by Jen Scoville

Well, another South by Southwest has come and gone and the city's still standing. Hordes of musicgoers swarmed the streets over the weekend, but big audiences still came out for the remaining Film Festival screenings too -- Saturday night's premiere of San Antonio filmmaker James Robinson's Still Breathing at the Paramount sold out, and the final showing of Grosse Pointe Blank earlier that afternoon at the Union was packed as well. Of course, most eyes couldn't help focusing on the few big names attending the festival, but from the various national and local press we've come across, it looks like the films themselves were the ultimate stars of the show. The March 12 Daily Variety reported the SXSW Film Festival and Conference "is rapidly becoming one of the most important film forums in the country," and later compared the intimate atmosphere to the early years of the Sundance Film Festival. The Festival's documentary line-up has been especially noted too, and just in case you missed 'em, two of the most popular docs, Pin Gods and Battle for the Minds, are coming back to screen at the Dobie in mid-May... Screenwriter Warren Skaaren is known in the movie biz for authoring the blockbuster films Beetlejuice, Batman, and Top Gun, but around these parts we also remember him as being responsible for the existence of the Texas Film Commission, having served as the agency's first director. (Old Chronicle staffers might remember one of our first Mac computers, which was aptly named "Beetlejuice" in honor of its original owner.) Running now through the end of June, the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) at UT is presenting The Life and Films of Warren Skaaren: Screenwriter, an exhibit of original scripts, photographs, and correspondence from the HRC's Warren Skaaren archives. The show is set up in HRC's 7th floor gallery; viewing hours are 9am-4:30pm, Mon-Fri. A Gallery Talk in conjunction with the exhibit will be held next month... The live, larger-than-life, rock 'em-sock 'em robots (and other mechanized presentations of techno-destruction) of Survival Research Laboratories (SRL) are finally coming to the Longhorn Speedway the night of Friday, March 28. In the group's own words, don't expect anything beautiful, nice, or spiritually elevating, but SRL founder Mark Pauline and his crew of creative technicians are sure to let their inventions create quite a disturbance. If you're still uncertain of the coming doom, check out SRL's website at Advance tickets are $15 at FringeWare and Sound Exchange. Tickets purchased at the show will cost $20, earplugs included... Austin Film Society (AFS) screenings this week are as follows: Sam Fuller Retrospective continues on Tues, Mar. 25, 7pm, with Park Row (1952), starring Gene Evans as a fledgling newspaper publisher in 1880s New York. The Contemporary Israeli Film Festival (with prints straight from Jerusalem) continues on Wed, Mar 26, 7:30pm, with Lovesick on Nana Street, the story of a hopeless romantic who runs a pirate cable TV station in his mother's apartment to send messages wooing a beautiful actress. Tonight (Thurs, Mar. 20), AFS is presenting a reading by renowned author Michael Lind from his new book The Alamo, followed by a free screening of The Last Command starring Sterling Hayden at the Dobie at 6:30pm.

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