SXSW Film Fest Full Of Chills, Thrills And Tears Of Laughter

MTV News wraps up the highlights of the Austin, Texas, festival including our favorite celebrity interviews.
By Kara Warner

Matthew McConaughey in "Killer Joe"
Photo: Voltage Pictures

AUSTIN, Texas — Although the South by Southwest Music Festival is just getting started, the film portion of the annual music, arts and interactive gathering in Austin, Texas, is coming to an end. It was too short a trip for our tastes, but we were able to cram in an awful lot of film coverage during our time within the city limits. Before we get to the highlights from SXSW Film Fest '12, here's a compilation of our interviewees' humorous commentary regarding the best and worst things about SXSW.

"The great thing about SXSW is the proliferation of beautiful young men all over the city," deadpanned Nick Offerman. "Now that the sun's out we're going to be seeing some shirts come off. This is a modern film we've made," he said of his film, "Somebody Up There Likes Me," trying to tie it to his answer. "Nature is beautiful."

"#1: It's in Austin, that's the best," said Johnny Knoxville. "The Fest feels like it's picking up steam every year."

"There was one day where from around 11 a.m. 'til whenever I went to bed I think I had — I counted — 28 beers," "21 Jump Street" star Jonah Hill recalled of his first boozy experience at the festival a few years back. "I was never drunk, it was such a long period of time, there was a good old buzz thing going on for 20 hours."

"My favorite thing so far is waiting in line with other people," admitted "Jump Street" co-director Chris Miller. "At first it was driving me crazy, but ... you're there for an hour with people who all like the same stuff and have a much cooler conversation there than you would in a bar."

"The cons of SXSW are all the beautiful young women getting in the way of looking at all the beautiful young men," Offerman continued. "Prancing about, tossing their hair like they're all that. They're not."

With those pros and cons in mind, let's get back to our film-focused journey in Austin, which we began with the Joss Whedon-scripted, Drew Goddard-directed festival opener, "The Cabin in the Woods." Although it is a traditional horror film with "thrilling deaths," it's a crowd-pleaser nonetheless.

Then came the twisted thriller "Killer Joe," which features many an opportunity for awkward laughter and smooth-talkin' Matthew McConaughey as a killer-for-hire, followed by a surprise appearance from Mark Wahlberg during Seth MacFarlane's "A Conversation With" panel, which led to a very casual interview about Wahlberg's acting skills and falling in love with a teddy bear. After that, we walked down a dark childhood memory lane with "Nature Calls" director Todd Rohal and stars Johnny Knoxville and Rob Riggle.

We spent time with skateboarding legend Danny Way during his surprise visit to a local skate park, and tried not to laugh ourselves to tears during chats with "Small Apartments" scene-stealer Matt Lucas and deadpan comedy ace Nick Offerman when he told us the best thing about his buzzworthy film, "Somebody Up There Likes Me" is the fact that he gets naked onscreen. We're still not sure he was telling the truth, but it was hilarious nonetheless.

Our final day of film-related action involved a visit to "21 Jump Street" with stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, who revealed the project's special ties to SXSW, as well as their reactions to finally seeing the finished film with an audience.

We chatted up Fabianne Therese, the star of the recently picked-up home invasion thriller "The Aggression Scale," who accidentally put her hand through a glass window during filming and resulted in the filmmakers writing it into the script. And then we caught up with the men of "Extracted," an intriguing film about a man who invents a way to watch people's memories from inside their minds and then gets trapped within a criminal's mind.

"I think [the movie] means something to everybody," director Nir Paniry said. "To me, it's a film about regret and how one memory means something to somebody else and one memory means something to another person. Memories are not finite records, they're organic, they can be manipulated, but they're specific to the person. Your memory of something is not my memory of something."

"It's life. All these things that are universal and timeless," added star Sasha Roiz. "Trying to confront your past or changing your course of life, redemption. These two men are basically sitting in their own purgatory, one is stuck in a cell, one is stuck in the mind of another man. There all these wonderful themes that bubble to the surface.

And although it's not technically film-related, we spent some time with Lena Dunham, the star/creator/executive producer of HBO's heavily hyped new series "Girls," which she promises is grounded in reality and deals with the drama of modern romantic relationships.

All in all, our experience was fun-filled, if a tad bit exhausting. For those of you hankering to see the films in our lineup, the good news is that several of them are headed to theaters or small screens near you.

"21 Jump Street" opened everywhere Friday (March 16); "Cabin in the Woods" hits theaters April 13; "Girls" premieres on HBO April 15, followed by the DVD/Blu-Ray release of "The Aggression Scale" on May 29. Seth MacFarlane's live-action debut "Ted" hits theaters July 13.

Stick with MTV News for news about the fest's other buzzworthy entries, "Somebody Up There Likes Me," "Killer Joe" and "Extracted."

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