For the past 5 years I have been a volunteer at the South By Southwest Music, Film, and Interactive Festival. This year my volunteer crew was dissolved (since no one shoots on film anymore) and I almost let the laziness take over. See, I am lucky enough to have a job where we get Spring Break off and it falls during the festival and with the beautiful weather it was hard, very hard, to not go with my true nature and spend the week, blissfully, in my hammock, doing yoga, and taking the dogs on epic hikes. But another part of my nature is taking advantage of things that are free, and watching movies, learning about technology, and enjoying music. In the end I decided to participate and it was so much fun. The first part of the week I spent seeing movies.
Some of my favorites were Moon, a low-budget but wonderfully acted science fiction. I was really excited to see this because I love sci-fi but I am not into big-budget independence day-type movies that saturate the market. Indie Sci-fi is lot more interesting but a lot more difficult to make well without a budget. This one was great, the effects and set design were very believable and the premise was really interesting and original. The direction and the acting made it a really enjoyable and thought-provoking flick.I also enjoyed Sebastian Gutierrez’s Women in Trouble. It was one of those movies that makes you really happy independent film exists, or rather independent video in this case. You seldom see women characters in a mainstream movie and this one had at least 10 main characters that were women. Off the top of my head the only interesting female movie characters I can think of…. I can’t think of any, really. They mostly exist in TV (hello Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica) but they exist in real life as well (hello every lady I know) so it is disappointing that in movies women are only ever sex objects or family members. This was a movie where the women were either professional sex objects or mothers, daughters, and sisters and yet they managed to be dynamic multi-dimensional, entertaining characters as well. And it was really funny! Women are never funny without being over the top emasculating bitches in movies so this was a real switch.It was sometimes confusing for me because it was shot on video with a lot of porn actress characters so I kept expecting the sex to start any second but it never did. Well, there was one very disturbing scene involving a story about sex but you will have to see the movie to learn about that. Instead, there was scene after scene of women in L.A. living their lives.
Speaking of women, if you are as terrified as I am by the idea of birth you might enjoy the movie Grace and the short animation Birth. Two very different but equally chilling takes on procreation.
I always enjoy the animated shorts but I especially liked the stop motion animation “Sweet Dreams“. It was original and fun and, I think, even had a message although it starred a cupcake. I wonder if the filmmaker, Kirsten Lepore, is vegan?
Another film that I missed but really wanted to see and thought I should inform you all about is the movie Mine. It won the best documentary category but I was working my volunteer shift when it was on and missed it. It follows the story of dogs that got left behind in hurricane Katrina and then got adopted by new people. The hurricane survivors eventually found their dogs and a legal challenge ensued. What a nightmare. I hope it gets released and if it does I am going to see it. I love dogs.
One political doc that I did see and really enjoyed wasthe Yes Men Fix the World. If you haven’t heard about these guys, check out their first documentary, “The Yes Men” they are a couple of corporate pranksters who got their start making fake websites for places like Halliburton and then waiting to get invited to conferences and giving hillarious presentations. They are really funny and the movie even ends on a hopeful note.
I had one moment when I was a little bit star struck during the Q&A for Observe and Report. I really like Seth Rogen and everyone from Freaks and Geeks because it is the greatest tv comedy in the world but I probably would have passed if it he hadn’t been there along with one of my heroes, the funniest woman I know of, Anna Farris. I first fell in love with her in the creepy movie May but she completely won me over in the only girl stoner movie, Smiley Face. If you have ever enjoyed a stoner movie please check this one out, it is so hilarious and she plays a stoner better than anyone. I really enjoyed getting to see her!Finally, I learned a lot about mushrooms and mushroom culture in Know Your Mushrooms. First, I want to mention that I didn’t even know there was a such thing as mushroom culture, and for a while I lived in the heart of it in Olympia Washington. I wish I would have learned about foraging for wild mushrooms then! It looks like so much fun and tasty. It ended with a beautiful sequence of time lapse mushrooms growing and then we got a Q&A where I learned that it is supposedly really easy to grow your own mushrooms.
I didn’t attend the screening that had free mushroom pizza but I did try some new things in Austin, until I ran out of money. Alin over at Pulling it Together raves about Lulu B’s little trailer and I have been wanting to go there since it opened, the hours just don’t mesh with my schedule but with a week off I finally got to go and I tried the tofu vermicelli bowl.It was really fresh testing with the cumber, greens, vegetables, and basil. The tofu was seasoned nicely and was the perfect texture, and perhaps best of all is that it was really a lot of food for a very low price so I will be coming back for sure! I want to try the avocado sandwich mmmm sandwich.
Halfway through the week my sister came to town which has been great. Dan has spent the week as her intern and is hoping to land a spot in the organization.
She is tough to keep up with! I don’t usually hang with people that consider going home at two am an early night. Her first day in town we saw some bands at Habana where they were offering free pancakes.
Did you know they have pancake batter in a spray bottle now? I don’t know if it is vegan but regardless I wasn’t about to try it. Instead, Sistah Smurf bought me lunch and I got the vegetarian platter. They have the best salsa in town and I am going to try and recreate the yucca fo’ sho’.While we were there I got to here the band Brothers and Sisters and they were really good.
I also got to see Erykah Badu at Auditorium shores which was followed by the always fantastic Explosions in the Sky which were followed by explosions in the sky.It was a good week.
Looks like a really neat time! Know Your Mushrooms was just on tv the other day but I only caught the last 30 minutes, it looked really interesting!
Thanks for all the movie reviews. Sadly, I didn’t get to see any movies this year at SXSW. MINE was one I really wanted to see. I have got to go to LuLu Bs. I have really been wanting to try their food and now I really really want to.
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