From star-studded world premieres to scrappy microindies, the 21st edition of the South by Southwest Film Festival screens more than 100 feature films and scores of short films over the course of nine days. See our special SXSW Film preview supplement in this issue for interviews with participating filmmakers, and look for more interviews, reviews, red-carpet photos, and tips for attending (Tip No. 1: Don’t forget to turn clocks forward on Saturday night – so much to do and one hour less to do it) at austinchronicle.com/sxsw/film.
Tips for Austin locals: It’s not necessary to purchase a badge in order to partake in the film screenings. Film wristbands – good for the entire festival – are available at Waterloo Records and Austin-area Alamo Drafthouses. The wristbands have replaced what in past years was called the Film Pass, and only get you into the screenings and not the conference panels. Space permitting, individual tickets will be sold at every screening; note that SXXpress pass holders get in first, followed by badge holders, then wristband wearers, and finally single-ticket holders. SXSW has a very informative page, which you can find at www.sxsw.com/film/screenings/access, that details everything you need to know about attending the screenings – from how the lineups work to when you should arrive.
Be smart about your selections. The best chances of getting into screenings using a single-admission ticket are going to be at the larger venues – which include the Paramount Theatre, the Vimeo Theater at the Austin Convention Center, and the Topfer Theatre at ZACH.The film crowds also thin out a little bit once the SXSW Music Festival gets underway midweek, so aiming to attend a film’s second or third screening might work better than targeting its debut screening.
Another tip that not everyone realizes is that it’s also possible to enjoy the SXSW Film Festival without ever going Downtown. The Alamo Drafthouse Village and Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane are both designated as satellite screening locations, and are at a remove from the Downtown commotion. Every location also has a venue status board, which provides up-to-date info about the line status. Red means full, yellow means hurry, and green means go. The status boards are also available when you’re out and about via the SXSW Go mobile app. You can build your schedule on the app and sync it with your mobile devices, as well as get status boards and other timely info.
Ultimately, there’s only so much you can glean from online tools, capsule descriptions, and Chronicle suggestions. You need to don your explorer caps and go forth armed with information, instincts, and gut feelings. Enjoy.
Venues include Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz, Rollins Studio at the Long Center, Paramount Theatre, Stateside at the Paramount, Vimeo Theater at the Austin Convention Center, AMC at the Violet Crown Cinema, Topfer Theatre at ZACH, Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane, Alamo Drafthouse Village, Marchesa Hall & Theatre.