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It’s five weeks until SXSW season, which kicks off with SXSW Film presenting Peter Bogdanovich and his new film. If that weren’t enough, the Texas Film Hall of Fame will feature Sissy Spacek inducting Terrence Malick, along with presenters and inductees Marcia Gay Harden, Cyd Charisse, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Dan Rather, Bill Broyles, Bill Wittliff, Jack Valenti, Cheech Marin, and Dennis Hopper.

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COMMERCIAL TIME: Forget light rail, the City Council, the new city manager, and those ridiculously self-righteous Naderites. It’s plug time. As remarkable as it seems, we are only five weeks away from SXSW, the Austin Music Awards, and the Texas Film Hall of Fame, hosted by the Austin Film Society. If conflict of interests upset your stomach, stop here, because I’m lousy with them.

SXSW Film, Interactive, and Music kick off on Friday, March 8, with the beginning of the SXSW Film Festival. Film and Interactive Conferences get into gear the next day.

Opening night at SXSW Film will feature the legendary Peter Bogdanovich introducing his new film, The Cat’s Meow. Aueteurist director and seminal film scholar Bogdanovich is the perfect SXSW Film guest, combining cinematic vision, artistic daring, and a real love and appreciation of film (I never ask for autographs, but it will be hard to resist not getting him to sign his landmark book on John Ford). His filmography is well-known, but just for starters: Targets, The Last Picture Show, What’s Up, Doc?, Paper Moon, Saint Jack, They All Laughed, Mask, and The Thing Called Love, an incomplete list that includes neither his TV work nor his many acting appearances.

If this weren’t enough, Friday evening will also feature the world premiere of Alexandra Pelosi’s Journeys With George, a remarkable behind-the-scenes look at the Bush campaign. Pelosi was assigned to cover the campaign before Bush declared and brought along her trusty video camera to capture everything. If this were just a personal documentary (she is really charming) or a Boys on the Bus take, it would be worth seeing. But this really is George Bush as you’ve (or at least I’ve) never seen him before. The Bush folks will try to spin this into a tame Hallmark valentine, but don’t buy it. This probably won’t change your mind about whether you like him or not, but it offers real depth in its portrait. I’m not spinning here; this film is just plain fascinating. The buzz on this should be amazing. Pelosi’s mom just became House minority whip, but if she worked at a McDonald’s, this would still be a really great film. I can’t wait to watch it with an audience. And those are just two of the 150-200 films SXSW will screen (there were more than 2,000 submissions, about half of them features).

As I said, the next day the fun really starts, when the Film and Interactive Conferences begin.

Wednesday, the Austin Music Awards will be the official kickoff of SXSW Music, though the Festival also begins that evening in dozens of clubs with hundreds of bands. Next week, we’ll unveil the complete Music Awards lineup. (Awards Diva Margaret Moser is putting the finishing touches on it as you read this.) Obviously, the show will include a tribute to Champ Hood, who was as great a human being as he was influential as a musician (which is saying a lot). Appropriately, the great Ray Benson will be honored and perform that night as well. Next week, the full lineup. The next day, of course, the SXSW Music Conference begins, with the SXSW Music Festival continuing through March 17.

If all this still weren’t enough, Friday, March 8, the Austin Film Society will present the second annual Texas Film Hall of Fame at Austin Studios at the old airport. Hold your breath for this lineup. Marcia Gay Harden will induct the fabulous Cyd Charisse (and I don’t care if she is turning 81, that night I’ll be looking at her legs); Lyle Lovett does the honors for Willie Nelson; Bill Wittliff live and Tom Hanks on tape hail screenwriter Bill Broyles (he’s being hailed for being a screenwriter, but Broyles is actually one of those hyphenate-intensive talents who wears many hats); and, arguably the hottest actress in Hollywood, Sissy Spacek will induct her Badlands director Terrence Malick. Dan Rather gives Jack Valenti the Warren Skaaren Lifetime Achievement Award, Cheech Marin pays tribute to the great Gilbert Roland, and Dennis Hopper says a few words about Giant. The event, a benefit for the Film Society, is almost sold out. There are no individual tickets and only $5,000 tables left. If you’re interested, call the Film Society at 322-0145.

Okay, for now that’s it, but trust me, it is SXSW season, which means there is a lot more exciting news to come.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

SXSW, SXSW Film, SXSW Music, SXSW Interactive, South by Southwest, Austin Music Awards, Texas Film Hall of Fame, Austin Film Society, Austin awards ceremonies, Austin film events, Austin music events, SXSW conference, Peter Bogdanovich, The C

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