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SXSW Film 2013: An Unreal Dream

You know what makes a film festival special? Watching the unbelievable true story of a man wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife, spending 25 years in jail essentially coming to terms with his situation and accepting it, then finally being set free by saints that relentlessly fought for him.

OK, no, that’s a darn good story. What makes it special is the man himself, Michael Morton, walking on stage with John Raley, the attorney that worked pro bono for 7 years, and the director of this story, Al Reinert. The audience stood clapping for a good five minutes, tears flowing from basically everyone. His spirit and attitude to forgiveness during the Q&A was something to marvel. Being part of that moment, with those people, is an incredible feeling. It elevates a film to an experience, and that’s what film festivals are all about.

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Lost and Sound

‘Lost and Sound’. An incredibly touching insight into the adaptive power of the brain and impact technological advances can have in the lives of three individuals.

Don’t get me wrong, but deafness has always fascinated me. I’ll have these internal arguments every now and then on whether I’d give up sight or sound, if I had to give up one; I usually settle on sound. My crude view equated deafness to hearing nothing. I don’t know if it’s simply the three particular individuals in this film, or the advent of the Cochlear implant, but it is indeed not as clear cut as everything or nothing. There’s a phrase in the film about a mother realising the difference between simply “hearing” and “listening”, and this crystallised things.

Then there’s the brain. As described in the film, the ears simply provide a portal for the electrical impulses in your brain to interpret the rhythm, timbre, beat, etc of music, and turn it into that something that is deeply profound to all of us. The incredible, taken-for-granted effect music has in the life of every human being is exemplified further with the very music-oriented stars of the film.

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The Cabin in the Woods [spoiler-free, duh]

‘The Cabin in the Woods’. Genre-bending genius from Whedon and Goddard. 

What an incredible surprise. The horror genre, its conventions and archetypes are maintained and honoured, but there are so many more layers to this! This is a spoof, a homage, and then something completely different. The tone maintained is perfect, sliding easily from horror and suspense to self-referential comedy, while never selling short its characters and emotional stakes.

I really can’t talk about what happens, because it would completely ruin half the fun you’ll have with this, but believe me, you WILL have fun. A LOT of fun. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had as much fun in a movie. And, I don’t know how, but I’m pretty sure the audience at the packed Paramount Theater had way more fun than me, and added so much to the atmosphere; rapturous, deserved applause throughout. 
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SXSW – The context layer

There was plenty talked about at SXSW Interactive, and for the most part, it was reaffirming my existing knowledge more than anything else. One thing that did stand out, and that I’ve found myself talking about since I’ve returned, is this whole concept of a Context Layer to sit on top of all the content that exists on the web, and specifically in relation to Location.

This is isn’t something new or revolutionary, but it makes sense in feeling like the logical next step.

We’ve already seen Web 2.0 push personalisation, and the Social Web push relevance via social graphs [no doubt this will continue *cough* +1 *cough*], but utilising location, especially through mobiles, is still in its infancy.

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SXSW 2011 in films. Q&As, lines and the 15 I saw, ranked.

SXSW Film is pretty special. Sure, there’s Sundance and Cannes, but SXSW Film really opens up its screenings, and gives the people access to all films that are screening like no other film festival. It was my first SXSW, and I had absolutely no idea to expect. It’s pretty clear now though, that by far, the Film component was my favourite.

Where else would a movie fanboy like me get to sit in on so many world premieres and screenings and interact with the cast, director, writer and producers of films?! The Q&As were a part of film I’d hardly experienced, and I grew deeply in love with them, and the context derived from them, with the movie being so fresh in your mind.

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SXSW – The Beaver [spoilers, duh]

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Boy I love being surprised by films. The Beaver is not the film I expected it to be.

Jodie Foster introduced the film, and with a wry smile on her face, she warned the audience that this would not be a lighthearted, uplifting story, and well, she was right. Thank god she made the movie she did.

The Beaver tells four stories. A clinically depressed man that has tried all he can and is on the verge of suicide, stuck in a box that he cannot break out of. A wife at the crossroads of a broken relationship, a son desperately trying not to be his father, and a girl struggling to truly express herself.

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Drive a cab or pedicab at SXSW? Check the Explore tab on Foursquare!

I’m in Austin, Texas for SXSW. I had two experiences with cabs yesterday.

The first was being pretty much stranded at a Burger King near Walmart in the middle of nowhere, off a highway :O “serves you right”, I hear Alex saying. We waited for a good hour I’d say, and when we finally got in the cab, the cab driver, amongst other things, was ranting about how terrible their dispatch is, and the distrust, almost, that they have in them. And this is apparently the best of the bunch, when it comes to cab companies in Austin.

I didn’t pay much attention to it, and was actually appreciative of how decent Sydney is in getting a cab to you, when called for.

The second experience was when we were all severely intoxicated, evacuating a closing bar, and wondering where the hell to go next. What did we do? We checked out the Explore tab on Foursquare.

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