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SXSW update day 6

Submitted by Commandrea on March 16, 2011 – 7:48 amNo Comment
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The SXSW Film Festival has been going strong for nearly a week and the movies just keep on unreeling. On Wednesday the offerings include Michael Stipe presenting select videos from the new R.E.M. record (Collapse Into Now), all of them from name directors (or actors) like Sam Taylor-Wood and James Franco. There’s also a documentary on the Foo Fighters with the eponymous title Foo Fighters that had its world premiere Tuesday and repeats Friday. Another music docu, Hit So Hard, examines the life arc of Hole drummer Patty Schemel and includes rare footage of Kurt Cobain sitting around the house jamming with Courtney.
Tell Your Friends! The Concert Film! (unwinding Thursday) proves that there’s little difference between alternative and mainstream stand-up comics; they both make us laugh. The doc gives us straight up performances by some very humorous comedians filmed at the Bell House in Brooklyn. Particularly funny is a duo act featuring Liam McEneaney and Kristen Schaal.
Besides the world premiere of the Jodie Foster helmed The Beaver (the film’s animal hand puppet is on the cover of this week’s Austin Chronicle) the festival rolls out the documentary Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW.
This docu directed Alan Berg provides a comprehensive view of the festival from its humble beginnings in 1986 to being the world’s largest convention encompassing music, film and the latest interactive innovations. For instance Twitter got a big boost at the 2007 SXSW even though it had been around for several months previous to that. Berg was formerly an on air reporter at WFAA in Dallas and has also won Emmys for PBS docus, one of which was a short version of Outside Industry that looked at the SXSW music festival as it had evolved through 1994. “The film was produced independently of SXSW,” said Berg to Free Press Houston in a phone interview. Berg felt that editorial independence was necessary to give the film a balanced look at the festival. Indeed the doc stands on its own legs in demonstrating the growth of the festival from a single hotel venue to the present day where the founders have to contend with everything from people bootlegging SXSW wrist bracelets to suing copyright violators. Some of the doc’s amazing found footage includes Iggy Pop playing “Lust For Life” at the 1996 festival and the 1991 arson fire of the Austin Chronicle (never solved). Berg notes that he obtained footage from sources as diverse as filmmaker Lee Daniels and Austin historian Tim Hamblin. A concurrent exhibit titled 25 Years of SXSW Music is on display at the Austin History Center (at 810 Guadalupe).
- Michael Bergeron

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