10 Promising Selections From the 2019 SXSW Film Festival

Robert RodriguezTribeca Talks Storytellers - Barbra Streisand with Robert Rodriguez, Tribeca Film Festival, New York, USA - 29 Apr 2017

This yr’s Austin gathering is one other promising mixture of discoveries and confirmed expertise. Let the buzz begin right here.

The primary half of January is all the time busy in the movie group, as Oscar voting involves an in depth and the Sundance Film Festival begins its engine. This yr, the SXSW Film Festival threw its cowboy hat into the ring, pushing up the preliminary announcement of its movie lineup as an alternative of ready till after Sundance. The result’s an much more complicated window into main pageant premieres and potential discoveries that may distinguish the first quarter of 2019.

The transfer is partly the results of Sundance ending later than standard; whereas the pageant usually goes till the finish of January, this yr, it ends February three. The constrained timeline additionally impacted SXSW’s earlier submission deadline, and meant that its programming staff needed to scramble to lock on this yr’s choice. “We were tighter about no exceptions to the deadline,” stated SXSW Director of Film Janet Pierson in an interview. “We had to be decisive sooner.”

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However, the lineup has the taste of a typical SXSW: Competitors sections suffering from potential discoveries, a handful of anticipated studio crowdpleasers, and a number of other acquainted names in uncommon new tasks. Whereas the pageant nonetheless has extra to announce, together with its midnight movies, the present slate offers a lot to discover. Listed here are a few of the potential highlights.

Robert Rodriguez Returns to His Roots

The legend goes again almost 30 years: When Robert Rodriguez made his 1992 debut “El Mariachi,” he assembled his $7,000 price range out of funds he acquired for collaborating in medical experiments. Now, he’s going again to his roots in additional methods than one. His new actuality present, “Rebel Without a Crew,” follows 5 administrators making their very own debuts on the similar finances; in the course of, Rodriguez additionally directed a brand new function of his personal for the similar worth.

For “Red 11,” Rodriguez and his son Racer joined forces to shine up a screenplay the filmmaker wrote many years in the past based mostly on his experiences as a lab rat. The story revolves round a filmmaker trying to repay his debt to the cartel via medical experiments who winds up in a tougher state of affairs than he anticipated. “It’s fun, cool, and crazy,” stated Pierson. “The guy has a lot of filmmaking panache. Austin isn’t known for its actors, but they used local actors who are really great.” Rodriguez may even preview clips from “Rebel Without a Crew” for a grasp class at the pageant.

“It’s really intimate, beautiful, authentic and generous,” Pierson stated of the collection. “You see him breaking everything down at the studio using what he has.”

Marc Maron’s Huge Second

Properly, he’s had a couple of. After his interview podcast “WTF With Marc Maron” turned a cultural phenomenon, the deadpan comic had a strong run as the story of his personal IFC present, and has been having fun with respectable publicity as a supporting character on Netflix’s “GLOW.” However Maron has but to point out his chops as an actual film actor — till now. With “Sword of Trust,” premiering in the Narrative Highlight part, Maron joins forces with improv-focused filmmaker Lynn Shelton to play a moody pawnshop proprietor making an attempt to chase down an elusive historic object that proves the South gained the Civil Struggle. “It’s a terrific showcase for him,” Pierson stated. It additionally marks a return to movie comedy for Shelton, who has been cranking out tv credit in recent times along with the drama “Outside In” in 2017.

The filmmaker’s distinctive strategy to improvisatory storytelling has been producing waves since “Humpday” a decade in the past, and she or he gained’t be the just one using the strategy in SXSW’s Narrative Highlight part. “You really have this mini-trend of people having fun with accomplished talent and some improvisatory spirit,” Pierson stated.

In “Pink Wall,” British director Tom Cullen groups up together with his associate Tatiana Maslany and Jay Duplass for a snapshot of six moments from a relationship; there’s additionally Jeremy Teicher’s “Olympic Dreams,” which follows a skier at the Olympic Winter Video games who befriends a dentist after she loses her race. The entire film was shot towards the precise backdrop of the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.

