Saturday, March 10, 2007

SXSW: Blogs and Docs

Sorry but I’ve got to get this out of the way … Last year at SXSW, I was woozy with new-found outta-the-blue-sky Love. I was smitten beyond belief with a man who proved pivotal in my life – my U-Haul ended up in Denver instead of Austin, as I’d originally planned. Though I lovelovelove my new home in Denver, admittedly, I feel a tug here – right down to my Lone Star ring and cowgirl boots. Urf.

My hosts this year came out of friendships formed at last year’s festival. A beautiful, incredible couple who recently moved from Manhattan – their spacious Round Rock home stands in large contrast to their tiny New York flat.

Anyway, enough about me – let’s get on with it …

I sit here now, awaiting the SXSW Interactive Festival’s opening remarks by Kathy Sierra, a really smart woman I’ve never heard of. The place is packed and she’s going to talk about “creating passionate users” which I don’t understand. However, I think attending the keynotes is crucial – these folks are on the schedule for a reason, I figure. There are people sitting on the floor and there are two spillover rooms that will broadcast her words over speakers so whatever she has to say must bed worth hearing.

This morning, I attended my first documentary – the first of many this week. “A Hard Road Home” focused on the mission of Exodus, a non-profit organization made up of ex-cons who help other recently released felons find their meaningful role in society and above all, avoid a return to a life behind bars. The director, Macky Alston, spoke prior to the film’s screening and nervously stated that we were the film’s first audience, “So go easy on us.”

The film illustrated the incredible love that the Exodus ‘family’ offers to one another, even when they stumble and fall back into bad habits. Julio Medina, the leader of Exodus, a respected family man who had spent most of his 20s behind bars for drug trafficking, is a father figure to many who have lost their way. One is Griffick, a young hood who wants to turn his life around. His transformation – especially when he first dons an interview suit and works on his language patterns – is so heartwarming, you can’t help but root for him. After the film, the filmmakers plus Julio and Griffick, showed up to answer questions. This was the first time they had seen the film as well and they received a massive standing ovation. They were tickled pink. (Mackey shot 100 hours over eight months – a question I always ask so I can grasp the amount of editing work that goes into such a project – down to 73 minutes.)

The photo shows a random appearance on the streets of Austin by the stars of “What Would Jesus Buy?” a film I have yet to see – it screens on Sunday evening. At the helm, Reverend Billy followed by The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir. Apparently, this focuses on how consumerism has swallowed up the Xmas holiday. Looking forward to that!

By the way, I’m typing this in the plush press room (God Bless press passes!) beneath a giant poster of The Governator for a film called “Running With Arnold.” Hope I get to see that – I notice there are a ton more films this year that focus on the political process. Perfect to get me in the mood for the Democratic Convention in Denver next year.

Finally, another photo shows a gal in a typical state of organized disarray. At SXSW, we are bombarded with so much STUFF – schedules, film catalogues, panel descriptions, promotional crap, magazine, flyers, party invitations and on and on and on. On top of all that, everyone is blogging about it, taking photos or documenting the experience in some capacity. It’s madness I tell you … MADNESS!

Anyway, I asked if I could take her photo to demonstrate what most of us look like in between films/panels and whatnot and she gamely agreed, “As long as you link to my site!” Such a typical SXSW response. She turned out to be Liza Sabater of and told me she was going to be on a panel, “The Digital Enthnorati” about minority engagement on the web. “Um, can white people come too?” I asked. Turns out, we can.

Finally, I’m about to check out the interactive trade show since I am UP TO HERE with the limits of Blogger. I'm appreciative of getting me started and all but hell’s bells, I need me a new format, something more photo-essay-ish and sound-file friendly. As Truman pointed out, sometimes writing is just typing.


Kath said...

Oh how I love living vicariously thru you.

Have fun!

hotdrwife said...

So jealous!! Have a great time.

Flea's Thoughts said...

I was sick or we were going to head down there last week. It sucks but I get to breathe in the Austin Music scene a couple of times a year (4 hour drive...can't beat it)!!! It sounds like you did have a blast!!!!

ClizBiz said...

It's indeed a lovely time here though a bit surreal. Watching four films a day and free booze and food every night. A gal could get used to this ...