There is more to life than Texas. Although, as any Texan will tell you, not much more. So hurrah to SXSW for looking beyond its borders to the world outside. While the inclusion of a Native American-themed documentary in the “global” slot is troubling, the rest of the lineup fulfills its brief. In the U.K., CCTVs and databases makes Daily Mail readers of us all. There’s glimpses of Finnish living rooms and the very edges of time. There’s love, loss, incarceration, impotency, death. When all else fails, there’s always Viagra to act as our troubled planet’s the great uniter. Click on the titles for trailers where available.
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Teri Lee Geary is a burlesque performer who looks like Marilyn Monroe and swings her tassels by the name of Kitten DeVille. She’s married to punk rocker Shawn Geary. DeVille is obsessed by the 1950s of Eisenhower. He’s mired in the 1980s. Now, after a quarter century of mismatched bliss, it’s coming undone. Documentary filmmaker Nicole Nielsen Horanyi is there to film the kitschy Strindberg action.
Keen to find out how much the U.K. government and its corporate databases know about him, filmmaker David Bond (Lions of Green) drops off the grid. Then he hires a pair of detectives to find him using available information. As another film once put it, we live in public. Bond’s discoveries, however, serve to fuel his paranoia about living in the surveillance state of Knifecrime Island.
Where do old ships go to die? Chittagong, Bangladesh, where rusting hulks are broken down for scrap. For the princely salary of two bucks a day, the workers battle a toxic atmosphere and dodge falling metal. Bong-Nam Park revisits territory previously explored in the awesome Workingman’s Death for a combination of destructive spectacle and Third World hand-wringing.
Who would have thought that director Jukka Kärkkäinen would win the great race to make a movie about six different Finnish living rooms? They said it couldn’t be done, but Kärkkäinen’s film turns out to be an engaging slice of Scandinavian alcoholism, which plays out in stately long takes amid blinking TV sets and a mise-en-scène infused with beige. Look for Zack Snyder’s take sometime on the 12th of never.
On the Other Side of Life
This South African film taps into the vivid outrage of Tsotsi and Ghosts of Cité Soleil. Brothers Lucky and Bongani share a bed and a lifestyle which takes them from the Cape Town township underworld to the brutal bear pit of jail. Can this unsentimental education prepare them for the moral choices that will be faced in their release? Stefanie Brockhaus and Andy Wolff don’t make it easy.
Phantom of Liberty II
“Time,” David Bowie once sang, “He flexes like a whore, falls wanking to the floor. His trick is you and me.” Boy. Karel Zalud may indeed share these sentiments. Cribbing a title from Luis Bunuel, the doc filmmaker promises to look at time’s physical elements and “its crucial impact on our actions, behavior, perception, social rituals and out outlook on the world.” With no prospect of an appearance by Greta Gerwig, we’ll be investing heavily in alcohol before watching this one.
In Mexico, when you ask “Where’s the justice?” an echo is the only reply. Roberto Hernandez and Geoffrey Smith picked up their cameras to expose the contradictions of the country’s tangled legal system. Their documentary about a wrongfully convicted man fighting for his innocence is both prison flick and gripping courtroom thriller. Get ready for The Thin Blue Line, south of the border style.
Indians have always been dealt a lousy fistful of wampum from Hollywood. Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond wants to know why. Through a tour of the Great American Western’s very own badlands, he surveys a history of on-screen stereotyping and caricature. Other pithy observations come from Clint Eastwood, Graham Greene and Russell Means. Racism: it’s funnier with hindsight.
The Pascha brothel is reputed to be Europe’s largest. Two-hundred women work in the 11-story building located in Köln, Germany. There’s even a senior citizen discount in the afternoon. Svante Tidholm’s cameras were invited to see how the place functions. The filmmaker was also looking for answers. Why are guys so obsessed with rutting? We’d offer some suggestions, except Chatroulette is calling.
In Shimada Masahiko’s novel, a hunter recalls his last days in the wilderness. It’s a solitary account that would be hard to turn into a compelling film. Peter Liechti, however, has pulled it off by creating an immersive world of the sights and sounds experienced by our dying protagonist. Through the diary and the film’s sensual appeal, viewers come to understand what drew the hunter to his ultimate reckoning.
De viagraman (The Erectionman)
Michael Schaap’s documentary tells the story of Viagra, the little pill which led to an explosion of advertisement featuring silver foxes throwing footballs through hanging tires. In the event of an erection that persists longer than 4 hours, the patient should seek immediate medical assistance. If priapism is not treated immediately, penile tissue damage and permanent loss of potency could result.
Tags: Andy Wolff, Bong-Nam Park, Clint Eastwood, David Bond, De viagraman, Erasing David, Geoffrey Smith, Graham Greene, Iron Crows, Jukka Karkkainen, Kansakunnan olohuone, Karel Zalud, Kitten DeVille, Like a Pascha, Michael Schaap, Neil Diamond, Nicole Nielsen Horanyi, On the Other Side of Life, Peter Liechti, Phantom of Liberty II, Presumed Guilty, Presunto culpable, Reel Injun, Roberto Hernandez, Russell Means, Shawn Geary, Shimada Masahiko, Som en Pascha, Stefanie Brockhaus, Svante Tidholm, SXSW Film Festival, Teri Lee Geary, The Devilles, The Erectionman, The Living Room of the Nation, The Sound of Insects – Record of a Mummy