Charlize and Seth in Love

Amongst Seth Rogen’s many collaborations, two that stand out are the movies he made with Jonathan Levine, the candy most cancers survival story “50/50” and the ludicrous vacation stoner opus “The Night Before.” Their third collaboration introduces a promising associate in crime — Charlize Theron, who stars reverse Rogen in an untitled rom-com that takes place underneath uncommon circumstances.

The film, which was initially referred to as “Flarsky” when it was introduced final yr, finds Rogen enjoying an unemployed journalist engaged in a clandestine affair with Theron’s Secretary of State, the dream woman of his youth. “It’s fucking hilarious and has great performances,” Pierson stated. “Plus, it’s actually a romantic comedy with political overtones.” Rogen has discovered nice success launching all the things from “Knocked Up” to “Sausage Party” at the pageant, so this Lionsgate manufacturing is sure to be a scorching ticket at the pageant.

Seth Rogen arrives for "The Disaster Artist" at the Paramount Theatre throughout the South by Southwest Film Festival, in Austin, Texas2017 SXSW - "The Disaster Artist", Austin, USA - 12 Mar 2017Seth Rogen arrives for "The Disaster Artist" at the Paramount Theatre throughout the South by Southwest Film Festival, in Austin, Texas2017 SXSW - "The Disaster Artist", Austin, USA - 12 Mar 2017

Seth Rogen arrives for “The Disaster Artist” at the Paramount Theatre throughout the South by Southwest Film Festival, in Austin, Texas


The opposite high-profile movie alternatives embrace “The Beach Bum,” Concord Korine’s stoner followup to “Spring Breakers” (a SXSW 2012 hit), in addition to “Booksmart,” which marks Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut. She returns to the pageant following her starring position in the pageant’s 2018 entry “Vigilante.” Pierson stated Wilde’s first function behind the digital camera “was a complete surprise to us, that this gorgeous, multi-talented actress has turned out a razor-sharp, hilarious, and totally smart comedy.”

Bonnie and Clyde Revisited

The saga of Bonnie and Clyde has been so deeply tied to fashionable tradition that another tackle the state of affairs may look like blasphemy. However Netflix-produced “The Highwaymen” offers the distinctive new perspective of the Texas rangers who tracked down the famed robbers, and it supplies dueling appearing showcases for Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson. “It’s this meta film, since Kevin and Woody are both aging,” Pierson stated. “You’re looking at these guys who have been in so many movies, and you’re playing the ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ movie in your head the whole time you’re watching.”

Christopher Morris Returns

It’s been eight lengthy years since British comic Christopher Morris’ masterful debut “Four Lions” lit up Sundance with its subversive portrait of clumsy terrorists. In the end, he has delivered one other well timed and weird saga with “The Day Shall Come,” which options Anna Kendrick in the story of a Miami preacher who will get into hassle with the FBI. “It’s provocative, it’s juicy, and it’s very well done,” Pierson stated. “It’s barbed and political, definitely outside studio norms.” Followers of “Four Lions” are already salivating over this one, and Morris’ complicated mix of comedy and different style parts is more likely to energize the SXSW crowd.

The New Texas

Whereas Beto O’Rourke misplaced the midterm election to Senator Ted Cruz, the progressive politician energized a base of left-leaning Texans and established a nationwide presence that launched early conversations a few 2020 presidential candidacy. Filmmaker David Modigliani (“Crawford”) captured the many ups and downs of O’Rourke’s historic marketing campaign with unique entry all the approach by means of election night time. For “Running With Beto,” he places the phenomenon in an entire narrative context, whereas maintaining open the prospects round the nook.

The movie, which was produced by the staff behind Pod Save America (in addition to former SXSW staffer Rebecca Feferman and Nancy Schaeffer), may create an excuse for O’Rourke himself to make a SXSW look. “They’re hoping he will be there,” Pierson stated.

Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, the 2018 Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas, makes his concession speech at his election night party, in El Paso, TexasElection 2018 Senate O'Rourke Texas, El Paso, USA - 06 Nov 2018Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, the 2018 Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas, makes his concession speech at his election night party, in El Paso, TexasElection 2018 Senate O'Rourke Texas, El Paso, USA - 06 Nov 2018

Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, the 2018 Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas, makes his concession speech at his election night time get together, in El Paso, Texas

Eric Homosexual/AP/REX/Shutterstock

O’Rourke additionally seems in one other documentary enjoying the pageant which will broaden a few of the conversations on the floor about Texas’ present political considerations. With “The River and the Wall,” filmmaker Ben Masters follows 5 buddies — together with an undocumented immigrant — as they wander forwards and backwards throughout the Texas-Mexico border. As speak of a wall continues to dominate nationwide conversations, the film is poised to offer a private context for the dialogue. “They have to kayak and ride horseback to cross the border, and it’s just a breathtaking landscape,” Pierson stated. The group talks to O’Rourke as they move by way of El Paso. “It’s really juicy in terms of what it covers,” Pierson stated.

Ladies Dominate Competitors

SXSW’s Narrative Competitors has launched many careers, from Lena Dunham (“Tiny Furniture”) to Jim Cummings (“Thunder Road”). This yr, it’s a large open area of first and second options from principally unknowns. However the present choice consists of one other noticeable development: Each single certainly one of the 10 entries in the part is concentrated on a feminine protagonist. These embrace “Go Back to China,” the story of a spoiled wealthy woman pressured to return residence, and “Pig Hag,” a few lady in her thirties deserted by a possible love curiosity at a Weapons N’ Roses live performance. Amongst the extra provocative alternatives is “Porno,” through which a gaggle of teenagers in a small Christian city uncover a porn tape in a basement, and “Yes, God, Yes,” a few Catholic teen in the early aughts who discovers masturbation. “Saint Frances” offers with an Illinois lady coping with the fallout of an abortion, and “South Mountain” (from Columbia movie professor Hilary Brougher) includes a lady left alone in a distant mountain residence after her youngsters go to camp and her husband leaves her.

Half the competitors administrators are ladies, however Pierson stated the focus of the tales caught the programming workforce unexpectedly. “Certainly we’re looking for gender parity, but this reads very female,” she stated. “That was not intentional at all.”

Artists in the Highlight

The pageant’s Documentary Competitors tends to favor private profiles over massive points, however this yr is especially targeted on a variety of artists. These embrace “Museum Town,” which focuses on the declining business of the Massachusetts city surrounding MASS Moca, “Well Groomed,” about Aggressive Artistic Canine Grooming, and “Stuffed,” a portrait of taxidermists. Artwork automotive artist Harold Clean (“Wild Wheels”) steps behind the digital camera for “Why Can’t I Be Me? Around You,” the story of a 53-year-old man who decides to get breasts and faces rejection from his group. Pierson described lots of the topics all through this part as “people are outsiders, who have never fallen within standard descriptions.”

A Basic Track Defined

One of the best SXSW discoveries are often films that materialize out of nowhere and deal with totally sudden material. One promising choice alongside these strains is “Who Let the Dogs Out,” which is solely targeted on the historical past of that basic Baha Males and its peculiar possession historical past. Filmmaker Brent Hodge spent eight years researching his topic. “They made something so entertaining out of a simple premise,” stated Pierson, who added that she wasn’t positive if the filmmakers received permission to make use of the monitor, however “the movie is full of the song, so one would hope.”

An African Rip-off

One other intriguing query mark in the Visions part: “Sakawa,” Belgian director Ben Asamoah’s take a look at a trio of Ghanaian teenagers who interact in web scams whereas incorporating some type of black magic into their schemes. Particularly, the teenagers use courting providers to entrap their victims. (Pierson stated the pageant would have put the movie in its narrative competitors if it weren’t premiering at one other pageant.) “This one was a real favorite” of the programming workforce, Pierson stated, however “we’re not sure if it’s a total documentary.”

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