One of the things that I like most about this year’s overall South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival line-up is the diversity. Since taking over last year, festival director Janet Pierson has done a wonderful job of adding a few layers to the festival, without losing that great Central Texas flair that makes SXSW so special. We’ve seen this in the international films selection, and we see it again in the selection of panelists and short films. Mostly in the short films, but the panelists are more than worth mentioning.
Among the panels, as you’ll see below, are some great conversations with filmmakers ranging from Michel Gondry to a fantastic panel of genre filmmakers, including Ruben Fleischer, Matt Reeves, Quentin Tarantino and Ti West. Personally, I will be at that panel just to see Cinematical’s Scott Weinberg try and moderate the entire thing without needing a smoke break. There will also be a panel about hyperbole in film criticism featuring Drew McWeeney from HitFix.com and Erik Childress of eFilmCritic and Cinematical, which I will be sure to attend. I was promised that they’d at least work in one quote-whoring example from my backlog of reviews.
A sampling of key panels follows below, as well as the complete panel breakdown, by date and title. For full panel descriptions and participants, visit www.sxsw.com/film/talks/panels.
- A Conversation with Michel Gondry
The stratospheric rise of Academy Award-winning visionary Michel Gondry is one of the great success stories of modern film. Working with fellow travelers like Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman and Bjork, Gondry has made his mark on the film landscape with iconic work like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep. Come and enjoy what promises to be a fascinating discussion as Gondry discusses his latest, highly personal and emotionally raw documentary A Thorn in the Heart with TCM’s Elvis Mitchell.
- Directing the Dead: Genre Directors Spill Their Guts
How does modern horror take gore beyond the purely grisly to the level of grand guignol art and imagination? How does bone-cracking violence and flesh-rending horror contribute to the hallowed pantheon of art and cinema? Join five of the most striking genre filmmakers in modern movies as they lock horns over the all-important issues of blood, guts and gratuitous gore. Featuring Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), Matt Reeves (Let Me In) Eli Roth (Hostel), Quentin Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds), Ti West (House of the Devil), moderated by Scott Weinberg (Cinematical)
- Filmmakers in TV: A Case Study
Carving a niche in the world of film is tough enough, and achieving the same feat on the small screen is no easier. Successfully mastering both is in yet another league, but somehow the creators of HBO’s Eastbound & Down are pulling it off with style. Find out how Danny McBride (Your Highness), and filmmakers David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) and Jody Hill (Observe and Report) made it look easy in this illuminating, entertaining glimpse at the art of combining technical skill, sharp comedy writing and moving from the packed auditorium to the living room couch.
- Creating a Graphic Novel Hollywood Will Buy
Graphic novels are red hot in Hollywood now. With its combination of words and visuals in one attractive package, a comic book can be a great sales tool when pitching your project to studios. Ean Mering (Pomegranate) talks to David Wohl (Radical Publishing), Martin Shapiro (Night Owl Productions), Matt Hawkins (Top Cow) and Ted Adams (IDW Publishing) will explain how to create a graphic novel that will attract the attention of movie producers.
Previously announced participants for the 2010 SXSW Film Conference include Jeffery Tambor’s Acting Workshop, a Kick-Ass Conversation panel with director Matthew Vaughn, actors Aaron Johnson, Cholë Grace Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and comic writers Mark Millar and John S. Romita, Academy Award-winning Argentine composer, solo artist and producer Gustavo Santaolalla in Conversation with BMI’s Doreen Ringer Ross, and Cult comics legend Gilbert Shelton in Conversation with Harry Knowles
Below you will find the full list of short films, of which there are quite a few. Scattered among the names are the likes of Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg) and the Sundance hit short TUB, from director Bobby Miller. Have a look at the full lineup below. It’s certainly worth picking through.
COMPREHENSIVE SHORT FILMS LINEUP
A selection of original, well-crafted films that take advantage of the short form and exemplify distinctive and genuine storytelling. The winner of our Grand Jury Award in this category is eligible for a 2011 Academy Award nomination for Best Narrative Short.
Director: David Wanger
A glimpse of the dawn of a strange new era.
Bedford Park Boulevard
Director: Felix Thompson
A fifteen-year-old Latino boy at a high school in the Bronx makes a mistake that will define the rest of his life.
The Big Fiddle
Director: Willi Patton
A conceptual drama exploring the nature of music in cinema, and the possibilities of having a live score shape the ways in which the characters interact with each other.
Directors: Andrew Goldman and Andrew Blackwell
After shoplifting lighters, three young friends venture into the woods behind their neighborhood to create an explosion.
Black Ops Arabesque
Director: Jared Drake
A Secret Service Agent has a secret of his own- it involves ballet shoes.
Director: Gaysorn Thavat
When Brian pays a visit to his old home he unexpectedly finds himself in the middle of a violent dispute in which he saves a woman’s life. Tragically, his courageous decision proves to be his ultimate undoing.
