10 SXSW Films You Shouldn't Miss
I feel like the music at SXSW is so good and there’s so much of it that the rest of the offerings fall in the shadows. This year, some of the films coming to Austin have me as excited as some of the best music. Since watching everything is impossible, I leave you my top ten choices below in no particular order.
1. "The City Dark" – This documentary, directed by Ian Cheney, chronicles the disappearance of darkness form our cities. Bringing you the voices and knowledge of astronomers, cancer researchers, ecologists and philosophers, the film tries to explain not only how we got to the glare of our city lights at night, but also what we are losing with it. Saturday, March 12 at 7:00 p.m. Venue: Vimeo Theater (501 East 4th Street). Additional screenings: Sunday, March 13 at 11:15 a.m. - Alamo Lamar B and Friday, March 18 at 4:30 p.m. - Alamo Lamar C.
2. "Blacktino" – One from our own backyard. Written and directed by Aaron Burns, I´ve been hearing the buzz about this one for more than half a year now. After "Machete," I´m sure folks will flock to this one just to get another taste of Danny Trejo, so get there early. Friday, March 11 at 9:30 p.m. Venue: Paramount Theatre (713 Congress). Additional screenings: Wednesday, March 16 at 2:30 p.m. - Rollins Theatre and Saturday, March 19 at 7:00 p.m. - Vimeo Theater.
3. "Fightville" – The growth of the UFC is almost scary. In this documentary, directors Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein take us inside the “microcosm of life” that is the fighting world. Since they have decided to treat fighting like an art, I expect as much blood as philosophical explorations of the spiritual and mental states of fighters. Judging by the trailer, I won´t be disappointed. Saturday, March 12 at 4:30 p.m. Venue: Vimeo Theater (501 East 4th Street). Additional screenings: Tuesday, March 15 at 12:00 p.m. - Alamo Lamar B and Thursday, March 17 at 9:00p.m. - State Theatre.
4. "PressPausePlay" – This Swedish film explores the digital revolution and democratized culture by speaking with those responsible for the explosion of digital era. As a student of all things digital, I expect a range of voices that go from the producers and developers to the users and those who oppose it. Their description also tickled my curiosity: “A Film about Hope, Fear and Digital Culture.” Friday, March 11 at 9:30 p.m. - Vimeo Theater (501 East 4th Street). Additional screenings: Saturday March 12 at 4:00 p.m. - Arbor; Wednesday March 16 at 12:30 p.m. - Alamo Lamar B and Saturday March 19 at 4:30 p.m. - Vimeo.
5. "Fuck My Life" – This Chilean film from writer/director Nicolás López is an exploration of love in the times of Facebook. Just like with the preceding film, this appeals to both my academic and personal interests. Plus, with the beautiful Leonor Varela and such a fetching title, how can you pass? Sunday, March 13 at 6:15 p.m. Venue: Alamo Lamar B (1120 S. Lamar Blvd.) Additional screenings: Wednesday, March 16 at 4:00 p.m. - Alamo Lamar A and Thursday, March 17 at 8:00 p.m. - Alamo Lamar B.
6. "The King of Luck" – Directed by actor/director Billy Bob Thornton, this is a documentary about the great Willie Nelson: “the man, the songwriter, the friend, the father, legendary performer and champion of the family farmer.” Face it: SXSW is the perfect venue for a documentary of Willie. Saturday, March 19 at 7:00 p.m. - Paramount Theatre.
7. "Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja" – Directed by Billy Corben, I imagine this film (with the help of the trailer) as hipper version of “Cocaine Cowboys.” Check out the description: “A colorful portrait of Miami's pot smugglin' scene of the 1970s, populated with redneck pirates, a ganja-smoking church, and the longest serving marijuana prisoner in American history.” Enticing. Saturday, March 12 at 9:30 p.m. - Vimeo Theater. Additional screenings: Wednesday, March 16 at 5:30 p.m. - Rollins Theatre; Thursday, March 17 at 4:00 p.m. - Westgate and Friday, March 18 at 10:00 p.m. - Vimeo.
8. "Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW" – This documentary by director and sometimes UT professor Alan Berg chronicles the history of SXSW, the biggest music industry event in the world. Wednesday, March 16 at 4:30 p.m. Venue: Paramount Theatre. Additional screening: Saturday, March 19 at 12:00 p.m. - Vimeo.
9. "Hobo With a Shotgun" – Of all the interesting titles I read on this year’s list, this one takes the cake. Directed by Jason Eisner and written by John Davies, this film tells the story of a hobo that, after witnessing a brutal robbery, turns into a shotgun-carrying, justice-delivering machine. As an extra, Rutger Hauer is in the cast. Tuesday, March 15 at 11:59 p.m. Venue: Alamo Ritz 1. Additional screenings: Wednesday, March 16 at 11:30 p.m. - Alamo Lamar B.
10. "13 Assassins" – We all have guilty pleasures. Cult director Takashi Miike is one of mine. In this film, Miike joins with writers Shoichirou Ikemiya and Daisuke Tengan to bring us a story of murderous rampage, samurais and that beautiful, artistic style of violence that characterizes Miike. Sunday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m. - Paramount Theatre. No additional screenings. This movie closed Fantastic Fest.
Those are my picks. I would suggest checking out the entire film lineup to make your choices. You´ll be surprised at the variety and quality of this year´s offerings. Now drop us a line and tell us what you´ll be watching!