It’s a cliché that truth is stranger than fiction. It’s also a sign of our creative bankruptcy that we’re opening up this paragraph with such a hoary old fossil. Surveying the field in SXSW’s nonfiction film competition, however, is to look upon a group that’s bursting with eccentric characters—the guru of Ecstasy, anyone?—and hot button issues. This year, the jury can expect to be taken from Beijing to Afghanistan to Sierra Leone to a world in one man’s backyard. Time to switch the brain into its “on” position. Click on the titles to watch trailers.
Read our SXSW Headliners Preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
In the Chinese capital of Beijing, the taxi-drivers are notoriously garrulous, willing to discuss anything from politics to what’s for dinner with their passengers. Filmmaker Miao Wang uses these characters as the lens through which to view a changing nation opening its doors for the 2008 Olympics. The trauma of accelerated redevelopment is seen through their windshields. Don’t forget to tip.
Camp Victory, Afghanistan
Our exit strategy in Afghanistan involves educating the country’s nascent army in how to keep their lawless country under the boot-heel. That task is down to the U.S. National Guard, who Carol Dysinger followed as they trained a green battalion in the ways of martial law. She captures inexperienced military men facing fresh challenges, as well as the unlikely friendships forming between teachers and students. Heartwarming.