MFF Director of Programming Eric Allen Hatch Reports from South by Southwest 2012

The Next Generation of Horror? MFF alum Joe Swanberg (second from right) and a slew of directors/producers unleash the omnibus horror film V/H/S.

Greetings from Austin, Texas, and 2012’s particularly strong SXSW Film Conference!

Each year Maryland Film Festival’s programming process is bookended by visits to two other major festivals—Toronto International Film Festival in September, which specializes in world cinema, and SXSW in March, which specializes in American independent films (both narrative and documentary).  SXSW comes at a crucial time in our programming process, as we’ll be making all our MFF 2012 programming decisions in the next two weeks and rolling out our own line-up over the first 2 weeks of April.

Thus far I’ve seen a lucky 13 films in 4 days, and, remarkably, enjoyed them all to one degree or another. The number of MFF alums here to present work and/or take place in panels is particularly exciting. Yesterday saw the world-premiere of, among so many others, the first three episodes of TINY FURNITURE director Lena Dunham’s new HBO series GIRLS (presented by Dunham alongside producer Judd Apatow), and Jonathan Lisecki’s re-imagining of his earlier short GAYBY (which played MFF 2010 and returned for Artscape) into a generously warm, hilarious feature of the same name.

The Paramount and The Stateside, Congress Street, Austin.

The atmosphere here shares aspects with MFF: many of the venues are in walking distance, the weather is usually mild and gorgeous (if marred by a few aberrant cold and windy days at the outset this year), and the theaters are crammed with visiting filmmakers.  I feel like I’ve made some real discoveries even in these first few days, and look forward to bringing some of the gems back to Baltimore May 3-6.

While the SXSW film conference runs through this weekend (overlapping with the even-more-famous music festival), each feature will have screened at least once today, culminating in the film awards announcements tonight. Keep an eye on our blog; I’ll report back on the awards tomorrow!

–Eric Allen Hatch, Director of Programming


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