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SXSW 2011 – Day Five: Interview with Mike Mills, Awards Night, Free Drinks

This is Part Five of a five-part series that chronicles Nick Allen’s first experience at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

Click here to read all about Nick’s SXSW saga

I began my final day of SXSW like a rock star. By this of course, I mean I tried to sleep in a hotel lobby at an early, early time in the morning without looking like a homeless person with a nice suitcase. (Jeff was off to the airport, and I was staying at Giancarlo’s).

After meeting up with Giancarlo and Patrick in their hotel room, it was off to SXSW for my final day at the festival. I got my first ride in a special bus, which ended up costing me ten dollars (cheaper than a cab ride, certainly). From there the three of us hopped onto a shuttle, so that we could attend the second screening of Giancarlo’s selected short, “My Big Red Purse,” as a part of the “Doc Shorts 1” selection. The film was screening at the “Mullins Center,” which looked like a giant auditorium, and was certainly different than the previous movie theater like venues that were used by SXSW.

After the entire collection of shorts, I was lucky to catch a shuttle bus that eventually brought me to the SXSW neighborhood. I then speed-walked to the Four Seasons to have my roundtable interview with writer/director Beginners, Mike Mills. Fortunately, the press schedule wasn’t exactly on time, and I was able to get myself together before talking to the director. I’ll post that interview soon. And yes, Mills wasn’t as nervous as he was the day before.

My entire SXSW experience was winding down, and the final day was already half over. I had felt pretty accomplished with my viewing schedule, and didn’t want to put myself in any more lines. So, I ventured into the filmmaker’s lounge with Giancarlo and Patrick, and tried to see what it was like on the other side of the spectrum, concerning the somewhat opposing sides of Filmmakers vs. Press.

Needless to say, there wasn’t much different in the filmmaker lounge. They had a giant rocking chair in the corner of their room, though. (And it was an advertisement for North Carolina Film Office!) The Press lounge definitely didn’t. Some fellows were playing around with a Super 8 camera while Giancarlo got pitched too by some iTunes-like company (or something like that).

After wasting some time there, I convinced the lads to watch me eat. Stepping back out into Austin, it was clear that it wasn’t the color of badges that was changing, it was the amount of people who had just arrived for the music part of SXSW. They flooded the main street we walked up and down of. We searched for thirty minutes for an eatery that would allow us to eat decent grilled food in peace, without the racket of a loud outdoor band. After making a circle around three or four blocks, we eventually settled on a restaurant that was our starting point.

We were then off to the awards, which was the original reason as to why I stayed in Austin for another day after Jeff’s departure. Needless to say, the awards were special for what they celebrated, but weren’t too extraordinary as a celebration themselves. Highlights included: The consistently humble and awkward speeches by Robbie Pickering, the writer/director of Natural Selection, the sad amount of movies that won that I had missed, and the facial expressions of the familiar-looking guy who sat in front of me, as he was horrified by any time I made a sound or said something to himself. I can’t wait until the day I recognize him, this has been bugging me for a straight month!

It wouldn’t be an award show without an after party. Crammed into a two-floor bar, the three of us (and a pleasant woman from the U.K that we met in line for the awards named Soraya) navigated through the party and took advantage of the sights. The drinks were free, so I certainly took advantage of that. I walked up the stairs with award-winner Mr. Pickering, and like an idiot, asked him about how much his film was influenced by Federico Fellini, something he had eluded too during the Natural Selection Q&A. But he actually answered my inquiry, and threw me a little bone as to the reasons for the parade in the film.

Regardless of how much of a dork I made myself out to be, it was probably the coolest party I’ve ever been to. Michael Gregory from “Schmoyoho” or “Autotune the News” or “The Gregory Brothers” was at the party, and I didn’t bother him (I did however, talk to him a day ago). My friend Patrick gave his card to Joe Swanberg, and I saw Donald Glover of “Community” and “Derrick Comedy” when I walked out of the joint. Oh, and did I mention the drinks were free?

EPILOGUE

Best Film: Beginners
Runner-Up: The FP
Un Certain Regard: Detention
Absolute Worst Film: Blacktino
Coolest Celebrity Run-In: Michael and Sarah Gregory of Schmoyoho
Most Expensive Sandwich: Ham and Cheese from the convention center
Worst Feature About SXSW Crowds: Waiting In Line
Best Feature About SXSW Crowds: People were quiet during movies, for the most part
Worst SXSW Moment: Toilet Paper Fiasco
Best SXSW Moment: Everything, SXSW After Party (Tie)

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