SXSW is now in full swing and as a result, we have been soaking up atmosphere, good barbeque and above all else MOVIES!!!
SXSW Film has grown year-upon-year and this year over 130 movies were on offer to us. Expertly chosen and programmed, the festival brought together small and large studios, independent and mainstream films, first time directors and seasoned veterans of the industry. To be honest, it was difficult to choose what to see, but I’m happy to say of the Seventeen movies I watched, all offered something unique and memorable. One of the most memorable things for me though is always the opportunity to interact with the moviemakers themselves which always provides depth and dimension to what you’ve just watched
WILD CANARIES: When their elderly neighbor suddenly drops dead, a newly engaged couple investigates signs of foul play.
Barri (Sophia Takal) and Noah (writer-director Lawrence Michael Levine), a newly engaged Brooklyn couple, are disheartened by the death of their elderly downstairs neighbor, Sylvia. Though Noah sees nothing unusual about the old woman’s death, Barri suspects foul play and sets out to investigate, enlisting her roommate Jean (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT’S Alia Shawkat) to join her on a reconnaissance mission to trail a possible suspect. Tensions mount, however, when the investigation uncovers unsettling secrets throughout the building—including in their own apartment—and suddenly everyone seems like a reasonable suspect. Boasting a stellar supporting cast including Jason Ritter (PARENTHOOD), Kevin Corrigan (THE DEPARTED), and Annie Parisse (THE FOLLOWING), WILD CANARIES is a freshly comedic take on classic film noir. This movie had a lot of promise that didn’t unfortunately deliver. Disappointing for a number of reasons including a confusing and overcooked plot made this difficult to watch and follow. The tonality changed from scene to scene giving me whiplash at times and the hammy dialogue and rather poor overacting made me feel like I was watching a first year film school project.
You know you should leave the theatre when one of the main protagonists wears a large hat and even larger sunglasses and thinks they are unrecognizable in modern day New York. Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murders did this way better and testament to the fact that if you can’t do it better, leave it alone.
VESSEL: A fearless sea captain sails a ship through loopholes in international law, providing abortions on the high seas, and leaving in her wake a network of emboldened activists who trust women to handle abortion on their own terms.
Vessel begins with a young doctor who lived by the sea, and an unlikely idea. Rebecca Gomperts, horrified by the realities created by anti-abortion law around the world, felt compelled to challenge this issue; her method: provide abortions on a ship in offshore waters.
Her project, Women on Waves, begins as flawed spectacle, a media frenzy, faced with governmental, religious, and military blockade. But with each roadblock comes a more refined mission, until Rebecca has the revelation that she can use new technologies to bypass law – and train women to safely give themselves abortions using WHO-sanctioned protocols with pills.
From there we witness her create an underground network of emboldened, informed activists, working at the radical cutting edge of global reproductive rights, who trust women to handle abortion themselves. Vessel is Rebecca’s story: one of a woman who heard and answered a calling, and transformed a wildly improbable idea into a global movement.
This is a must see documentary not only because the subject matter is so polarizing but because this really is about a remarkable woman who wants to change the world and is doing so for the thousands of women who she provides assistance to. A well-made account over a period of years, Rebecca Gomperts resolve is unfaltering and enviable. In person, she is as enigmatic and convincing and received a standing ovation at the end of the movie. I’m not sure that the movie will change your mind or position on abortion, but it will prove to you the difference that one person can make and the lengths that people will go to in order to stand up for what they believe in. What I liked most about this movie was the fact that people on both sides of the argument chose to march to the steps of Austin’s parliamentary building following the movie
PRINT THE LEGEND: 3D printing is changing the world – from printing guns and human organs to dismantling the world’s industrial infrastructure by enabling home manufacturing. It’s “the next Industrial Revolution.”
For the first time in history, the stories of the human beings building an industry have been filmed. The result: Print the Legend which follows the people racing to bring 3D printing to your desktop and into your life. For the winners, there are fortunes – and history – to be made.
Print the Legend is both the definitive 3D Printing Documentary – capturing a tech in the midst of its “Macintosh Moment” – and a compelling tale about what it takes to live the American Dream in any field.
Hands down, this was one of my favorite documentaries of the festival. It even feels strange seeing that in print (uh no pun intended). No really, who thought that a documentary about 3D Printers would rise to the top of my must see list? Well, its because Print the Legend is more than just a movie about the 3D printer itself, this documentary expertly explores a number of themes like friendship, the race for market domination and what happens when a bunch of enthusiastic young extremely clever young men become poisoned by investors and narcissism and we are able to watch the pollution of an American dream. I’m not sure any of us could imagine what it feels like to have to fire your best friends and former co founders, yet we follow this very thing happening and the impact it has on all of those involved. Better than most soap operas, this documentary really will have you on the edge if your seat wondering which company and technology will reign superior in the end. Add to this a charming and controversial fellow who creates videos showing step-by-step instructions to print your very own 3D gun. An explosively smart and engaging look at an industry that is still in it’s infancy and the way in which it may change our world forever with a colorful and entertaining cast of characters who are forerunners in the race. It’s true, Nerds will rule the world but whilst we wait for that to happen watch Print the Legend which will be available on Netflix in 2014. In addition this movie won the 2014 SXSW Film Festival’s special jury recognition award for editing and storytelling in the documentary feature category.
I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS: Davina is an imaginative and strong-willed teenage girl who often escapes into a beautifully twisted fantasy life. Having grown up quickly as the sole caretaker of her disabled mother, she looks for salvation in a new relationship with an older boy. Davina is swept into a whirlwind of romance and adventure, but the enchantment of her new relationship quickly fades when Sterling’s volatile side begins to emerge. I Believe in Unicorns takes us on a road trip through the stunning and complex landscape of troubled young love.
It would be easy to dismiss this movie as yet another coming of age movie but there is a tragedy and sweetness about the way in which this particular coming of age movie is executed that I haven’t seen often and a depth that is seldom seen as we follow a young girl caring for her very disabled parent. The movie is elevated by two great performances by the two main protagonists played by mesmerizing Natalia Dyer and Peter Vack who capture the impetuousness of young love so perfectly. Yes, there are some huge plot holes and we are asked to take some huge leaps of faith in order to make it to the end of the movie but I think this movie will stay with you long after the credits have run