The following is a series of interviews with directors whose films are screening at the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival. All descriptions of the films are provided by SXSW. The festival takes place March 12-21.
Genre Unleashed: Will Canon’s “Brotherhood”
Adam Buckley finds himself having to rob a convenience store on the last night of pledging a college fraternity. But when the initiation ritual goes horribly wrong, and every subsequent move proves disastrous, Adam must find it within himself to take a stand to save a friend’s life.
Mike Dolan’s “Dance” Sees the Hidden Life of a Texas Family
Mike Dolan premieres his narrative competition film “Dance with the One,” a film about a Texas family, in his home state. In it, “Nate, a skateboard-riding, small-time pot dealer, wants out of Texas. Out of his family home – broken and haunted by the tragic death of his mother. Out from sharing a roof with his father – a legendary drug dealer, who is stewed in whiskey and grief…
“Helena from the Wedding” Director Joseph Infantolino Deals with Marrying Late in Life
Having recently experienced a spectacular career failure, the last thing playwright Alex Javal (Lee Tergesen) wants to do is host a weekend long New Year’s Eve party for his successful friends at a small cabin in the mountains.
David Mitchell’s Feature Debut Cuts Close to Home
For his first feature film “The Myth of the American Sleepover,” director David Robert Mitchell, set himself the task of making a teen film close to his heart by setting the film in his home state of Michigan. Set against the backdrop of mile roads, neighborhood blocks, abandoned factories and lakes which make up Metro-Detroit, this story follows four young people as they search for love and adventure on the last night of summer.
DIY Director Garth Donovan Keeps It Simple in “Fossil”
Phillip The Fossil follows an aging party animal chasing the now extinct glory days of his youth. Chuckling along as the carefree town jester, Phillip has become completely isolated in the dead end rut he so comfortably dug.
McCormick’s Sad Valentine “Some Days are Better Than Others”
A poetic, character-driven feature-length film that asks why the good times slip by so fast while the hard times always seem so sticky. The film explores ideas of abundance, emptiness, human connection and abandonment while observing an interweaving web of awkward characters.
SXSW ‘10 | Rebecca Richman Cohen Justifies Her Law School Tuition with “War Don Don”
In the heart of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, United Nations soldiers guard a heavily fortified building known as the ‘special court.’ Inside, Issa Sesay awaits his trial. Prosecutors say Sesay is a war criminal, guilty of crimes against humanity. His defenders say he is a reluctant fighter who played a crucial role in bringing peace.
Miao Wang Captures City Life in “Beijing Taxi”
“Beijing Taxi” is a feature length documentary that vividly portrays Beijing undergoing a profound transformational arch. Through a humanistic lens, the intimate lives of three taxi drivers connect a morphing city confronted with modern issues and changing values.
Director Carol Dysinger’s Afghanistan ‘Bro-mance’
Camp Victory, Afghanistan is a verite documentary that tells the story of several U.S. National Guardsmen stationed in Herat, Afghanistan and the Afghan officers assigned as their mentees.
Sex, Celebrity & Corruption: Cameron Yates Talks “Canal St. Madam”
Until an FBI bust upended her life, Jeanette Maier was a successful New Orleans madam. Her discreet clientele included a number of powerful, high-ranking politicians. The ensuing very public trial – both in the courtroom and in the media – focused salaciously on the fact that Jeanette’s brothel was a family affair – Jeanette ran the business with her mother and she employed her own daughter as an escort.
Director Etienne Sauret Uncovers the Godfather of Psychedelics in “Dirty Pictures”
Festival darling and documentary filmmaker Etienne Sauret came to discover the subject of his latest documentary through complete happenstance. While filming one of the rogue chemists who discovered the effects of ecstasy, Dr. Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin, at a press conference, Sauret became fascinated with Shulgin, the man.
“For Once In My Life” Aims to Inspire
“For Once In My Life” is the story of an inspiring group of people and their dream to make music. This documentary film follows the members of the Spirit of Goodwill Band while they prepare for the concert of a lifetime. As they navigate daily life, these twenty-eight musicians and singers, all with a wide range of severe mental and physical disabilities, display innate talent, humor and tenacity.
Violence, Art & Therapy Collide in Jeff Malmberg’s “Marwencol”
A documentary about the fantasy world of Mark Hogancamp. After being beaten into a brain-damaging coma by five men outside a bar, Mark builds a 1/6th scale World War II-era town in his backyard. Mark populates the town he dubs “Marwencol” with dolls representing his friends and family and creates life-like photographs detailing the town’s many relationships and dramas.
“Pelada” Director Ryan White Globe Trots in Soccer Doc
Made with three other directors, Ryan White’s “Pelada” was a truly collaborative project that took him to some of the most far-flung corners of the world. “Away from the bright lights and manicured fields, there’s another side of soccer. From prisoners in Bolivia to moonshine brewers in Kenya, from freestylers in China to women who play in hijab in Iran, ‘Pelada’ is the story of the people who play.”
“Passenger Pigeons” Director Martha Stephens: “I put every piece of myself into it” “I’ve always wanted to base a film in and around Eastern Kentucky. It has a strange sadness to it that’s really cinematic.”
