South By SouthWest Diary Day Two - 3/12/2010

Day Two

The day started with a massive disappointment. The press lounge didn't open until noon, and pretty much nothing was open at the Convention Center except the check-in. The advance-passes booth, which also wasn't open, had a line going at least a block. The opening night extravaganza, Predators, had sold out long before, and there were only 15 SXPRESS passes for it, which get you to the front of the line.

The line for those passes had about 20 people, so I waited with everyone else and got a couple of tickets, one for a film that had a press screening I'd missed in New York, The Red Chapel, and one picked at random. I was was lucky to get those with the crush of people. Then I headed off to find a bus to the reception/brunch at the U. of Texas' Henry Ransom Center on 20th Street.

They had an exhibit about movie-making that was actually pretty interesting although the brunch part wasn't all that impressive. What was truly interesting was the ¡Viva! Mexico exhibit, which was there becuase of the bicentennial of Mexican independence. What was most important was that the curators completely ignored the event the exhibit was supposed to be celebrating.

They had the actual document appointing Hernando Cortez Captain General of New Spain, letters from Emperor Maximilian to his wife, and photos of Emilio Zapata and Poncho Villa. But as to the war of independence that started in 1810 -- nada. They didn't even mention it in the timeline! I found that to be even more offensive than the monument to Confederate President Jefferson Davis on the state capitol grounds. Why have an exhibition celebrating something if you don't mention it?

I then went to the history museum (more on that later) and spent a couple of hours looking around before heading back to the convention center, which was totally packed -- at least for a while, because when I finally got to the fourth floor and was heading to the press lounge, some moron decided it would be funny to press the fire alarm, and they had to clear the building.

It was here that I noticed that SxSW was all about corporate sponsorship. There were tents across the street in the park on Fourth Street, and they were giving out free drinks. Naturally the place was packed, and it gave me something to do while waiting for my very first screening, which was held at the convention center.

Unfortunately, The Red Chapel sucked big time. It was a documentary about this Danish comedian who brought two of his compatriots to North Korea in order to do expose the evil regime of Kim Jong Il. The theater wasn't packed at all, as most people were at the Kick-Ass premiere at Paramount Theatre, on Congress Street.

After that, I rushed up to the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz, on trendy Sixth Street, where I saw a thing called The Good Heart that starred Brian Cox as an unlovable curmudgeon. He was great, more on both later….