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Streets begin to fill as clouds part at SXSW

Sharon Chapman

Suddenly, it was summer at South by Southwest, and blue skies matched a mostly celebratory mood in Austin. Ponchos and umbrellas gave way to shorts and sunglasses as the interactive and film portions of the festival continued Sunday with more panels, parties and celebrities.

Film saw seven scheduled red carpet events, the most of the festival. The celebrities in front of the cameras included Deepak Chopra and his director son Gotham ("Decoding Deepak"), Willem Dafoe ("The Hunter"), Robin Tunney ("See Girl Run"), Sheryl Crow ("$ellebrity") and Ziggy Marley ("Marley").

Writer and director Bob Byington of Austin had his moment on the red carpet for "Somebody Up There Likes Me," starring Nick Offerman; Melissa Leo was in town for the screening of her new film, "Francine."

Outside darkened theaters, it felt more like the music portion of the festival, which starts Tuesday, with crowds of people on sidewalks and in the streets. Afternoon pedestrian traffic on South Congress Avenue mimicked Interstate 35 at rush hour.

Big names at Interactive included Jimmy Fallon, who moderated a panel on sports and data, and Steve Case, Barry Diller and Nick Denton of Gawker Media. A toned-down George Clinton was interviewed by CNN about his efforts to get control of the copyrights of his original material and then posed for pictures with many fans.

Some serious discussions sparked amid the revelry.Panels at the interactive festival covered Planned Parenthood's recent crisis response, the Occupy movement, the possible bursting of the social media bubble and different ways SXSW can curate panels.

Additional material from Omar L. Gallaga, Michael Barnes, Charles Ealy, Isadora Vail, Eric Pulsifer and Esther Robards-Forbes.