This time of year every year, just as things start to thaw here in Wisconsin, everything is already ablaze in every way possible down in Austin, Texas. I’m not just talking about their fiery temperatures or spicy food. The film portion of South By Southwest begins tomorrow, followed shortly by the music festival, and it will indeed be lit—and we're about to join.
With the thousands of screenings, concerts and other arts events over the short span of nine days, it’s impossible to feel like you aren’t missing something at any given moment. Because you probably are. In fact, even as film columnist Samantha Marz, music columnist Jake Witz and I prepare for our escapades across downtown Austin, taking in every bit of information we can along the way, we must come to terms with the fact that we’re unlikely to see even half of the films and artists.
However, the abundance of creative minds and mediums means that every moment at SXSW will be filled to the brim with engagement with a larger arts community, one that the Madison community can certainly find its place within. Musicians range from huge names like Iggy Pop to We Are The Willows, a band I grew up watching in my hometown of Eau Claire, Wis., sitting cross-legged on a basement floor. If you think the variety stops at music, you’re mistaken; there’s just as wide of a range in the film sector in terms of genre, length and name recognition. The festival even offers a multitude of technological and visual arts exhibitions like "ANIMA" by Nick Verstand, an installation the SXSW website describes as a “three-dimensional sphere [that] poses as an intelligent and emotional entity.”
So whether you’re Iggy Pop or just a college journalist trying to meet a super smart ball, SXSW allows creative folks of every form and scope to mingle in a single shared space, and we are oh-so grateful to be a part of it all.
—Amileah Sutliff, Arts Page Editor
With new events being announced daily, my anticipation for covering SXSW Film Festival is building by the second. Among the headliners is “Everybody Wants Some,” a coming-of-age film from director Richard Linklater, who received praise for his work on Oscar-nominated “Boyhood.” Joining the lineup is Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Demolition,” a drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts and “War on Everyone,” starring Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña. There are a number of documentaries to look out for as well. “Beware the Slenderman,” a documentary about the attempted murder in Waukesha, Wis., will be premiering, and fresh off the heels of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is “Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey,” which will take an in-depth look at the behind-the-scenes processes of the critical and commercial hit.
In addition to the screenings, there will be several presentations and discussions with some of the top figures in the industry. J.J. Abrams will be discussing digital storytelling in the presentation “The Eyes of Robots and Murderers.” Jake Gyllenhaal will also be in attendance to discuss his film career and upcoming projects, and Ellen Page will present a keynote with Ian Daniel. Other notable appearances include Kerry Washington of “Scandal,” and Raimi Malik and Christian Slater of “Mr. Robot.” SXSW 2016 is shaping up to be one of the biggest yet.
—Samantha Marz, Film Columnist
Navigating the music lineup at SXSW feels like getting lost in the endless aisles of IKEA, imagining all of the different lifestyles you can arrange for yourself all in one place. Name any single music genre, and chances are there will be dozens of shows catering to the sound, showcasing new and old artists alike. Out of all the possible paths to take at SXSW, I’ve chosen to become the king of clubs.
The week starts off with a massive showcase of TEKLIFE vs. NAAFI, two labels that are pushing the sound of electronic music forward with the force of a freight train. What’s most interesting about this lineup is the use of “vs.” as opposed to a more gentle collaborative relation like “and” or the classic “x,” leading me to believe that the night will be more of a sonic bloodbath than a musical showcase.
The next day offers a rare treat for American audiences, with SBTV importing British artists making waves overseas. Iglooghost, who I recently discovered has tracks put out on Madison’s very own CATCH WRECK laberl, will be opening the night for a seemingly endless rotation of UK heavyweights, including the grima artists Mumdance and Stormzy.
As for non-electronic artists, I can’t wait to see how much Alex G has changed since he last performed at Memorial Union, where he started the show by asking if anyone was willing to let the band crash at their house. Along with Porches and Frankie Cosmos, the defining artists of bedroom pop are going to have a field day in Austin, playing several showcases across the seven-day-long festival.
I’d like to think that I have a set plan for next week, but honestly, anything can happen. I’m sure to make a few wrong turns and wind up at a show I never intended to be at, but it seems like that’s just part of the magic of South By Southwest.
—Jake Witz, Music Columnist