It may lack the glamour of Cannes or the smell of Venice, but really, is there a friendlier place to premiere your film than SXSW? Probably not and the surfeit of alcohol and food can even make up for the most disastrous debut. The Spotlight Premiere category boasts cherry-picked features and docs making their bows. The first part features everything from porn stars to hip-hop nobodies, intergalactic personality crises to one man’s ongoing battle with his Internet service provider. Who couldn’t relate? Click on the titles for trailers.
For years, cinematic shit like I Spit On Your Grave and Frankenhooker was the sole province of videostore geeks with nothing left to watch. Then Quentin Tarantino changed everything. Elijah Drenner’s doc chronicles the homegrown exploitation films which used sex ‘n’ violence to part a rube from his buck and somehow became art with the passing of time. Without John Waters, amazingly.
The title sounds like the worst film since Young @ Heart, but please come back and read the rest of this. Sure, Robb Topolski loves his barbershop quartet music. He’s the baritone in his own group. Where the punk comes in is when he butts heads with his Internet provider. Georgia Sugimura’s documentary watches how the brawl comes to involve Ian MacKaye, Janeane Garofalo and other free speech advocates.
Barry thinks mostly with his wang, and that’s how he comes to be on the receiving end of a trumpet in a darkened theatre. The attack from an angry dad leaves Barry without his testicles and with a new view on life. He gets another shot at redemption when the mother of his illegitimate child seeks restitution. Patrick Wilson stars in this adaptation of Frank Turner Hollon’s novel Life is a Strange Place.
Swiss directing team Ivan Engler and Ralph Etter have taken the old, dark space station horror template and given it a fresh orbit. At least we hope they have. Otherwise their film sounds a lot like Alien. With Earth rendered inhabitable, humanity now lives in decaying satellites. Anna-Katharina Schwabroh is awakened from her cryogenic sleep and begins to suspect that she. Is. Not. Alone. Oh, it’s only the cat.
Not much to say about Aaron Katz’s film other than that it has a really cool poster. Katz is a member of the mumblecore set whose films have earned comparisons with Terrence Malick. So they must really be something. His latest involves a Chicago transplant who returns to Portland, Ore., where he discovers something unexpected … a SXSW movie without a Greta Gerwig cameo.
Filmmaker Sebastian Gutierrez follows up his festival fave Women in Trouble by dedicating a film to its porn star protagonist Elektra Luxx (Carla Gugino). Having learned that she’s pregnant, Luxx struggles to keep her back on the mattress. Co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes a return, and he’s joined by newcomers Timothy Olyphant and Malin Akerman.
It’s hard enough making an indie film, but what about a production’s environmental impact? Miranda Bailey hitched a ride with the Zach Gilford film The River Why to look at the lengths the production went to put a smile back on Mother Nature’s face. It’s enough to make one long for the days when Michelangelo Antonioni painted entire forests white to suit his vision.
Haynesville was the butterfly capital of Louisiana. Then the nation’s largest supply of natural gas was discovered underneath its quiet streets. Gregory Kallenberg’s doc surveys the ensuing feeding frenzy, as an energy-starved country capitalizes on its latest stay of execution. While Kallenberg is out to inspire debate on how long the U.S. can suck up trad energy, he also acknowledges the discovery’s local impact.
Since 1982, the Hood to Coast relay race has been run every August in Oregon. The route runs from Mount Hood to the seaside burg of, uh, Seaside. Documentarian Christoph Baaden selected 12 runners to see how the race challenges them and shapes them. According to the press notes, “In the end, the experience is the win,” indicating that Baaden is unfamiliar with the wit and wisdom of Vince Lombardi.
Shane Meadows is a British filmmaker whose talent is matched only by his prodigious output. Having turned heads with the searing Made in Britain, he reunites with the star of his cult classic Dead Man’s Shoes Paddy Considine for a rap ‘n’ roll fillip. Considine is the inept roadie for wannabe MC Le Donk, coping with Meadows’ cameras while delivering his charge to an Arctic Monkeys support slot.
Tags: Aaron Katz, American Grindhouse, Anna-Katharina Schwabroh, Arctic Monkeys, Barbershop Punk, Barry Munday, Cargo, Carla Gugino, Christoph Baaden, Cold Weather, Elektra Luxx, Elijah Drenner, Frank Turner Hollon, Frankenhooker, Georgia Sugimura, Greenlit, Gregory Kallenberg, Haynesville: A Nation’s Relentless Hunt for Energy, Hood to Coast, I Spit On Your Grave, Ian MacKaye, Ivan Engler, Janeane Garofalo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Le Donk & Scor-say-zee, Malin Akerman, Miranda Bailey, Paddy Considine, Patrick Wilson, Quentin Tarantino, Ralph Etter, Robb Topolski, Sebastian Gutierrez, Shane Meadows, SXSW Film Festival, The River Why, Timothy Olyphant, Zach Gilford