Best of SXSW: Our Favorite Movies, Shows, Panels And More From 2016

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Big Brayden and Big Ronnie in 'The Greasy Strangler.' SpectreVision SpectreVision

After 12 days in Austin for SXSW, the iDigi crew has done it all (well most of it). We know the Austin Convention Center better than our childhood homes. Our hands are tattooed with dozens of venue reentry stamps while lanyard rash creeps across our necks. Popcorn, Tex-Mex and BBQ have begun oozing from our pores. We've slammed into celebrities on the street, shouted ourselves hoarse, stumbled up and down every street and sat in every theater. Here are our favorite movies, panels and shows, reassembled for you now that we're done sucking SXSW dry.

'The Greasy Strangler'

There was a lot to love for horror hounds at SXSW. Movies like Another Evil and Don't Breathe are set to blow chunks of your skull away in 2016. But there's nothing quite like snuggling up to strangers and sharing the oily farts, deranged penises and eyeball-popping murders of The Greasy Strangler. Our review is already up, but keep a greasy eye open for an upcoming interview with the cast and crew.

'Heavy Metal Parking Lot' 30th Anniversary

This year's SXSW celebrated the 30th anniversary of one of the best rock documentaries of all time with a special panel discussion with the filmmakers, who shared the doc's secret history to a room full of metalheads. If you haven't seen Heavy Metal Parking Lot , it's a fascinating short film about the oddballs, potheads and music maniacs assembled in the parking lot before an '86 Judas Priest show.  Like flies on a very beer-soaked wall, documentarians Jeff Krulik and John Heyn captured everything stupid and silly and sweet and beautiful about the lost heyday of 80s metal. Check out our write-up of the panel, moderated by cult director Todd Rohal, or just go away and watch Heavy Metal Parking Lot and Catechism Cataclysm.

A Visit To the American Genre Film Archive

SXSW is a fantastic reminder of just how tightly knit, eccentric and fun the Austin film scene can be. But while some of the movies screened will go on to critical and commercial success, there are bound to be some real treasures headed for obscurity instead. So what better time to explore the efforts of the film preservationists at the American Genre Film Archive? They're busy preserving insane movies of the 60s, 70s and 80s so future generations can experience all the intermingled pleasures and horror of watching Italian people get eaten by cannibals and the surprising cinematic vibrancy and genius that went into some of the trashiest movies ever inflicted on celluloid.

Ira Glass in Conversation with Mark Olsen

Ira Glass has literally been the voice of a generation on his popular radio show/podcast, This American Life. Watching him speak in person is just as entertaining and insightful, as he shared honest, personal stories on his career and the struggles of harnessing creativity. Moderator Mark Olsen asked a wide range of questions, allowing Glass to touch on topics such as the “podcast phenomenon” and his work as a movie producer. Glass then capped off his panel by making balloon animals for the audience - could this guy get any cooler?

Don’t Think Twice

Glass’ brilliance didn’t end there, as he just so happened to serve as a producer on the best movie we saw at SXSW. Don’t Think Twice, the sophomoric effort from writer/comedian Mike Birbiglia, made its world premiere at the historic Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin. Starring the hilarious Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs and Birbiglia himself, Don’t Think Twice is a charming tale about passionate improv comedians dealing with aging, rejection and ever-evolving relationships. I initially came for the actors, but left really impressed with Birbiglia’s writing and brand of humor. Check out our detailed review here.

Austin’s Music Scene

They say Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World,” and boy does it hold up. Granted, SXSW is bound to bring out more performances than usual, but the sheer amount of venues hosting these artists is staggering. From concert halls to outdoor bars to front patios, Austin is buzzing with sounds of all genres. It was fantastic to check out bands we already know and love, but even more rewarding to discover new acts in an organic environment. Some personal favorites include The Zolas, Jones and Kehlani. Stay weird, Austin.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has taken large strides for non-gaming applications and is already being used by athletes for sports training. One architecture firm has even designed a system that allows clients to look inside their potential designs. A large part of VR at SXSW revolved around 360-degree video, which one filmmaker says definitely counts as VR, but Oculus Story Studio did speak about the challenges of making animated films in VR as well. AR was represented as well, with Niantic’s founder talking about partnering with Nintendo to create Pokémon Go. If you’re still curious, here are seven more non-gaming related ways VR can take over the world.

Data Initiatives

Data initiatives have made big strides as well. The Sunlight Foundation showcased three open source tools you can use to track government representatives, while Bonnaroo and Coachella organizers discussed how they were using data to help out smaller artists. Yik Yak, on the other hand, seems to be keeping all your data, while the health industry standard Argonaut Project leads us to expect much more capable medical apps to start popping up in the App Store. And let’s not forget one Caltech researcher who hopes to use data to stop war forever.

Everything Else

Telltale Games and King both spoke at SXSW, as did Dan Harmon and the cast and showrunner of Mr. Robot. Todd Barry saved a heckler at the official comedy showcase and Beware the Slenderman premiered. The founder of Mars One discussed details about the planned voyage to the red planet, and Adblock Plus defended its whitelist. Music-wise, Prince Rama fired up the Swan Dive on the third day of SXSW Music, while Crystal Castles disappointed fans on the fourth. The Zolas wrapped it all up on the final day.

That's just scratching the surface of all the sights, sounds and mind-altering ideas we encountered at this year's SXSW. There are many more movie reviews and music round-ups where that came from. Keep an eye open for even more coverage of movies, music and panels from the festival, which we'll get to right after an intense recuperative stint in a sensory deprivation chamber, where scientists will attempt to glue our shattered neurons back together.

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