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SXSW Day 3: or How I Got the Crazy

SXSW Day 3: or How I Got the Crazy

Day 3 at SXSW began (an hour ealry thanks to dalylight savings time) with a fantastic brunch sponsored by Kodak. Outside the convention center, in a little tent, the deciedly mellow gathering allowed for the opportunity to catch up with Anne Hubbell (one of my favorite people on the planet) as well as meet with Magnolia’s Tom Quinn, and some members of THE SIGNAL entourage, here in force representin’ the ATL in the ATX.

Over migas and Bloody Marys–and with the horror panel slated a few hours away, and a screening of THE SIGNAL set to cap off the day, I relayed the true story of two Atlanta men who survived a “gruesome suicide attempt” (as the headline put it) by cutting off their arms with a circular saw.

Here’s the story:

Published in the AJC on: 03/09/07

“Two Atlanta men survived an attempt to kill themselves Friday by cutting off their arms with a circular saw, according to Atlanta Police Major Lane Hagin.

The men managed to sever three of their arms about six inches above the wrist, he said.

The two men — ages 40 and 41 — left a suicide note with the manager of their Atlanta apartment building saying they were committing suicide because their business had failed and they were recently diagnosed with HIV, Hagin said.

After reading the note, the manager called police who found the two men in their apartment with “a lot of blood,” the major said.

Their names were not released. Police spokesman Steve Coleman said both were in stable condition at Grady Memorial Hospital late Friday and will undergo psychiatric evaluation.

No charges will be filed in the incident, police said.

— Rhonda Cook”

Why this story is of particular interest to me, is the “apartment building” in question is where I currently reside. My wife called me on Friday morning to tell me that something was awry b/c news crews were outside the building.

Reacting to the description, “a lot of blood,” THE SIGNAL producer Alex Motlagh got the best quip, “They can forget about the deposit.” (More on THE SIGNAL below)…

Lab 601 consultant Mark Wynns and I headed of to the Alamo South for the World Premiere of blogger Michael Tully’s SILVER JEW. We got there after the lights had dimmed–but I have to admit we made good time.

The short before, FACE VALUE, seemed to have little in common with the feature. The feature is a music doc about one man’s religious and artistic epiphany, the other is a comic a narrative short by the Israel brothers.

Then it became clear: 1) both films feature a stranger in a strage land struggling to make a connection, 2) SILVER JEW is set in Israel, is BY the brother’s Israel, 3) Both films are by IndieWIRE bloggers. (Commenting on this last bit makes me feel soooooooooooooo indulgent.)

SILVER JEW is a fantastic piece of work–and I think non-fans of the band will be quite impressed with it. (I fully expect the film to have life on the Jewish Film Festival circuit, as well as at fests with music.

The sound from the live concert footage sounded like the kind of old school bootlegs the Doobie Brothers crusaded against waaaaay back in the day…

MT (Michael Tully, not media temple…) assures us in his blog that this sound problem was a projection issue–so hopefully sound the next time out will be crystal clear.

Sound issues notwithsatnding–the film feels deeply personal, and despite the sense that we are occasionally watching roadie travel footage, the film sneaks up on you. Frontman David Berman’s observations and reflections are poignant, especially his interaction with fans after a live show. There is something profound about his realization that this is the first time in his career that his fans have ever had the chance to experience the energy of a live show. (During this week in which interactivity and Web 3.0 are hot topics and where many film panels ponder the meaning of the film going experience, this film elegantly captured that sense in which a collective tactile shared group activity in a single space cannot be replaced by anything else.)

On that same note, I was frustraded that I had skip the Q&A–the ultimate interactive experience, and why film festivals are a vital piece of the puzzle–because I was already 10 minutes late for a brunch meeting at Las Manitas. It was pouring rain, and they wouldn’t seat until the entire party until was there. I wanted to reflect on the film’s beautiful, and deeply moving climax at the Wailing Wall., but instead, in my hasty departure, I accidentally crushed someone’s Teva wearing foot with a chunky Frankenstein Dr. Martin shoe. For that, I am sorry…or maybe it was just “The Crazy” in me.

Speaking of “The Crazy,” my day was book-ended with a midnight show of THE SIGNAL again in the Alamo Draft House South.

In attendence was Harry Knowles–who admitted to being the only person at AICN who hadn’t seen the film yet!

There is something about a midnight movie, especially capping off a festival days that feels extra-long…like two days folded into one. This was one of them. Following the disorienting time shift to daylight savings–the events of the day flowed like so many inevitable appointments: brunch, movie, lunch, panel, reception, film, party, film…

The trippy nature of the story, in which crytic television and cel phone transmissions lead to chaotic and unexplained homicidal behavior pierces the viewer’s perception like an ice pick to the brain. A jarring distortion effect in which >the trasmission seems to be penetrating the screening itself–a kind of William Castle TINGLER moment–may well become this film’s hallmark moment.

At the end of a (perfect?) day like today, I began to question whether I was really seeing what I thought I saw. Were those missing frames? Was that lightning fast gesture was the byproduct of a micro-nap. A figment of my own paranoia. Or did I actually see it? Do I have the crazy? And did someone just come to me before the show and tell me about these guys ion Atlanta who managed to cut off “3 out of 4 arms” before they got caught?

Paramount importance

One film earlier in the evening that I wanted to mention in closing was the brilliant and totally satisfying screeing of Joe Swanberg’s HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS which lived up to the hype in a big way. I am proud that we’ll be screening this film in competition next month at The Atlanta FIlm Festival.

Hannah takes the stage

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