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Nordling here.

Here's a column that I will be doing daily leading up to the opening of the South By Southwest Film Festival, starting March 9th and concluding March 17th.  I want to showcase big films, small films, and the ones in between; the can't-miss features and the quiet, intimate films that need all the help they can get.  This will be my second year covering the festival - last year I smashed into it with only 2 and a half days, and I don't know how coherent I was at the end of it.  This year I'm here for 5 days and while I'll see as much as I can, I'm pacing myself.

I'm a firm believer when covering a film festival not to have any expectations about what you're seeing - just to roll with the punches and keep my ear close to the ground.  If I hear buzz about something good, I'll try my best to seek it out.  The fun thing about film festivals is being surprised and genuinely knocked on your ass by a film you didn't expect - last year ATTACK THE BLOCK did that for me, and there's a few potentials this year that I'm really anxious to check out.  I'm not even going to be able to see all these films I'm writing about; I'm just not going to have the time at the festival.  But I'd love to hopefully see some of them after, or maybe before, depending on my schedule.

I'm really excited about this year's crop, so let's get started:


Director: Joe Berlinger

Paul Simon's GRACELAND is, without a doubt, one of the best albums of the 1980s.  It's probably my personal favorite album from the time.  I was picking and choosing through my SXSW schedule and I knew this was going to be a must-see for me.  Joe Berlinger is one of our greatest documentarians, first off, and the film explores not only the cultural and musical significance of the album but also the political significance.  It could be argued that GRACELAND was the album that led to the dismantling of apartheid; Simon showed the world the culture of South Africa at a time where most musicians were told to stay away. UNDER AFRICAN SKIES explores the making of the album, and returns 25 years later to visit with some of the other artists that worked on the album and how their lives were changed as a result.  I can't wait to see it - this one's one of my can't miss films of the whole festival.

PLAY TIMES: 6:00 PM Tuesday, March 13th, Alamo Lamar B; 6:45 PM Thursday, March 15th, Vimeo Theater; 8:00 PMFriday, March 16th, Alamo Ritz



Director: Steven C. Miller

It's being called HOME ALONE meets HOSTEL; a teen action film of home invasion.  It's got some names you might recognize - Derek Mears (FRIDAY THE 13th), Ray Wise (TWIN PEAKS), but the trailer does a terrific job of selling the tension of the piece.  A group of teens try to fend off a bunch of hitmen looking for their $500,000.  This is one of the SXSW Midnighters and it's already got quite a bit of buzz about it.  It's a World Premiere at SXSW, and I have the feeling this one may be one of those talked about movies.  There's always a Midnighter that kicks everyone's ass, and this one could be it.

PLAY TIMES: 11:59 PM, Saturday, March 10th, Alamo Lamar A; 1:00 PM, Sunday March 11th, Violet Crown; 11:59 PM Tuesday, March 15th, Alamo Lamar A; 11:59 PM, Wednesday March 14th, Alamo Ritz 1



Director: Patrick Forbes

So who is Julian Assange?  Is he a hero?  A villain?  An exposer of truth or someone who has put us at risk?  Honestly, while I think Wikileaks shined a light on a lot of Bad Things, I can't help feeling that Assange has played us somehow.  WIKILEAKS: SECRETS AND LIES has an exclusive interview with Assange and dives into the whole affair.  This whole story has a "don't shoot the messenger" vibe about it; I still don't know what kind of person Assange is, but no doubt, the information that Wikileaks released to the public put a huge burden on the countries that it affected.  For better or worse, it's out there now, and it might not be as important as to how it got out, but what we, as a people learn from it.  A controversial documentary, to be sure.

PLAY TIMES: 9:45 PM, Friday, March 9th, Vimeo Theater; 7:15 PM, Tuesday, March 13th, Alamo Ritz 1; 5:00 PM, Wednesday, March 14th, Violet Crown 1; 4:30 PM, Saturday, March 17th, Alamo Lamar C


And that's it for tonight; tomorrow I'll have three more films playing SXSW 2012 this year that you should look out for.  It's going to be a hell of a year this year, and whatever doesn't kill me makes me geekier, or something like that.

Nordling, out.  Follow me on Twitter!

Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 20, 2012, 9:17 p.m. CST

    I'd have those Wikileaks jerks in Guatanamo

    by gboybama

    and Manning would get the firing squad for treason.

  • Feb. 20, 2012, 9:18 p.m. CST


    by gboybama

    Guantanamo, obviously. Thanks, edit function.

  • Feb. 20, 2012, 9:45 p.m. CST

    I respect the differing opinions on the subject.

    by gotilk

    But I am occasionally shocked by the number of people who would prefer being in the dark over knowing the truth. (or perhaps, if you don't like the term truth, the facts)

  • Feb. 20, 2012, 10:51 p.m. CST

    It's easy man

    by gboybama

    I simply don't have to know every damn thing. Problem solved. You're welcome. In all seriousness, countries need secrets. There are some things that only empower our enemies once they're leaked.

  • A scandal involving foreign contractors employed to train Afghan policemen who took drugs and paid for young "dancing boys" to entertain them in northern Afghanistan caused such panic that the interior minister begged the US embassy to try and "quash" the story, according to one of the US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks. In a meeting with the assistant US ambassador, a panicked Hanif Atmar, the interior minister at the time of the episode last June, warned that the story would "endanger lives" and was particularly concerned that a video of the incident might be made public. The episode helped to fuel Afghan demands that contractors and private security companies be brought under much tighter government control. However, the US embassy was legally incapable of honouring a request by Atmar that the US military should assume authority over training centres managed by DynCorp, the US company whose employees were involved in the incident in the northern province of Kunduz. -------------------------- The US embassy in Paris advised Washington to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country which opposed genetically modified (GM) crops, newly released WikiLeaks cables show. In response to moves by France to ban a Monsanto GM corn variety in late 2007, the ambassador, Craig Stapleton, a friend and business partner of former US president George Bush, asked Washington to penalise the EU and particularly countries which did not support the use of GM crops. “Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits.

  • Feb. 21, 2012, 7:58 a.m. CST

    Secrets mostly empower those already in power

    by David Cloverfield

    If a government views it's citizens as enemies, than yes, revealing secrets will empower them, without a doubt. There is obviously some need for covert operations, but the shit Assange released mostly called attention to stupid, petty incompetence that caused human suffering. Yes, it made OUR BETTERS uncomfortable. Put him in Guantalamo.