Short Cuts

SXSW Film front: Kevin Smith to hang around the Hilton. (No, not that Hilton.)

Clear Your Schedule for March Dept.: We wandered over to the new downtown Hilton over the weekend in preparation for the looming arrival of the South by Southwest Film Festival (Friday, March 12-Saturday, March 20), and boy, that's a sweet lobby you've got there, Ms. Paris. The bar isn't too shabby either, and since that's going to be the focal point for between-screening hijinks and quaffery, it's good to know the Hiltons didn't skimp on the design. And how cool is it that it's, like, 10 feet from the newly expanded Austin Convention Center? Hungover and sleep-deprived filmmakers everywhere should be praising the Austin Zoning Commission for that stroke of "well, hell, they can just crawl there if they need to" genius. As for SXSW Film 04, the main players and films are pretty much locked and loaded by this point, with a raft of new arrivals just announced, including Silent Bob's ridiculously entertaining alter ego, Kevin Smith, who'll be screening his new Jersey Girl and explaining, if we're lucky, whatever happened to the Jen Saves Ben video game that locals Powerhouse Animation designed for Jersey Girl's wrap party before the demise of the Affleck/Lopez lovebomb. Also screening will be the world premiere of Bush's Brain, Michael Paradies Shoob and Joseph Mealey's scathing documentary on Dubya adviser and Michelin Man look-alike Karl Rove. And then there's the 90-minute Conversation With (writer/producer/director) Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) panel and a Conversation With 2929 Entertainment's Todd Wagner. Who? "Most people might not recognize the name," allows Festival head Matt Dentler, "but he's Mark Cuban's business partner – the billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner who just bought Landmark Theatres and is CEO of [high definition national television network] HDNet. This year's Fest is a lot bigger, with more films, more features, lots of stuff from outside of the U.S., and some really obscure things, too. For the first time in a while, also, a lot of the competition stuff has major marquee names in it: Adam Goldberg, Tara Reid, John Stamos, Sarah Polley. It's definitely one of the biggest Fests Austin's seen." For more info than you can shake a boom at, see www.sxsw.com... Valentine's Day is about to rear its Cupidian head, and for those of us not currently entangled in a relationship, what better way to spend the day than watching a series of lovestruck short films? Monument Productions is hosting just that with "Shortgasm: An Afternoon of Premature Spectaculation," Saturday, Feb. 14, 4-7:30pm, at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown (409 Colorado). Expect everything from amorous furniture to Lou Diamond Phillips, and yes, there's an afterparty right next door at Cuba Libre, during which you can either hook up for the evening, you dog, you, or wash your blues away in a tsunami of mojitos and Tecate while explaining to a total stranger how you'd like to shove that quiver right up the cherub's fat patootie. Either/or, we guarantee you'll have more fun than you would sitting at home watching Sleepless in Seattle on AMC again... Congrats to local filmmaker/writer Merle Bertrand (Master of the Game, What I Like About You), who was just named as the new editor in chief of Alternative Cinema Magazine. Check out their coverage of horror, cult, and bizarro films and filmmakers at www.alternativecinema.com.

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