SXSW: Day 1

This is my first time at SXSW, so I spent my first day largely getting my bearings. Upon arriving at my hotel, I headed down to the conference center to get my badge, info, and shwag (more on the shwag in a later post). Upon entering the conference center, I immediately ran into Joe Swanberg and Kevin Bewersdorf, who introduced me to Aaron Katz. It's appropriate that these would be the first faces I'd see -- two of my favorite movies from last year (LOL and Dance Party USA) were made by these guys, and last year this was the fest where they premiered those works. Joe and Aaron have movies here that I'm eagerly anticipating; I'll be giving full reports of Swanberg's Hannah Takes the Stairs (Sunday) and Katz's Quiet City (Monday) after their premieres.

Registration was fairly quick, considering how many people were trying to get badges. Festival organizers, no doubt, understand that this is a person's first impression of the festival. Mine was positive. Fest staff was everywhere -- and all I interacted with were friendly and helpful.

One thing that's immediately clear to anyone who has been here before (or is here for the first time) is that in addition to the movies and panels, there are dozens of parties. (I've got invites to five or six parties a day and, remember folks, these are just the ones to which I've been invited.) I stopped by one late yesterday, and did the requisite mingling. I talked with DP Andy Reed for a while. A year ago, Reed was a utility crew guy on Dance Party USA; this year he's here as the DP of Katz's latest.

I skipped last night's movies. A couple of the Opening Night films have distribution, and I figure a festival is an opportunity to see films I might not have a chance to otherwise. Plus, I wanted to get my bearings by digging through the treasure trove of movies and events that is the festival guide. At first browse, it seems to be a particularly strong year for documentaries.

No human being could possibly cover even half of the films in this festival. If you can't be here -- heck, even if you ARE here -- you should be checking the daily (hourly?) posts by these fine bloggers:

Matt Dentler - Producer of SXSW David Hudson - GreenCine AJ Schnack - Filmmaker, Kurt Cobain: About A Son Mike Curtis - HDforIndies (SXSW panelist) Scott Kirsner - CinemaTech (SXSW panelist) David Lowery - SXSWClick! finalist from 2006 and blogger

IndieWire, of course, will be doing a lot of coverage as well, as will the bloggers that I mentioned in my last post.

Ok. That's all for now. My morning coffee is cold, and I've got a panel to catch.