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Heralding the techno-cultural explosion known as SXSW.

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A little over six months ago, Amy Smith came to us and said that after several years of being the Chronicle's Politics editor, she wanted more time for writing. This issue's cover story ("The Wrong Man," p. 26) is a consequence of that action. Instead of being swamped by the daily, deadly details of running a section, Smith has gone back to her first loves, reporting and writing. The Politics section has changed a lot since then. Lou Dubose, Michael King, and Jordan Smith came on board, and longtime Chronicle writer Robert Bryce left. But the quality of the section, in part because we beefed up the staff, is at an all-time high. This week's cover story is a good example of why.


In just two weeks, SXSW will kick off with the opening night of the Film Festival. Check the film schedule online at films.sxsw.com. It is very strong, just an onslaught of quality works. There will be a Penelope Spheeris retrospective featuring her Decline of Western Civilization trilogy as well as her new Ozzfest documentary We Sold Our Souls for Rock 'N' Roll with Ozzy in attendance at one of the screenings. The conference portion of the festival is shaping up nicely with D.A. Pennebaker and Michael Moore on a panel together and Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino on another. My favorite panel is "Documentary Filmmakers and Their Subjects," featuring American Movie director Chris Smith and the film's subject Mark Borchardt (of Coven fame) as well as Dancing Outlaw director Jacob Young, along with, possibly, the film's star, Jessco.

The Austin Music Awards will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Chronicle's Readers' Poll with an incredible show, featuring Vallejo, the Gourds, an Eighties Survivor Jam, Lucinda Williams, the Meat Puppets, and a blues jam featuring James Cotton, Jimmie Vaughn, and Lou Ann Barton. Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the show itself (the first year we did the poll, we didn't do a show).

But I don't want to leave out the Interactive Conference and Music Conference and Festival. The programming of all events is outstanding this year with some real treats. Check out the schedules at www.sxsw.com.

For those new to town or who need to be reminded, Chronicle Publisher Nick Barbaro and I are partners in SXSW with the hands-on Managing Director Roland Swenson. Consider this your SXSW/Chronicle conflict-of-interest warning for the season.


A non-SXSW event of note is the very first Texas Film Hall of Fame ceremony on March 9 at Austin Studios at the old Mueller airport. The honorees are Sissy Spacek (presented by Rip Torn), Robert Benton (presented by Anne Rapp), Bill Wittliff (presented by Barbara Morgan), Liz Smith (presented by the honorable Ann Richards), and legendary super-agent Mike Simpson will be given the Warren Skaaren Lifetime Achievement Award by Quentin Tarantino. Much of the state's film community will turn out for this event. Asleep at the Wheel will provide the music. Sponsor tables (including dinner, drinks, and VIP access) are available from the Austin Film Society (322-0145). General admission tickets (good for the show only) are available exclusively from Waterloo Records (AFS members $20, non-AFS members $25). Turk Pipkin will emcee this show; it should be great. (Final conflict-of-interest note: I'm president of the AFS Board.)


Starting next week, we celebrate the beginning of the SXSW onslaught with our special Interactive issue (dated March 2) followed by Film (March 9) and the Austin Music Awards/SXSW Music super-issue (March 16). And don't forget, there will be four Austin Chronicle SXSW dailies this year: Thursday, March 15, through Sunday, March 18. end story

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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