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Indiewire’s 12 Favorite Moments from SXSW 2012

Indiewire's 12 Favorite Moments from SXSW 2012

Getting to talk to Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow about “Girls” was a highlight of my SXSW this year. I remember seeing “Tiny Furniture” at the Alamo Ritz at the festival two years ago, and just as striking as the difference between an indie second feature and an HBO show is how consistent Dunham’s voice has remained through the shift in scale. It was enlightening to listen to the pair talk about maintaining a vision while also taking advantage of the benefits of collaboration. [Alison Willmore]

Ernest Hemingway’s great-granddaughter is laugh riot. Not in “Starlet,” Sean Baker’s affecting new drama in which the newcomer plays a dazed young woman wasting her days away in a barren, sun-soaked L.A. landscape. But when Baker introduced me to Dree Hemingway at a bar a few days after the movie, our conversation turned to the onslaught of concertgoers outside. She immediately proved that, in spite of onscreen appearances she could actually be funny — here, by donning a pair of sunglasses and performing a spot-on interpretation of the blasé hipster stride overtaking the busy street outside. Talk about range. Somebody ought to put her in next year’s bumpers. [Eric Kohn]

Joe Swanberg has a self-deprecating sense of humor, even at the festival that put him on the map. While moderating a panel with the ten zillion directors of the anthology horror film “V/H/S” (or maybe the final tally is six, I’m still not sure), the one filmmaker who practically owes his entire nascent career to the festival cast himself in an amusing light. Admitting that he usually directs “boring mumblecore relationship dramas,” Swanberg also joked that he only makes movies for money… very little money, that is. Only at SXSW can you get away with that sort of irony. [Eric Kohn]

Nick Offerman forgets he’s at a film festival. Well, kinda. The hilarious “Parks & Recreation” star took the stage at the premiere for Bob Byington’s “Somebody Up There Likes Me” (in which he plays a supporting role) with a guitar in hand. Offerman proceeded to play an unremarkable southern tune until SXSW’s Janet Pierson whispered in Offerman’s ear that he wasn’t at the music portion of the festival. The crowd ate it up and then carried that same enthusiasm into their experience of the movie. [Eric Kohn]

Not seeing anything that really qualifies as “mumblecore.” I hate the term and resist using it whenever possible, but you know what I mean. The tender, aimless lo-fi narratives that came to typify SXSW a few years ago haven’t gone away, but they aren’t dominating this space they way they once did. It’s possible to look through the program and discover familiar names from bonafide mumblecore projects, like Amy Seimetz, but her terrific directorial debut “Sun Don’t Shine” was a brilliant noir exercise with less mumbling than raw brawls. Mumblecore didn’t die because it never really existed in the first place, but its marginalized role in this year’s festival lineup means that filmmakers are hardly stuck in their old ways. [Eric Kohn]

“We are Legion” is a nerd spectator sport. Though the film made its debut at this year’s Slamdance, “We are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists,” covers hacktivism from Anonymous to Wikileaks to Lulzsec — and more. Watching it with the tech geek-heavy crowd at SXSW was an experience unto itself. The audience howled as HBGary CEO Aaron Barr attempted to explain his unethical attempt to defraud Julian Assange and Wikileaks (a plan uncovered by members of Anonymous), applauded several noble hacks against the powers that be, and cheered on the “thousands” of virgins that lost their virginity when activist embodied itself IRL (in real life) at Anonymous’s 2008 protests against the Church of Scientology. [Bryce Renninger]

Now I’d be foolish for thinking a one-on-one with the “Jackass” himself, Johnny Knoxville, would be a predictable walk in the park. But nothing prepared me for when his “Nature Calls” director Todd Rohal and funny-man co-star Rob Riggle crashed my interview to play catch up with Knoxville. The publicist had seemingly fled the building, so I did my best to incorporate the intruders on the fly. See how it panned out. [Nigel M. Smith]

Premiering your film at SXSW is a big deal, even when you’re Matthew Lillard. The “Scream” star — in Austin to unveil his directorial debut, the coming-of-age teen comedy “Fat Kid Rules the World” — got visibly choked up at the film’s third screening at the Alamo Drafthouse, after audience members, young and old, stood up and told him how much his film spoke to them. The best moment came when a woman, who appeared to be in her 50s, asked what the film’s Twitter handle was. [Nigel M. Smith]

On my fourth day at the festival, the sun finally decided to make an appearance. Not that I’d been in bad spirits prior to that, but the gloomy weather definitely put a damper on my first few days at SXSW. To get some much needed UV rays, I donned by Ray Bans, hit up one of Austin’s famed food stands near the convention center and gorged on two empanadas outside on a bench. I didn’t rush through this meal. [Nigel M. Smith]

Standing in line for coffee at the convention center. Place my order, give him my debit card. Sign the slip. The Jo’s Coffee cashier looks at the receipt, then at me, and says: “Wow. You have a seriously awesome signature. It really looks like you’re having a good time.” This has nothing to do w/ how I write but the fact that despite the endless hordes at the convention center, a guy ringing up coffees for minimum wage can still be that positive and generous. That is definitive SXSW/Austin and one of the reasons that people usually leave here happier than when they arrived — something you can’t always say about Sundance, Toronto or Cannes. [Dana Harris]

Watching the opening frames of Amy Seimitz’s “Sun Don’t Shine.” They pinned me to my Alamo Drafthouse seat and the film kept me there for the next 82 minutes. Not every film’s a winner at SXSW, but seeing the premiere of a talent like hers more than makes up the difference. [Dana Harris]

1:30 am and I’ve just left the SXSW post-awards party. I need food, which means I need cash. Sixth Street ATMs charge $5.75, so I go to a side street Bank of America and wait for the guy ahead of me to finish. As he walks away, the machine is beeping. At first I think it’s broken; then I realize he’s left the transaction unfinished and his card’s in the machine. Push cancel, card pops out: I have 5 seconds to figure out which shadowy figure is the card’s owner before he’s sucked into the mardi-gras maw of Sixth Street. I pick somebody, run like hell and tap him on the shoulder. It’s him. He hugs me. [Dana Harris]

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