Every film festival has its own identity, and one of the things I've learned over time is that you can't cover them all the same way. It helps that SXSW is in Austin, because if there's any city on Earth where I feel comfortable besides my home, it's Austin. I have a network of friends there, and when I drive there, I feel like I've got a handle on where I am at all times, something that could only happen when you've spent as much time as I have there.
Hollywood has really settled into SXSW, using it to premiere certain kinds of movies. Big comedies or movies that work well with big audiences like horror films tend to be the best films to bring here. Austin is a movie town, and the audiences are demonstrative, to say the least. Part of what makes a premiere at the Paramount special is the people who pack into that theater.
This year's line-up features big names and unknowns in equal measure, which is another part of SXSW's charm. After all, the festival was defined in many ways by the support it showed to microbudget films and regional voices. Guests like Judd Apatow, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Schumer, Will Ferrell, and Kevin Hart will be there with new films, while George Miller will be at the festival to screen his stone-cold classic “The Road Warrior.” I'm hoping there will be plenty of discoveries there as well, because those moments are magic. I love that feeling when you're sitting in a theater and you realize you're watching a major new talent at work, like when I saw “Short Term 12.”
Katie Hasty will be in Austin with me, and I think you can look forward to a wide array of reviews and interviews, with both of us already having to make hard choices about what we will or won't get to see. We put together a look at what you should look forward to, and I think it gives you a clear look at just how diverse the line-up is. These aren't the only films we'll see, of course, but it should give you some idea of what to expect.
Our SXSW coverage kicks off on Friday in a big way. See you there.