SXSW 2011: Film

I know this is a music blog, but right now my whole world has stopped for SXSW. All the music blogs I read are on their way here, UT is on Spring Break, and the whole city seems to be revolving around this kickass festival. While there is of course plenty of music going on right now – big-name sets have already gone down from ?uestlove, Chromeo, Washed Out and Local Natives, though I didn’t make it to any of those – the main focuses of the festival right now are the Film and Interactive sections. And since Interactive sessions seem really badge-y, Film is where I’ve been spending most of days.

So far, I’ve seen four films, with one more scheduled for tonight. The best (but only barely) has been Sound of My Voice, a quirky indie thriller starring up-and-coming actress Britt Marling. I ran into her and Zal Batmanglij at another screening later, and they were incredibly nice, down-to-earth people who legitimately cared about my thoughts on their film. Fortunately, it was awesome. Beyond that, there was Elevate, a documentary about teenage Senegalese basketball players transitioning to playing in the U.S. at various prep schools, and which was fun and riveting. I also saw A Bag of Hammers and The Future, which were both thought-provoking and enjoyable.

As a newbie to SXSW, I remain awed by the staggering amount of free shit everywhere. I’ve been to numerous open bars, and have been handed an obscene amount of free food on random street corners (including a midnight handout from the Salt Lick BBQ truck on 7th and Congress last night). Again, this is par for the course for SXSW but is astounding in and of itself. I hope the novelty never wears off.

On the music front, I saw Neighbors from New York City at the Etsy party, and they have stuck out to me as the most solid band yet that I’ve seen. Sets from The Fishermen Three and the Initials (both accidentally witnessed) were incredibly underwhelming. I saw a bit of Bad Veins with Ovrld contributor Dan.

Starting Tuesday, we’ll have a lot more on the music side – that whole side of the festival will pick up quite a bit. Tonight, more movies and random parties. I hope if you’re in Austin that you’re taking advantage of the awesomeness at your fingertips, and if not, stay tuned for more vicarious cool.