By Erin Steele

Killeen Daily Herald

AUSTIN Hundreds of filmmakers and film buffs converged on the capital Friday eager to experience this years lineup of narrative features and documentaries at the South by Southwest film festival.

Screenings began at 6 p.m. Friday, but those attending the fest arrived much earlier, ready to pick up their badges and mingle with the locals and out-of-towners who had made their way to SXSW.

As in years past, the Austin Convention Center is the hub for this years festival, which will be the site of all panel discussions, not to mention more than a few screenings and a whole lot of hobnobbing.

The nights big event was the screening of Robert Altmans A Prairie Home Companion at the Paramount Theatre. More big premieres are to follow, including Friends with Money at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, V for Vendetta at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, and American Dreamz at 7:15 p.m. March 18.

But the heart of the festival is the up-and-coming filmmakers, who plastered the convention center with posters and cards trumpeting the screenings of their films.

One of Fridays most anticipated screenings was Letters from the Other Side, a documentary directed by 2001 SXSW audience award-winner Heather Courtney. The film told the story of women left behind in post-NAFTA Mexico.

But just because it was the opening night of SXSW doesnt mean they saved the best for first. Todays lineup of screenings is just as impressive, including a Lone Star retrospective at 4 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse (a panel with director John Sayles will also take place today at the Austin Convention Center), AMERICANese at 7 p.m. at the Drafthouse, and Al Franken God Spoke, a documentary about comedian Al Frankens look at the 2004 election, at 7 p.m. at the Paramount.

For more information on SXSW screenings, visit

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