My review & pictures of Alex Winter, Shawn Fanning, Sean Parker “Downloaded” World Premiere at 2013 SXSW Film Festival

On Sunday, March 10, 2013, I attended the highly-anticipated gala World Premiere of Downloaded at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The event took place in the historic 1200-seat Paramount Theatre. The feature was a selection in the Documentary Spotlight section.

One doesn't need in-depth knowledge of the music industry to be a film journalist and appreciate rock docs...but it helps. Prior to this stage in my life I spent over 20 years as a rock radio DJ in the country's fourth largest market. During that period and afterward, I was a band manager, concert promoter, and record producer. So my experience in that world is actually much greater than my relatively new, just under a decade-long career as a film festival and independent film reporter.

This gives me a uniquely dual perspective and, I hope, qualifies me to accurately and incisively comment on movies such as the Green Day docs Broadway Idiot and ¡Cuatro!, In Your Dreams - Stevie Nicks, Good Ol' Freda, and Dave Grohl's Sound City, all of which I saw at the just-concluded 2013 SXSW Film Festival. I also attended screenings of three docs about record labels, copyright laws, and piracy: TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard, Jared Leto's Artifact, and director/producer Alex Winter's Napster documentary Downloaded.

Napster changed my life. Maybe even saved it. That's a bold statement, and it would take much more space than we have here to explain it, but for those of you who also spent many hours in all-night music downloading sessions back at the start of the millennium (how long ago it seems) you no doubt have some of those same memories and feelings. Many of those came flooding back with Downloaded, the documentary from filmmaker/actor Alex Winter. Along with tons of footage from Napster co-founders Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, he interviewed artists including Noel Gallagher of Oasis, DJ Spooky (who composed music for the movie), Mike D from the Beastie Boys, and Henry Rollins. Label heads and other industry leaders, government officials, civil and digital rights experts, professors, and political activists also appear in the film. Downloaded was produced by Maggie Malina and Devorah Devries along with Winter's Trouper Productions. Brad Abramson and Warren Cohen served as Executive Producers for VH1 Rock Docs.

SXSW Film Festival Producer Janet Pierson welcomed director/producer Alex Winter onstage to introduce the film. Winter returned after the screening with Napster co-founders Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker for an exciting and moving Q&A session. As the discussion came to a close, I fully expected Fanning et al. to be whisked out behind the curtain. But this was my chance to tell him how much Napster, and he, meant to me at that time in my life. I called out his name and, just as he was about to exit, he walked over and then hopped off the stage to talk with me. This kind of interaction is normally not a big deal -- somewhat routine at these premieres. But this one was different. Not only did Fanning hear me out, but he proceeded to carry on a long, personal conversation with me about what I'd revealed to him. It was private, but will always stay with me. I never imagined, all those years ago, that I'd be able to look him in the eye and tell him how Napster changed my life. It was a moment I'll never forget. Thank you, Shawn -- again.

I gave Downloaded five stars and a place on my 2013 SXSW Film Festival Top 5 Documentaries.

Here are some pictures I shot during the intro and Q&A:

INTRO AND Q&A GALLERY (54 photos on 3 pages)

Downloaded will be released theatrically and via VH1 Rock Docs.

Twitter @downloaded_doc.


DOWNLOADED from Trouper on Vimeo.


Downloaded Teaser from Trouper on Vimeo.


Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at

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  • Author: Larry Richman
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