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SXSW ’07! Stan Arthur Flips For HELL ON WHEELS!!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. One of my favorite things about going to any film festival is seeing the documentaries that I know I may never get to see theatrically again. Is HELL ON WHEELS a highlight from this year’s South By Southwest? Stan Arthur’s got a lot to say about it, but he’s also got some stuff to say about the LiveMansion contest he’s part of. I’ll give him the room to explain:

Hello Harry and Mori. Long time reader. First time reviewer. But first... the back story. 1) I am a video producer for a famous law school and an ardent film geek. I've been reading AICN since darn near the beginning. 2) I'm also a career musician who just this week had the opportunity to travel to Austin to play at a SXSW showcase. During my three days there, I finally got the opportunity to see Mecca for film geeks, the original Alamo Drafthouse. The 4:30 showing was the 5-year-in-the-making documentary about the great roller derby revival that started in Austin. 3) Roller Derby is very near and dear to my heart. For the last year, I've been doing all the video production for the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins here in Florida. I had NO idea that it all started in Austin in 2000. I had no inkling of the high drama, in-fighting, back-biting and personal triumphs that were involved in bringing Roller Derby kicking and screaming back from the grave. Thanks to this great feature-length documentary, I now know. 4) Lastly, I'd like to mention that I am currently one of five finalists in the contest at to direct Live Mansion: The Movie, that you guys refuse to post about (damn you), even though there are now big players involved like Spike Lee (who I met and showed my final contest entry to last week!), Jon Leguizamo and Michael Rappaport. Of course, this last point has nothing to do with the review. I just wanted to get that off my chest. The only reason I'm even involved in the contest is because I first read about it here at AICN. "Hell On Wheels" is the story of the great American Roller Derby revival that started in Austin when a somewhat creepy guy approached a couple of women saying that he had a great idea. Months later, when the man nicknamed Roller Derby Dan, was spinning his wheels (and apparently using drugs) while the women were doing all the work, they kicked him to the curb and started their own long, strange trip. The next 90-minutes reveal the kind of twists, drama, cat fights and compound fractures that only happen in real life. Technically, I feel for the producers in a big way. This had to be very hard to pull off. It looks like it's shot on low-end gear and there are frequent sound problems, especially when all the girls start bitching outloud at the same time. But the story is extremely compelling, sometimes laugh-out-loud outrageous and above all inspiring. Sure, I was there with a near sell-out audience with lots of the films participants in the house, but that didn't effect my own enthusiasm for the story. It really is worth sticking with it to the end, even when all the in-fighting gets to be a bit tedious. The end justifies the means. In a few short years, hundreds of Roller Derby leagues have sprung up all over the world because of the ground these women laid. And let me add that if you've never been to a bout, you are truly missing something extremely entertaining and violent in girl-on-girl action. I hope that you do see Hell On Wheels and enjoy it as much as I did. Additionally, if you are not from Austin and you plan a pilgrimage to the Alamo, I highly recommend the Royale with Cheese with a tasty ice cold Shiner Bock. If anyone would like to vote for the director and actors who will be in Live Mansion: The Movie, go to, starting March 26 and register with just a username and password. You'll be able tout his to watch videos of all the finalists and vote for your favorites. Of course, I hope you'll vote for me to direct. When I got up to introduce my scene at the Tribeca Cinema, I mentioned that I was a fan of Quentin Tarantino. After showing it, Spike didn't have a lot to say. I found out later about Spike's war of words in the media with QT about his use of the "N" word in his films. Oh well. Till next time, -Stan Arthur
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