SXSW Film 09
Not too long ago, Spout.com's Karina Longworth – an indispensable voice on independent film – mused that "although Austin has become a place where independent filmmakers from all over the country — including LA and New York — come to show work, ironically, Austin's past and present identity as a film town often gets lost in that process and excluded from the conversation." Well, then: Let's talk, shall we?
This year, we put the home team on the cover, addressing in part the idea of this "past and present identity" with faces from Austin's film community, from the "old guard" of Linklater, Rodriguez, Judge, and McCanlies – all of whom will be involved in some capacity at this year's Festival and continue to mentor and support the community they helped create – to the new guys. "New" is perhaps disingenuous: Three of the filmmakers profiled have three or more features under their belts, and you can bet all of them have been laboring at this thing for years, even if it was just storyboarding the movies in their minds during algebra class.
I suppose we could be accused of being sentimental; like so many other regional filmmaking hubs, ours has taken a hit, and we really do want to celebrate the Austin film community. But the thing is, we've seen the films of the five "new kids" on our cover, and they're all good. They're great, actually. And that's just the tip of the iceberg – there are loads more homegrown films at the Fest, such as the competition films Artois the Goat and The Overbrook Brothers, and films from, well, let's call 'em the peripatetic Austinites, such as St. Nick's David Lowery – filmmakers who work and live here off and on but keep coming back because they know Austin treats film, and filmmakers, right.
The town's identity is ever in flux: Sometimes the story is a big-budget to-do; sometimes it's the micro-indie seemingly every name in Austin had a hand in. This much we know: that Austin is a town where you can borrow the camera off your neighbor's back; turn to a university full of sharp, talented folks who will crew for the price of a plate of migas; get a deal on your sound mix at a local studio; have a home for your work-in-progress at the Austin Film Society; and – oh yeah – find a champion in the local fish wrap.
In short: Welcome to Austin. It's totally worth the shitty summers.