The Daily Gazette @ SXSW: Day Three

Allison Hrabar ‘16 and Casey Schreiner ‘16 are at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival this week. In addition to writing reviews and interviewing filmmakers, they will be documenting this trip with a blog each day. Here are their adventures from Sunday, March 13.

Waking Up is Hard To Do

The panel featuring Mr. Robot showrunner Sam Esmail and cast members Rami Malek and Christian Slater — called Coding On Camera: Mr. Robot and Authenticity on TV  is set to begin at 12:30pm. We are exhausted after two days of midnight screenings, but know seeing Rami Malek’s bone structure in the flesh will be worth it.

Mr. Robot, Authenticity, and A Good Q&A!

Thankfully, the Mr. Robot panel is much less tense than Broad City’s. Esmail talks about depicting coding realistically on TV, while Malek discusses the challenges of learning the more technicals aspect of his role. We are happy to find out that Malek is a delightful weirdo, and an unrelenting sass machine when given the opportunity to rag on Esmail. Slater gets in a few zingers about his age and technological incompetence: when asked if the show has increased his computer skills, he nods and says he has “updated the passwords.”

In a strange twist of fate, the questions from the audience are actually good. Someone asks Esmail about his choice to cast an Egyptian-American actor in a leading role, and Esmail responds that he saw actors of all ethnicities during the casting process. Esmail, who is also Egyptian-American, maintained that he wanted the show to focus on Elliot’s unique character, no matter his ethnicity. This topic has come up in interviews with Esmail several times, and he seems slightly frustrated by it. He shares that while studying at NYU, people often expected him to write coming-of-age films about being Arab-American. ‘It informs who I am, but I’m not defined by it,” he says. “That’s not the only thing about me.”

While the cast is tight-lipped about season two, Esmail says that it will focus mainly on privacy, and mentions the ongoing Apple/FBI encryption case a few times. The panel also shares some fun technical facts from production: we learn that Esmail will be the primary director of the second season, and that all twelve episodes are being filmed concurrently. This means Esmail and his team have written them all prior to production, a rarity for an episodic series.

Miss Stevens, Shake Shack, and Separation

Our first screening of the day is Miss Stevens, which follows a high school teacher (Lily Rabe) who takes three of her students on a weekend trip to a drama competition. We had mixed feelings about the film, but a full review is coming nonetheless.

After the screening, we head to Shake Shack to eat our first real (read: not free) meal of the festival. While there, we have the realization that we have been within 30 feet of each other for almost a week and a half. When we order our food, I grab a table on the patio while Allison stays inside to pick up the order. She returns with the burgers and tells me that although she could have joined me while waiting — we had an electronic buzzer — she decided it was a good time to get some space. I nod understandingly. We scarf down mushroom burgers and fries, united again.

It Was Shot on Film, Which is Cool I Guess?

Our next screening is horror-thriller I am Not a Serial Killer. Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd stars in the film, and appears with the creative team on stage. While the Q&A focuses mainly on technical questions about production (it was shot on discontinued 16mm stock) and monster design, at one point an audience member asks if Lloyd was attached to the film from the beginning. Lloyd gives a terse “no,” and says little else. We feel very lukewarm about the film, but agree that we would totally watch a documentary chronicling how Lloyd fell into being cast in such a strange movie.  

Under the Shadow

We head back downtown to line up for the premiere of Iranian horror film Under the Shadow. While we don’t make a new Line Friend, eagle-eyed Casey spots that the guy in front of us a) has press credentials and b) is reading a David Mamet play to pass the time. He laughs out loud while reading, and Casey tries not to roll her eyes.

Her eye sockets manage to contain their precious cargo, and we are both able to watch the terrifying and thoughtful Under the Shadow, which is described by a festival volunteer as an “Iranian Babadook”.  It’s one of the great horror films premiering at SXSW, and we’ll be posting a full review soon.

Homeward Bound

We grab a Lyft around 2:00a.m. Our driver is talkative, and while he begins a conversation about how the Austin area has changed, he somehow segues into police brutality. In his opinion, people who are beaten by police “probably shouldn’t be breaking the law in the first place”. Better, more well-rested people may have argued, but we stay silent as we slink out of the car, anxious for sleep’s sweet embrace.

End-of-Day Tallies

Movies Watched: 3
Tacos Eaten: 0
Visits to McDonalds Loft: 1

Featured image courtesy of Vulture.


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