Your Guide To The 2016 SXSW Film Festival: Narrative And Documentary Feature Competitions

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The South by Southwest Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary – and this year is going to be big. The Austin-based festival continues to build on its brand as the year’s must-attend convergence of music, film, and emerging technologies. This year, the event will host a considerable number of films that range from indie genre projects like the Nick Kroll comedy My Blind Brother and the thriller The Waiting, starring James Caan, to bigger budget studio projects like Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some and Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday – their presence justified by a loyal cult following of the filmmakers’ work. The festival will also see an expansion of its programming to episodic projects, including the upcoming AMC series Preacher from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Vice with Danny McBride, and television’s first polyromantic comedy You Me Her. And this year, The Tracking Board is headed to Austin to bring you live of all things .

True to form, this year’s competition slate is filled with a brand new batch of narrative features that follow some damaged characters searching for some answers. On the documentary side of things, the festival serves up some stories that are too good to be true — but they are. Either way, the films in this year’s competition present some of the most talented storytellers in indie filmmaking.


NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION

before_sun

BEFORE THE SUN EXPLODES

World Premiere
Director: Debra Eisenstadt
Screenwriters: Debra Eisenstadt, Zeke Farrow
Cast: Bill Dawes, Sarah Butler, Christine Woods, Michael Rivkin, Amir Arison, Keri Safran, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Gene Serritella, Kristin Slaysman, Eric Fillipkowski
Synopsis: After his wife kicks him out, an anxious comedian is lured in by an intriguing woman with a stalker.
Why do we want to see it? So many questions about this one. Why was he kicked out? In what way is this “intriguing woman” luring him (sexually, I’m guessing)? And what is it with this stalker? And how does a guy in comedy handle of this? And what is it with the title? It’s got us curious.

claire_in_motion

CLAIRE IN MOTION

World Premiere
Directors/Screenwriters: Lisa Robinson, Annie J. Howell
Cast: Betsy Brandt, Chris Beetem, Zev Haworth, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Sakina Jaffrey
Synopsis: Claire is sure of herself, her work, and family, until — like a bad dream — her husband disappears, leaving a trail of puzzling secrets that shatter her certainty.
Why do we want to see it? Brandt’s role as a kelptomaniac, self-centered sister in Breaking Bad was as glorious as it was grating and she kills it with the comedy in the CBS sitcom, Life in Pieces. She has always been a supporting character or part of an ensemble, this will give us the opportunity to see her acting chops as a straightforward lead — and in a dramatic thriller no less.

hunter_gatherer

HUNTER GATHERER

Wolrd Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Josh Locy
Cast: Andre Royo, George Sample III, Kellee Stewart, Ashley Wilkerson, Kevin Jackson, Antonio D. Charity, Celestial, Alexis DeLaRosa, Jeanetta Arnett
Synopsis: After a three-year stint in prison, an unreasonably optimistic middle-aged man returns to his stagnant neighborhood to win back his girlfriend only to find that she and his family have done what they always wanted to do — forget he exists.
Why do we want to see it? Locy served showed us his art directing skills in films like Prince Avalanche and Camp X-Ray, so as his directorial debut, Hunter Gatherer is a chance to show us what he is really made of. And with Royo (Bubbles from The Wire) toplining the cast of this tale of redemption, we expect something pretty fantastic.

miss_stevens

MISS STEVENS

World Premiere
Director: Julia Hart
Screenwriters: Julia Hart, Jordan Horowitz
Cast: Lily Rabe, Timotheé Chalamet, Lili Reinhart, Anthony Quintal, Rob Huebel, Oscar Nuñez
Stuck at a crossroads in her personal life, it falls on Miss Stevens to chaperone three of her students — Billy, Margot, and Sam — on a weekend trip to a drama competition.
Why do we want to see it? We like a good “adult at a personal crossroads” movie, but the element of chaperoning overeager drama students may provide another level of entertainment.

the_other_half

THE OTHER HALF

Wolrd Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Joey Klein
Cast: Tom Cullen, Tatiana Maslany, Suzanne Clement, Henry Czerny, Mark Rendall, Deragh Campbell, Nancy Palk
Synopsis: A grief-stricken man and a bipolar woman fall in love and try to forge a simple life together.
Why do we want to see it? We’re curious to see Maslany in a role outside of Orphan Black. This is apparently a passion project of her and Cullen, her real-life boyfriend, Cullen. Emotions are expected to run high with this story that combines mental illness, grief and love. We’ll be sure to have the tissues nearby if things get too real.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

ovarian_psychos

OVARIAN PSYCOS

World Premiere
Directors:
Joanna Sokolowski, Kate Trumbull-LaValle
Synopsis: In East , three young misfit women find solace in an unapologetic, feminist bicycle crew. They call themselves the Ovarian Psycos Bicycle Brigade.
Why do we want to see it? Because we aren’t cool enough to have a crew like this.

alive_and_kicking

ALIVE AND KICKING

World Premiere
Director/Screenwriter:
Susan Glatzer
Synopsis: Alive and Kicking gives the audience an intimate, insider’s view into the culture of the current swing dance world while shedding light on issues facing modern American society.
Why do we want to see it? We’re surprised that swing dance is still a thing — and that they made a movie about it. Perhaps a resurgence is upon us.

accidental_courtesy

ACCIDENTAL COURTESY: DARYL DAVIS, RACE & AMERICA

World Premiere
Director:
Matt Ornstein
Synopsis: Daryl Davis has an unusual hobby. As a musician, he has played with legends like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, but in his spare time he likes to meet and befriend members of the Ku Klux Klan. Join Daryl on his personal quest to understand racism.
Why do we want to see it? Given the current social climate, this is an interesting way to approach the KKK and racism. Very interesting.

orange_sunshine

ORANGE SUNSHINE

World Premiere
Director/Screenwriter:
William A. Kirkley
Synopsis: The never-before-told story of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love – a spiritual group of surfers and hippies in California who became the largest suppliers of LSD and Hash in the world during the 60s and 70s.
Why do we want to see it? Any movie about any cult-ish group is fascinating. Bonus points since it’s a true story.

tower

TOWER

World Premiere
Director:
Keith Maitland
Synopsis: An animated and action-packed look at America’s first mass school shooting, when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.
Why do we want to see it? It’s not often you see real-life tragedy portrayed in this medium. In its own odd way, it heightens the reality of things.

For the complete schedule and details of the films at , visit sxsw.com. Follow all of Tracking Board’s of here.

Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer
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