The Austin Chronicle

Page Two

By Louis Black, March 7, 1997, Columns

In "Page Two" of last year's equivalent issue, I talked about all the upcoming SXSW events with a special emphasis on the Austin Music Awards. In the course of the editorial, I reveled in SXSW Film's world premiere of a new John Sayles film. Rarity of rarities, where many films have multiple world premieres, this was very much one of, if not the very first, public screenings of the acclaimed film. I purposely avoided mentioning the name of the film because it had been accepted at Cannes and that festival won't take films that have premiered elsewhere. Our screening, therefore, was to be an under-wraps, friend-of-SXSW screening.

Early that next morning, in "Page Two" -- with SXSW Film III beginning the following day -- I discovered that a studious editor had interjected the title Lone Star in the phrase I had so carefully molded, having taken great care to leave out the title. I started screaming. I wrote a long fax apologizing profusely for the mistake. I screamed some more, feeling imminent disaster pouring down on me.

Lone Star showed in Austin to a great reception, and went on to show at Cannes without incident. With Lone Star, the rest, as they say, is history. This year, the SXSW Film Festival offers Traveller, produced by and starring Bill Paxton, Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy, Steven Soderbergh's Gray's Anatomy, George Armitage's Grosse Pointe Blank, Gregg Araki's Nowhere, James F. Robinson's Still Breathing and many more narrative features. There is also an extraordinarily good documentary program including Full Tilt Boogie on the making of From Dusk Till Dawn; Tom Thurman's Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy on the Right; Can't You Hear the Wind Howl? The Life and Music of Robert Johnson, a film by Peter Meyer; Don Howard's personal documentary Letter to Waco; and Larry Locke's Pin Gods.

We are proud to bring this festival to Austin -- sorry, no secret premieres this year. The Full Tilt Boogie and Traveller screenings will be very hard to get into without an SXSW Film Conference registration badge (there will only be a limited number of Film Pass admissions and, space allowing, some single admission sales). The Film Pass is good for over 60 different Film Festival programs. Single admissions will be available at most shows 15 minutes before show time; until then, badges and passes will have priority.

Registration badges for the SXSW Film Conference will be available at walk-up registration at the Austin Convention Center. The Conference runs March 7-9 (although the badge is good at screenings throughout the nine-day festival). The badge is good for all screenings, panels, workshops, mentor sessions (short one-on-one meetings with established industry figures), mini-meetings (small meetings hosted by people like director Steven Soderbergh and producer John Sloss), the trade show, and parties.

A limited number of Film Passes are still on sale for $35 ($30 Film Pass, $5 tax and service charge) at all Star Ticket Outlets (469-SHOW). Film Passes are good for seats on a space-available basis at most screenings.

The days right before it all begins are the worst, waiting for everything you have been working months for to start. Now, there is a deep unholy quiet, not the incessant noise of all that had to be done and was done of the last months, nor has the wild roller coaster rushing of SXSW actually started. Now is the time of the slow-drip water torture and the waiting (not that there isn't more than enough to do). Soon, South by Southwest begins: the Film Conference, Film Festival, Multimedia/Interactive Conference, Multimedia/Interactive trade show, Music Conference, Music Festival, and, right in the middle, the Austin Music Awards show.

In the beginning, there was just The Austin Chronicle Music Awards. The poll started the first year we published, but the show didn't start until the next year later (for an oral history of the Awards' 15-year history, see Andy Langer's piece this issue). Those first years, we spent weeks and weeks getting ready for the Awards, they were easily the Chronicle's biggest event of the year. When SXSW began the emphasis shifted, but the Austin Music Awards has survived all the changes.

This year, the 15th annual Austin Music Awards show is at the Austin Music Hall, on Wednesday, March 12, and begins at 7:55pm sharp. Overseen by grand dame Margaret Moser and her hard-working show staffers, the emcee will be Mr. Paul Ray with Kerry Awn helping out. The lineup is "the King of Sixth Street," Gerry Van King (providing pre-show and between-set music by the bar); 81/2 Souvenirs; the Sexton Brothers Sextet; the Texas Tornados with Roy Head; a Townes Van Zandt tribute hosted by Jimmie Dale Gilmore and featuring Joe Ely, Kimmie Rhodes, Champ Hood, Mickey White, and J.T.Van Zandt; and Lou Ann Barton featuring Jimmie Vaughan, Bill Willis, and George Rains. Tickets are $13 in advance ($10 ticket, $3 tax and service charge) and $18.50 day of show ($15 ticket, co-sponsored by 107.1 KGSR and 101X.

The Music Poll results -- the ongoing history of Austin's favorite musicians as written by its fans -- will be published in our March 14 Music Awards/SXSW issue.

Austin has become as well-known for new media as it has for music and film. This weekend, the SXSW Multimedia/Interactive Festival will take place at the Austin Convention Center, March 8-11. There will be an open house featuring different new media companies around town.

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