The Black Out. The most dangerous dessert I’ve ever had… at SXSW. The Squarespace truck was handing out this culinary monstrosity, and I just had to partake of the chocolate chip, brownie bits and fudge-covered cake donut. And my guts’a no’a likey me a’no more.
Anyway, indigestion and and gut rumbles aside, today was a good day. Woke up and bolted over to the Convention Center to snag SXxpress tags for the flicks on my hit list for the day, only to be greeted with a huge queue. Being the type of prick that will actively avoid lines at all costs, I said “f**k it” and ran downstairs (okay, I don’t ever “run”)… to line up for the Better This World documentary. Yeah, I know, line for a line.
The documentary was amazing; very strong and emotionally powerful, to the point of making me overwhelmingly pissed at the events that occur. When it wrapped up, the audience gave it a standing ovation. Again, great movie, but something was a little “off” for me with the film, mainly in that it employed re-enactments and re-created voice performances… but I didn’t know that until the end credits. Meaning, despite watching a documentary, I don’t REALLY know what was real. Some moments seemed false, and I remember thinking, “how did they get all this footage? These people filmed everything. Wait, was that a two-camera cut to a close-up?” Was I reacting to the performances on screen, or the real events? The end result is captivating and incredible, but what is the difference between this being called a “documentary” or a narrative film “based on a true story”? These are the thoughts that ran through my head. I don’t think they lessen the impact of the film, but things I actively considered. EDITED TO ADD: Better This World filmmaker Katie Galloway has addressed my confusion in the comments below, clarifying things.
The next film of the day for me was the MMA documentary Fightville. I’m not a MMA fan, but I still felt intrigued enough to check it out and… I’m glad I did. Easily a must-see for the festival, Fightville humanizes the MMA sport while also creating a narrative that rivals some of the best sports films. By the end of the documentary, folks were hooting and hollering, and even I was getting into some of the matches in a real, “That’s f*****g amazing” gut reaction. What I really dug about the MMA matches was the lack of anger in the violence, if that makes sense. The fighters don’t hate each other, they’re not interested in really hurting the other fighter… they just compete and want to be the best. There’s a zen calm to it all, even when a nose is split open and blood is everywhere. I tend to go into films with an optimistic view (if I didn’t, I’d see something else), but this one exceeded expectations I didn’t know I had. See Fightville.
After Fightville was when I had my Black Out experience, prior to heading to the Alamo South Lamar to see The Other F Word documentary. The film relates what happens when punk rockers find themselves as parents, thrust into an authority position that they’d normally rage against. While the film focused on a number of rockers, the real star of the documentary was Pennywise lead singer Jim Lindberg, a father of three daughters who finds himself, as the film goes on, increasingly at odds with his touring occupation. A humanizing portrait, The Other F Word is sweet and endearing… and really entertaining. Watching Fat Mike of NOFX make toast is an image I will not soon forget.
After that doc (the third of the day for me), I decided to bail to get back to the hotel to write… this. With the time change happening tonight, I didn’t fancy the thought of coming out of a midnight movie, seeing the time as 3am and then sitting up for a couple hours working away, like last night. Sometimes I am an old fuddy-duddy, but at the same time, those who know me well know that if I go too many days without some proper sleep, I get cranky. And not in a whiney way, but in an antagonistic, mean way. Believe me, an extra hour of sleep tonight means I won’t “accidentally” body check a random person. Everyone benefits.