San Antoniio.- Earlier this week, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival announced the lineup for this year’s Festival from March 8 to March 16 in Austin. The 2013 lineup continues the SXSW tradition that unabashedly features filmmakers along the whole spectrum – from those at the top of their game to those just starting out.
By Angela Covo, firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the 20th March that artists of all stripes gather in Austin to see, share and stir visions to spur tomorrow’s filmmakers. More than 100 features will screen over the space of just nine days with a lineup that includes 68 films from first-time filmmakers, 69 World Premieres, 14 North American Premieres and 5 U.S. Premieres.
So that’s nine full days of movies - plus more than 150 informative Conversations, panels, workshops and mentor sessions. Look for some repeats this year including “A Conversation with Matthew McConaughey,” “Humanizing Heroes: Storytelling Beyond Sports” and Jeffrey Tambor’s “Acting Workshop.”
Films were selected from a record-setting pool of submissions that topped 2,095 feature-length film submissions, 1,482 from the U.S. and 614 from abroad. This year all the records were broken with a total of 5,682 submissions across all the categories – 7 percent more than the Festival received in 2012.
Stay tuned for The Midnighters feature section and the Short Film program, which festival producers promise to release by February 6. And by Feb 13, we should learn the complete panel lineup and schedule.
“It’s an incredible privilege to sift through so much exciting work, and every year brings new surprises. Though trends emerge after the fact, not consciously while we’re programming, much of this year’s program embraces love and the need/search/desire for connection,” Janet Pierson, Film Conference and Festival Producer, said. “Many films reflect importantly on our culture and include intimate looks at iconic figures and we’re lucky to have a plethora of hugely entertaining and audience pleasing films.”
Eight Narrative Feature world premieres and eight Documentary Feature world premieres will vie for category Grand Jury Prizes. All feature categories, with the exception of Headliners, will be eligible for category specific Audience Awards.
This year’s Festival Favorites is a collection of the best and brightest screen gems viewed at other fests around the country and around the globe, like Jeff Nichols’ “MUD” with Reese Witherspoon and Matt McConaughey.
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION: This year’s 8 films were selected from 1,191 submissions. Each film is a world premiere.
“Awful Nice” Director/Screenwriter: Todd Sklar, Screenwriter: Alex Rennie Estranged brothers Jim and Dave must travel to Branson together when their father dies and leaves them the lake home. A series of hilarious mishaps and costly misadventures follow as they attempt to restore the house and rebuild their relationship. Cast: Alex Rennie, James Pumphrey, Christopher Meloni, Brett Gelman, Keeley Hazell
“Burma” Director/Screenwriter: Carlos PugaOn the eve of an annual sibling reunion, a troubled young writer is sent reeling with the arrival of an unexpected guest. Cast: Christopher Abbott, Gaby Hoffmann, Chris McCann, Dan Bittner, Emily Fleischer
“Improvement Club” Director/Screenwriter: Dayna HansonWhen their big gig falls through, a ragtag, avant-garde performance group with a political message struggles to find their audience—and the motivating force behind their work. Cast: Magge Brown, Dave Proscia, Wade Madsen, Jessie Smith, Pol Rosenthal
“LICKS” Director/Screenwriter: Jonathan Singer-Vine, Screenwriter: Justin "Hongry" RobinsonThe story of a young man, D, as he returns to his Oakland neighborhood after two years served in prison for a robbery gone wrong. Cast: Stanley "Doe" Hunt, Koran Jenkins, Tatiana Monet, Devon Libran, Les "DJ Upgrade" Aderibigbe
“The Retrieval” Director/Screenwriter: Chris Eska On the outskirts of the Civil War, a boy is sent north by a bounty hunter gang to retrieve a wanted man. Cast: Ashton Sanders, Tishuan Scott, Keston John, Bill Oberst, Jr., Christine Horn, Alfonso Freeman
“Short Term 12” Director/Screenwriter: Destin Daniel CrettonThe film follows Grace, a young supervisor at a foster-care facility, as she looks after the teens in her charge and reckons with her own troubled past. Cast: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Rami Malek, Keith Stanfield
“Swim Little Fish Swim” (USA, France)Director/Screenwriter: Ruben Amar, Lola BessisBetween surrealism, unusual characters, art and magic tricks, Swim Little Fish Swim depicts a journey from childhood to adulthood. Cast: Dustin Guy Defa, Anne Consigny, Brooke Bloom, Lola Bessis, Olivia Durling Costello
“This Is Where We Live” Directors: Josh Barrett, Marc Menchaca, Screenwriter: Marc MenchacaA struggling family’s dynamics are challenged and a unique friendship is born when a small-town Texas handyman becomes his son’s caregiver. Cast: Ron Hayden, CK McFarland, Marc Menchaca, Tobias Segal, Frankie Shaw
DOCUMENTARY FEATURES: This year’s eight films are world premieres selected from 905 submissions.
