SXSW FILM FESTIVAL
Ken's SXSW Film Fest Update - The Finale
by Ken Evans
March 17, 2008
It's over! The 2008 SXSW Film Festival has officially ended and thankfully it turned out amazingly. We came, we partied, and we watched a ton of movies. Mostly solid films with a few duds mixed in, but overall I enjoyed the majority of the movies. This festival became more and more an experience instead of being about just sitting in theaters and going from movie to movie. It was about meeting new friends, checking out Austin, and enjoying the festivities, though the great films were the framework for it all.
The last few days of the fest were spent seeing some of the movies we had missed earlier in the week. All of the premiers had already happened and the cast and crew no longer show up for the second or third screenings. Parties were also scarce and those last nights were spent back at the condo writing up reviews and news.
We had some very interesting conversations in the condo between all of us film geeks. Some of the discussions were serious like, "Should the AFI Top 100 list be respected as much as it is?" While some other debates ranged between the merits of the latest Speed Racer trailer to joking about whether or not SlashFilm is a horror film site because of its name. It was great watching everyone yell at each other about their thoughts and then drop it and get back to work.
During the time between my previous update and this one, I saw my favorite film of the entire fest - Assassination of a High School President (read my review here). We watched it in the Paramount Theater in Austin, which is an old restored theater in the heart of downtown. It was great to finally see a movie that stood far above the rest and that I can firmly recommend to everyone I know back home. Plus, I got to give my respects to Reece Thompson after the film. He turned out to be a very cool kid (see the photo at the top).
One of the documentaries that I was really excited about was Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry (read my review here). The film was great, and I got a chance to meet Don Ed Hardy, who is perhaps the foremost name in tattooing today. We got to chat for a few minutes before he had to run to a party, but he graciously signed a poster for my wife. Definitely the coolest celebrity I met during the festival.
After catching our very last film Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about His Father, (which I'll admit I didn't want to see, but Alex made me and it turned out to be extremely good) we stumbled upon Quint from Ain't It Cool News. Even though we had all just eaten in the Alamo Drafthouse, we decided to go to a local restaurant and hang out. If you ever come across a group of film geeks in a diner, it is truly a sight to behold. We ended up discussing cheesy 80's horror films like Maximum Overdrive, Cat's Eye, and The Stuff while eating vegetables, hot wings and disgusting banana pudding. It turns out that everything but the banana pudding will make you sick and put you in the bathroom the rest of the night. Luckily, I was the only one to stay away from the vegetables and hot wings.
Thus came to a close a great time at SXSW. Alex and I ended up sharing one last lunch with Neil and Brian from Film School Rejects. Watching two supposedly manly men (Alex and Neil) drinking mimosas for lunch was truly sad and something I hope to never witness again. After lunch we said our goodbyes and headed to the airport four hours early since we had nowhere else to go. Interestingly enough, I ran into Reece Thompson again while checking in. We had another quick chat and I wished him luck in his future endeavors, of which I'm sure he will have many. In saying goodbye to Reece I also said goodbye to Austin, a great town in the middle of a crappy state. Can't wait to go back again next year!
Ken's SXSW 2008 Review List:
We Are Wizards - 7.5/10
American Teen - 8.5/10
Explicit Ills - 5/10
Some Assembly Required - 7/10
The Marconi Bros. - 5.5/10
The Promotion - 8/10
Dance of the Dead - 6.5/10
Blip Festival: Reformat the Planet - 7.5/10
Forgetting Sarah Marshall - 7.5/10
The Matador - 7.5/10
FrontRunners - 6.5/10
Second Skin - 8/10
Bananaz - 5/10
Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry - 8/10
Choke - 7.5/10
The Wackness - 7/10
Stop-Loss - 6.5/10
Punk Rock Passport - 7.5/10
Assassination of a High School President - 9/10
Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie - 3/10
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about His Father - 8/10