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SXSW: Austin Swells as Film and Interactive Fests Kick Off

THR is on the ground in Austin for SXSW. And so, apparently, are 30,000 other people.

THR is on the ground in Austin for SXSW. And so, apparently, are 30,000 other people.

By 1 p.m. on Friday — just before the film and interactive festivals officially launch — the downtown Austin Convention Center was already crawling with activity. Attendees were scattered everywhere, sitting along walls and around posts at every turn. Homegrown food stands were on full alert. The shriek of tape filled the air as filmmakers and street teams threw up last minute film and music posters on the rare unoccupied wall space.

Badge pick-up was only marginally different from cattle-herding, with long lines snaking through Exhibit Hall 1. Participants eventually reached a long line of booths where they handed over photo IDs and then waited five thick for their name to be shouted by a volunteer holding aloft their badge. As it was, the system worked surprisingly well, and I got in and out of there in fifteen minutes.

But not before a few cheery Baylor students — actresses and a musician — handed me their cards from behind the booth. Several say they are heading to L.A. any day now and hoping to come back here as stars.

By then this troika of festivals will have taken over half the state.

The weather is perfect Texas warm and everyone is chattering about this new digital initiative and that panel on marketing. Since I’m here to focus on film, I’m gearing up to brave the Source Code red carpet at the Paramount Theatre tonight and rubbing my hands together for eating some deliciously fatty food, catching the Foo Fighters doc and moderating Catherine Hardwicke’s directors workshop tomorrow (she showed a sneak of Red Riding Hood here last night).

Updates on all forthcoming …