Secret spots to see SXSW films without the crowds


Get ready to welcome tens of thousands of visitors to Austin as the South by Southwest Film and Interactive portions of the festival get underway Friday.

The opening night film “A Quiet Place,” directed by John Krasinski, stars himself and his wife Emily Blunt. The suspense thriller follows a family that has to live in silence to avoid danger.

Over the next nine days, there will be 130 feature films and 110 shorts, which include music videos, showing on 13 screens around Austin.

“We have poured through so much work and it’s very exciting for us to discover new talent and give them a platform where the filmmaker gets to connect with the audience for the first time,” says Janet Pierson, SXSW Film Director.

In fact, there were 2,500 submissions for feature films and 5,000 short films submitted. It takes the SXSW film staff a year to watch all of the entries.

“You think ‘Oh you just watch movies for a living,’ but it’s not so easy, “ Pierson says. “Every time you are watching a film for consideration you are realizing the years of hopes and dreams and money and there’s a lot at stake.”

With the popularity of Netflix shows, for the first time this year, the festival is screening independent episodic pilots.

“So many people are working in this form and there is such a great appetite for series work,” Pierson says.

For many in Austin who might be interested in seeing a movie but want to avoid the crowds, Pierson says day-of tickets can be purchased at theaters since film wristbands are sold out. Two secret spots include Richard Linklater’s AFS Cinema near the old Highland Mall and the Zach Theater off Lamar.

“People aren’t aware of it because it isn’t a year-round movie theater,” Pierson says. “It’s got an easy tented place to wait in line, it has bars, and great concessions, and great sight lines, it’s very comfortable and beautiful and we wish it was sold out for every single show.”

Celebrities are a big part of the festival – a small list includes Spike Lee, Molly Shannon, the cast of “This Is Us,” Mark Hamill, Armie Hammer, Olivia Wilde, John Cena, Daryl Hannah, Mandy Moore, Dave Franco, and Bill Murray for “Isle of Dogs,” Wes Andersons new film that airs closing night.

A full list of the films can be found here.

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