A Teacher spices up South by Southwest film festival
A lot can happen in a year. For more than 200 directors, 2,000 artists and hundreds more speakers, gamers and comedians, the fruit of their efforts will be celebrated at the South by Southwest conferences and festivals, held in Austin, Texas, from March 8 to 17. The event highlights achievements and new talents in music, film and interactive media.
Though the enormous crowds (in 2012, an estimated 36,000 attendees and 100,000 âunofficialâ attendees) that descend on Austin each March make it easy for just one performance or one showing to feel small, the individual events are all part of a larger, welcoming experience.
One of SXSWâs most impressive event is its music conference. Held from March 12-17 in more than 100 different venues in downtown Austin, the conference will showcase a whopping 2,286 acts including Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kendrick Lamar, Justin Timberlake, Third Eye Blind and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
The interactive portion, which runs March 8-12, consists of a gaming exposition, entrepreneurial and technological events and comedy acts.
Across town, the SXSW film festival will screen feature and short films from March 8 – 16.
Many films, ranging in genre from narrative to documentary to music video, will be making their premieres at the festival. Headliners include Spring Breakers, starring James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson, and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, led by Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin and Jim Carrey.
For up-and-coming director Hannah Fidell, showing her film at SXSW will complete another leg of a promising journey.
Exactly one year ago, Fidell wrapped principal photography on her film A Teacher, which follows the rise and fall of an affair between a high school teacher and her student. Just over one month ago, A Teacher made its debut at Sundance Film Festival. And in approximately one week, Fidellâs film, picked as a âFestival Favorite,â will be screened across three different venues at SXSW.
But this is not the first time Fidell, who both directed and wrote A Teacher, will have her work displayed at SXSW. In 2012, the festival screened two of her short films, The Gathering Squall and Man & Gun.
Not that this changes the excitement of it all.
âGetting into Sundance and SXSW feels like Iâve won the lottery,â Fidell said.
But the talented writer and director, who was recently named one of Filmmaker Magazineâs â25 New Faces of Independent Film,â attributes the filmâs success to the many people she collaborated with, not just herself.
âI was able to work with a lot of very talented people who put in much more than they were expected to or paid for,â Fidell noted, âand because of that, we ended up with a film that I think is very unique in its approach, both narratively and visually. Leading up to SXSW, Iâm feeling cool as a cucumber.â
Though she studied film theory as an undergraduate, Fidell said she ânever had the balls to actually make anythingâ until after graduation. It was during her first job as a fresh-out-of-college graduate, working the front desk of director and producer Ridley Scottâs commercial production company RSA Films, that she was given the push she needed to pursue her passion.
âI saw all these commercial directors in their 40s who were still working on that first feature script, and I realized that it was now or never,â Fidell said. âSo I went out and made a film, made all the mistakes when it didnât matter â when there wasnât any pressure because I was self-financing.â
Now, with a post-production prize from the 2012 Champs-ĂlysĂ©es Film Festival for A Teacher under her belt, she is excited to relax and take in what the festival has to offer.
âThere is very little pressure on us now,â Fidell said. âThe film was bought after Sundance, and now I get to actually have fun. We shot the film in Austin, so itâs going to be a nice homecoming with a lot of cast and crew who werenât able to make it out to Park City in January.â
After SXSW, Fidell hopes to begin shooting another film she wrote called That Girl on TV.
âItâs a critique, and satire, of reality television shows such as Keeping Up With The Kardashians,â Fidell said. âIt was nice to write a comedy after spending so long on such a dark film like A Teacher.â
With three SXSW selections, a Sundance premiere and a new production in the works all in a yearâs time, Fidell has her hands busy with many exciting projects.
This is not her first time presenting at SXSW and one suspects this will not be her last.Â It is easy to believe her when, looking forward, she said, âthe future looks bright.â