Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Before we begin, we want to announce that we almost died in a plane crash. We know this sounds like hyperbole (writers at this paper have a history of exaggerating suffering) but it is true. We genuinely feared for our lives. We will share the full story with anyone who asks.
For those who don’t know, we (Allison Hrabar ’16 and Casey Schreiner ’16) risked our lives to cover this year’s South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival. In addition to writing reviews, interviewing with filmmaker, and adding to Allison’s extensive Snap story, we’ll be documenting this trip with a blog each day. The blogs will recap the fun people we met, the weird events we witnessed, and how many free tacos we consumed. Here are our adventures from Friday, March 11.
Austin Convention Center: Part One
We registered and picked up our tote bags last night, so we are at the ACC to people watch. Lines aren’t too long yet, but everyone keeps anxiously talking about how bad the traffic will be once Obama gets here. We are approached by an Al Jazeera English reporter who says he’s talking to “young tech professionals.” He, like us, is disappointed we aren’t here to sell an app.
We are then approached by a young man named Travis, who notes we have press badges. We assume he’s trying to sell us something and are not particularly responsive, but he just wants to be friendly! We make a note to not squander another opportunity to make a friend in line.
Free Food with Grant Torre ’17
As the registration hall gets crowded, we meet up with Grant Torre ’17, who is also attending the festival. He promises to lead us to free food, and turns out to be a master hunter-gatherer: he leads us to a McDonalds-hosted party that no one asked for, and it is amazing. It is called M Loft, which is questionable branding, but we agree to stop mocking it when we find out they’re making custom burgers and sundaes. We also try out the virtual reality experience, because in 2016 parties hosted by McDonald’s have virtual reality experiences.
After some quality time at M Loft, we head to the Game of Thrones SXSWesteros lounge. It is dark, and aside from a short season six clip and an Iron Throne photo-op, it doesn’t offer much.
The set-up for Mr. Robot a few blocks down was more impressive — a ferris wheel, custom t-shirts, and assortment of arcade games have been constructed in the name of anarchy. The ferris wheel, in keeping with its rustic, off-season Coney Island design, was too fast and possibly dangerous, but very enjoyable. We also receive our first package of company swag here: a PricewaterhouseCooper representative approaches us with tote bags, and assures us that the irony of handing out his wares here was not lost on him.
After abandoning Grant to enter a 21-plus area that promises free tacos, we head to the Paramount Theatre for the premiere of Richard Linklater’s latest film, Everybody Wants Some, which chronicles one freshman baseball player’s first weekend of college in 1980. A full review of the film is on the way, but more importantly: we made our first Line Friend! A SXSW veteran, she informs of a disco party happening later that evening that will be DJed by Elijah Wood. We immediately add it to our schedule.
The SXSW audience loves Linklater and Everybody Wants Some, and we’re no exception. It’s particularly affecting to watch such a love letter during our last college spring break, but we try not to dwell on it.
We make our way to the disco party, but only stay for Wood’s introduction – which is accompanied by a few hundred free hotdogs — and scramble into the midnight short film screening next door, which stick sort of stick to a horror theme. Some are scary, some are fun, but all are deeply, deeply weird. Two unexpected themes are common across the films: sexualized father-son relationships and blowjobs.
After a strange, exhausted Q&A session with the creators of the short films, we head home on a Lyft driven by a Bernie Bro. He describes his admiration for Sanders and open-carry gun laws, and bemoans the “Drumpf supporters” picking fights on his Facebook statuses. We make a few jokes about loving Jeb Bush (the JEB! pins are great) and the conversation falls apart just in time us to get out. Tomorrow morning, we’ll be waking up at 6:30am to get in line to see Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobsen from Broad City.
Movies Watched: 2
Tacos Eaten (collectively): 6
Visits to McDonald’s Loft: 2