Deep In The Film Art of Texas: Alamo Drafthouse, A SXSW Venue

by Gil Zeimer on March 11, 2011
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Every March, thousands and thousands of people journey to Austin to enjoy the various original music acts, independent films, and interactive events about emerging technologies and small business conferences that comprise South By Southwest Conferences & Festivals.

To hear more about the Film Conference and Festival portion of the 25th Annual SXSW, we spoke to Henri Mazza, Creative Director at the Alamo Drafthouse, where you can get dinner and a movie year-round.

ISBB: What’s going on this year at the SXSW Film Festival?

Mazza: The nine-day festival runs from March 11 through 19 this year, but the overall conference wraps up on the 20th. At the Drafthouse, as a select venue for SXSW for the past three years, we’re hosting five screens dedicated to the festival – three at 1120 South Lamar and two at The Ritz at 1120 E. 6th Street.

Are any seats still available?

A few… Tickets for the screenings go very quickly. We normally fill up each theatre with about 200 viewers. But we offer a range of options. To make sure your SXSW Film experience runs smoothly, interested film buffs can visit our Film Access and Ticket Procedures page and learn all about our tickets, badges, SXXpress and more.

Where do you find the films for the festival?

But our CEO/Founder, Tim League, travels to all the indie film festivals around the country and finds movies to screen for this and our Fantastic Fest in the fall.

Then, we host the special screenings and hold discussions about the latest filmmaking trends with world-class speakers, up-and-coming directors, and notable mentors during the SXSW Film Conference.

What do you focus on?

Like most indie film festivals, we celebrate raw innovation and emerging talent, with a really diverse program of documentaries, subversive comedies, DIY narratives, genre standouts, and other types of films.

How many years have you been involved with SXSW Film Festival?

Ironically, SXSW was the first event we ever had in 1996 as a film venue. This is our third year for programming 5 or 6 “Mind-Bending Midnighters” movies as part of host SX Fantastic, which is a partnership between our Fantastic Fest film festival and SXSW.

Our next annual Fantastic Fest will be help Sept 22-29 for 8 days and nights and it’s become the largest film genre film festival in the U.S. with horror films, sci/fi, thriller, action, and just great films.

Besides being able to order pizzas, burgers, desserts, and beers at the Alamo Drafthouse, what else makes this a unique film festival?

During SXSW, we host after-film parties at our private club, The Highball, which is a combination night club with karaoke, a bowling alley, and a diner. It’s a blast from the past and is located next to the South Lamar Boulevard Drafthouse.

For SXSW, we’re screening several new flicks, including the USA and world premiere of The FP this weekend – where rival gangs must compete in a game of Beat Beat Revolution for the pride of their hometown, Frazier Park. After The FP screening, we’ll be having the filmmakers over at the Highball for an autograph signing and dance party.

What else do you do at the Alamo Drafthouse throughout the year?

We have special screenings for certain movies with food pairings at Alamo Drafthouse. For Harry Potter and The Deadly Hallows, we offered five daily specials to match the theme and the season.

But for The Lord of the Rings trilogy feast – we play a tripleheader back to back and host a 12-course meal with Hobbit Eating Times of three to four courses per movie. It eats up an entire day, but in a really good way.

For more information, visit SXSW Film Festival and Alamo Drafthouse.

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