7th Annual Pre-SXSW Post

Yes, it’s hard to believe, but I’ll be attending my seventh South by Southwest in a few weeks. Things will be a little different this year for a number of reasons.

See Me Speak at SXSW 2007
  1. This year, for the first time ever, I’m speaking on a panel. Not seeing anything on the schedule about the subject, I proposed a panel on faith, and it was accepted. It’s entitled Ghost in the Machine: Spirituality Online and it’s scheduled for Saturday March 10 from 5:00-6:00. I’ve assembled a panel of rock stars who will say most of the intelligent things, but I’m still nervous and excited.
  2. As a panelist, I received a free Gold pass this year, which means for the first time I can attend both Interactive and Film events. I’m still unclear how ticketing to film screenings works, but I’m hoping to actually see a few films this time. A few of the scheduled films recently screened at Sundance, so it might be a good chance to see some stuff that won’t make it to Toronto until at least the fall, if at all.
  3. The Interactive section of the conference ends on Tuesday, but I’m not leaving Austin until Saturday morning, so I’m hoping to catch a few bands during the Music portion, and just generally hang out in one of my favourite American cities with some of my favourite Americans.

If you’re going to be there, make sure you say hello! And it’s also acceptable to buy me a Shiner. After all, I’m a crusty conference veteran now!

P.S. Make sure to check out SXSWBaby for the latest news and updates.

Oscar Loathing

[The Oscars have] got nothing to do with standards of good moviemaking. And I mean nothing, as in what’s left when you take zero from zero, multiply it to infinity and divide it the number of times Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Ingmar Bergman or Akira Kurosawa won for Best Director. (Which was zip, by the way.)

Geoff Pevere is spot-on in his hilarious lambasting of the Oscars. But I’ll still probably watch them.

Watching Sundance from Afar

I’ve never been to the Sundance Film Festival, and have no burning desire to hang out with the stars in a ski resort in Utah, but I have been trying to follow a bit of what’s going on. Here are a few films that I’m hearing good things about and which, with any luck, will make it to Toronto either at HotDocs or TIFF:

The film summaries are from the much more attractive and usefully-designed Unofficially Sundance site.

Oscar Nominations: Documentaries

The nominations were announced for the Oscars yesterday. I’ve been seeing fewer feature films lately, but I do manage to catch more documentaries. Of the five nominees, I’ve only seen two so far, but I plan to try to see all of them if I can before the Academy Awards are handed out on February 25.

The nominees for Best Documentary are:

  • Deliver Us From Evil
  • An Inconvenient Truth
  • Iraq in Fragments
  • Jesus Camp
  • My Country, My Country

It’s nice to see that documentary film is serving some of its most important purposes in these films: to bear witness, and to kick us in the conscience. It’s interesting to note that two films deal with Christianity (both deal with forms of toxic Christianity, in my opinion), two deal with the Iraq war, and one with a global crisis. No uplifting films, this year, sadly. Times are tough.

If you’ve seen any of these, what did you think? Who’s your bet to win? My money is on Al Gore’s sobering PowerPoint presentation on climate change. Not the most creatively filmed, but certainly the most urgent, and it managed to present information in an entertaining and mostly guilt-free way that made me want to make some changes to the way I live.

UPDATE: In a bit of cross-blog linkery, I’ve listed the losers in this category for the past few years over at Runner-Up! Check ’em out!

Wholphin Issue 3, now with Funky Forest!

Wholphin, Issue 3

I’ve got the first two issues of Wholphin, the McSweeney‘s-affiliated DVD magazine of short films, and was wondering when the third was coming out. In checking out their site, I discovered that included on the upcoming issue will be a 15-minute excerpt from the strangest and most-wonderful film I’ve seen in a long time, Funky Forest: The First Contact. That’s reason enough to rush out and buy it when it comes out in mid-December.

Here’s a bonus interview with the three directors of the film.

And here is a good attempt at reviewing an almost unreviewable film.

Watch the trailer