March 8, 2008

Day 2 at South by South West

Nothing makes one feel like a bonafide blogger than free WiFi. Cinecultist is currently in the Ikea lounge area of the Austin Convention Center after a screening, getting caught up on emails and checking in. All around us are earnest, badge wearing interactive and film folks tapping away on lap tops, drinking coffees, chatting and planning their next move navigating this massive festival. It's kind of awesome, the creative hub bub here at SXSW.

Last night CC watched the locally made, fiction film, Goliath, about a middle aged white collar worker dealing with his bourgeois rage and the loss of his beloved cat, and then today we caught the documentary We Are Wizards, about Harry Potter fans. So far we've been sticking with our initial navigation plan of seeking out off-the-beaten path movies, not films that are coming to New York in the next week or so. Both movies were worth seeing for their zany, home-grown qualities.

Goliath is a film directed and written by David Zellner, and produced and edited by his brother Nathan, with both brothers acting in the movie as well as other indie fixtures like Wiley Wiggins and Andrew Bujalski. It has an Office Space vibe, only with even more depressed, hopeless characters who endure soul crushing humiliations. Moments like the bureaucratic signing of divorce papers or the inane chatter in a break room full of imbecile dudes are played out unblinkingly and the resulting laughter is appreciative if also slightly embarrassed. The Zellner brothers are interested in fixating on situations we've all been in, and frankly it's slightly uncomfortable.

After the Zellners, We Are Wizards was a more buoyant and celebratory selection, delving into the world of Wizard Rock—bands devoted to performing original songs about Hogwarts characters—HP fan sites and other creative expression centering on The Boy Who Lived. After attending a few Union Square midnight extravaganzas for Rowling's books and movies, it was really intriguing to see folks from all over the country using post-modern expression to explore their love of Harry. A stand-out character in Josh Koury's documentary is Brad Neely, a geeky cartoonist for Super Delux who recorded his own audio interpretation/commentary for the first film. There's something about this wizarding universe and it's characters which he says allowed him to make his most resonant work. He tells Koury's camera, he still thinks about it all the time. Intriguing that in our pop culture saturated world, it's appropriation that can lead to truly satisfying creativity.

Just now, we saw film writer Dennis Lim walking past and chatted with him about his experience so far. This is Dennis's first SXSW too, and because he's serving as a documentary judge, he's parked here in the Convention Center for the day watching all eight of the competitors. We recommended that when he gets a break from movie watching to eat a meal at the South Congress Cafe. Cinecultist had a delightful brunch there this morning, complete with mimosas and cornbread muffins. Yum. We also ate an equally scrumptious cupcake from the Hey Cupcake airstream truck parked across the street. Oh Austin, you're so quirky.

Tonight, we have plans to hit The Toe Tactic premiere party and check out the advertised performance by Yo La Tengo. But before that we'll have to swing by the drugstore for some decongestant, Cinecultist is battling a bit of a cold or maybe allergies.

Posted by karen at March 8, 2008 4:40 PM
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