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by Faith Korpi

18 Mar 2011

Harry Knowles, founder/writer of Ain’t It Cool News is a celebrity in Austin. He is a “movie person” to the n-th degree, and might as well be the mascot for film geeks everywhere. The programming director of SXSW introduced Knowles at the 15th Anniversary of the Ain’t It Cool surprise screening by saying, “this is Harry’s town” the rest of us, including Robert Rodriguez, just live here.

There was an incredible amount of speculation over what the surprise screening would be. (As I’ve said before, speculating seems to be at least half the fun of these things). Most assumed Knowles would use his industry pull to secure a summer blockbuster like Captain America or Thor. On Sunday, both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety “confirmed” that the screening would be Thor. Knowles took to the web to respond: “…you should know that all these folks that claim to know something, know nothing.  There’s only one person at SXSW that knows the title. One. There’s only one person on the staff of AICN that knows the title”.

He went on to say that he would be screening a vintage film that we rarely “get to see big”. The question then was, what vintage film could be awesome enough that people wouldn’t get pissed when the film turned out not to be Thor?

by Faith Korpi

17 Mar 2011

Another Earth

Surprise screenings and indie dramas for me on SXSW day 4. First, The Dish & The Spoon, a film that was only on my radar because it stars Greta Gerwig (Greenburg), an actress I happen to think is stunning. The writer/director Alison Bagnall was new to me. I went into the screening trying to temper hopes that this would be one of those “indie gems” one hears tell of – I needn’t have bothered. It is.

Rose (Gerwig) descends into an emotional tailspin after her husband admits to an affair. Determined to get revenge, she drives to a boarded-up beach town to hunt down the other woman. Once there she meets up with a stranded British teenage boy (Olly Alexander) who soon becomes her constant companion and caretaker. This unlikely pair stumbles through a series of adventures, resulting in a rather unconventional romance. – Film’s Press Release

Wonderfully acted and beautiful to look at, it has a story with just the right amount of gusto. It seems to me that in indie films, writers/directors far too often equate depressing with poignant. Bagnall appears to understand that there is indeed a significant difference. The Dish & The Spoon reminds me of Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero, in both style and pacing. There’s also a level of innocence here that one hardly ever sees in this genre, especially from a movie about infidelity.

by Faith Korpi

16 Mar 2011

It’s Day 3 of SXSW and I’ve already spent more time waiting in line than actually watching movies. Just a normal part of the SXSW film experience and the inspiration for a rather funny pre-movie short that I’ve enjoyed seeing multiples times now, about a guy and girl who meet in line and strike up a conversation. By the end they’re married, have kids, and watch as they go off to college… all while waiting in SXSW movie line. I have to say that doesn’t feel like much of an exaggeration. It gets a very cathartic laugh from the audience every time. 

The South By schedule this year is very heavy on documentaries, which I don’t mind at all. Today started with the world premiere of Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop. In recent pop culture history, the late night debacle of Conan O’Brien verus Jay Leno garnered more of a reaction from my peers than most political issues do. But in the grand scheme of things, a television time slot is not something I see as something worth gathering the masses over. There were actually protests and demonstrations over this which I hadn’t realized that until the opening of this documentary. It is really kind of mind blowing.

by Faith Korpi

15 Mar 2011

Film festivals are essentially a collection of films you’ve never heard of, and will probably not get the chance to see unless you live in L.A. or New York. But, now with Netflix and iTunes, films are so much more accessible to us peasants. So, I see festival coverage as, “Hey! You probably won’t get to see this in the theater, but it’s good, so when it pops up on the instant queue you should watch it”.

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey is one such film. It created buzz at Sundance and will undoubtedly continue to do so as it makes its way through the festival circuit. This doc had all the warm fuzzies (I couldn’t think of a way around that) usually reserved for the inspirational sports genre. The puppeteer, Kevin Clash, has a similar story. Just a kid from Baltimore who was fascinated by the likes of Jim Henson and Captain Kangaroo, he started making puppets out of materials he found around his house. From there, his story is of passion and drive, mixed with some serious good fortune.

It was funny being in a theater of 600-plus people, average age being somewhere in the mid-30s, and everyone becoming giddy whenever Elmo was on screen. Have to admit, I was crying within the first two minutes. Clash took over the character of Elmo from another puppeteer on Sesame Street and when he did, he said he thought it was important to come up with what Elmo was. “Love” was the simple answer. Cue waterworks.

by Faith Korpi

14 Mar 2011

2011 marks the 25th anniversary of SXSW – what started as a music festival in the Live Music Capital of the world; Austin, Texas, and is now one of the trendiest media industry events to attend. The Film and Interactive portions of the festival are in their 18th year, the latter now being the largest with 20,000 registrants. With the recent news of Warner Brothers partnering with Facebook, it seems only right to have the film and tech industries collide at such an event.

During SXSW (or “South By” to those in the know), the city of Austin turns into a giant coffee shop – everyone is driven by their own agenda, caffeine, and the need to find an electrical outlet. This is my third SXSW experience, and second time at the film festival. As someone who works in the industry and also calls Austin home, I am particularly fond of this insanity that engulfs the city for 10 days every spring.

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