SXSW: 2

Quick summary of things seen and done at SXSW:

Screenings attended:
Fish Kill Flea
Big Rig
“Zellner Vs. Duplass” Shorts Program

I also attended one narrative feature that I walked out of after the first reel, which shall remain nameless.

Of the three named above, all were interesting in their own ways. Fish Kill Flea is a rough-hewn chronicle of a pretty rough-hewn community — flea market vendors. The filmmakers managed to capture some compelling moments, though I was disappointed that the movie ended soon after the story began to take off. Still, its better to leave me wanting more than less.

Billed as a kind of wrasslin’ match of short films, the Duplass and Zellner Brothers movies program was terrific. If you are a film festival programmer, please take note: THIS IS THE WAY TO DO SHORTS PROGRAMMING. By watching a number of shorts by the same filmmaking team(s), you get to see the voices and vision that, in a single short, can seem like a one-off. Instead, here we had two teams of filmmaking brothers show their stuff. I had seen the Duplass movies on DVD and was already a fan. Seeing them on a big screen, and on film (transferred from DV), they carried even more of a punch. Scrabble, in particular, benefitted from the big screen. What had, in previous screenings on my television, seemed like a scene in search of a longer movie now seemed complete: awkward, human, funny, pathetic.

Flotsam/Jetsam and Aftermath on Meadowlark Lane, two of the Zellner Brothers movies, were especially good. Both start off in seemingly conventional fictional directions, then stop on a dime to introduce documentary elements, which radically changes our perception of everything we’ve seen.

The absurd, live action wrestling match/sing-along finale that ended the screening on an note that was appropriately hilarious and absurd.

A longer review of Big Rig will be posted at some point soon.

***

I’ve also made it to a couple of panels, both of which were good: The Future of Non-Profit Film, headed up by Brian Newman of Re:New Media, and Shooting Docs, which featured Doug Pray (“Big Rig”) and Mike Mills (“Does Your Soul Have a Cold?”), among others. No time to summarize those, however, as I’m running off to see another movie.

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