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Fifteen Must See Movies of 2017 SXSW Film Festival

This March 10th through the 18th, SXSW Film will celebrate its 24th year with movies, panels and breakfast tacos that aren’t just for breakfast anymore. This year’s festival will run simultaneously with SXSW Interactive and, for its later days, SXSW Music. Screening audience members determine the success of each film with a state-of-the-art paper tear, culminating in an award ceremony.

If you’re new to this annual Austin, Texas film festival, and you expect to see at least three films a day, be sure to pack your most comfortable shoes. Venues are spread out, ranging from around the corner to miles away. There are plenty of shuttle buses, but your best bet is by foot or Lyft. When it comes to scheduling your selected screenings, 15 minutes between films is about as tight as you can get.

Luckily the SXSW volunteers are amazing, and everywhere. When you’re lost, bug one, and they’ll get you going. Definitely download the app, star films that look interesting as “favorites” (and their backup showtimes) and take a chance on a movie you have no initial interest in. Some of the best films I’ve seen at the fest were unplanned screenings.

In the meantime, for a more structured stab at SXSW Film 2017, here are fifteen films I’ve marked as must-sees…

 

78/52

origin: UNITED STATES
genre: DOCUMENTARY
director: Alexandre O. Philippe

Fifty-five years after its initial release shocked an entire generation of unsuspicious moviegoers, the iconic shower murder in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho remains the most significant and influential scene in the history of cinema.

78/52 delves into Hitchcock’s genius, fears and obsessions in unprecedented fashion, to become the first feature-length investigation into the art, craft and influence of a single extraordinary scene — one which forever changed the course of popular cinema, and continues to inspire and challenge some of the greatest filmmakers of our time.

exhibitapictures.com

 

SONG TO SONG

origin: UNITED STATES
genre: DRAMA
director: Terrence Malick

In this modern love story set against the Austin, Texas music scene, two entangled couples – struggling songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling), and music mogul Cook (Michael Fassbender) and the waitress whom he ensnares (Natalie Portman) – chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal.

www.songtosongmovie.com

 

GAME OF DEATH

origin: CANADA, FRANCE
genre: HORROR
directors: Laurence “Baz” Morais and Sebastien Landry

Kill or be killed is the golden rule of the Game of Death, which sucks for seven decent-looking young friends who decide to play one sunny day. They quickly and gruesomely realize that if they don’t murder people, their heads will literally explode. Hence, they go on a killing spree, taking the lives of anyone they meet in their middle-of-nowhere town. The killer-instinct in each of them bubbles to the surface as their search for victims unravels into chaos. Divided, terrified and confronted with their own mortality, their drive to survive blurs with their desire to win the game. Will they turn on each other? “Jumanji” meets “Natural Born Killers”… The Game of Death will blow your mind.

rockzeline.com/our-production-deng/the-game-of-death

 

SMALL TIME CRIME

origin: UNITED STATES
genre: CRIME/THRILLER
directors: Ian and Eshom Nelms

Ex-cop Mike Kendall (John Hawkes) discovers the body of a young woman and, in an act of self-redemption, becomes hellbent on finding the killer. While his uncouth and quirky detective style helps break open the case, his dogged determination unwittingly puts his sister (Octavia Spencer) and best friend (Anthony Anderson) in danger. Additional cast members include Robert Forster, Clifton Collins, Jr., Michael Vartan, James Lafferty, Daniel Sunjata, Caity Lotz, Jeremy Ratchford, Don Harvey, Stefanie Scott and Dale Dickey.

nelmsbros.com

 

FLESH AND BLOOD

origin: UNITED STATES
genre: DRAMA
director: Mark Webber

Director and actor Mark Webber explores family dynamics using his real family as the cast and real-life situations for the story to create a film that authentically blurs the line between narrative and documentary. Flesh and Blood tells the story of Mark, a man returning home from prison to live with his mother and teenage brother in the inner city of Philadelphia. Attempts to rebuild his life become frustrated by struggles with sobriety, a strained relationship with his activist mother, the neglect of a teenage brother with Asperger’s and a rehashed cycle of abandonment by addict fathers. A dysfunctional family tree soon emerges whose every branch is not only broken but likely unrepairable.

Twitter.com/fleshbloodfilm

 

BARBECUE

origin: AUSTRALIA
genre: DOCUMENTARY
director: Matthew Salleh

Barbecue is about more than grilling a piece of meat. It’s a ritual performed religiously across the world. For some it’s a path to salvation. Every culture has a form of barbecue. It is the pride of nations. It brings the world together.

