The 2018 SXSW Film and Interactive Festival did its annual takeover of downtown Austin this past weekend. Normally a frenetic, sometimes overwhelming affair, the organizers of this year’s SXSW film and interactive festival went through great lengths to provide a smooth, well-organized event. From the well-placed parking, the diverse food truck offerings, and the more than helpful SXSW volunteers, everything about this year seemed to speak to righting the wrongs of years past.
This year boasted a robust line-up of speakers on the film side. Darren Aronofsky wowed the packed hall with humorous recollections of his career trajectory. Aronofsky advised the audience to, “Make the movie only you can make.”
Fresh off a remarkable Oscar run, Moonlight director Barry Jenkins shared how SXSW was the festival that put him on the map with his debut Medicine for Melancholy. “Where is Matt Dentler? Is, Matt here?” Jenkins shared with the eager audience how he hounded former SXSW Festival director (and Austin legend) Matt Dentler about giving his debut a shot. Perseverance and good old-fashioned hustle were the takeaways form Jenkins session.
Luckily for SXSW attendees, they had the honor of hearing Jenkins read his original Oscar acceptance speech. You may recall the Warren Beatty erroneously announcing La La Land as the Best Picture Winner. Jenkins’s message? Make it personal.
The main event for many aspiring filmmakers was the Master Class session with filmmaker extraordinaire Spike Lee. After the screening of Lee’s current Netflix hit, She’s Gotta Have, the eager audience had an insightful Q&A with the director. Spike Lee had no time for excuses as many festival goers insisted on sharing their film career struggles. One young filmmaker from a small town outside of Austin lamented the fact that he had limited access to equipment and crew. “Do you have a phone? Go shoot something. Tell a story.”
After taking over the reins in 2008, SXSW Film Festival Director Janet Pierson has settled in nicely. If 2018 was an indicator, the festival is in good hand for years to come.