When the sprawling South By Southwest Music Festival invades our state's capitol on Wednesday, March 16, SXSW's Film Festival and Conference already will be in full swing. For aspiring filmmakers, film buffs and stargazers, this is the place to be. Alas, there's a catch: Single tickets aren't available, so you'll have to purchase a festival pass, which can cost an assload of money. So you'll want to see as many movies as possible to justify your purchase. Check out "Discoveries from Down Under," a collection of cool films from Australia and New Zealand. Or catch one of more than a dozen world premieres, as well as regional premieres like Jeff Feuerzeig's brilliant documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, about the wild mental and musical ride of a Texas cult hero. The festival runs Friday, March 11, through Saturday, March 19. Screenings take place at various locations in Austin. Film passes are available (walk-up only) at Waterloo Video, 600A North Lamar Boulevard in Austin. For information and a full schedule of screenings, visit www.sxsw.com. Passes start at $58. –- Troy Schulze
Fools and Their Money
Steven Soderbergh is making a movie about Kurt Eichenwald's first book, The Informer, and Matt Damon has signed on to star. This all bodes well for Conspiracy of Fools, Eichenwald's new book about Enron's spectacular collapse. After a thousand hours of interviews and extensive sifting through documents, diaries and transcripts, Eichenwald emerged with a surprisingly engrossing story about everyone's favorite bankruptcy. The prologue alone features nudity, a near-suicide and nifty descriptions of the wealthy executives' opulent lifestyles. Bush 'n' Cheney, Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, Governor Schwarzenegger, Rupert Murdoch and Colin Powell all make appearances (no word yet on whether Ah-nuld will play himself in the inevitable film adaptation). Eichenwald, also a longtime business writer for The New York Times, signs Conspiracy of Foolsat 7 p.m. Monday, March 14. Barnes & Noble, 12850 Memorial Drive, suite 1600. For information, call 713-465-5616. Free. -– Julia Ramey
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
A Real Boob
Nothing -- not the pack of noontime shoppers, not the Clinique lady who has to tell me about a special offer -- can shake me as I sprint to ladies' intimates inside Foley's at Memorial City Mall. I've come to the Wonderbra "Red Carpet Cleavage" promotion to stalk, er, meet, Maja Latinovic, the company's newest, stunning spokesmodel.
A white limo pulls up and out come Maja (pronounced "Maya" -- perfect model name) and four other models in evening gowns. The crowd of onlookers cheers and photographers snap paparazzi-style as the quartet struts down a red carpet. As they take the stage, a Wonderbra announcer tells us about Clearly Wonderbra, a bra that gives you "red carpet cleavage" like we saw at the Oscars.
But I'm here for the statuesque Maja. I know her story. She was born on June 25, 1980, in Kinkinda, a quaint Serbian village (I've got to get to Serbia) of only 300 people. She's got a dog, Nikita. I've got a ton of questions for her. What sort of art and music is she into? What are her hopes, her dreams? What is she doing tonight, say eightish? Then I actually get face-to-face with her.
"So," I stammer, "you're in your underwear a lot. That must get"cold." (What the hell is wrong with me?)
"Oh, yes," she giggles in a tantalizing Eastern Euro accent. "But it's not so bad."
"It's nice to m-meet you, My...Muh..." (Mall security guard, please bludgeon me with your flashlight...)
She smiles graciously, autographs a glossy photo, shakes my hand and moves on to the next in line. I look down at the pic. Her note says, "Call me"! Well, almost.
"Steve, call me Maya," reads the Wonderbra announcer over my shoulder. "Had trouble pronouncing her name, huh?" she laughs.
Yeah, everyone loves him. But put the precious Michael Flatley in a Scottish Highland dance competition -- with the kids from the St. Thomas Scottish arts program -- and he'll get the snot kicked out of his wee arse! (Sure, maybe it's because Flatley is Irish, and his fruity Lords of the Dance troupe is better versed in Irish line dancing, but whatev.) At today's 41st annual Scottish Festival Tattoo, the St. Thomas kids will blend traditional Highland dance steps with contemporary themes and humor. Also performing will be their bagpipe-playing brethren, the St. Thomas Episcopal Pipe Band, considered among the best in the world. They won last year's World Pipe Championships in Glasgow, and their unique fusion of blowing pipes with electronic music has earned them praise from leading Scottish arts mag Piper and Drummer(renew your subscription now!). The schoolkids will join countless other kilt-wearing cronies for music, dancing, games and, we pray, readings from Sean Connery's biography at 8 p.m. Friday, March 11. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. For tickets and information, call 1-866-446-8849 or www.toyotacentertix.com. $13 to $23. –- Brian McManus
This Saturday, you can get your art on at two hip little openings. At 6 p.m. at Dean's Credit Clothing (316 Main, 713-227-3326), check out Jason Villegas's stuffed-gopher installation and Rene Cruz's animal drawings, which will be on view through April 28. Then at 7 p.m. head to Commerce Street Artists Warehouse (2315 Commerce, 713-226-7897) for the opening of three new exhibitions, which run through April 1. A group show, "Landmine Fantasy," examines the dog-eat-dog world of the art market. Meanwhile, Pakistani artist Simeen Ishaque deals with her identity through use of shadowy sculptures, while new Commerce Street resident Aram Nagle debuts his mural installation, Lost. Hit the shows Saturday, March 12. –- Steven Devadanam