Filmmakers Capture History in “11/4/08”
Two weeks before the election of Barack Obama, I asked friends around the world to record their experiences of 11/4/08, a day that had become historic before it had even taken place. In this documentary, a global canvas unfolds…
Director Monteith McCollum Takes the Road Less Traveled
Forget worrying about gas prices…or the price of a Metrocard; the subjects in Monteith McCollum’s new film have developed another way of coping with the troubles of urban transportation. “‘A Different Path’ follows a sidewalk activist Senior, a Critical Mass trumpeter, city Kayak-er, and others, as they struggle to make their way through the modern automobile-centric urban environment.
Harlock & Thomas’ “American: The Bill Hicks Story”
Much more than a comedian, Bill Hicks was and still is an inspiration to millions. His timeless comedy tackled the contradictions of America and modern life head on, as he skewered organized religion, railed against the hypocrisies of his government and exposed the collusion of the mainstream media.
“Barbershop Punk” Filmmakers Hit the Cyberseas to Capture Music Pirates
Following one man’s personal quest to defend what he believes to be his inalienable rights, ‘Barbershop Punk’ examines the critical issues surrounding the future of the American Internet and what it takes to challenge the status quo.
“Cherry” Filmmaker Jeffrey Fine and His “Unusual Friendship with an Older Woman”
In Jeffrey Fine’s “Cherry” we meet Aaron (Kyle Gallner), a very bright but sheltered freshman as he arrives at an Ivy League college to join their elite engineering program. He encounters Linda (Laura Allen), a vivacious 34-year old former wild-child who has returned to school to straighten out her life. She becomes the first person to encourage Aaron to follow his own dreams and he is soon smitten.
It Started with a Food Stand: Paul Gordon on His “Poet”
Bill, an out-of-work poet, puts his heart, soul, and last few dollars into starting an all-organic, mostly-vegetarian food stand. New friend Donnie promotes the business and helps Bill pursue Agnes, a poetry-lover who frequents the stand.
Sophie Deraspe Finds a Muse to Play Dying in “Vital Signs”
Les Signes Vitaux (Vital Signs) follows Simone who suddenly finds herself back in Quebec City following her Grand-mother’s death. She has no idea her student existence is about to be scuttled… by the discovery of life itself.
“Mars” Director Geoff Marslett Touts His Interplanetary Romance
In Geoff Marslett’s ambitious animated “Mars,” he explores our undying quest for the unknown. “A new space race is born between NASA and the ESA when Charlie Brownsville, Hank Morrison, and Dr. Casey Cook compete against an artificially intelligent robot to find out what’s up there on the red planet. ‘Mars’ follows these three astronauts on the first manned mission to our galactic neighbor.
“NY Export: Opus Jazz” is a scripted adaptation of a 1958 “ballet in sneakers” by Jerome Robbins, a companion piece to his legendary West Side Story, that tells an abstract tale of disaffected urban youth. Shot on location all over New York City on anamorphic 35mm, the film returns the original choreography to the streets that inspired it and stars an ensemble cast of dancers from the New York City Ballet.
Meghan Eckman On Her “Parking Lot” Family
Documentary filmmaker Meghan Eckman’s “The Parking Lot Movie” proves that microcosms of Americana can be found in the most unusual of places.
“The Parking Lot Movie” is a documentary about a singular parking lot in Charlottesville, Virginia and the select group of parking lot attendants that inhabit its microcosm. Three years in the making, this documentary is a strange rite of passage for all involved. Themes receiving daily scrutiny and detailing include cars and license plates, capitalism, anger, justice, drunkenness, awareness, class struggle, entitlement, and working in the Service Sector.
“Putty Hill” Director Matt Porterfield’s Circuitous Journey to SXSW
Matt Porterfield’s slice-of-life piece, largely improvised “Putty Hill” unfolds as a young man dies of a heroin overdose in an abandoned house in Baltimore. On the eve of his funeral, family and friends gather to commemorate his life. Their shared memories paint a portrait of a community hanging in the balance, skewed by poverty, city living, and a generational divide, united in their pursuit of a new American Dream.
Simon Rumley Celebrates His First “Red White & Blue” Film
Erica (Amanda Fuller) spends her nights trawling the bars and beds of Austin. Emotionally withdrawn, sleeping with multiple men is just what she does… until she meets the older and mysterious Nate (Noah Taylor), who claims to have an “honorable discharge” from Iraq.
Nick Whitfield Takes the “Skeletons” Out of His Closet
In this surreal comedy, DAVIS and BENNETT are a mismatched pair of traveling salesmen in the business of cleaning skeletons out of closets. Together they travel across Britain, performing ‘the Procedure’ whereby secrets and lies are exposed.
“World’s Largest” Directors Amy C. Elliott & Elizabeth Donius On Small-Town America
The co-directors visited 58 of the “world’s largest [insert random object here]” tourist traps that live in small towns throughout the U.S. “Odd, funny and sometimes beautiful, the statues stand as testaments to the uniqueness and importance – the largeness – that all people feel, and need to feel, about their communities and their own existence.
Public School Teacher Transforms Lives in “World Peace”
“World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements” is a one-hour film which interweaves the story of public school teacher John Hunter with his students’ participation in an educational exercise that he created entitled the World Peace Game. This interactive experience triggers a transformation of the students from children of a neighborhood school to citizens of the world.