Texas has been a movie hotbed ever since Clyde Barrow howled from his mother’s womb back in 1909. Unlike some other film festivals that will remain nameless, SXSW makes a point of highlighting both the homegrown talent and films with a local connection. This year’s array includes a profile of architect Samuel Mockbee (who is actually from Mississippi, but it’s close enough), a legendary Houston folk venue, and the incredibly true story of the funkiest high school music program around. Click on the titles to watch trailers and more.
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While most architects content themselves with abstract monuments to genitalia, Samuel Mockbee conceived of an artistic practice that honored rural ways and materials. In West Alabama, he founded the Rural Studio program and educated students in socially responsible erections. Sam Wainwright Douglas interviews the master and watches a promising student put ideas into action for his down ‘n’ out client.
For the Sake of the Song: The Story of Anderson Fair
The Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant first opened its doors in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood in 1970. We can’t speak for the quality of their “Killer Nachos,” but folk-buddies know it as a legendary venue that has hosted names like Townes Van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, and Lucinda Williams. Bruce Bryant’s homespun documentary will make music lovers hungry for Tex Mex with a side of murder ballad.
It’s a small town. It’s the 1980s. No, it’s not Adventureland. With the local skating rink facing closure in a tiny East Texas … no, it’s not The Last Picture Show, either. Anyway, what it is is a group of collegiate kids reflecting on the best days of their lives against the backdrop of industrial exhaustion. Twilight’s Ashley Greene is among those learning fings ain’t what they used to.
During the 1970s, the Kashmere Stage Band traded in what vinyl marketeers call “deep funk.” They were actually a Houston high school group masterminded by music teacher Conrad O. Johnson. Some three decades after its dissolution, the “Zero Point” hit-making alumni reunite to pay tribute to the nonagenarian funk wizard. Geriatric grooves and patchouli nostalgia ensues in Mark Landsman’s doc.
Writer-director Chad Feehan puts a couple into a car careening across the Mohave Desert, then has them stop at a dilapidated hotel. You don’t need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind is blowing here. Soon Paul and Adrienne are sharing saltshakers with weirdoes who concoct what our notes describe as “horrifying reality.” Star Jamie-Lynn Sigler should turn a few trucker hats on the Austin Croisette.
When I Rise
Mezzo-soprano Barbara Smith Conrad was a University of Texas student who wanted to sing opera. She got her big break during the 1950s, when she was cast opposite a male classmate in a production. But Conrad was black, he was white and an unholy sh*tstorm resulted. This doc from the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History looks at how Conrad weathered the controversy and in her way, changed America.
Tags: Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant, Ashley Greene, Barbara Smith Conrad, Bruce Bryant, Chad Feehan, Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio, Conrad O. Johnson, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History., For the Sake of the Song: The Story of Anderson Fair, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Kashmere Stage Band, Lucinda Williams, Mark Landsman, Nanci Griffith, Sam Wainwright Douglas, Samuel Mockbee, Skateland, SXSW Film Festival, Thunder Soul, Townes Van Zandt, Wake, When I Rise