Features and Columns · TV

Game of Thrones at SXSW 2016: A Tour of The Hall of Faces

By  · Published on March 12th, 2016

A few days ago, Facebook delivered one of those “Remember This Memory?” posts to my feed from SXSW of years past. It had to be four years ago, considering the much smaller amount of grey in my hear and the several less pounds on my midsection. It was a photo of my sitting on the Iron Throne, which had been setup in a random spot in the Austin Convention Center. It was the first time HBO had made a concerted effort to have a Game of Thrones presence during Austin’s annual Film/Interactive/Music/Everything festival. That year it was a random photo-op with the Throne and some Iron Throne-styled pedicabs all over the downtown area. The next year, HBO brought the massive Game of Thrones Exhibition to Austin. The year after that, a sword-fighting art display.

This year, HBO is back again with another Game of Thrones themed activation: The Hall of Faces. In keeping with the theme of the upcoming sixth season of the show, this exhibit is all about death and the ghosts of the past. It’s heavy on the idea that even though characters have died, that doesn’t mean their spirit (or even their face) is gone forever.

Let’s do a little tour.

The exhibit, which is located at 213 West 5th Street at Lavaca Street (for those hitting SXSW this weekend) opens with a large lobby calling out The Hall of Faces. Through a curtained entrance way, we found a bar where samples of the latest Brewery Ommegang flavor, a tasty blonde, were being handed out.

The largest display within the exhibit is The Hall of Faces itself, a rendition of the basement of The House of Black and White discovered by Thrones audiences in season 5. Walking up to the display, attendees can use a row of iPads to make themselves part of the Wall of the dead. Among the familiar faces of Oberyn Martell, Ned Stark and his wife Catelyn, I was able to temporarily pick out my own mug, recently added to the faces available to the Faceless Men.

Here’s what I look like as part of The Hall of Faces. This is something fans around the world can do by visiting TheHallofFaces.com.

Elsewhere in the exhibit, fans can sit on the Iron Throne and take a picture. To the right of the Throne (pictured below), another wall of faces shows pictures submitted from fans via the Hall of Faces website.

Since we’re in the Hall of Faces, two costumes are on display. Both the robes of Jaqen H’ghar and the new costume of Arya Stark are on display.

Not far away is Arya’s sword Needle, available for pictures if you want to make a goofy, bearded face and look like an idiot.

Near the entrance of the exhibit is a gallery of posters from the Beautiful Death collection, the fabulous Game of Thrones art project. This includes a new House of Black and White themed centerpiece.

The final area of the exhibit is one that required us to place our cell phones in a basket. An HBO spokesperson was quick to remind us that we couldn’t talk about the content of the display, as it might be a bit of a spoiler. The display is a small triangular hologram display that looks like the fires into which Melisandre might look into for visions. Inside the hologram, a clip from the upcoming sixth season plays. Two character converse about the future, the dead and how sometimes visions can be deceiving. If you really want to see it, there are outlets who have published it. Even though I’m a big proponent of spoilers being fair game (with fair warning), we like to be respectful of HBO’s request not to drop it into our coverage, as they were kind enough to let me in early and give me free beer. The least I can do is not actively spoil it. That said, it’s somewhat juicy and goes a long way to further confirming what we all know to be true.

This year’s exhibit, while being considerably smaller than years past, is a nice little diversion for Game of Thrones fans who are running around SXSW. A little bit of story, a little bit of interactive fun and a photo-op with the Iron Throne is something that is worth seeking out, even on a busy SXSW weekend.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)