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I am back on the mainland and blogging from Seattle with South Austin in the rearview mirror. Don't worry Virgin Island fans, I will most certainly be back in the Caribbean for visits if not full-time. And I'm sure St. Thomas will creep it's way into many future posts. For now, it's all about living in the Pacific Northwest!

March 13, 2011

SXSW Film Festival Day 1

OK... I know it's day 3 really but I'm a bit behind. So... Here it is... Day 1!

I picked up a friend at the airport Friday afternoon. ABIA was buzzing with people descending (literally) into Austin for the SXSW festival. After loading her smartly packed suitcase into the car, we head straight to Waterloo Records hoping that they still have film passes available.  I have been told this is the only place selling them and in fact confirm this earlier in the week when I get my very own pass. Do they have any left? They do not. Hmppffff... This might prove to be an issue but we are nothing if not eternally optimistic. A short ride later and we are sitting under the massive trees at Freddy's pouring over the film schedule in the Chronicle, drinking $2 Lone Stars and making a plan of attack.  We decide to head to the convention center. Though they sold out of passes yesterday, and at least six people tell us that there are none available for purchase (including a volunteer right in front of the registration desk) we are able to purchase another pass! Do not every accept the first answer you are given.

Since we are at the Convention Center, we decide to check out the Vimeo Shorts.  These are the winners from another festival.  I find that shorts hold my attention pretty well and these serve as a nice introduction to the weekend. Some of the highlights: Remix, which is a visual essay of how every movie is based on another movie, book, play, comic, or previously presented idea or image.  Among others, Star Wars is broken down into a series of side by side images that has the audience laughing out loud. It feels simultaneously like an attack and an homage. Nice!  Thrush presents a love story turned stalker story turned moving on story in a series of still photographs that is visually addictive. I don't want it to end.  My favorite of these though is an epic bike ride through the streets of I don't know where and it is called I don't know what.  That's not the name of the short, I really don't know what it is called. It is though, a seven minute or so harrowing bike ride downhill through an obstacle course that steals collective gasps, oohs, and aahs (seriously... oohs and aahs) from the audience... when we aren't holding our breath.  The series of shorts ends with The Break Up.... can't stop laughing.

While waiting for the next screening to start, I thought a glass of red from Max's Wine Dive would be nice. While rounding the corner, I was surprised to find that Max's Wine Bar had been seized by CNN. Then I started to look around. Quite a bit of real estate has been seized.  Most of the interactive tents were just that, tents or temporary fences with some fancy banners but the CNN sign... Really? Am I the only one who thinks it's obnoxious? Am I the only one who would rather have a glass of wine and some fried chicken sliders? OK... coffee instead.

Across town, the theatre at West Gate is being used as a satellite SXSW venue. They are showing encore presentations of past favorites. Tonight, they are showing Tiny Furniture. The crowd is a bit thinner here but no less enthusiastic. The volunteers are too enthusiastic. You are denied entrance if you cannot produce a driver's license with the exact same signature as your film pass.  Thank you Austin folks for waiting so patiently while my friend (whose name was printed on her pass by the registration desk employee) obtained a pen and carefully added her signature to the pass. Thank you for waiting while she hands it over for inspection. Thank you for your continued patience while her signature is then scrutinized for verification against her driver's license.  You are all awesome. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Tiny Furniture. The kind of movie where you don't know anyone like any of the characters (I don't at least, maybe it's an Ohio thing?).  Anyway, it's awkward. Good... but awkward.

Time for my first film count: 8 (Remember, I said I am including shorts)

Days 2 and 3 soon come. Want a teaser? OK... hottie josh lucas and a sailboat, a completely masculine chick flick, the NYT and the fate of journalism, Conan O'Brien, and a drunk Chilean!

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