Montreal @ SXSW: 5 talented young movers and shakers heading to Austin
South By Southwest, the Austin-based grassroots-gone-gigantic smorgasbord of music, film and technology, officially gets underway today. While some would argue that the increasingly commercialized event, now in its 27th year, “ain’t what it used to be”, the sprawling industry fest still delivers the goods: Twitter first gained traction here in 2007, Foursquare then matched that level of hype in 2009, Bridesmaids, The Cabin in the Woods and the whole Mumblecore movement blew up at SXSW, Lena Dunham’s GIRLS premiered here in 2012, and that’s without counting the barrage of breakout bands whose careers took off here over the years.
This year, expect a wide-ranging assortment of A-list talent to make its way to Texas’ indie capital: Rachel Maddow, Al Gore, Joss Whedon, Harmony Korine, Harlem Shake’s 23-year-old granddaddy Baauer, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and even a rumoured Justin Timberlake appearance. But what about the young Montreal movers and shakers who are boarding Austin-bound planes? Yesterday, NIGHTLIFE.CA published profiles of 3 talented local directors, programmers and entrepreneurs set to shake things up at SXSW. Today, we conclude our “SXSW for business AND pleasure” series with Marilis Cardinal and Eric Lavallée.
Arbutus Records co-director
Photo credit: Guillaume Simoneau
We here at NIGHTLIFE.CA have a soft spot for Marilis, the city’s reigning DIY queen. For one, she was a star intern back in 2009, juggling band interviews, magazine brainstorm meetings and photo shoot styling like a boss – a friendly, happy boss! Cardinal, whom style-conscious Montrealers might recall founded the quirky fashion blog The Pregnant Goldfish many moons ago, now has her hands full as co-director of top-notch Mile End imprint Arbutus Records, home to some of our city’s finest output (Blue Hawaii, Doldrums, Sean Nicholas Savage, Grimes and TOPS come to mind). This will be Marilis’s third South By jaunt.
1. The typical SXSW attendee is... looking beat and deathly hungover by the end of the week.
2. Does the festival deserve all the hype it gets? There are over 5000 events – odds are you'll want to attend a good chunk of them.
3. Which artists are you most hoping to check out at the festival this year? I'm looking forward to our first ever SXSW showcase, in partnership with M For Montreal. I don't get to see much on account of our bands playing a collective 20+ shows this year, but really hoping I can catch Kendrick Lamar and John Talabot this year!
4. For a North American indie label like Arbutus, how important is making the trek to SXSW? It's a great chance to finally meet people I've been communicating regularly with on e-mail in real life.
5. The best thing about Austin for those who’ve never been? Margaritas, BBQ and Barton Springs.
6. Current favourite Quebec musician/band? Really loving the band Homeshake. They put out an amazing tape on Fixture Records a few weeks ago and I've been listening to it on the regular. Everyone should also go see Planet Hollywood and SteveJR every single time they play.
7. Your fondest SXSW memory? Last year, on the Saturday night of the festival, after 5 days of constant live music, some friends and I broke into the backyard of an abandoned house and had beers on its dark and quiet porch. That was nice... For the last two years, Claire Boucher and I also celebrated joint birthday parties with tacos and tequila. (see video below)
Eric is the most discreet media guy you’ll find at any local film premiere or press screening. Refreshingly, in this age of glitzy red carpets and gossip-y film coverage, Eric is actually there for the movies. The founder, editor-in-chief and film critic at IONCINEMA.COM, which he founded back in 2000, is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF, and he’ll be judging SXSW’s Narrative Feature Competition this year. We chatted with Lavallée about Sophie Goyette, the festival circuit and every cinephile’s favourite Celine & Jesse.
1. Describe the typical SXSW filmgoer... Austin, Texas has a lively filmmaking scene and cinephile community, so it’s a mixture of those, combined with industry and obviously the folk involved with the overlapping musical and interactive components.
2. How have you observed the evolution of SXSW Film over the years? In some circles, SXSW was known as the consolation prize for not getting into Sundance, but ever since the breakout days of the Mumblecore movement, it has steadily grown into a top tier American film festival with several titles finding critical acclaim both theatrically, and on the film fest circuit.
3. The best film in the SXSW 2013 lineup that you've already seen? Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (Venice ‘12), Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing (Telluride '12) David Gordon Green’s Prince Avalanche (Sundance ’13) should be on everyone’s radar, but Richard Linklater’s continuation of the Celine & Jesse story in Before Midnight was the best film at this year’s Sundance and will make all cinephiles melt.
4. How does SXSW Film measure up against Sundance, Cannes or TIFF? Many of these DIY films won’t find the rich distribution deals you’d find at the three mentioned fests, nor does it have the film market component we’d find at the larger fests. It is certainly less red carpet driven, but it draws larger crowds, has Twitter-mention worthy venues and I imagine its Texan appetite for bigger will make it more of a heavyweight event in the future editions to come.
5. Is your SXSW experience more about work or play? The norm when you’re a journalist at a film fest is all work, no play making Jack a dull boy, with plenty of skipped meals and next to no shut-eye, but seeing that I’m a judge, my mandate is a little different – I get to sleep in.
6. What will you be looking for among the competing films? I’m into the aesthetic choices, voice and originality - but at the end of the day I’m a sucker for a strong narrative and compelling character(s) regardless if it’s in the narrative or docu form. The SXSW programming team selected eight films out of a total of 1200 submitted titles – so I imagine that more than half of these titles will include several of these facets.
7. Your current favourite Quebec filmmaker? Sophie Goyette’s short films have played at Locarno, TIFF and Sundance. Her cinema is rich, visually strong and emotionally palpable.
South by Southwest Conferences & Festivals (SXSW)
March 8–17 | Austin, Texas | sxsw.com