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Thursday, Mar 14, 2013
Short films are often put aside or overlooked as the appetizers of the film world. The shorts program at SXSW, however, is full of tasty gems that deserve to be seen.

Short films and documentaries are often treated like the wicked stepchildren of their full-length counterparts by cinema buffs. Animated shorts perhaps get a little more leeway because they are more familiar to most viewers—but they are still regarded as just a way to entertain the audience before a movie, not as a legitimate, central event in and of themselves. Maybe it’s because bad shorts can be really bad; there aren’t brilliant moments to excuse the lackluster ones. Or maybe people believe that they can’t get lost in a short in the same way that they can get lost in a feature film.


Whatever the problem is, I’m hell-bent on telling the world that shorts are worthwhile. It’s something that the folks behind your favorite films know. A great deal of them started out in short films. If you’re still skeptical about the medium or have had disappointing experiences with shorts, try my top picks from this year’s SXSW shorts program.


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Thursday, Mar 14, 2013
Brand is so omnipresent at SXSW that companies strap fur to cars to try and catch your numbed out attention.

One thing about Interactive and I guess, SXSW in general, is that it’s difficult to take reality completely tiled in brand. It’s so omnipresent that companies strap fur to cars to try and catch your numbed out attention. It was a hairy van, so I’m guessing it’s a company that makes an Instagram filter which turns everything into a ‘70s porn. It’s an extra layer of creepy at Interactive because people use branding language about their lives and then try to sell that back to you. It’s also fucking ugly. There’s the incessant crunch of plastic as you’re handed things to throw away. It’s probably the Midwesterner in me that finds handing me garbage an impolite introduction. At some point during the day, I decided that the best use of my energy would be spent figuring out the lyrics to the R&B track I want to write called “Trapped in a Pitch”. I want Miguel to sing it and Pierre Hardy to sponsor it. Oh, and there is lots of Utopianism and free things that feel like they still owe you.


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Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013
The Lords of Salem made its debut at SXSW but might not have been what Rob Zombie fans have been waiting for.

“Half of you will love this movie and half of you will hate it.” That was pretty much the extent of Rob Zombie’s introduction to the US premiere of The Lords of Salem and, honestly, he was right. Not being a big horror fan, I had serious trepidation about walking into the Topfer Theatre on Monday at midnight to see Zombie’s long-awaited fifth feature film. Waiting in line to enter the show, I found myself surrounded by serious horror aficionados and diehard Rob Zombie fans. They told me that I was likely to both scream and laugh during the show and that, yes, I might just have nightmares.


Unfortunately, it seems Rob Zombie was right. I didn’t hate the movie, but it seemed that many in the Topfer were less-than-enthused about The Lords of Salem. It took a long time for the story to take off and even after it did, it didn’t seem to go as far as it could to meet its potential. Still, the film had a more arthouse air about it than fan favorite House of 1000 Corpses and offered some pretty stunning visuals. Instead of relying on the constant gore that many fans seemed to be expecting, Zombie used subtle effects that made the film play more like the am I going crazy? narrative it’s supposed to be than a hardcore gore film.


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Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013
3-D printing is the big draw at SXSW this year and it's getting plenty of love. And no wonder – Obama highlighted it in his State of the Union.

When the garden gnome took the stage, people gasped. And applauded. The possibilities that the garden gnome evoked made the makers and the techies drool.


The garden gnome itself was ordinary. It was small, no more than eight inches. It sat patiently in the jaws of a machine while Bre Pettis, founder of Makerbot, explained. This machine was the big reveal at the opening remarks of SXSW – a digitizer that could scan the shape of any small object in 3-D and digitize it for easy printing. What made people gasp is that this digitizer will be available to buy for your own home.


3-D printing is the big draw at SXSW this year. With opening remarks by Pettis and a handful of other signature talks addressing the topic, the topic is getting a lot of love from South by. And no wonder – Obama highlighted it in his State of the Union.


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Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013
Upstart pop country duo outshines bigger, more established names in surprising Tuesday night set.

All I wanted to do was watch a performance of the song “Bruises”. And because – surprise!—Train wasn’t scheduled to be in Austin, Texas, this week, my only hope was Ashley Monroe, an up and coming country music star with whom Train collaborated to compose the silly, little pop song at hand.


I didn’t hear it, of course. South by Southwest artists run on the click of a very important and very lucrative clock. If you’re Ms. Monroe, why offer up a song more synonymous with another artist when this is your one true moment in the spotlight? Then again, if you’re me, why schedule your first day at the preeminent music conference in North America around a slate of country music artists when you have spent 28 years despising that very niche?


Tagged as: sxsw, sxsw 2013
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