“12 O'Clock Boys” Director: Lotfy Nathan. Pug, a young boy growing up on a combative West Baltimore block, finds solace in a gang of illegal dirt bike riders known as The 12 O’Clock Boys.
“Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton” Directors: Stephen Silha, Eric Slade. A documentary about embracing your passions and becoming the person of your dreams, disguised as an inspiring biopic about pioneering filmmaker and poet James Broughton (1913-1999).
“Hey Bartender” Director: Douglas Tirola.The film explores the story of the bartender during the era of the craft cocktail.
“Los Wild Ones” Director: Elise Salomon. Wild Records is an indie label reminiscent of the early days of Sun Records. The label is based in LA and run by Reb Kennedy aka Mr. Wild Records and is comprised of young Latin musicians who write and perform 50s Rock n Roll.
“The Short Gam” Director: Josh Greenbaum. Each year, the world’s best 7-year-old golfers descend on Pinehurst, North Carolina to determine the next “world champion” and who might become golf’s next phenom. The Short Game follows 9 young golfers on their quest for greatness.
“Touba” Director: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. With unprecedented access and dynamic 16mm cinematography, Touba reveals a different face of Islam by chronicling Sufi Muslims' annual pilgrimage to the city of Touba.
“We Always Lie To Strangers” Directors: AJ Schnack, David WilsonA story of family, community, music and tradition set against the backdrop of Branson, the remote Ozark Mountain town that is one of the biggest tourist destinations in America.
“WILLIAM AND THE WINDMILL” Director: Ben NaborsWilliam. Kamkwamba builds a windmill from scrap to rescue his family from famine, transforming his life and launching him onto the world stage. His success leads to opportunities and complex choices, distancing him from the life he once knew.
HEADLINERS: the SXSW star-powered red carpet events, the really big names and talent.
“Evil Dead” Director/Screenwriter: Fede Alvarez, Screenwriter: Rodo SayaguesFive friends, holed up in a remote cabin, discover a Book of the Dead that unwittingly summons up dormant demons which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left to fight for survival. Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore (World Premiere)
“Hawking (UK)” Director: Stephen Finnigan A brief history of mine: a look at the life of Stephen Hawking. (World Premiere)
“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” Director: Don Scardino, Story by Chad Kultgen & Tyler Mitchell and Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley. Screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley As superstar Vegas magicians and former best friends Burt and Anton grow to secretly loathe each other, their long-time act implodes, allowing an ambitious rival street performer the big break he’s been waiting for. Cast: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, with Alan Arkin, James Gandolfini and Jim Carrey (World Premiere)
“Spring Breakers” Director/Screenwriter: Harmony Korine Four college girls who land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer who wants them to do some dirty work. Cast: James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Gucci Mane (U.S. Premiere)
“When Angels Sing” Director: Tim McCanlies, Screenwriter: Lou Berney Michael despises Christmas -- now Christmas is getting even. Cast: Harry Connick Jr., Connie Britton, Chandler Canterbury, Fionnula Flanagan, Lyle Lovett, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Eloise DeJoria, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson (World Premiere)
Visit www.sxsw.com/film for a complete list of films and updates.
PHOTO: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland stars with Reese Witherspoon in “MUD,” a festival favorite to be screened at SXSW before its national release in May. (Courtesy photo)