Page Two

A personal SXSW wrap-up from Louis Black.

Page Two
So my lasting image of SXSW 2001 is not the Texas Film Hall of Fame show (that wasn't even a SXSW event). It's not the film conference, the festival, the trade show, Ray Davies' brilliant and warm and funny keynote speech, the incredible Chronicle daily issues, a truly memorable Austin Music Awards show, the music showcases, or even the hundreds and hundreds of people I shook hands with, hugged, stopped to say hello to, and/or nodded at.

Instead, it is Monday night after SXSW. I checked out of the hotel that morning and moved back home. It had been weeks since I'd had a full day off (and my schedule is relatively light compared to those of many SXSW and Chronicle staff members). My son and wife had gone to the Hideout on Congress to watch my son's friend Max and his entry in the Cinemaker Co-Op's "Make a Movie in a Weekend" contest. All entries were screened. Max mentioned something about a Jewish blaxploitation film, and I would have loved to see it, but I was profoundly dazed. I visited Whole Foods to get something for dinner. As I entered, I pulled the shopping list from my pocket. A couple of seconds later, several people stopped me. As I pulled the note out, I had rained a shower of small bills onto the floor. I looked behind me to see the pile of money on the floor. Someone commented that it sure looked great when the bills poured out. Welcome to my memory home page for SXSW 2001.

It all began earlier than usual this year. The Texas Film Hall of Fame, coordinated by the Austin Film Society, jump-started everything, so by the afternoon of Friday, March 9, we were deeply in it. Not just the opening day of registration for the film and interactive conferences but the film festival and the opening night parties were swirling around us. The next time I really remember being awake was heading out of the Hyatt into the strong March sun on that Monday morning afterward. (Where was that sun on Sunday when we needed it for the softball game?) The rest is a crazed collage of minutes and moments, colored by a constant mental note to try to slow things down. I vowed to relish what was going on around me before it was over, but it was hopeless. Faces and sounds, bands and bits of movies, movies, and people, food, work, sleep, and more people cluttered in, hardly waiting in line to barrage the brain. There was always motion. There was no slowing down, just speeding up.

I was extraordinarily proud of the Chronicle staff for producing four superb dailies that really captured the excitement of SXSW without the tiresome, snotty condescension of the smaller Austin daily SXSW edition. Critical but excited, the issues were a pleasure to read each morning, and they were completed totally without my input. Kudos to the staff.

The Austin Music Awards show was moving. Watching '86ed (the reunion of Austin New Sincerity-era bands) -- essentially a crucial period of my life defined by nine musicians playing -- was overwhelming. Being in a room with so many people I've known for so long was the setting. Swimming in the faces and sounds of the past, I was surrounded by the present.

I should list the other highlights of SXSW week -- getting to meet director Terrence Malick, director Penelope Spheeris, and musician David Byrne in the same week, hearing Ray Davies sing the opening to "You Really Got Me" as a Big Bill Broonzy song -- but there was so much. Check this issue and all the previous Chronicles online, as well as the SXSW site (www.sxsw.com), to get a more substantive taste of SXSW Week 2001.

What I love about the event -- what defines it -- is Austin. This time, every year, I'm reminded that whereas the face and the nature of this city are ever evolving, we've yet to lose our soul. SXSW couldn't happen just anywhere. It has to happen here.


Not enough excitement for you in the past week? Robert Rodriguez's new movie Spy Kids -- filmed in Austin and featuring Antonio Banderas and Alan Cumming, among others -- premieres at the Paramount this Saturday, March 24, with a special street fair beforehand. The $25 tickets include the street fair and premiere, and they are available at the Paramount box office and any Star Ticket outlet (469-7469). There is a pricier ticket that includes lots of goodies, which you can check on by calling the Film Society at 320-0145. end story

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

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spy kids, sxsw 2001

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