At last year’s SXSW Film Festival and Conference there was an in-house trailer that would run before certain films. In the snippet a West Coast hipster is attending SXSW and on the first day all dressed up with a tie and texting his friends about his aloofness to the whole affair.
By the next day the tie has come off and the hipster has settled into the groove. By the end of the weekend the hipster has gone full Austin and is texting his friends about his latest discovery – a tasty breakfast meal called migas. And it’s true, going to SXSW is like making the journey in Apocalypse Now – sell the house, you never want to come back. But then it’s over and you do come back only stuffed with memories of great films and new acquaintances.
Perhaps not oddly there’s a film in this year’s line-up that conjures up Apocalypse Now. A documentary that chronicles the life of John Milius and aptly titled Milius is chock full of testimony from movers and shakers (Scorsese, Speilberg, Coppola, Ford, Stallone, Singer, Mann, et al.) of the movies that have shaped our collective perception about what is now considered classic or nostalgic. There’s another film that documents the history of the internet with the focus on the rise and fall of Napster. While that file sharing entity may sound old school to some it spawned the way a lot of people perceive music to this day. (Hello Spotify?)
Downloaded, the Napster doc, helmed by Alex Winter (a director some may recall from his acting days in films like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), shows the path we as a society have traveled as broadband has taken control of our desires and passions. Winter knows his subject well, having owned and operated computers since 1982 (Atari, Commodore, Mac Classic). Winter explained to Free Press Houston in a phone interview, “In the late ‘90s out of nowhere a completely revolutionary way to link masses of people occurred.” File sharing algorithms changed the way people accessed music and Downloaded shows the machinations, the lawsuits, complimented with modem sounds, vintage clips and testimony from the inventors and rockers alike. “Whether you disagree or agree the movement today is not so much about the music but about the technology,” added Winter.
Another potential breakout is Good Ol’ Freda, a doc about the woman who was the secretary for The Beatles from 1961 and through their entire run as the greatest pop group ever. Producer Kathy McCabe told FPH in a phone interview “Freda never was one to toot her own horn, she’s a very private person. For decades she’s never told her story until now. Freda was trusted and in the inner circle of The Beatles.” Indeed Freda Kelly can be seen in on the bus in Magical Mystery Tour. Good Ol’ Freda unfolds with rare footage of the Fab Four performing at the Cavern Club, and is loaded with photos from Freda’s collection. Freda ran The Beatles’ Fan Club. Freda was a go-between for the Liverpool Lads, even performed chores for their parents and is an integral figure in music history next to other Beatles related figures like Derek Taylor, Neil Aspinall, Mal Evans, and Tony Barrow.
That’s just three films and not even the tip of the iceberg of all the premieres, filmic surprises and cinematic conversations that are about to go down in the next week.
- Michael Bergeron