Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SxSWi & SxSWf - Monday

I got up a little later than usual today, and was unable to park in my usual spot, the Parking Garage. The weather has finally broken, and it was absolutely beautiful, warm and sunny.

In the morning I bounced between two talks about managing employees in startups, and protecting domain names. The first was somewhat interesting, but for the second talk, all I can say is god save us all from lawyers, please. This panel members (all lawyers) and some of the other Esquires in the audience came to the great conclusion that there is a problem with ICANN because they turn a profit, and that all of interests would be best served by having the government regulate this function.

After a nice leisurely lunch on the roof of the Iron Cactus, I spent the afternoon at two talks:

  • A film panel focused on the topic of 3D, with Robert Rodriguez and Henry Selick, the stop action animator of Nightmare before Christmas fame. This session was fantastic and went by way too fast. They both presented short clips of their work in this domain, and answered a large volume of questions. It was great to be able to see into the minds of these two fantastic artists and see what makes them tick. Having the audience so engaged, made the session enjoyable on several levels.
  • Bruce Sterling's keynote speech finished the day. I think he portrayed the general state of things, with some good commentary on today's Internet, Social Media, etc. I would say that although he tried to assume the mantel of an objective journalist or observer, his political agenda did leak out on several occasions. I'll just say that this, Bruce is lot more enamored and impressed by Politicians and Policy Wonks, than I am.

For the evening, I went to two film screenings:

  • Luckey - at the Convention Center theater. First let me say, this facility was surprisingly good. It is by far, the largest screen of the festival and great sound. The film itself was fantastic and very moving. If only most reality TV could aspire to this level.

    The film is a documentary about the life of sculptor, Tom Luckey, who became a quadriplegic from a fall. The deadly irony of this, is the fall was the result of one of his own architectural decisions.

    The film covers his present day business, building elaborate climbing tree sculptures that you would find in a Children's Museum. The documentary details the interactions with various family members as they prepare one of these climbing trees, for the Boston Children's Museum.

  • The second film I saw last night, was listed as TBA on the Alamo Ritz list. This intrigued me enough to want to go see it. While in line, I recognized that the person next to me in line was originally from Baltimore (my home town), and we had a fun conversation while waiting.

    Entry to the screening was delayed. All we were told is that the film was 30 years old, historically significant and that projector setup was taking longer than expected. We finally entered the theater, I was surprised to see Richard Linklater introduced as the MC. He then explained that we were about to see Todd Haynes' banned film Superstar, the Karen Carpenter story, and that Todd might be available after the screening for Q&A. Richard also spoke about seeing this film back then, and the impact it had upon him.

    The entire film is done with barbie dolls, interspersed with segues of real people at various points. I found it extremely creative, and found it interesting to hear about why the film had been banned. I was really happy I made this decision to just wing it.

Looking forward to another great day of weather and the close out of SxSWi.

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