by Jen Scoville

We can now officially say that the South by Southwest Festivals are right around the corner, with the Film Conference and Festival `s March 7 start date just four weeks away! It seems like good news travels daily across the parking lot between the Chronicle and SXSW, as the list of screenings is finalized and panelists are confirmed. So far, the exciting line-up of accepted films includes many coming straight from Sundance or Slamdance and lots of local representation. Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy, the final installment in his "New Jersey Trilogy" (Clerks, Mallrats) will show as a special screening. Chasing Amy was a favorite at Sundance, along with John O'Hagan's Wonderland, a SXSW competition documentary on the first "planned community" in Levittown, New York. Sarah Jacobson's Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore, a narrative feature exploding the myths of teenage sexuality, will compete in the narrative category. Two new films from Steven Soderbergh, Gray's Anatomy (the newest Spalding Gray monologue) and Schizopolis (in which Soderbergh also stars) are also on the schedule. Sweethearts, the story of a blind date and the fatal night that follows, directed by Aleks Horvat and produced by (and starring) Jeaneane Garofalo was the closing night film at Slamdance. Daniel Harris' The Bible and Gun Club came home that festival's jury winner. The latter two are special screenings at SXSW. Local flavor will be provided by Don Howard's Letter From Waco, a documentary exploring race, religion, death, and football in the filmmaker's hometown (camera: Lee Daniel); Marcus Van Bavel's narrative feature Redboy 13, Jim Brennan's competition doc Return to Giant; and narrative shorts BREEZEWAY by George Lang-worthy and Jesus of Judson by Jacob Vaughan. Film passes go on sale Feb. 14 at Star Ticket Outlets (469-7469) for $30+ tax and service charge. News from the conference: Quentin Tarantino will be participating in a panel discussion titled Outside the System/Inside the System with indie colleagues Robert Rodriguez, Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, and George Huang (Swimming with Sharks). Amy Taubin of The Village Voice will serve as moderator... After months of searching, Survival Research Labs (SRL) has finally found a sound venue and the rock `em sock `em, larger-than-life robot show is back on schedule for March 28. The group is looking for skilled volunteers and will accept crew applications on Thu., Feb. 13, 8pm at the Holy 8 Ball Studio, 2206 E. Seventh. All positions are unpaid, and ideally, volunteers should be able to commit at least a week of their time to the production... Calling all eligible bachelorettes: Single Out, a lesbian dating game that will appear on ACTV in honor of the 1997 International Woman's Day Community Media Festival is looking for contestants. An open call will be held this Saturday, Feb 8, 10am-2pm, and the following Sat., Feb. 15, 10am-noon at WATER House, 109 W. Johanna St. For more info call Margaret Perez at 477-2803; Single Out will air on March 8. The Austin Salon of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers is still accepting applications for inclusion in their downtown multimedia Installation planned for SXSW. For more information call 322-9707...

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