The people at SXSW (South by Southwest) were kind enough to grant me a film and TV pass this year, so I spent the past week hopping from theater to theater in Austin, taking in a wide selection of films the general public won’t see for months. I was overcome with a smug sense of self-importance as I brushed shoulders with reputed film critics (the type whose reviews contribute to a Rotten Tomatoes score – wow!). I drank at venues with names like the Whiteclaw Hangout and the Fast Company Grill and the C4 Energy Drink House, which are really just the dive bars I go to every week but with a temporary corporate facelift. And I watched scores of beautiful celebrities pose for photos on the red carpet – sometimes as a homeless man relieved himself a mere forty yards away. Oh, Southby (that’s the nickname cool insiders like myself call it), there’s nothing else quite like you.
Last year’s big SXSW premiere, Everything Everywhere All At Once, dominated the Oscars, so the film portion of the festival is giving other film fests like Sundance and Cannes a run for their money. And I was treated to some truly brilliant films with wild premises and challenging ideas. In an industry dominated by sequels and remakes, it filled me with hope for the future of cinema, and I finished the week feeling absolutely refreshed.
Here’s everything I saw.