Keep Austin weird (Keep Austin Weird) is the motto that a local radio presenter has ever delivered to his show and has adopted the entire city as a symbol of a cultural resistance that occupies the people.
Austin, capital of the state of Texas (United States), experiences an economic development and a social transformation that entails the phantom of aesthetic and cultural standardization . The metropolitan area is the fastest growth in the United States in the last seven years, when it went from 1.72 million inhabitants in 2010 to almost 2.12 million in 2017, an increase of more than 23 percent (as reported by the Austin Business Journal).
The migration to this city is mainly due to the job offer, which grew 3.4 percent last year and 39 percent since 2006 according to Forbes.
The key to this development is the new growth of technology companies, some places such as Dell and others that have recently installed offices such as Apple, Amazon and Facebook.
But there is a sense that the city may lose its identity and begin to look too much like others in the United States. And many do not want Austin to lose what makes her unique: her progressive spirit and culture.
The two beacons of that resistance are music and film. The University of Texas, which is based in Austin, is one of the keys to the cultural movement of the city. Students contribute their vibrant creativity, music, film, literature and other art.
In this context, the headquarters of the Austin Film Society is a dream for every film lover. Located in a small open-air shopping center, the complex has two halls dedicated to showing films that have no place on the commercial billboard. The hall is an elegant but informal lounge with a ticket desk and a bar to buy beers, cocktails and snacks that can be enjoyed during dinner.
There is a lot to see in the hall, which includes a small collection of books and film merchandising, filled one hour before the special feature of Rebels and confused, a film filmed in Austin by none other than the founder of film company and godfather of the local film industry, Richard Linklater.
The director of Rock School and the trilogy that began with Before the Dawn was born in Houston, but he studied at the University of Texas and since then Austin has been home and operation center. After the success of his first film, Slacker, filmed in the streets of the city, Hollywood studios have been watching him and he was able to shoot down rebellion and confuse him. The film that introduced the world to Matthew McConaughey, a local talent who became an international star with his cunning smile and Texas accent, portraying an Austin from the 70s, with colorful murals, bars and parks ideal for parties where Beer is rich.
Despite being one of the big characters of the independent film movement that started in the 90s and has multiple opportunities in Hollywood, Linklater did not want to leave Austin. This is where he carried out his biggest challenge, & # 39; Boyhood & # 39 ;, the film that he filmed for 12 years in this city and surroundings with another favorite son of the city and permanent employee of the director, Ethan Hawke.
When he just started his career, the director found that there was a place that would bring people who loved cinema together. For that reason he founded the Austin Film Society with a group of friends in 1985, who started in a small room on the first floor where the screenings were made.
Today it has two beautiful rooms in which cycles of independent, international, classical, premieres and special functions are performed. S your contribution to the film community is even greater, because it provides financial support to Texan filmmakers by means of scholarships ; they have lessons for young people who want to work in films; and manage the Austin Studios, a site intended for filming.
For those who make films, living in Austin allows them to maintain a certain independence by being far away from the major centers of California and New York and having a community where most of the filmmakers work with together. Independence, which can be maintained elsewhere, is not the only advantage.
When they do not film films with more limited budgets, filmmakers and technicians have to make a living and ] part of the growth of the city also has to do with the audiovisual industry both film and television and video games.
& # 39; Rare & # 39; cinemas
Besides the export of audiovisual works, Austin is also the cradle of a concept of cinemas that is expanding in the United States. More than 20 years ago, Tim and Karrie League dreamed of watching movies in the cinema as they drank beer and ate; as there was no room where they could do that they brought it together in a garage and so Alamo Drafthouse was born, which currently has offices in several cities, including New York, San Francisco and soon Los Angeles. But the concept was not only in the possibility of consuming drinks and food in the cinema, but the programming was also a reaction to what they did not get in the commercial spaces.
Unlike a museum or the Austin Film Society itself, the programming of Alamo Drafthouse is more popular: today it combines great commercial premieres with classics like Duna or A Prince in New York; projections of musicals such as Grease for the audience to sing during the film; and even films that are so bad that they are fun, like The Room.
That idea of laughter for a bad movie is the basis of the comical show Master Pancake, which takes place in Alamo Drafthouse. On entering the old Ritz room in the center of the city the viewer feels he was traveling in time to the era of the glory of the cinemas until he notices the detail that there are in the stalls for the some chairs are wooden bars that work like tables.
While classic film clips are being projected, the waiter introduces himself and explains that to order food and drinks during the show, he has to write the order with pencil and paper and leave it on a specially prepared place on the table. so he sees the white sheet in the dark and sneaks to it to look for it.
The only people allowed to speak in the room are those who are part of the Master Pancake group because the show consists of watching a movie with the comments that the comedians do live. Mocking merciless films like Sin City, film shot in Austin by Robert Rodriguez
No Austin without music
Austin called himself "the capital of live music" because they claim that in no other city in the world there are so many musical shows per day. The self-denomination is questionable, because it is a difficult fact to check, but it is certain that surprise the amount of musicians who play and sing in the bars of the city. It is enough to walk to Avenida Congress, one of the most important commercial arteries, around seven o'clock in the afternoon to listen to the music of bars and restaurants.
Even more is the concentration of bars with music in I live on Calle 6, which becomes a busy area in the weekend that closes a few streets and becomes a pedestrian street. The street climate is festive, with many young people and many people who walked around which is perhaps too much for those who just want to sit down and listen to music, but the offer is abundant and diverse.
Austin's close relationship with live music is not something new, it is in its DNA and is an essential part of the culture that the inhabitants want to preserve. In addition to the many musical shows that can be seen every day, the city is the headquarters of the television program dedicated to the music that has been in the ether for the longest time. Austin City Limits is a concert series of excellent musicians, which premiered in 1975 in the current television network PBS.
The sustainability and success of the cycle resulted in a series of shows taking place in the modern theater where the program is being recorded and a music festival that takes place once a year in October. The Austin City Limits Festival raises big names and maintains the diversity of proposals. This year's figures are none other than Paul McCartney, Metallica and hip hop artist Childish Gambino, none other than Donald Glover, actor of the Atlanta series.
Just like the musicians who will participate in this festival, it seems to combine the classic with the latest part of the formula that the inhabitants of the city want to preserve what makes it authentic and what the artists who live there love it.
The impact of this event with unique characteristics, shows the peculiarity of what happens in Austin: resists culture, but seeks creative ways to do it and is associated with technology, an area where creativity is just as important is like in art. Even it becomes a big company. Perhaps Austin is proof that it is not so much about resisting as being awake and willing to find new ways to keep your mind alive.
MARÍA FERNANDA MUGICA