This year’s South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) (03/08 – 03/16) features a lineup of 109 films, including 69 world premieres, as well as 14 North American and 5 United States premieres, with 68 of those titles from first-time filmmakers. Every March, the SXSW Film Festival attracts thousands of fans, filmmakers, press, and industry leaders to Austin, TX, to revel in the celebration of cinema by enjoying a gauntlet of new, exciting movies with the best film audiences in the world.
This year I’ll be covering SXSW for Geeks of Doom and plan on seeing around 20 films during my time in Austin. I’ll be updating Geeks of Doom daily with reviews, exclusive Skull-Face Island podcasts, daily journal entries, and filmmaker interviews including director Josh Johnson of the VHS documentary, Rewind This!.
This is my third year going – so I’m somewhat accustomed to the movie madness to ensue, but there’s always something that keeps you on your toes. Last year I was caught off guard by a torrential downpour that forced thousands of moviegoers to stand in line soaking wet for hours. For most of the festival I looked like Bruce Willis in Unbreakable via a free poncho someone was nice enough to give me.
This year, it’s a change of venue. In previous years, I had spent a lot of time at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at South Lamar, but this year that (sadly) won’t be happening. South Lamar is being renovated, but new venues like the Topfer Theatre at ZACH are making up for the slack. It will be interesting trying to navigate the schedule and the myriad of venues screening films each day. Of course there’s still the Alamo Ritz, but it doesn’t look like I’ll be attending many movies there this year, due to the nature of the schedule and what I plan on seeing.
Speaking of, I’m super excited about the films playing at this year’s festival. Here are some of the films you can expect to see covered here at Geeks of Doom:
Director/Screenwriter: Fede Alvarez
Five 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
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
Director(s): Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans, Jason Eisener
Screenwriter(s): Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Evans, Jamie Nash, Jason Eisener, John Davies
Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his abandoned house and find another collection of mysterious VHS tapes. In viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be terrifying motives behind the student’s disappearance.
Cast: Adam Wingard, Lawrence Levine, L. C. Holt, Kelsy Abbott, Hannah Hughes
Director/Screenwriter: Richard Linklater
We meet Celine and Jesse nine years after their last rendezvous. Almost two decades have passed since their first encounter on a train bound for Vienna, and we now find them in their early forties in Greece. Before the clock strikes midnight, we will again become part of their story.
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Prior, Charlotte Prior
Director: Josh Johnson
An exploding industry without rules! Backyard filmmakers with zero budget and a surplus of dreams! Unchecked global piracy! The race to control media consumption! Videotape changed the world and laid the foundation for today’s digital culture. Low cost equipment created unprecedented opportunities. Major studios and small indies operated on an even playing field for the first time ever. The story of the home video revolution is a tale of both technological advancement and human ambition. VHS vs. Beta! Porn invades the home! Direct to-video madness! It’s all here, along with a rogues gallery of directors, rental employees, XXX vets, box artists, collectors, and more.
Cast: Atom Egoyan, Cassandra Peterson, David “The Rock” Nelson, Jason Eisener, Chris Strompolos, Frank Henenlotter, Lloyd Kaufman, Kevin Tenney, Charles Band, Mamoru Oshii
The Spectacular Now
Director: James Ponsoldt
Writer: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
This is the tale of Sutter Keely – high school senior, effortless charmer, and would-be master of never worrying about the future – and of how he unexpectedly falls in love and also comes to terms with the fear, beauty, and mystery of what comes next.
Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler
Director/Screenwriter: David Gordon Green
Two highway road workers spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind.
Cast: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch
Director/Screenwriter: Shane Carruth
A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism.
Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins, Kathy Carruth
Director/Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols
Two boys find a fugitive hiding out on an island in the Mississippi and form a pact to help him reunite with his lover and escape.
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon, Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Screenwriter: Brian King
Lisa Johnson is one day shy of her sixteenth birthday. And she will be forever. She and her family are dead and doomed to repeat that fateful last day before they were all killed in 1985. Only Lisa has “woken up” and realizes what is going on. She starts to feel as if she is being haunted, but the “ghost” turns out to be Olivia, a very much alive girl who lives in the house in the present day with her own family. With her help, Lisa discovers that the house once belonged to a serial killer who kidnapped teenage girls and burned their remains in a hidden furnace room. When he died, he became a Haunter – a powerful, evil spirit able to possess the living.
Cast: Abigail Breslin, Stephen McHattie, Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden, David Hewlett
The Lords of Salem
Director/Screenwriter: Rob Zombie
From the singular mind of horror maestro Rob Zombie comes a chilling plunge into a nightmare world where evil runs in the blood. The Lords of Salem tells the tale of Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a radio station DJ living in Salem, Massachusetts, who receives a strange wooden box containing a record, a “gift from the Lords.” Heidi listens, and the bizarre sounds within the grooves immediately trigger flashbacks of the town’s violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the “Lords of Salem” returning for revenge on modern-day Salem?
Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Ken Foree, Patricia Quinn, Dee Wallace, Maria Conchita Alonso, Judy Geeson, Meg Foster
Director/Screenwriter: Joe Swanberg
Weekend trips, office parties, late night conversations, drinking on the job, marriage pressure, biological clocks, holding eye contact a second too long… you know what makes the line between “friends” and “more than friends” really blurry? Beer.
Cast: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston
Director: Adam Wingard
Screenwriter: Simon Barrett
One of the smartest and most terrifying films in years, “You’re Next” reinvents the genre by putting a fresh twist on home-invasion horror. When a gang of masked, ax-wielding murderers descend upon the Davison family reunion, the hapless victims seem trapped… until an unlikely guest of the family proves to be the most talented killer of all.
Cast: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Rob Moran, Barbara Crampton, Margaret Laney, Amy Seimetz, Ti West
Much Ado About Nothing
Director: Joss Whedon
Shakespeare’s classic comedy is given a contemporary spin in Joss Whedon’s film, Much Ado About Nothing.
Cast: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese
Make sure you check out Geeks of Doom daily for all the latest news and reviews from the festival, and follow Adam Frazier (and Skull-Face Island) on Twitter for on-the-spot impressions of movies and podcast updates.