It’s inherently fascinating, and director Jeff Malmberg neither gawks nor builds up a condescending outsider-artist mythology around his subject, making Marwencol not just a curio-doc with an above-average hook, but an insightful perspective on the uses and limits of fantasy.
On the way up the Convention Center escalator, I’m stopped at the landing between floors while a man with a tripod-mounted camera films a kid in a black volunteer shirt chasing a yellow kickball down the down escalator. When I reach the press lounge, someone appears to be getting a (free?) massage on the other side of the room. At my table, a Scotsman is conducting interviews with attendees to the Interactive conference. “You could wear a tie with pajamas,” he tells his interviewee.
The G-Tech is a theater set up in one of the Convention Center’s auditoriums; the 2pm screening is of Camp Victory, Afghanistan, a documentary about three years with the Afghan National Army and their American advisors. The film struggles to get a grip on all the history, logistics and paradoxes at work—director Carol Dysinger doesn’t spend enough time off-base, or with the enlisted men. But the many interpreted conversations between Afghan and American top brass are at least effectively enervating, demonstrations of the day-to-day insurmountablility of an language barrier.
While writing in between Camp Victory and the 5pm G-Tech screening, I realize I should have gone outside (it's so nice out here!). If I’m not mistaken, the SoBe Lounge in Brush Park has custom SoBe cocktails; for you, dear reader, I promise I’ll sample one.
On the way back through the Convention Center to the theater I stop at the trade show and pick up a free bottle of Miller Light, which everybody seems to be drinking as they wander around. I circulate, trying to look like I’m not just here for the beer, that I’m actually interested in the booths for new apps, smart keyboards, freelance design consulting firms. I don’t think they care, actually. Like hotel towels with the logo on them, SXSW and their sponsors are perfectly happy to brand you while you feel cool for scamming them.
The 5pm film is a shorts program, because this is a film festival. Futurestates is an online series featuring indie directors taking on The Future; the selected films are mostly limp and preachy, taking on climate change and illegal immigration with sub-Twilight Zone irony. But I’m glad to finally see Ramin (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo) Bahrani’s Plastic Bag, which I missed at the New York Film Festival last fall and which concerns a windblown plastic bag, voiced by Werner Herzog. Disposability as metaphor for existential void, with a noniodegradable twist.
The free whiskey I didn’t get yesterday is fine, I guess. On the way up to the Alamo Ritz from the Convention Center you pass a firehouse; I smell barbecue and sure enough a couple of firefighters are out around the side, grillin’, chillin’. Just then the firehouse garage door opens and an engine pulls out, lights already flashing.
It’s hard to eat and pay attention to a movie at the same time, especially when you can’t see your food and you don’t want to spill it on the people sitting either side of you. So I’m not as invested in the nuances of Helena at the Wedding as I ought to be. My impression, though, is of a very well-understood milieu—it takes place at the vacation home of one of the adult protagaonists’ parents, and the tensions and dynamics between the long-friendly couples and the sig-other interlopers feels authentic—filled with a fairly generic and solipsistic male marital panic storyline.
My late-night options are a couple of parties, the 9:30 movie at the Paramount—Electra Luxx—and a midnight movie on the other side of the river: Serbian Film, in which, I'll read this morning on Twitter, "a guy rapes another guy to death in his eye socket."
I realize I need to get some writing done.
Coming tomorrow: what I actually did today (Monday), and maybe even what I’m up to on tomorrow, who knows really.