SXSW 2014 No. 5: Austin Film Festival Party, Gannett Party and more
SXSW 5.1 It’s hard to overestimate the importance of events such as Austin Film Festival’s party during SXSW at Star Bar. Attending are mostly locals, or locals-adjascent. The mood is supremely laid back, contrasting with the unholy crush at some SXSW parties. Simon Quiroz and Paula Brooks told me about their new film, “Cagers,” while Cole Dabney introduced his friends, lawyer-in-waiting Jordan McDonald and movie industry freshman Blake Newcomb (“I see a lot more weird things in Austin than in L.A.”). Among the other friendly faces with news to impart belonged to film maker Micah Barber (“Into the Who Knows”), budding screenwriter Maya Perez (now at the Michener School) and public relations sage Cile Montgomery, along with politicos Elliott Naishtat and Steve Scheibal. (Grand way to start SXSW Sunday.)
SXSW 5.2: Searsucker makes a swell SXSW party venue. Gannett, the many-headed media giant, sponsored a retreat there, with savory treats and studied drinks. I bumped into R.J. Fenn, Andy Tarradah and Lindsey Eckwall from DDB, a New York City ad agency. Nominally, they were here for SXSW Interactive. Yet, like your correspondent, they preferred to take in the city and its social scene rather than sit in dark rooms listening to panels and keynote speakers. Can’t blame ‘em. Local media bigwigs abounded. Also found out from Brenden Dutton, GM of Searsucker, that the eatery is doing land-office business, often because of rentals like this one. (I remain fond of chef Brian Malarkey’s Austin colony.)
SXSW 5.3: The Year of the RSVP. In the distant past, a SXSW badge and a discreet email of intention guaranteed admission to many of the festival’s numerous parties. No longer. In part because so many popular events are oversubscribed, one must not only confirm attendance in advance, but also produce proof of that confirmation at the door. This state of affairs is complicated by the ubiqutious digital invitation, which one must brandish from one’s mobile devices. Even that proof might not work. Behind the short velvet ropes are flustered volunteers checking and re-checking lists, then comparing names against one’s badge and photo ID. The practice rises to an absurd level when a doorkeeper distinguishes, as happened at one SXSW Malverde reception, among the hosts who might have invited you, then says you are welcome to wait around a half hour for the one-in, one-out stage. This, at a party with absolutely nobody in line. No party’s worth that. (And there are so many other options.)
Correction: An earlier headline for this post inaccurately identified the Austin Film Festival party.