Monday, March 17, 2008

starting to emerge from the 2008 sxsw blur

My head is swimming. Starting to emerge from the sxsw 2008 blur. It really is a blur. Or maybe it's more like a tide. All week I kept talking about getting grounded, just trying to get grounded. I don't even know where to start. It started first at True False the last weekend of February. I blogged about the Saturday, but not the Sunday when we fell deeply in love with Guy Maddin's, "My Winnipeg" and enjoyed Man on Wire. Just a wonderful experience overall. Top quality top to bottom.

Returned in time for the Texas primary where we lined up to vote at a local elementary school. Then I returned again a bit later to caucus. I stood in line for a couple of hours, passing the time chatting with Anita on the phone - bringing her up to date on the reality of Austin politics after her plaintive comments some days earlier. Roughly, "enough about your film festival, the rest of the world only cares about the election. What's it's actually like there? You're the only person I know in Texas." Which amused me no end. How very exotic Texas is to so many New Yorkers. We passed the time chatting on my new iphone, my ear growing warm in the process. I was standing outside on a mild March evening, loving Austin, listening to the others in line, "And why are you for Hilary? We're Obama all the way...," patiently waiting in line, patiently taking my place in this historical moment. Jarren texts, her caucus was done by 8pm. Eugene texts from NYC, "What's it like? CNN says there is a lot of tampering at the caucuses and not enough ballots, etc." I report back in real time, thinking about this historical precedent as well. Our lives in real time recorded on our phones. By 10:10 I'm starving and pack it in, clearly hours more to go, my curiosity partly satiated. How prepared my little caucus was. How interested and committed my neighbors.

Thursday is the Sponsor VIP pre-party for the Texas Film Hall of Fame. It's fun. A beautiful house. Many to talk to. A real delight meeting Debra Winger. We have some friends in common so it feels easy.

Friday shifts in sxsw mode with the Texas Film Hall of Fame kick-off. My intention is to hit the registration line early in the day but as always, it's 2:3o before I get to the convention center. The line is all the way around the corner. At home John was like, "Why do you need your badge now? We'll go in the morning when it'll take 5 minutes?" But no, that's not my preference. I want to be able to hit the opening night party later, and besides, I love soaking up the ambiance on the line. The interactive guy next to me starts chatting, which is perfectly pleasant. Then I run into Lizzie Donius and her adorable little baby, then Andrew Bujalski, then Joe Swanberg, and the incessant talking and hugging begins.

The challenge now is to get through the next several days connecting with desired old and new friends. It really is a challenge fitting it all in. The Texas Film Hall of Fame, produced by the Austin Film Society, is fun, beautifully done, and excitingly lucrative. The money earned there covers so much of value to so many the whole year round. Then it's on to the sxsw opening party at Buffalo Billiards. I pick up Emily Hubley at her hotel and we get a few hurried private minutes together. It's a wonderful party - easy to connect with filmmakers and industry types I'm happy to see. I end up catching up with my dear friend PH O'Brien, finally in Austin again with Of All The Things, and How's Your News? We stand together in a parking garage, the hour late, the moment precious for its calm and connection.

And then? Who knows without consulting the calendar. Friends. Filmmakers. Films. A kind of frenzied square dance. Amused at the number of hugs on-the-run that stand in for quality time. Then there is the actual quality time. Real time and real meals with some. Each little decision causing its own repercussions. I can only participate in a fraction of the activities though I'm out wall to wall. I'm pleased to meet the filmmakers whose work I've pre-screened and even championed the littlest bit. I'm particularly delighted to hang with Dennis Lambert, and his son Jody Lambert, the subject and director respectively of the wonderful doc, Of All The Things. And I'm truly rocked by The Wrecking Crew, a highly enjoyable doc about key LA studio musicians in the 60s and 70s.

I'm almost late to Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig's, Nights and Weekends, calling him on the run to save me a seat. I just make it in, knowing it's a must see. Knowing too, I'm sick of the hype. I'm prepared to be disappointed and instead find myself awestruck. It's an interesting thing about Joe's work. If you like it, you really like it. But it's not for everyone. My companions are like, "uh, it's ok I guess but I wish I knew something more about the characters." But that's what's actually interesting about it. What's interesting is how he gets to the essence of relating. He's able to get to a very particular slice of of human interaction, stripped of everything extraneous.

Late nights, not enough sleep, and now the music fest while the movies continue. I really try hard not to name drop on this blog but it's unbelievably cool to hang with Steve Buscemi here for John's master class on Monday post-sxsw, in a few day's early with his son's band Fiasco. We have a great time. We all particularly dig Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely and Shelby Lynne. Then David Simon arrives with his son in tow a day or two early to enjoy Austin before his College of Communication’s 2008 William Randolph Hearst Fellow lecture and Q&A with John, again in the ACL Studio. The days have blurred into a kind of embarrassment of riches, of talent. It's been great. And I've barely even scratched the surface in the telling.


anitaprentice said...

Hey, I loved talking to you on the phone that night - and you're still the only person I know how lives in Texas - AND the only person I know who voted in a caucus. And it was great that you called - funny to be talking to you while CNN was broadcasting aerial views of Austin caucus points with long lines like the one in which you were standing. Everyone the next day who I told was very impressed - Tracy, Meg, Vhari and Peter included.

Of course, that seems like a faraway innocent time in politics because Eliot Spitzer was still governor of New York State.

Cheers, Anita

amy said...

Re: "He's able to get to a very particular slice of of human interaction, stripped of everything extraneous."

Exactly! I loved when they were looking at the pictures from the photo shoot and then he kissed her.