From Shisanyama in South Africa, to Engangsgrill in Sweden, people light the coals, gather, and tell their story. From the Syrian border to an outback Australian town, intimate portraits of those who stoke the flames reveal a bold vision of humanity. Journeying to 12 countries, with glorious cinematic images in 4K and a rich orchestral score, “Barbecue” is a symphony of meat and fire told in epic detail.

barbecuefilm.com

 

BEHIND THE MASK

10th Anniversary Screening
origin: UNITED STATES
genre: HORROR
director: Scott Glosserman

While fans anticipate a follow up, the 2007 horror-comedy gets a 10th anniversary celebration. In her New York Times review, Jeannette Catsoulis called the film “a killer kid of comedy… If Christopher Guest ever turned his attention to psycho killers instead of folk singers and dog breeders, this is exactly the sort of movie he would make.

Appealing more to the brain than to the gut, Behind the Mask subtly prods at the sick dance between the news media and ubercriminals without belaboring its point or lowering its tone.”

Facebook.com/BeforeTheMask

 

TRAGEDY GIRLS

origin: UNITED STATES, CANADA
genre: HORROR/COMEDY
director: Tyler Macintiyre

Sadie and McKayla are two social-media obsessed best friends who will stop at nothing to build their online following. The self-titled “Tragedy Girls” kidnap Lowell, an unambitious local serial killer, and force him to mentor them into modern horror legends by committing murders to blow up on the internet. As the bodies fall, the girls become national news and panic in their small town hits a fever pitch — just then, Lowell escapes! Now with the local Sheriff closing in and their relationship on the rocks, the girls must rethink their plan before they find themselves the latest victims of their own killing spree.

Facebook.com/TragedyGirls

 

MUPPET GUYS TALKING

origin: UNITED STATES
genre: DOCUMENTARY
director: Frank Oz

For the first time ever, five of the original Muppet performers come together to discuss the creation of their iconic characters under the visionary leadership of Jim Henson. With unexpected stories, rare behind-the-scenes footage, and important insights into how Jim led his team, this documentary gives a private glimpse into the true spirit of The Muppets and how a culture of innovation, hard work, and playfulness produced one of the most successful creative endeavors in history.

MuppetGuysTalking.com

 

THE HERO

origin: UNITED STATES
genre: DRAMA
director: Brett Haley

Lee Hayden (Sam Elliot) is an aging Western icon with a golden voice, but his best performances are decades behind him. He spends his days reliving old glories and smoking too much weed with his former-co-star-turned-dealer, Jeremy, until a surprise cancer diagnosis brings his priorities into sharp focus. He soon strikes up an exciting, contentious relationship with stand-up comic Charlotte, and he attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Lucy, all while searching for one final role to cement his legacy.

 

INFINITY BABY

origin: UNITED STATES
genre: COMEDY
director: Robert “‘Bob” Byington

According to Deadline Hollywood, this Austin-shot comedy is a “lightly futuristic comedy about babies who don’t age.” Kieran Culkin plays a guy who works at Infinity Baby, a company tasked with farming out 3-month-olds. Nick Offerman And Megan Mullally co-star. The indie film was written by Onur Tukel (Applesauce).

Twitter.com/infinitybabymov

 

BECOMING BOND

origin: UNITED STATES
genre: DOCUMENTARY
director: Josh Greenbaum

A unique documentary/narrative hybrid chronicling the stranger-than-fiction true story of George Lazenby, a poor Australian car mechanic who, through an unbelievable set of circumstances, landed the role of James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), despite having never acted a day in his life. Then after being offered the next six Bond films and a $1 million signing bonus, he turned it all down…

 

COLOSSAL

origin: UNITED STATES
genre: FANTASY
director: Nacho Vigalondo

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is an out-of-work party girl who, after getting kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend, is forced to leave her life in New York and move back to her hometown. When news reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, South Korea, Gloria gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this far-off phenomenon. As events begin to spin out of control, Gloria must determine why her seemingly insignificant existence has such a colossal effect on the fate of the world. Co-starring Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, and Tim Blake Nelson.

Facebook.com/neonrated

 

PREVENGE

origin: UNITED KINGDOM
genre: DARK COMEDY
director: Alice Lowe

A pitch black, wryly British comedy from the mind of Alice Lowe, Prevenge follows Ruth, a pregnant woman on a killing spree that’s as funny as it is vicious. It’s her misanthropic unborn baby dictating Ruth’s actions, holding society responsible for the absence of a father. The child speaks to Ruth from the womb, coaching her to lure and ultimately kill her unsuspecting victims. Struggling with her conscience, loneliness, and a strange strain of prepartum madness, Ruth must ultimately choose between redemption and destruction at the moment of motherhood. Prevenge marks the directorial debut from Lowe, who is a triple threat, writing, directing, and acting in the film during her own pregnancy.

Twitter.com/prevengemovie

 

BABY DRIVER

origin: UNITED STATES
genre: ACTION, THRILLER
director: Edgar Wright

A talented, young getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. When he meets the girl of his dreams (Lily James), Baby sees a chance to ditch his criminal life and make a clean getaway. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey), he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom. Also stars Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx.

Twitter.com/edgarwright

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