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.
Allison Hrabar ‘16 and Casey Schreiner ‘16 are at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival this week. In addition to writing reviews and interviewing filmmakers, they are be documenting this trip with a blog each day. Here are their adventures from Saturday, March 12.
Austin Convention Center: Part Two
We are very excited for today’s first event, a panel featuring Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. Unfortunately, it’s scheduled for the ungodly hour of 9:30a.m. We got home around 2:30a.m. last night, and need to pick up express passes for tonight’s screenings, so we are exhausted when we roll into the ACC at 8:30am.
As Grant holds our place in the Broad City line upstairs, we make a second Line Friend! Chris is a local SXSW regular, and is here to get express passes to Demolition, the new Jake Gyllenhaal drama. It’s impossible to capture his excitement with the written word. He is here literally here just to see Jake speak and watch the film. As we wait, we talk about our favorite Jake movies, and Allison shares that she enjoyed Prisoners. He pans it, but when asked what his favorite is, he confesses “all of his movies are my favorite.”
This panel is packed with the hippest people we have ever seen. The average age is probably around 24, and Grant has to guard our seats from a very aggressive teen who thought he was lying about having friends.
Jacobson and Glazer are as charming and fun as you would expect, but the panel has a vibe best described as “combative.” The moderator (Marie Claire Editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider) doesn’t quite click with the women, and the event goes from awkward to nightmarish during the audience Q&A. Yes, we know, all audience Q&A’s are awful, but this is particularly bad. One fan asks the women why Hillary Clinton is appearing on the show, since she believes Jacobsen and Glazer’s politics are more “in line” with Bernie Sanders.
There are some audible gasps after this question, but Glazer and Jacobson handle it like pros. Jacobson points out they are not trying to make a political statement with Clinton’s appearance, saying they’re “trying to make good TV.” It’s strange to hear them have to justify having an icon like Clinton appear on a show — working for her campaign is so totally Ilana — but Glazer gamely explains that art is a conversation between artist and audience, and while it’s “really cool” that the fan got a political statement from it, they didn’t set out to make one. The panel ends with a question from a woman who works for Bed, Bath, and Beyond marketing, who is greeted with cheers from the crowd.
Cocktails of the Future
Having skipped breakfast to line up early, we return to the search for free food. But without Grant, we are utterly lost. After some aimless wandering, we stumble into an IBM event which is only serving cocktails. It is 11:00a.m., but these drinks have been chosen for us by IBM’s Watson based on our responses to a short survey, which is kind of exciting? Still hungry, we return to McDonald’s Loft, which is next door. We get a hot fudge sundae and another cocktail before finding out the area serving burgers is closed for an exclusive event.
Women in the Media and Online Harassment
SXSW originally planned to host two panels about the video game community, including one focused on harassment within that community. Violent threats led SXSW to cancel the panels, but some sharp criticism led festival organizers to expand those two discussions into a full summit. This is one of many panels at that summit, featuring Meredith Walker, Wendy Davis, Soraya Chemaly, and Jamia Wilson discussing the harassment women face online.
The security concerns are clear when we walk in: our bags are extensively searched at the door, and before the panel starts there is a grim security announcement informing us that any unattended items will be treated as suspicious and seized by police.
Attendance at the panel is low (possibly due to its location away from downtown) and almost entirely female, but it’s a lively discussion nonetheless. Often these panels can turn into rote recitations of what most of the women in the audience already know: being a woman online means hearing a lot of gross stuff said to you and about you. But the end of the discussion shifts into the audience and panelists discussing how women can help other women (especially young ones) find their own communities, which is really lovely.
Our first screening of the day is a documentary about targeted regulation of abortion providers, or “TRAP” laws made by Dawn Porter ‘88. It’s a smart, well-edited film that explores the consequences of shutting down abortion clinics in the South, and the legal battle to keep them open. It also features a short cameo from Sabrina Merold ‘17!
My Blind Brother
Our shuttle ride to our next theatre ends up being an hour long, and Allison takes the opportunity to memorize the Showtime promo reels for Roadies and Penny Dreadful that are playing on loop. Casey cries. We arrive at the venue just in time to snag the last remaining seats for the premiere of My Blind Brother, starring Adam Scott, Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate, and Zoe Kazan.
The screening is followed by another awkward Q&A. The first audience member called on asks Slate and Kazan what brands they were wearing, to which Kazan replies “I’m so happy you watched the film and took away so much!” Slate adds that she and Kazan are actually both dolls who made a wish to be alive. Kroll answers that he is wearing Old Navy. While their responses are very funny, it’s hard not to be disappointed that no substantive questions come their way after this bad start. Kroll is asked about the physicality of his part, giving him the opportunity to make some jokes about his “extensive” work out regimen, but Slate and Kazan don’t get much of a chance to speak again.
Our night ends with the world premiere of Hush, which is a total delight (read Allison’s full review here). The theatre is packed with horror fans excited to see the film, and the Q&A is not a disaster. In addition to fun questions about the writing process and design of the film, the team is asked why co-writer and star Kate Siegel, a hearing actress, was cast in a deaf role. While they didn’t give a wholly satisfactory answer, Siegel does make an interesting comment about her research on the deaf community and draws a distinction between traits and performance. Deafness, she argues, is a trait. Maddie’s resulting desire for isolation, on the other hand, is “actable.”
We arrive home at 2:00a.m., but God is not benevolent and the clock jumps ahead to 3:00a.m. In a few hours we’ll be back for Mr. Robot, more horror films, and our continuing search for good tacos.
End of Day Tallies
Movies Watched: 3
Tacos Eaten: 0
Visits to McDonald’s Loft: 2
Featured image courtesy of Flavorwire.