SXSW: Barely time to breathe


BY SEAN O’CONNELL

You could spend an entire day walking Austin’s riverside. Wide hammocks are set up at regular intervals, inviting you to plop down and snooze in the sunlight. More motivated people are pushing kayaks into the water for a row, or renting bicycles that look just like the one Pee Wee Herman rode in his “Big Adventure.”

Of course, during South By Southwest, there isn’t time to do any of this. Standing on a balcony at the Four Seasons overlooking the river, it reminds me what everyone ELSE in Austin might be doing. But we’re here for film, and man, is there plenty.

Spend one day at the SXSW film festival and you’ll immediately understand what draws hundreds of thousands of film aficionados to town each year.

In a 24 hour span, I managed to: Preview “Predators” footage; interview producer Robert Rodriguez and star Adrien Brody; screen the offbeat romantic comedy “Barry Munday” with Patrick Wilson, Chloe Sevigny and Judy Greer; interview Edward Norton and Tim Blake Nelson for “Leaves of Grass;” attend a screening of the French revenge comedy “Micmacs;” sit in on a Q-and-A with the film’s director, Jean-Pierre Jeaunet; watch the cringe worthy Sundance hit, “Cyrus;” and finally, attend a Q-and-A with the film’s leading men, John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill.

Forget about all of the things I had to skip, including a George Lucas documentary, the well-received “Cold Weather,” and countless parties.

SXSW is a buffet. And no matter how full you are, you want to keep going back to the table to see what else you can fit on your plate. Because you know when you leave the buffet, you’ll be back eating Hollywood’s equivalent of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So you shift a few things around. Is there room on the schedule for “Dogtooth,“ that Greek horror film a close friend recommended? Can I score tickets to the IFC party? And how do I get down to the Alamo Lamar, which seems to be pretty far off of the grid?

There’s too much going on at SXSW. That’s a great thing. And from what I have seen so far, the festival is incredibly well organized. Sure, I’m hearing a few horror stories from colleagues who have worked the festival over the years. As programming has improved, the festival’s crowds have increased. It can be hard to get into certain movies you are dying to see. But SXSW organizers are doing their part to accommodate. A Film Library allows you to rent select titles and watch them on location. The new SXXpress, introduced this year, allows badge holders to grab advanced tickets to two screenings per day, all but ensuring you’ll get into the theater to see a film that’s high on your list. That program helped me get into a few films at the Paramount, but the popularity of SXXpress meant that select films – like James Francos’ “Saturday Night Live” documentary – sold out fast. Time to rearrange the schedule.

We’ll have more interviews hitting the site throughout the day. I’ll also have capsule reviews of a few of the titles I managed to see. Plus, Todd Gilchrist is on the ground filing away for HollywoodNews.com, and we’re trying our best to coordinate schedules and cover different things. So keep refreshing the site. Send us e-mails. (I’m at sean@hollywoodnews.com) And we’ll continue to bring you the sights and sounds of the fantastic South By Southwest.

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One Comment

  • March 14, 2010 | Permalink |

    hey Sean, always on the run. keep doing your job and stop complaining. you are lucky you have a job.

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