again and again. Is this a subtle message about what we consider iconic in Austin? Or does it just look good on film?

[Photo credit: Mr. Wright on Flickr. Original photo here. Used under terms of Creative Commons license.]

Happy Valentine's (and Legal Sex Toys) Day


Yesterday, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a Texas law that banned the sale of certain kinds of sex toys. Forbidden Fruit will no longer have to mark some items as "educational models" and others as "novelty items."

And today it is Valentine's Day. (You have to wonder if the date of the federal court ruling was coincidence.) To celebrate hearts and flowers and educational models and novelty toys as well as local filmmaking, here's a clip from the 2002 Austin-made documentary Dildo Diaries, which gave the full low-down on the state law. This clip features an explanation from the late great Molly Ivins, whose columns about this law first introduced me to the bizarre concept of being arrested as a "dildo pusher." Eat your heart out, Warren Chisum.

SXSW 2008: More Local Filmmakers in the Shorts Lineup


I owe filmmaker and Austin Film Society staffer Bryan Poyser a drink today -- he saved me a lot of time. Normally I would comb through the just-released list of shorts scheduled for SXSW 2008 and try to find all the Austin filmmakers for you. But Bryan did the bulk of the work for me over at his AFS blog: he's published a list of all the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund recipients with shorts playing SXSW. He also notes a new feature-length documentary added to the festival lineup, Writ Writer, from local filmmaker Susanne Mason.

Bryan didn't list any Austin-made shorts that weren't associated with TFPF, so feel free to post comments about any Austin shorts that aren't on that list. (I notice there's a short called X directed by a Josh Brolin ... anyone know if that's this Josh Brolin, who's made a couple of films in Texas in the past few years?)

Again, if you're associated with a SXSW film that has any local ties, we at Slackerwood would like to talk to you. Drop me a line or post a comment. If you have no local ties, contact me anyway ... if time and space permit, we may have room to write about your film too.

SXSW 2008: Get Your Film Passes Now


The first year I went to SXSW Film Festival, I did it on a film pass, not a badge. The badge is great -- it gets you into the conference and also puts you in the top-priority line for all screenings. Plus you get a nifty canvas bag. But the badge can be a little pricey for some people, especially if you live in Austin and plan to go only to night-and-weekend movies.

I recommend the film pass. It costs $70 this year and gives you second priority for all films. This means you're probably not going to get into any midnight movies with great buzz over at Alamo Ritz. And if you are able to get into a big splashy Paramount premiere, you may be walking a few flights of stairs to your seat. But when I did SXSW on a film pass, I got into every movie I wanted to see -- I just tended not to go to the big premieres. I spent a lot of time at Arbor (no longer a venue) and Dobie. Some of the big movies screen again later in the festival after the conference, and it's a lot easier to see them then. Or you could stick to the smaller, less hyped films, which I like to do anyway. I can see the big-name movie in a few months (or weeks), but who knows if I'll ever get another chance to see that low-budget documentary about cheesemaking?

Waterloo Video is the place to go for SXSW film passes (as in previous years), which are on sale right now. Look at it this way: individual tickets for SXSW movies cost $10, assuming there's even room in the theater for people who want to buy tickets. If you see more than 7 movies (and the festival is 9 days long -- so if you saw one per day), you're coming out ahead. If you see 14 movies, you're paying less per film than you would at a theater. The film passes do sell out so if you're buying one, go sooner rather than later.

Syndicate content