Report from SXSW 2009

Well, in typical fashion, I haven’t yet seen a film here. This is my ninth South by Southwest and only the third for which I’ve had a Gold badge, which gives me access to the film panels and screenings as well as the Interactive conference. Though there has been much more cross-pollination on the panels side, it’s still difficult to choose film screenings or film parties over the Interactive events, since I have so many friends at those.

But it hasn’t been all bad. Here are some film-related tidbits from my trip to Austin so far:

  • Just this afternoon, I was at a panel billed as a conversation between Richard Linklater (an Austin native) and Todd Haynes. Spike Lee and John Pierson (all-around indie film hero and husband of SXSW Film programmer Janet Pierson) came in and sat directly behind me.
  • Wandering late last night in search of another party, I found myself instead at a film party and though I didn’t think I knew anyone, I introduced myself to Gary Hustwit, director of Helvetica (review) and Objectified. I also ran into onetime doc blogger Joel Heller, who’s here screening Winnebago Man, on which he served as producer. He introduced me to the founder of Brooklyn’s Rooftop Films, Mark Elijah Rosenberg.
  • I had a drink with Benten Films honcho Andrew Grant and Watchmaker Films‘ Mark Rance. Among many other accomplishments, Mark directed the behind the scenes documentary on P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia DVD.
  • On a whim, I signed up for a ten-minute “mentor session” with Silverdocs director of programming Sky Sitney, who gave me some good advice for getting more work as a festival programmer.
  • I finally got to meet the lovely Stéphanie Trépanier, founder of Evokative Films. We’d conducted our interview back in November over email.
  • I got to hang around a bit with the inimitable James Rocchi, former Canadian and all-around bon vivant. He also reviews films occasionally.
  • I got to see my favourite doc blogger, Agnes Varnum, who moderated a useful panel about how Interactive conference registrants could get the most out of the film festival. She introduced me to Spout’s Kevin Kelly.

Not too bad, then. And here is a list of people spotted, but not (yet) engaged:

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1 Response to Report from SXSW 2009

  1. Sounds like an amazing time James, I hope you do get a chance to see a film but I can imagine there is so much so see, do and obviously lots of people to meet. Can’t wait to hear more!

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