Freestyle: Aloha from the Texas Film Awards
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / email@example.com
The rush has begun! After an overnight flight from Honolulu, half a day in the San Francisco airport and another hop to Austin, Tex., I landed in the self-labeled Live Music Capital of the World on Wednesday.
Thursday morning, I shook off the jetlag and caught an express bus south of town to the Gibson Guitar showroom to catch an early treat: the Texas Film Awards kickoff with big names in film, including Guillermo del Toro (“Pacific Rim,” Pan’s Labyrinth”), Tommy Lee Jones (who directed and acted in “The Homesman”), Academy Award-winning actor Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) and the Oscar-nominated director of “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater.
TGIF Editor Elizabeth Kieszkowski will be blogging from Austin, Tex. during the 2015 South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival. Read more SXSW posts at honolulupulse.com/category/blogs/freestyle-blogs.
Steven Gaydos of Variety moderated the discussion. Independent, Dallas-born film producer Bonnie Curtis was also on hand, with Texas lion Louis Black, co-founder of the weekly Austin Chronicle and the South by Southwest festivals, and founding board member of the Austin Film Society.
The event was a thought-provoking kick-off for my Texas venture, as these notables were at the podium to talk frankly about the state of film nationwide.
Although “The Homesman” is a very American film, set in the era when white settlers were populating the West, Jones said he was only able to fund it with assistance from a French film production company affiliated with his longtime friend Luc Besson (“Lucy”).
Patricia Arquette elaborated on her call for equal wages for women at the Oscars, asking: How different would the world be if women — white women, Latino women, all women — earned wages in parity with men? Asked whether her call was radical or exclusionary, with reference to criticism of her comments by conservatives, she replied, tongue in cheek: “I personally believe Republican women should be paid the same as their male counterparts” — and followed up her statement by calling for dialogue and an end to division on the subject.
Arquette also warned she believes movie-making and television programming has continued to tip toward the franchise and the blockbuster sure thing.
“I think people are going to start turning off their cable television, because there’s not enough content there,” she said.
Guillermo del Toro kept it real, as a filmmaker who straddles cultures and genres, making blockbusters and art films, supporting Mexican Spanish-language films and animated features.
“I am very fiscally involved,” he said. “On a very big-budget movie, I give them change” — coming in, perhaps, a million dollars or two under budget when allocated tens of millions.
“If (making blockbusters or fantasy-based crowd pleasers) gets old, I won’t do it any more,” he said.
But del Toro also said, “As you can see from my weight, my appetite is not light!”
Del Toro approaches film with a wide-ranging passion and an eye for finance and timelines, and while he has earned enormous influence, also lends a helping hand to junior filmmakers, particular those in his home country of Mexico.
Asked by a British journalist how Texas inspires his filmmaking, Richard Linklater replied, “It’s a big state, with a lot of stories.”
Louis Black added, “It’s a cross-section of American and the American dream.”
And Guillermo del Toro joked, “I consider it a part of Mexico.”
The reward for successful filmmaking, Black said, “is we get to make more movies.”
A passion to continue creating, to do more, motivates many of the filmmakers, artists, musicians and inventors who will fill this city in the coming days.
I expect Guillermo del Toro to talk about this passion in more detail on Friday, when he appears for “A Conversation with Ryan Gosling and Guillermo del Toro,” a featured session in the SXSW Film festival.
South by Southwest is an adventure in anticipating the future — of technology, of pop culture — and in appreciating the past, understanding how art, film and music have influenced our culture overall. I plan to soak up every minute.
I’ll be posting photos, quotes and impressions from Austin in real time on social media, day and night, Friday through March 22. Follow @StarTGIF on Twitter to see what’s up. Let me know what you think!
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.