SXSW 2013 has come and gone. It has taken me a few days to recover but now I'm ready for next year. This was my first year as a volunteer and it went great. I was on the Film Venue Production Crew at the Vimeo Theater in the ACC. Worked on a great crew, met some awesome people, great theater managers, and enjoyed it a lot. I will be back as a volunteer next year. Once again I had a gold badge and wanted to do interactive and film. I went to several great interactive panels, a few film panels, got Al Gore's autograph at a book signing, and was at the awesome JASH panel with Michael Cera, Reggie Watts, Sarah Silverman, and Tim & Eric. Like previous years, the films were the highlight of my week and I saw so many great films and missed so many more.
The first film to kick off SXSW was the Friday night screening of Scenic Route at Topfer Theatre. The film stars Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler, both of whom were amazing in the roles, as friends who have grown a part on a road trip and get stranded on an isolated road. Within the first 10 minutes of the film you are glued to the screen, on the edge of your seat, and connected to both characters. The ending smacks you across the face out of nowhere and you leave the theater thinking; "Holy shit, what just happened? I have to watch that again."
I have been looking forward to watching Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing ever since it was posted that he shot a little film in his house while working on The Avengers with a bunch of his friends. Joss has the best friends ever. I'm not even going to think about how long I waited in line but it was worth it. The film was beautiful, well shot, great script, and amazing actors. It was the perfect take on the classic story. After the screening there was a Q&A panel with Joss Whedon, Clark Gregg, Amy Acker, Alexis Denisoff, Nathan Fillion and more. This was by far the highlight of the week and listening to them talk about not only the film but working with Whedon and using his house was awesome.
Some Girl(s) with Adam Brody was a hilarious, well shot and great acting. Highly recommend catching it. Paul Walker's Hours was a lot better then I was expecting and worth watching again. I saw several great documentaries including Fall and Winter, The Pirate Bay AFK, Flutter, The Knife Maker, The Roper, SLOMO and Xmas Without China; all of which were great, some really funny, others get you thinking and some very touching. I Give It A Year was a great comedy on what happens after the typical romantic comedies finish, after the epic romance and fairy-tale wedding.
Two films that really stood out for me were Don Jon and Grow Up, Tony Phillips. Don Jon stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt who also wrote and directed the film. It was absolutely hilarious with a great story, perfect cast, the acting was spot on, and it was just an overall great moving going experience. I haven't seen a theater laugh that much and get that into a film in a long time. The Q&A with the cast was great but the audience could have asked better questions. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has done some great short films and after this, I can't wait to see what else he has to offer. A film that I didn't know much about going into was Grow Up, Tony Phillips. I knew the director Emily Hagins and knew it was filmed here in Austin was wanted to give it a chance. The film is a coming of age story that actually gets it right. That could have something to do with the amazing Emily Hagins being the right age to do the story. It was such a beautiful and fun movie. Tony Vespe and Katie Folger were just amazing. Emily does a great job at connecting you with the characters. You feel for each character and their choices regarding growing up and their friends. It was the stand out film of the week for me and at the top of my recommendation list.
Of course because this is SXSW there is no way you watch even half of the films or listen to a quarter of the bands. I had several films on my schedule that I really wanted to fit in and for one reason or another they got bumped or didn't have a time slot I could do. I heard great things about Unhung Hero and Bis Ass Spider. This is Where We Live was high on my list and a friend said it was a really touching film. I missed a few documentaries that I'm going to keep an eye on watching including Hawking, The Network, and Good Ol' Freda. I heard mixed things about Milo so kinda glad I missed it but still wouldn't mind seeing it. I regret missing Zero Charisma and heard from a friend that it was a great movie so looking to catch it on release. Rounding out my missed list is The Fifth Season, Kilimanjaro, Upstream Color and Haunter. Of course this is only a partial list as there were so many great films that showed over the week and at some point I'll manage to catch them all.
It was yet another great experience and I can only imagine how amazing next year will be. My first year I only did interactive, now I've done interactive and gold for three years so I'm thinking about adding in music next year and really filling out the week with great panels, intriguing films and kickass music. In previous years it was a little sad when SXSW was over because it meant checking out of the hotel and leaving this great city. This year I remember thinking on the last day that I'm not leaving, I live in this amazing town now.