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Harry on Day One of SXSW, Texas Filmmakers Hall of Fame and why THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED should when Best Doc 2007!!!

Hey Folks, Harry here… Day One of SXSW. For the last 4 years of SXSW, I haven’t been able to see the opening night film… in this case the world premiere of Robert Altman’s PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION with the brand spanking new Picturehouse nifty animated logo… but never fear, Quint and Annette Kellerman were on that like a pig in shit trying to scratch its back.

Why haven’t I been seeing a film on the first day of SXSW, cuz the Austin Film Society chooses that very same day and moment to host their extravaganza called THE TEXAS FILMMAKER’S HALL OF FAME. This year they were inducting JoBeth Williams, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Matthew McConaughey and the film THE LAST PICTURE SHOW with Cybill Shepherd accepting. Presenters included SR Bindler, Lawrence “I fucking wrote EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, fuck you” Kasdan and John “No fuck you, I wrote BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS and a killer alligator beneath the streets flick!” Sayles. The original Emcee was going to be the fantastic Ann Richards… but at the last minute Ann had to pull out due to basically having throat cancer. Which sucks unholy amounts of ass. She’s one of the coolest citizens of this great city, you should see her recent spot she shot for the Alamo Drafthouse. It’s genius.

Anyway, it’s a high falootin’ affair where they raise ungodly sums of money through auctions and other tricks to add to the fantastic Texas Filmmaker’s Production Fund, among other great causes. Tonight I was attending with Father Geek, his mother Granny Geek, the love of my life and me in my Dracula shoes. Had a brief discussion with one of the talents that wants to partake in GHOST TOWN and he’s anxious to get to work on it, talked with the head of Picturehouse for a bit. Granny Geek blew Kris Kristofferson a kiss and reportedly, he blew one back. She was in Granny Geek heaven for like… well, let’s face it, she’s still beside herself. I swear to god, the guy sitting next to PapaSan heard his life story and the birth and life of AICN over the dinner portion.

As for the actual event…. This year was decidedly lower key than last years. For one, Lauren Bacall added such an infinite amount of class to the evening that I couldn’t even begin to convey the utter coolness of being in her presence, much less getting her to sign my original KEY LARGO half sheet movie poster (not at the event, but the day before) and a great conversation about Lionel Barrymore I had with her. Anyways, this year… the first several acceptance and introduction pieces were just too quick. I love John Sayles, but he’s a brevity fellow when it comes to speaking in front of high fallutin affairs. To induct Kris into the Hall Of Fame, I would’ve preferred Guillermo Del Toro who would have had the audience in fucking stitches through his tales about Kris and perhaps he could have been convinced to screen PAN’S LABYRINTH (ahem) . JoBeth Williams was presented by Lawrence Kasdan, which was great… but there’s a part of me that would have loved to have had Tobe Hooper present hers… if nothing else than to get some damn POLTERGEIST stories told. (ahem, I’m a geek, I know) Cybill was fantastic, but brief.

Don’t think the event wasn’t great – it was. I mean holy Christ – you had Lyle Lovett performing one hell of a set… and then a 40 minute acceptance speech from Matthew McConaughey which just went real far toward me declaring that Matthew is the quintessential Austin celebrity. It isn’t just that he’s famous. Hell Linklater, Mike Judge and Robert Rodriguez are outstanding. But Matthew is just Austin through and through. The way he speaks in a low key Zen sense of childlike enthusiasm tempered with sage bits of eclectic Austin wisdom sprinkled with a worldly understanding. He was absolutely captivating as he detailed not only what Texas means to him, but Austin in particular. His “Just Keep Living” mantra is very much a backbone ideal for Austin. Nobody moved during his amazing acceptance speech – and it, in and of itself is what is remarkable about not having a minute and a half acceptance window like some goddamn award shows…

The best part of the evening was being incredibly gay with girlfriend talking about the Austin fashion at this affair – as well as conversing with a few people I’d never met that had interesting tales of people we mutually know telling versions of stories that I participated in. Very fucking funny stuff. Specifically the Richard Elfman one.


Was the fact that I was actually able to see an opening night film!


Do you hate the MPAA? Do you loathe this system by which filmmakers are forced to edit their films to a specific rating in order to hit a certain demographic? Do you hate that you’ve no idea who the people that rate these films are like, though they’re described as being safe normal family folks that have kids in the young impressionable range? Want to really know who the people in this STAR CHAMBER of Hollywood are?


The man, Kirby Dick… director and owner of the biggest brassiest set of balls these eyes have ever worshipped. Apparently set to be released by IFC FILMS around Labor Day, Kirby Dick’s film is genius. It completely reveals the hypocrisy of the system, and pulls back the curtain to reveal a sacred set of lies that the industry’s “wizard” had been operating behind.


Kirby Dick hired the coolest goddamn Private Investigator in the history of cinema. A Lesbian that has been happily raising a perfectly normal cool girl with her life partner… whom she operates her Private Eye company with. This isn’t some KISS KISS BANG BANG action scenario… but watching how she stakes out the MPAA’s fortress of solitude… systematically writing down the license plates of every car that went in and out of the building. How she got the company directory… it’s like ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, but instead of fucking Nixon, it’s goddamn Jack Valenti! And they cornhole him like Ned Beatty over a log. It’s fucking awesome. The thrill of the chase, the investigation, the bagging of these goddamn raters one after another. It's like a thousand times better than Elmer Fudd hunting Bugs Bunny!

The investigation techniques are rock solid – and you come out knowing that there’s an aspiring would-be screenwriter on the ratings board and about 80% of the Parents of impressionable children have kids in their 20s or OLDER…. One didn’t even have kids and these people have terrible taste in food. They literally go to dives of fast food. Yuck. Very indicative of the MPAA.

If you love cinema – yet the ratings board drives you fucking bat nuts… this is the film for you. In addition to the investigation aspect… there’s interviews with raped filmmakers like Kevin Smith (fucking hilarious as usual), Wayne Kramer, Matt Stone (fucking hilarious as usual), Darren Aronofsky, Allison Anders, Atom Egoyan, Kimberly Peirce, John Waters (fucking hilarious as usual – his felching bit was great), Bingham Ray, Mary Harron and many others. Hell – just seeing Maria Bello defending her right to bare pubes vs the stabbed breast implant in one of those SCARY MOVIE flicks. To find out more about the film, check out: the official site where folks are sharing MPAA horror stories and lots more. Fantastic movie – a great way to kick off my SXSW. Now it’s time for sleep, got 4 more tomorrow!

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