Jenn Brown's blog

SXSW 2011: Day Eight


My favorite part about SXSW Film is not the film, it’s the people. And today was a "people" day.

I didn’t intend for it to start that way; after getting to bed at 5 am, I didn’t get moving until noon, and then ended up arriving late to A Bag of Hammers, which was sold out. It seems I wasn’t the only one avoiding downtown today, as I got shut out of Cave of Forgotten Dreams as well.  But it’s all good; I ended up going on a long walk, getting drinks and dinner with a couple of people I’d met before but didn’t know well, and it was a damn good day. Earlier this week I was feeling very unfocused without having a set schedule, but I wouldn’t trade a day like today for anything.   

I really don't want to deal with the madness of downtown tomorrow, but I just may brave it. There are seven encore screenings with audience award titles peppered through the day's schedule. We have the announced award screenings here, but there will be an announcement later this morning with the final audience award winners, so check back to help plan your final day of SXSW 2011. 

SXSW 2011: Day Seven


SXSW on St. Patrick’s day is always chaotic, and the only way today could have been more so was if it was a Saturday. Crazy crowds. Apparently the shuttles were really backed up because of The Strokes playing Auditorium Shores today. Attending screenings makes it hard to schedule cabs because of late starts and Q&As (not complaining, merely pointing it out).

Everyone I know who took the shuttle were reporting 45-90 minutes -- unless I was on one apparently.  I made it to five screenings today, and made it through four. After an incident with someone rushing into an empty seat caused my drink to spill in the beginning of the subtitled Andante, the distraction made me completely disinterested in following the movie. The Ritz waitstaff handled it well, but the whole incident just made it impossible to get into the film. 

SXSW 2011: Day Six


Light day, schedule wise. I was going to see two screenings, but only ended up making the world premiere of The Beaver. I really do want to see The Innkeepers, but with a three-hour gap and a less-than-pleasant experience as an audience member, I wasn't up for dealing with crowds for three more hours.

The Beaver is the story of a man (Mel Gibson) coping with major depression through a puppet. Screenwriter Kyle Killen is an Austinite, and his "quirky" script topped the Black List, which showcases the best unproduced screenplays.  Director and co-star Jodie Foster and actor Anton Yelchin came to town for the screening, with Foster flying in from the Paris set of her latest film, Carnage. Deflecting the issue of scandals surrounding Gibson, Foster focused on the film and the script.  Jette interviewed Killen for SXSWorld magazine, so pick up a copy to read more about him; you can find them at ACC, and conveniently just outside the Vimeo theater.

SXSW Review: Apart


Any film that gives away a critical plot device before the first scene starts is clearly ambitious. Aaron Rottinghaus' feature film debut Apart is just that, an intricately layered romantic thriller about a young man haunted by the past he cannot remember.

Inspired by a rare psychological disorder (folie à deux or ICD-10, F.24) that occurs when two people share delusions where the only known cure is separation, Apart reveals itself slowly as Noah Green (Josh Danziger) is recovering from an unrevealed trauma.  As Noah recovers, it's clear he's not aware of all that transpired before he ended up in the hospital. 

Flashbacks depict a strong bond with childhood friend and would-be sweetheart Emily (Olesya Rulin), now absent from his life.  Apart doesn’t so much play fast and loose with chronology, as it deliberately teases at what could have been and can never be, making it all the more poignant.  More importantly Rottinghaus’ script (based on a story by Rottinghaus and Danziger) underscores the ‘why’ while teasing out details, mimicking Noah’s quest to reconcile with his past and his childhood companion.  With the ultimate reason known before the first shot, Apart isn’t focused on a flashy reveal, and instead puts it where it belongs, in a very human story.

SXSW 2011: Day Five



We interrupt this festival coverage to rave about the tremendously positive reception of Austinite Emily Hagins' third feature film, My Sucky Teen Romance.

Sure, we're totally biased -- at least I am, and I'm not the only Slackerwood contributor who is. I contributed to the crowdfunding, and I know many people who worked on the movie, including Emily. Our Mike Saulters was an extra. But I'm very pleased to report that the Paramount had to open up the balcony for the world premiere of My Sucky Teen Romance.  It didn't quite fill the theater to capacity, but the lower balcony had a big lively crowd, which is always a great thing for filmmakers, especially once the SXSW music festival starts. Emily is one of our own, and she's done us proud, just like we knew she would.

