2009 in Review

For series on notable 2009 events, etc.

2009 in Review: Debbie's List


'Extract' World Premiere in Austin

Before I get into the meat of my personal best and worst of 2009, I'd like to reflect on my Slackerwood experiences with a slight tangent. Through my experiences as both an attendee and volunteer at South by Southwest over the years, I've come to appreciate "defining moments" -- an awareness of a synchronicity that represents that event. For SXSW Film Festival, one of these defining moments was my encounter with Jim Jarmusch (pictured after the jump), which I later conveyed in my "first" Slackerwood contribution for the Alamo Downtown Blog-a-thon. Other moments included a conversation with Penelope Spheeris in the ladies room at local bar, or the ultimate -- Louis Black introducing me to Jonathan Demme.

As a film geek, I'm grateful that Slackerwood founder/editor Jette Kernion brought me on in June to share the cool and interesting film happenings and my personal opinions of films. I'm especially grateful to the Slackerwood audience, for supporting us in our love for film, and for allowing me to share my Slackerwood defining moments. There are moments during a conversation with a filmmaker there's a self-awareness -- I'm getting some intimate filmmaking insight that I get to share!

Enough sentiment, on to my personal list:

2009 in Review: Biggest Geek Uprising


Don't piss off the geeks. They've got their Twitters and they know how to use them.

We found that out back in April, when Time Warner Cable (TWC) announced that Austin would be one of four cities in the nation to get "consumption-based billing." The proposal was to cap the standard broadband Internet plan and then charge extra for usage over the cap.

The proposal was portrayed as an issue of fairness -- a way to manage excessive or abusive users. In reality, it was a shot directly at emerging online video usage.

Standard definition video requires about 1GB/hour bandwidth. That means there will be about 1 gigabyte of data transferred for every hour you watch video. So a 20GB cap means you have sufficient bandwidth to watch about 20 hours of video.

If you reach your usage cap and try to stream a movie across your Internet connection, TWC is going to assess a surcharge. You’d pay about $2 for a typical movie. [...] High-definition video is worse. It uses about 2GB-4GB/hour, so that surcharge could jump as high as $8 for a single high-def movie.

The geeks were irate. The issue became the talk of the town, and was covered nationally. By the end of April, TWC announced that the plan would be suspended while they conduct a "customer education process." (shudder)

Consumption-based billing has not returned -- yet. Online video remains a serious threat to cable video, so none of us believe that we've heard the last on this issue.

2009 in Review: Notable Non-Profit Film Events


Lights. Camera. Help. Founders

During the 2007 Austin City Limits Music Festival, I had the pleasure of meeting musician Bela Fleck, star of the 2008 documentary Throw Down Your Heart. He asked me, "Tell me what you like about Austin, and don't say the music -- everyone says that!" Without hesitation, I responded, "The sense of community, whether it's music, film or volunteering."

Several non-profit film-related events of 2009 represented that special quality of Austin, with local theaters and filmmakers showing their support of non-profits in our community. One highlight was the newest event and local non-profit, Lights. Camera. Help.

From July 31 to August 2, Lights. Camera. Help. hosted the first of what it plans to be an annual film festival of non-profit and cause-driven films. Over 140 documentaries, PSAs and short films were submitted, with 20 finalists selected for screening. At the closing party, local filmmaker Layton Blaylock took top honors for his film Art from the Streets. The local program Art from the Streets, the subject of this film, received all the proceeds from the festival. This program provides the opportunity for homeless individuals to explore their painting and drawing skills in open studio art classes at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH).

2009 in Review: Jette's List


Looking up

This isn't a list of the top ten movies I saw in 2009, or the top movies of the decade, or anything that straightforward and prim. Not that I won't do those later, but at this time of the year, we at Slackerwood wanted to have a little fun. So we're each making lists of memorable moments and events in 2009, but we're creating any categories we like. Best Cinematography is not as much fun as Best Movie-Related Button I Received or Best Half-Nekkid Live Film-Related Moment.

So here are my picks for the most memorable film-related bits of 2009 -- some are about Austin, some are not. Most should not be taken very seriously.

Best Austin Meta Moment: Watching the Alamo Ritz date scene in Whip It ... while at Alamo Ritz. One of the few scenes in this Austin-set movie that was actually shot in Austin, the scene caused the whole audience to laugh in recognition. My favorite line from the movie, however, was the rollerderby emcee warning everyone to be respectful of the neighborhood around them on their way home -- because I live in walking distance of an Austin rollerderby venue myself.

2009 in Review: Best Q&As


Office Space 10th anniversary event, by Jette Kernion

We've been to a lot of movies this year where filmmakers, actors, and other crew have been in attendance. Some Q&As are dull or silly -- audience members will ask the goofiest questions, or just talk for a minute without asking a question at all. A few Q&As just go sour for various reasons.

But once in awhile, a delightful, memorable Q&A session appears seemingly out of nowhere, reminding us why we take a chance on these events in the first place. Here are our favorite Q&A sessions in Austin from 2009.

Office Space Tenth Anniversary Screening. A full house at the Paramount was the ideal place to watch Office Space again, and the Q&A afterward was the icing on the cake. Mike Judge and most of the cast took the stage to share stories, jokes and even some dancing. My full account of the event also includes photos.  --Jette Kernion

2009 in Review: Biggest Regret


Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan movie posterI'm sick to death of studio fanboy marketing. It pisses me off when some studio jerks throw out clips -- or, even worse, a first reel --  of some upcoming movie. We're supposed to get all excited and spread good word of mouth to build marketing demand for their film. And then -- the coup de grâce of this sucker play -- we get to pay full admission to see the entire film once it's released.

No thanks.

One of my favorite studio marketing ploys happened a couple years ago, when the first season of Star Trek was remastered with new optical effects and released on high-def video. To promote the box set, the studio did limited theatrical showings of "The Menagerie," the two-part episode that recycled footage from the unaired (and Kirk-less) Star Trek pilot. Sure, it was a marketing event to support the boxed-set release, but it was well worth the price of admission to see old Trek on the big screen.

That's why, when Alamo Drafthouse announced a special screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan early in 2009,  I was all excited. I own the DVD, but I'd love to see the movie again on the big screen -- especially the ground-breaking "Genesis Device" sequence. Also, the Star Trek reboot movie was scheduled for release that summer, which I was eagerly awaiting. This seemed like a great lead-in for the new Star Trek movie.

2009 in Review: My Favorite Photos


Film Incentive Bill Signing

As 2009 draws to a close, we at Slackerwood decided to do the same damn thing every single other website and publication does, and write some retrospective entries. We've got lists on the horizon; you've been warned. But we're having some fun with the lists and with our "2009 in Review" series, so I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I'm going to kick things off with a photo essay of my favorite photos that I took in 2009. I could probably do another essay of other people's photos (and who knows, I just might), but it was difficult enough to pick a manageable selection of my own. Some of these are good photos, some are not great but I like 'em anyway for various reasons. I'm not including a lot of text because this is a photo essay, not a novella.

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