Last year, I covered SXSW Interactive and Eco — the conferences in Austin, Texas — on Firedoglake’s Bytegeist. This year, I’m expanding to include coverage of the SXSW Film and Music festivals as well.

Aaron Swartz in a library, holding a book

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Aaron Swartz Story shows at SXSW Film in Austin, Texas.

I’m a one-person team and SXSW includes literally thousands of events from March 7 through March 16. Some events — like the highly publicized Edward Snowden video chat — generate huge lines and are highly covered by the media. It’s the same in SXSW Film, with celebrities flying into my city for red carpet premieres. My coverage is eclectic by nature, but I’ll share a number of films which will interest FDL readers.

While I plan to drop in on a number of other movies if the opportunity arises, here are a few highlights — with a focus on documentary.

I’ll be featuring reviews or interviews for many of these movies. If you’re in Austin, Texas, you can often pay to attend a screening when space allows even if you don’t have a SXSW badge or wristband. Find out more on the SXSW website.

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

I previously encountered director Brian Knappenberger at SXSW 2012, when I masked up and talked about Anonymous at Occupy Austin to accompany a panel on his documentary We Are Legion (featured on Firedoglake Movie Night). Now he’s back with the story of the rise and US government-induced fall of an Internet hero. Last year, I covered SXSW Interactive’s Aaron Swartz Town Hall on Bytegeist. I’m looking forward to reviewing this important crowd-funded documentary and catching up with Brian.

The Internet’s Own Boy plays tonight, March 7 at 6:30PM at SXSW’s Vimeo Theater. There are additional screenings on March 8, 11 and 15.


Dr. Rebecca Gomperts of Women On Waves is an abortionist of the high seas. Using a sea going clinic, she draws attention to women’s health by anchoring in international waters outside countries where abortion is illegal, then bringing patients on board for abortions. But this action can only help so many people, which is why the organization found another way to help women world wide — through Women On Web and the mail order abortion drug misoprostil.

Dr. Gomperts aboard a boat with a crowd on shore

Vessel, a SXSW world premiere, is a documentary of radical abortion access.

Gomperts herself will be in town for the Vessel’s world premiere on Sunday, March 9 at 11:00am at Austin’s Stateside Theatre, which will be followed by a pro-choice rally. I’ll be interviewing Dr. Gomperts and the director Diana Whitten.

There are additional screenings March 10 and 14.

Above All Else

The Tar Sands Blockade in East Texas was an electrifying moment in activism. Until it was halted by police and legal action, it was an ongoing campaign against the southern leg of the dreaded Keystone XL Pipeline. Despite Obama’s delays on the part which crosses the Canadian border, construction on southern leg continued. Tactics varied from lockdowns on trucks and construction equipment to a lengthy tree village blockade, much of it covered here on FDL. Though the movement drew experienced activists and Occupiers, it also attracted landowners who wanted to protect their property and the earth. The film focuses on former acrobat David Daniels as he fights for a pristine waterway near his home.

The world premiere of Above All Else is Monday, March 10 at 12:00pm at Austin’s Paramount Theatre with additional screenings March 11 and March 15. I saw a preview and spoke with director John Fiege this week — look for more on this today.

More Highlights

I’m also excited about:

If you’ll be at SXSW — or there’s a film you’d like me to check out — get in touch. I’ll be livetweeting many of my SXSW experiences on @KitOConnell.

Aaron Swartz photo courtesy Tyler Curtis.