Held in and around one of America’s great cities of Austin, the SXSW Film Festival & Conference offers a versatility only recently adopted by the other members of the festival circuit elite. Having championed technology, Transmedia and independent music since its inception, SXSW Film boasts its place amongst the upper class of national film talent discovery destinations with a casual, trendy and forward thinking tradition. This year sees no difference as SXSW Film offers up a host of film screenings across a vast spectrum of mediums, platforms and genres. As a nexus of discovery and collaborative energy, SXSW Film celebrates the art and business of the possible, using shadows, light and the moving image to depict the range of possibilities the independent spirit is capable of.
We have selected 10 of this years standout films exclusive to the SXSW Film Festival. Picking from the across all programs, these films all represent the powerful and entertaining scope of filmmaking. From modern exploitation to Documentary to Narrative, the 10 films featured onIndieWood/Hollywoodnt‘s list represents the best from one of the worlds great festival experiences.
1. The Dance of Reality
Director/Screenwriter: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Cast: Brontis Jodorowsky, Pamela Flores, Jeremias Herskovits, Cristobal Jodorowsky, Bastián Bodenhöfer, Alejandro Jodorowsky
What can be said of Hallucinatory Chilean auteur Alejandro Jodorwosky? The Writer/Director of some of cinema’s ultimate cult classics returns with his first film in nearly 3 decades with ‘The Dance of Reality’; an independent autobiographical film written, produced and directed by Jodorowosky himself.
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan
A gripping mix of friendship, violence and redemption erupts in the contemporary South in this adaptation of Larry Brown’s novel. Directed by David Gordon Green (“Prince Avalanche”, “Pineapple Express”) the film brings Academy Award® winner Nicolas Cage back to his indie roots in the title role as the hard-living, hot-tempered, ex-con Joe Ransom, as he meets a hard-luck kid,(Tye Sheridan) (“Mud”, “Tree of Life”) who awakens in him a fierce and tender-hearted protector. Joe and Gary forge an unlikely bond. When Gary finds himself facing a great threat, he turns to Joe and sets off a chain of events that play out with the brutal inevitability of tragedy and the beauty of a last stab at salvation.
3. Jimi: All is By My Side
Director/Screenwriter: John Ridley
Cast: Andre Benjamin, Hayley Atwell, Imogen Poots, Ruth Negga, Adrian Lester
From ’12 Years a Slave’ Screenwriter, John Ridley and starring Outkast’s Andre “3000” Benjamin, ‘Jimi: All is By My Side’ comes as the long awaited Jimi Hendrix biopic. Covering a year in Hendrix’s life from 1966-67, the film presents an intimate portrait of the sensitive young musician on the verge of becoming a rock legend.
4. Doc of the Dead
Director: Alexandre O. Philippe
‘Doc of the Dead’ hosts a rich and entertaining dialogue with zombie authors, filmmakers and scholars, and features a host of zombie icons. Brought to the screen by the creators of the hit doc “The People vs. George Lucas,” “Doc of the Dead” delves deep into the evolution of the zombie genre in film and literature, as well as its impact and influence on pop culture, to deliver a comprehensive, fast-paced, highly entertaining look at a contemporary social pandemic of global proportions. ‘DOC OF THE DEAD will premiere on EPIX on March 15th at 8PM ET
5. Open Windows
Director/Screenwriter: Nacho Vigalondo
Cast: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell, Adam Quintero, Ivan Gonzalez
Nick’s a lucky guy – he’s having dinner with Jill Goddard, the hottest actress on earth. Then a guy named Chord calls: dinner’s been canceled. And it’s Jill’s fault. But Chord’s got something better… A 21st Century ‘Rear Window’, ‘Open Windows’ finds Elihaj Wood continuing down a recent trajectory of psycho thrillers (‘Maniac’, ‘Grand Piano’), as well as talented adult star-turned mainstream actress Sasha Grey extending her place as a multi-threat “mainstream” star.
6. Leave the World Behind
Director: Christian Larson
There is no doubt that the Swedish House Mafia (Steve Angello, Axwell, Sebastien Ingrosso) have been at the forefront of the International EDM explosion of the last handful of years. ‘Leave the World Behind’ is a documentary following the break-up of DJ trio and their subsequent One Last Tour. A rare look at the electronic scene, amazing live footage and the psychological drama of 3 guys who walked away from everything to save their friendship.
Director: Neil Berkeley
A documentary film starring TV writer and producer Dan Harmon (NBC’s “Community”, Adult Swim’s “Rick and Morty”) as he takes his popular podcast of the same name on a calamitous cross-country tour. Much more than a comedy-tour documentary, the film directed by Neil Berkeley uncovers Harmon’s public persona to reveal his complex character and his equally complex personal relationships. The supporting cast includes Jeff B. Davis (“Whose Line is it Anyway?”), Erin McGathy (“This Feels Terrible”) and Spencer Crittenden.
8. I Believe in Unicorns
Director/Screenwriter: Leah Meyerhoff
Cast: Natalia Dyer, Peter Vack, Julia Garner, Amy Seimetz, Toni Meyerhoff
Davina is an imaginative and strong-willed teenage girl who escapes often into a beautifully twisted fantasy life. Having grown up quickly as the sole caretaker of her disabled mother, she looks for salvation in a new relationship with an older boy. She is swept into a whirlwind of romance and adventure, until the volatile side of his personality begins to emerge. “I Believe in Unicorns” takes us on a road trip through the stunning and complex landscape of troubled young love.
9. Cesar Chavez
Director: Diego Luna
Cast: Rosario Dawson, John Malkovich, Michael Pena, America Ferrera, Gabriel Mann
Directed by Diego Luna, “Cesar Chávez” chronicles the birth of a modern American movement led by famed civil rights leader and labor organizer, Cesar Chavez. Torn between his duties as a husband and father and his commitment to bringing dignity and justice to others, Chavez embraced non-violence as he battled greed and prejudice in his struggle for the rights of farm workers. His triumphant journey is a remarkable testament to the power of one individual’s ability to change the system.
10. Beyond Clueless
Director: Charlie Lyne
Part adolescent fever dream, part roving visual essay, the film puts Hollywood’s high school under the microscope on a quest to lay bare the genre’s beating heart. Is The Craft the ultimate teenage survival guide? Can the little-seen Devon Sawa vehicle Idle Hands shine a light on the horrors of pubescence? And what’s really going on beneath the skin of EuroTrip? Narrated by cult teen star Fairuza Balk, Beyond Clueless is a dizzying journey into the mind, body and soul of the teen movie, as seen through the eyes of over 200 modern coming-of-age classics.