It's come up so quick this year that I'm having trouble believing that South By Southwest is finally underway today.

I'm here for the entire film portion of the festival, and for those who haven't been here, you may not realize that SXSW is not just about movies.  There is also a major Interactive conference, and an amazing Music festival.  Interactive runs concurrently with film, and Music starts just as Film is ending.  The net result of all of this is that Austin is absolutely, no question, 100% bananas for the next 15 days or so.

I'm here for Film, though, and unless I can wrangle my way into the show Fiona Apple is playing, all of my events are Film oriented, and I thought before we get going, it would be good to look ahead at what you can expect from our coverage.

For example, TONIGHT kicks off the festival for me.  I'm going to see a Norwegian dark fairy tale called "Thale," then the premiere of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's genre-bending "Cabin In The Woods" serves as the centerpiece premiere, and then it's off to the South Lamar Alamo for a midnight screening of "[REC] 3," the latest chapter in the dark and disturbing Spanish horror franchise.

I have to say… for a festival like SXSW to emphasize the fantastic and horror so heavily on the first night is pretty great.  I love that SXSW has its very own voice, and that they're not afraid to play with expectations about what a serious festival can or should program.  It's one of the reasons this festival is high on my list of priorities every year.

On SATURDAY, I'm going to start the day with a documentary called "The Imposter" that sounds like one of those stories that you could only tell in a non-fiction film because no one would believe it if you wrote it as fiction.  Then I'll be seeing "Nature Calls," the new film from the director of last year's epic weirdo freakout, "The Catechism Cataclysm."  This new film stars Johnny Knoxville and Patton Oswalt, and all I know is any film that puts Patton Oswalt in a Boy Scout's uniform is off to a good start.  "Funeral Kings" is the story of two kids at a Catholic Middle School that use every funeral as an excuse to cut school.  I'm going to finish that day up with the Secret Screening at the Alamo, which I'm not going to reveal even if other outlets think it's cool to ruin that surprise ahead of time.

This SUNDAY, you're invited to join me for a live-chat with Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard that you'll be able to see here, on the official "Cabin" Facebook page, and on EPIX HD.  Then I'll be moderating a live panel here about the new FEARnet sitcom, "Holliston," with Adam Green, Joe Lynch, and Peter Block all participating.  I'm very excited to see "The Do-Deca Pentathalon" that evening, a movie that the Duplass Bros made a few years ago but are just now finishing, and then I can't believe that "Iron Sky," the film about Nazis who established a secret moon base after WWII, is finally going to be playing at midnight.

Look at just this first weekend.  What a range of experiences and styles.  That's what gets me excited during festival season each year, and that's one thing that SXSW does especially well.  They have a broad range of tastes on display.

My MONDAY schedule features "frankie go boom," starring Charlie Hunnan and Chris O'Dowd, and I still say they've got the single best synopsis of the festival.  It reads, simply, "a flick by bruce about his little brother frank who's a crybaby fuck who shouldn't do lame-ass embarrassing shit if he dozn't want people 2 see it."  Yes.  Yes, please.  Then there's a documentary about one of the great larger-than-life rock drummers of all time, "Beware Of Mr. Baker," and then another documentary called "The Central Park Effect," and then another documentary called "Jeff," which traces the early life of Jeff Dahmer as seen by the people who knew him growing up.  My midnight movie for that night, "Citadel," was described by Eric Vespe as "'The Brood' meets 'Contagion,'" which is enough to get me in my seat.

TUESDAY, we're looking at screenings of "Booster," a gritty film about a young man trying to help his brother, arrested for armed robbery, by agreeing to continue the crimes that got his brother picked up in the first place, and "Casa De Mi Padre," the all-Spanish language film starring Will Ferrell, Genesis Rodriguez, Diego Luna, and more.  That looks like a deranged riff on telenovella storytelling, something I'm keenly aware of living in a house with three Latin American women.  Mike Birbiglia's "Sleepwalk With Me" is also that day, and I plan to wrap things up with what sounds like a brutal exercise in gender politics through a genre lens, "Girls Against Boys." 

I think WEDNESDAY looks like a very eclectic mix of things, with "Girl Walk // All Day," a documentary on the mash-up artist known as Girl Talk, then a Clive Owen ghost story called "Intruders," a tiny difficult love story called "Crazy Eyes" with Lukas Haas, and then Jay Chandrasekhar's new comedy, "The Babymakers."  I think that's the first night without a midnight screening for me.  Crazy.

The rest of my schedule is a little looser, but I know I'll also be seeing films like "WE ARE LEGION," a documentary about the hacktivists known as Anonymous, a movie called "Code Of The West" about the political battles over medical marijuana, and what sounds like a gorgeous, strange documentary called "Tchoupitoulas," about two young boys and one long night in New Orleans.  There's more outrageous suspense in the form of "Black Pond" and "The Tall Man," and more documentaries like "Wikileaks: Secrets & Lies" and "Charles Bradley: Soul Of America."  All of it sounds like it's going to be great, and I may even sneak in a screening of a newly restored print of "Yellow Submarine" if I'm lucky.

I hope to run into you if you're here, and if not, then I hope you'll be living vicariously through my work here.  Eric Kohn was good enough to include us this morning on a list of "The Top 10 Critics To Follow During SXSW," and I'd second his votes on that list.  You're going to see a lot of great coverage of the festival all over the place, and we're just glad that you have obviously chosen HitFix as one of your sources of news and reviews during the fest.

I'll have a "Cabin In The Woods" review for you later tonight, and please come back all week long for new reviews as often as possible.

Let the festival begin!

SXSW will run from March 9 through March 17 in Austin, TX.