23 March 2009

SXSW Recap

I went to the South By Southwest Film Festival this year, strictly as a spectator.

And it was fucking awesome.

The cool thing that the festival does is that it really seems to foster a community for like-minded filmmakers. Most festivals promise this, aspire to this, pay lip service to this, but SXSW actually succeeds. I was able to attend mentor sessions, where I got 10-15 minutes to talk one-on-one with other filmmakers and industry folk to share war stories, get advice, or just talk shop. There were several panels, including one regarding distribution schemes with employees of Oscilliscope (Adam Yauch's distribution label), Magnolia Pictures and more; all the panelists were uniformly approachable afterwards. Jeffrey Tambor did an acting workshop with Jess Weixler and Mark Reeb, from "Alexander the Last" and "The Overbrook Brothers", that was insanely inspirational and thought-provoking, because Tambor talks about the intersection of art and life, and about how if you're doing your art honestly, they should be one and the same. And there are also parties, and the parties are fucking great, and it gives you the opportunity to relax, have some drinks, unwind after watching 2-3 movies throughout the day.

And the movies were good. I saw a lot of stuff, notably:

* "45365" -- The Ross Brothers are making Ohio proud with this one. Imagine a Robert Altman movie with less narrative, more characters and great cinematography, all set in a small Midwestern town. It won an award, and it fucking deserved it.

* "Alexander the Last" -- Joe Swanberg keeps growing, both in his filmmaking technique (working with trained actors, becoming more experimental and less tied to realism in form, better cinematography) as well as in his business sense (he's pioneering a VOD/festival strategy via IFC). Can't wait for the next one.

* "Humpday" -- A great concept executed well. "Mumblecore", I guess, although it is more strictly just a low-budget comedy, and it is structured with real skill, considering it's improvised nature.

* "I Love You, Man" -- Good studio comedy, with small insights into modern relationships, both between men and women, and men and men.

* "It was great, but I was ready to come home" -- Kris Swanberg does a travelogue, a testament to missing her husband, her relationships with her female friends, and her complex feelings about her Cuban heritage. Short and sweet with some great images.

* "Objectified" -- I have a friend who is a product designer, and this movie makes me understand her much better. Design is something I rarely think about, but is fascinating when I do.

* "Rene" -- Haunting small doc from the Czech Republic about an alienated criminal/writer who bounces between prison and straight life from age 15 - 40ish. Similar to "Hoops Dreams" in scope and access, but even more depressing.

* "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story" -- Todd Haynes came in for a panel and a secret screening of his banned film, introduced by Richard Linklater. Like the bastard child of Kenneth Anger and...I''m not sure. Definitely grateful to have caught it to see what all the fuss was about.

* "Trust Us, This Is All Made Up" -- TJ and Dave star in a concert film, and they are fucking funny. Long-form improv is one of the most remarkable performance forms active today, and this movie captures that.

Didn't see but wanted to:

* "Beeswax"

* "Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo"

* "Best Worst Movie"

* "Medicine For Melancholy"

* "That Evening Sun"

* "You Won't Miss Me"


Post a Comment

<< Home