SXSW 2011: Day Four


I just realized I haven't brought up the bumpers this year yet. Absolutely love them, from (Super) "Mario" re-conceived as a live-action thriller, to "The Line" mocking festival lines. Kudos to SXSW and Austin filmmaker Joe Nicolosi for the fun bumpers (as well as not taking it too seriously). If you need to see examples of "Knitta" just look around when you're in line at the Alamo South Lamar. I don't know the title of the one featuring John "Zach Galifianakis looks like me" Merriman, but I wasn't the only one giggling.

Despite my plan to not have a plan this year, I managed to catch a lot of films today, including Where Soldiers Come From, Last Days Here, A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt and Natural Selection. Let me say today was an A+ day for films. I really liked them all, and the only downside was Cap Metro's #484 Night Owl that should have left 6th and Congress at 1:40 am not making its way down South Lamar.

SXSW 2011: Day Three


It's only the end of day three, but I'm already having to remind myself SXSW is a marathon. I got up and out the door in time to make a brief appearance at the AFF Hair of the Dog Brunch over at Star Bar, but my stay had to be short, since I had interviews with Apart director Aaron Rottinghaus along with actors Josh Danziger (pictured above) and Joey Lauren Adams. I hope to have those interviews up soon.

I hoofed it over to the ACC film shuttle stop, and just in time to catch the shuttle over to Alamo on South Lamar. Sleep deprivation has really kicked in because as I was walking to the stop and dodging Interactive folks who'd stop in their tracks to read something on their phones, I'd decided to see 96 Minutes and then completely forgot when the guy in front of me said he was one of the films producers. Regardless, I recommend 96 Minutes as an intriguing character study, with very strong leads in Brittany Snow (Harry's Law) and Evan Ross (90210), as well as a strong feature film debut for Aimee Lagos.

SXSW Review: The City Dark


Arguably the invention with the most profound effect on civilization is the light bulb. But along with the advances in technology it heralded, is there a dark side to all the light we have in our lives today? Director Ian Cheney (King Corn) explores the scientific and philosophical side of lighting the night sky in The City Dark.

Cheney explores the history and impact of all the light at night in various chapters, from the history of lighting to light pollution to the impact on nature and humanity. He could easily make a movie on each chapter, but instead includes just enough to make a person consider how much artificial lighting they include in their lives.

The City Dark is not just a romanticized longing for the heavens above.  Some of the facts Cheney presents may at first seem like they're not relevant to everyday people, such as light pollution making it difficult for astronomers do their jobs. Urban dwellers may even wave off the impact on other species. But others are much more relevant, such as how light impacts the human body, and how shift work can be deadly to the point the that World Health Organization has made a declaration about it.

SXSW 2011: Day Two



Some days even seeing just two films feels like an accomplishment. I only saw two today, but they were both so powerful, it made for a full day. And I have to set my clock's back?  It's gonna be a rough morning in a few hours.

I got up too late to get to the first movie I planned on seeing, so I wandered around a bit, picking up a Dublin Dr Pepper at the Royal Blue Grocery on Congress before heading over to the Paramount.  If you're an outsider who likes fizzy drinks at all, if you've never had a Dublin Dr Pepper, you have never had a real Dr. Pepper.  The bottle may be small, but it's delicious stuff. [Jette's note: Alamo Ritz has Dublin Dr Pepper now, too.]

I was in line early for my film, but I was anticipating a full house, since the subject relates to current events.  But everyone else was in line for the State theater's screening of The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway.  This year is a great year for free food, and thanks to the food trailer phenomenon, they keep on bringing it right to the lines.  This time it was ice cream treats, making for a very happy crowd.  And apparently post-screening, Pee-Wee himself was handing out ice cream treats. 

SXSW 2011: Day One


Right now I'm finally giving my iPad its first real workout and I'm glad I already know I'm a lousy typist because I seem to be unable to not hit the "a" key.  I started off the day by checking out the SXSW panel for beginners that Jette was on, and now I'm the unofficial Cap Metro expert for SXSW Film. I also finally got to meet Agnes Varnum from AFS, who moderated the panel.  Took me along enough eh?

I dragged Jette over to Parkside for dinner and we both ended up having three courses; it was all I could do not to wave around our spiffy dining guide that SXSW printed up (which should be available at the various venues). I shouldn't tell you it was delicious because then y'all will be eating there and I won't get a seat when I go for an early and delicious dinner. But the price of fine dining was missing the first round of screenings, so I wandered around a bit and ended up by the  Paramount just as Jake Gyllenhaal arrived for the opening-night film Source Code, much to the glee of screaming fans (my ears are still ringing).

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