Saturday, March 12
The first show had the aforementioned Foley, Kevin Pollack and a young comic named Anthony Jeselnik. The second show had Simon Pegg (at the festival for Paul), Rainn Wilson and James Gunn, who were both there for the premier of Super (more on that film later). Go to iTunes and listen to the podcast to hear it. None of the guests had heard the podcast before, so it was an exciting time of learning and growth for us all. James Gunn chose the name tag of the person to my left, a new friend named Moises. He told me that if Gunn won, thus giving him all of the special prizes, then I could have them. Gunn was the heavy favorite to win, so I was pretty excited. Rainn Wilson was pretty hopeless at the game, which wasn't really a surprise to me. The best new category that Doug invented was “Pullman/Paxton,” in which the answer will be a movie starring either Bill Pullman or Bill Paxton. Pegg turned out to be a ringer and won the game on Twister. Damn you, Simon Pegg!
Monday, March 14
After the screening, Gunn played a voicemail from his phone which Rainn Wilson had left especially for that audience, since he had already skipped town. “I heard that so many people wanted to get in that there were people sitting in the aisles. That makes my heart....absolutely sick! That's a fire hazard guys! You are endangering yourselves and everyone else. How. Dare. You.” Gunn then took questions from the audience. A young, comic-nerdy looking fella asked if there would be as much time between Super and Gunn's next movie as there was between Slither and Super (five years). Gunn reassured him that there would not be.
Tuesday, March 15
Now comes the film of the same name, this time with Rutger Hauer (yes!) in the lead. I arrived early to the Alamo Ritz to meet up with Sean (whom CineRobot readers will remember as the author of the article about projectionists in movies) and we made our way to the theater. SXSW bought everyone in the house a Miller Lite (yay?) and then the film got rolling. The main attraction in Hobo is the over- the-top, non-stop violence. Rutger Hauer, for his part, knocks it out of the park. He plays the role with a ludicrous sincerity that must be admired. During the 2am Q&A, the director, Jason Eisener, told a story from the set. In one scene, “Hobo” gets beaten by the police and thrown off a roof in to a dumpster. While prepping for the scene, the director noticed Hauer setting up a ladder along the wall of the building near the dumpster. When Eisener inquired about what he was doing, Hauer responded: “Tell the behind-the-scenes crew that a 66-year-old man is about to do a stunt.” He proceeded to flip from the top of the building and nail the shot. That kind of gem enhances a screening experience to a level that is impossible to recreate anywhere else. I sucked down that Miller Lite with unabashed, exhausted contentment.
Wednesday, March 16
This was the one day I took off from work and I was on call all day. The first screening of the day was 96 Minutes, which garnered a lot of buzz at the festival. I was too sleepy to watch, and decided to take a nap on one of the cushioned benches in the upstairs lobby of The Long Center, which looks out on to the terrace above Auditorium Shores (where a riot at The Strokes show happened later on). I woke up to tech check (technical testing of sound and audio) the Troublemaker Studios release, blacktino. Then, it was up north to another venue. This was an exhausting afternoon. The next five hours were filled with equipment breaking and sound not working. However, I was lucky to have two great volunteer projectionists and two helpful theater managers backing me up. I also had Sean leave a shift to assist me with some of the machinery issues.
While I don't have time to write about everything I saw, I have to mention a few films. Building Hope is a lovely documentary by Turk Pipkin, which follows his foundation, The Nobelity Project, and their mission to build the first high school in a rural Kenyan community. Tell Your Friends! is a fun comedy concert film that features comedians like Kristen Schaal, Reggie Watts (who opened for Conan on his tour) and Christian Finnegan. Any comedy nerds out there will love it. Dragonslayer, which won the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature, is an honest and straightforward portrait of a young skater in Fullerton, California who is looking to get back on his wheels in the professional world. There's no narrative push towards a big competition. Just a young man, already a father, trying to find his way in the world while falling in love and re-discovering his passion.
SXSW 2011 was a great ride. It was never boring and there was always something to see, do and hear. I'm going to take a nap now.
***Photos by Stephanie Huettner***