The Call to the Post
Director: Brian Higdon
David, an aging musician, returns to a horseracing track to rediscover the job that defined his identity.
Director: Lauren Wolkstein
Forced to play the role of “the hero” at his homecoming party, a traumatized teenage Marine forms an unlikely bond with a rebellious young girl.
Coney Island Baby
Director: André Aimaq
Betty found a thick wad of cash hidden in a porn DVD stashed in her new oven. And that wasn’t even the strangest thing that happened to her that day.
Equestrian Sexual Response
Director: Zeke Hawkins
Alice is introduced to sexuality through the world of racehorse breeding.
Girls Named Pinky
Director: Alex Lubliner
Morris Munsey is an average man searching in vain for a human connection. On a quiet night in a small town bar, he finds her…
Director: Adam Keleman
A glimpse into the life of Lorna, a failed model, who returns to her home town after a sudden death in the family, confronting the past she left behind.
The Hardest Part
Director: Oliver Refson
An aging actor finally secures the audition of a lifetime. But just how badly does he want the role?
Have You Seen My Hair?
Directors: John M. Wilson and Chris Maggio
The story of a young girl whose salon appointment catapults her into a nightmarish romp through the depths of her imagination.
Jean-Paul Luc Sabastien Rene
Director: Milena Pastreich
Two fifty-year-old women tan on their living room floor when an unexpected message from their past flies through their window.
Directors: Benjamin Dohrmann and Seth Cuddeback
A somber comedy about a married man who becomes infatuated with kelp.
The Mess Hall of an Online Warrior
Director: Dan P K Smyth
A short film about computer game addiction and the effects it has on family life.
Out of Nowhere
Director: Will Lamborn
On the run from a killer, a man tries to escape the desert.
Director: Adam Locke-Norton
A sarcastic guy realizes that his jokes about his girlfriend cheating may in fact be more truthful than he thought.
Director: Lisa Jackson
A residential school musical.
Directors: Kate Barker and Andres Rosende
New York City – Seven Stories – One Day.
Director: Nadia Tabbara
Two Lebanese men with limited English search the streets of Brooklyn for a place of Storage.
Director: Eric Flanagan
A Filipino call center agent takes her American corporate-trainer boss out on the town, setting off a chain of events with unexpected consequences.
Director: Prithi Gowda
Working at a call center somewhere in India, a young woman’s computer breaks down. In an attempt to fix it, she finds herself in a magical, mythical web of electronic wires where memories, secrets, and hidden desires reveal themselves.
NARRATIVE SHORTS SCREENING WITH FEATURES
Always A Bride
Director: Danny Strauss
Cate can’t control her jealousy when she finds out her best friend is getting divorced.
Annie Goes Boating
Director: Noel Paul
A picnic in a park, in 3D.
Director: Jon Goldman
Relations between the United States and Iran take an unexpected turn when two senior diplomats and their interpreters meet for a closed-door session.
Director: Robin Wilby
13-year-old Nick lives with his dad at an amusement park. But today, with the arrival of his mother and a pink-haired girl, Nick is in for the ride of his life.
Lunch Watching TV
Director: Alfonso Nogueroles
A normal day: the eggs, the fries, the beer, the bread, the crisis, the politics, the football… A historical date. Just another day.
Unfiltered slices of life, from across the documentary spectrum.
Director: Jeff Bednarz
A portrait of modern day small town America told through the story of two 6 Man Football teams vying for the Texas State Championship.
Big Birding Day
Director: David Wilson
A glimpse into the world of competitive bird watching, as three friends attempt to see as many species as possible in 24 hours.
Director: Bradley Beesley
Self proclaimed “Doctor” Dante had a colorful career as a grifter. Mr. Hypnotism chronicles Dante’s stint as Hollywood’s Hypnotist to the Stars and his descent to become one of the most notorious conmen of the 20th Century.
Director: Amy Grappell
An unconventional documentary about two ‘conventional’ couples that swapped partners and lived in a group marriage in the early 70s, hoping to pioneer an alternative to divorce and the way people would live in the future.
Director: Jessica Edwards
The last seltzer filler in Brooklyn fends off the supermarket seltzer take-over and honors this simple drink’s place in history
White Lines and The Fever: The Death of DJ Junebug
Director: Travis Senger
The Bronx, 1983. The hottest club in the city. One of Hip-Hop’s greatest DJ’s ever and his tragic death.
DOCUMENTARY SHORTS SCREENING WITH FEATURES
5 variations on a long string
Director: Peter Esmonde
A short music documentary about the creative life of composer/performer Ellen Fullman, who has spent over 25 years developing, perfecting, and performing on an extraordinary 60-foot-long instrument.
Director: Greg Vander Veer
The story of two 90-year old dancers who still meet, twice a week, in a private studio in Manhattan to choreograph and rehearse.
Director: Holden Abigail Osborne
Part family portrait, part audacious vision of a future that never was, Solitary/Release is an intimate documentary-fiction hybrid exploring the life of a recovering drug addict on the verge of great change.