the most wonderful time of the year
SXSW music begins today, which means it's pretty much like Christmas here in Austin. I'm a little less-than-thrilled with this year's lineup, but it will be fun to catch some new, unfamiliar bands.
On the movie front, yesterday was a good chance to see some films for potential classroom use. I like to use well-made documentaries in my courses; it gives the students such a concrete idea of how things really are in the world of politics. Last night we saw Election Day, a beautifully shot documentary about the voting process on November 2, 2004. It showed the disparities in the quality and staffing of various polling places, how easily disenfranchised some people are, and how hard our system makes it to actually vote. The director told us that it will be on PBS soon; I will definitely be using it in my classroom when it comes out on DVD.
Yesterday afternoon, I also caught The Devil Came on Horseback, an incredibly depressing film about America's unwillingness to do anything to stop the genocide in Darfur. It tells the story of a former Marine captain who ended up as a ceasefire monitor in Sudan, then got transferred to Darfur. He was at the screening, and while I think some of his approaches to solving the conflict aren't terribly realistic, the message - that we have stood by while 450,000 innocent people have been killed simply because of the color of their skin - is important and harrowing. I've been needing a good film on Darfur to use in an African politics class; The Devil Came on Horseback will work well because it explains a complex situation in easy-to-understand terms. Luckily, they already have a distributor, so it should be out on DVD eventually.
Tonight, I am hoping to see Fall from Grace, a film about the hate preached by Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred Phelps and his followers. Steve Not the Lawyer already saw it and said it is fantastic. After (and before) that, it's music, music, music. Can't wait!