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SXSW : Day One

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The Austin Convention Center. I am filled with an overwhelming sense of awe and wonderment, and yet I am absolutely terrified. I’ve endured multiple flights and delays and hordes of film geeks to bring you coverage of the South by Southwest Film Festival. But I’m not alone, I’ve brought a couple of friends along with me to help document the journey. Mike D’Avria and Tim Grant will be providing audio and video content to go along with my slapped together words – so we’ll be working on that for you guys all throughout the week. Tonight was the opening night of the SxSW film festival and the world premiere of Duncan Jones’ new film, “Source Code,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright.

Duncan Jones’ film, “Moon,” was one of my favorites from 2009, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating his next project for quite some time. “Source Code” is an action thriller centered on soldier Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal), who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. Essentially Gyllenhaal is forced to experience the same eight minutes over and over again until he puts all the puzzle pieces together and saves Chicago from train-crazed terrorism. Tomorrow I’ll be sitting down with the cast of “Source Code,” as well as Duncan Jones and writer Ben Ripley to talk about the film – so you can expect some delicious audio of that in my next update.

“Source Code” premiered at Austin’s wonderful Paramount Theater, which safely holds 1200 moviegoers and features some of the best audio and projection I’ve ever seen. After the premiere, we attended the red carpet for Aaron Burns’ film, “Blacktino.” If you’re unfamiliar with Aaron Burns, it’s probably because no one knows him – yet. Burns got his start doing visual effects for Troublemaker Studios, lending his creative efforts to films like “Sin City” and “Planet Terror.” Last year, Burns premiered a short film, “Now or Never,” and this year he returns with his first full-length feature.

“Blacktino” is a dark coming-of-age teen comedy about an overweight half-black, half-hispanic nerd named Stefan Daily. Played by 16-year-old newcomer, Austin Marshall, Stefan is raised by his black grandmother in a medium sized suburb of Austin, TX. Struggling to find his place in a mostly white high school, Stefan finds sanctuary among the eclectic mix of social outcasts in the school’s Theatre Department. Burns, with his strong ties to Troublemaker Studios, features cameos by Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Danny Trejo, and Daryl Sabara. That’s right, it’s a “Machete” reunion, and simultaneously, a “Lost” reunion – Frank Lapidus and Anna Lucia up to their old tricks again.

Unfortunately, “Blacktino” got a bit of a late start after the “Source Code” Q&A, so we didn’t get a chance to check out the midnight screening of “Insidious,” the latest horror film by “Saw” creators James Wan and Leigh Whannel – hopefully we can catch it on a later screening.

Well, that’s it for now. It’s 3 AM and I’m exhausted, lying on the floor of a TownePlace Suites on the outskirts of town – motionless save the sporadic movements of fingers against keys. I’m waiting for Tim or Mike to simply draw a chalk outline around my lifeless body and exit the hotel room promptly. Here’s some pictures of the “Source Code” and “Blacktino” red carpet events, enjoy!

Pictures and additional content courtesy of Mike D’Avria and Tim Grant

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