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SXSW: Festival preview, and off to a rough start


We all have computer horror stories, where laptops die at the worst possible time. Here’s my latest.

Roughly 24 hours before I’m due to board a plane for Austin to cover my first South By Southwest Film Festival, an annual Mecca for lovers of film, music and interactive technologies, when my own modest piece of technology – my laptop – bit the dust. I’ve never tried to cover a film festival without a laptop. I imagine it would be like running a marathon without sneakers. You could do it, but man, would it be painful.

The HP technicians, while courteous, aren’t miracle workers. And so while my computer heads to places unknown for “surgery,” I’m off to Texas with a borrowed computer in hand to sample the best that SXSW has to offer.

Planning for a festival that boasts the size and scope of SXSW can be difficult. Even limiting myself to the festival’s film program – and avoiding the top-notch music and technology presentations – means having to make tough calendar decisions. Do I stick with the plan to see Edward Norton in the Sundance fave “Leaves of Grass,” or run to the recently announced screening of “Predators,” the Robert Rodriguez-produced summer blockbuster? (Having committed to interviews, I have to stick to the former, but you see what kind of conundrums one faces when mapping out a fest as extensive as this.)

A cursory scan of the schedule reveals any number of must-see events, including:

The World Premiere of Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick Ass,” a superhero story about ordinary folks donning tights and capes to fight crime.

The exclusive first look of “Predators,” a continuation of the sci-fi franchise starring Adrien Brody, Topher Grace and Laurence Fishburne.

The World Premiere of “MacGruber,” an extended “Saturday Night Live” sketch starring Will Forte, Val Kilmer and Kristen Wiig. Speaking of “SNL,” James Franco’s behind the scenes documentary “Saturday Night” plays SXSW this year, but on Sunday. Why not Saturday night?

Sundance Film Festival favorites like “Leaves of Grass,” “The Freebie” and “Cyrus,” an offbeat comedy starring Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly.

The World Premiere of “Barry Munday,” in which “Watchmen” star Patrick Wilson plays a man who loses his testicles, then learns he has fathered a child.

“Micmacs,” the latest from “Amelie” director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, which left last year’s Toronto International Film Festival with rave reviews.

Interesting documentaries like “American Grindhouse,” “The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights,” “American: The Bill Hicks Story,” “Lemmy,” “The People vs. George Lucas,” “No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson” and “IMAX Hubble 3D,” with footage from outer space.

And that’s just scratching the surface. We haven’t even touched on short films, midnight features, Emerging Visions contributors, panels, parties and more. But we will. So bookmark www.HollywoodNews.com, as we’ll have updates from Austin all week. And if there’s something you want us to check out, e-mail sean@hollywoodnews.com.

About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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  • March 11, 2010 | Permalink |

    I can’t wait to see what you will be reporting, i love SXSW, only wish I could go

  • March 11, 2010 | Permalink |

    sorry to hear about the computer problems, hope you get it resolved, can’t wait to read your updates from the festival

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