SXSW Let Blaze Audience Down

RECEIVED Tue., March 24, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Re: Drunken Angel: The Legend of Blaze Foley screening at SXSW 09: The reason I said "lightbulb" [“Postmarks,” March 27] is that was what the audience was told, and all it was told. Again, elderly, disabled, and people of little means had traveled thousands of miles for this screening. Louis, you have been a good friend to me and to Austin, but your response is (forgive me) quite disingenuous. The bottom line is, this was a major disappointment and huge financial loss to many individuals who spent good money to come here, and after all, they (the audience) are the people we're supposedly putting on all our performances and festivals for! Oh, of course I realize "schmoozing" is also a major SXSW activity, but it all comes down to Main Street – people either show up, pay to see a film or a gig, or they don't. When we're lucky enough to have them, they have a right to expect what they came for. I'm glad you're working things out with Kevin Triplett (the filmmaker), but that does very little for those who traveled and waited and were sent home with nothing. They came for this film, period, and again, I can't say it enough: For them to be let down over a technical glitch is disgraceful and not their problem.
Madeleine Mercier
   [Louis Black responds: I was somewhat at a loss as to why one would pursue this topic so long after the screening when there was no way to remedy the situation, especially because, even at the time, there was no equitable or reasonable solution. The problem was technical. Maybe I'm missing something, but is it a concern that we are not feeling bad enough already about what happened? The only other possible "solution" that I could think of would have been to cancel another SXSW Film Festival screening in order to show the Blaze Foley documentary. Unfortunately, on our end, that really isn't ever an option. Losing one screening is a horrible experience, but trying to compensate by canceling another screening just compounds the problem. Regardless of the film, there are always those who count on attending the screening and plan their schedules around it. In advance, there is no way of knowing who or how many. Screening slots are not a popularity contest. There really isn't the option to disappoint group B because group A has already been disappointed. Since we'll be spending a lot of time discussing how to make sure this never happens again, please let me know if there is another viable alternative I'm missing. Please don't volunteer that the bulb shouldn't have blown or that we should have had a spare (we did) or that we should go as far as to have another projector ready to go (rental costs for these projectors make that prohibitively expensive). At the end of either the SXSW Music or Film Festivals, no matter how many events went off smoothly, we tend to focus on only the ones that went badly, even if this was because of problems beyond our control. Disappointing artists and audiences is devastating. When it happens, no one on SXSW staff takes it lightly.]
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