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JoBlo.com/SXSW Intro

03.12.2005


by Scott Weinberg

You hear all sorts of gushing praise for the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals, and (having attended both-- CLICK HERE for my 2005 Sundance coverage) I can tell you that they really do deserve the press. But there are many other GREAT film festivals littered throughout North America, and my absolute favorite is one called South By Southwest (or SXSW if you're a lazy typist). The fest began as a music-only affair back in 1987...and it was good. Then in '93 the organizers decided to add a Film Festival AND an Interactive Media Conference. All of which means: if you happen to be in Austin, Texas during the second week of March, prepare to be showered with a non-stop deluge of live music, great movies, and all kinds of techno-riffic computer goodies.

Since I'm first and foremost a bona-fide movie GEEK, I'm here mainly for the flicks (and the food!) This year marks my third consecutive visit to the SXSW Film Festival, an event I look forward to like good Christian children look forward to Christmas. "What? You'd rather go to SXSW than to Sundance?? Are you on the crack, Scott?" To answer those questions chronologically: yes, and no. So what makes South preferable to Sundance? You mean...aside from the wind chill factor? Well, there's the omnipresent music, the Texas foodstuffs, the painfully good-natured people, the consistently excellent roster of movie selections, some of the coolest movie theaters I've ever visited, and the folks who run SXSW...grade-A, top-of-the-line class all the way. Perhaps it's just because every film festival in the country must live beneath the Sundance shadow, but these guys really seem to work extra hard.

"But what about the movies? I'm not about to spend a chunk of cash to visit a film festival full of obscure experimental pieces and 4-hour foreign films!" That's a fair concern, and in response I'll give you just a sampling of the titles I've seen at South By Southwest:

Assassination Tango, Azumi, Before Sunset, Bubba Ho-tep, Cabin Fever, Code 46, Coffee and Cigarettes, Dead & Breakfast, Dogville, Dummy, The Eye, Haute Tension, Jersey Girl, Ju-On: The Grudge, Lilya 4-ever, Melvin Goes to Dinner, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, A Mighty Wind, Napoleon Dynamite, Pauly Shore is Dead, Phone Booth, Raising Victor Vargas, Rick, Saved!, Stander, Stevie, Super Size Me, Spun, Undead, Young Adam

Not too shabby at all. Bottom line is that, now in its 12th year, the SXSW Film Festival is just hitting its stride, which means that it's an absolute joy for movie freaks of all shapes and sizes. I'll be sharing a handful of reports over the next six days, so if you can't make it down to Austin this year, just pop on in to JoBlo's and get the scoop. (And start saving your pennies for next year!)

Source: JoBlo.com

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