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Meet the 2011 SXSW Filmmakers | "Natural Selection," "Weekend" and "Where Soldiers Come From"

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire March 4, 2011 at 8:09AM

Yesterday, indieWIRE kicked off its annual series of interviews with filmmakers taking part in the Narrative and Documentary Competitions and Emerging Visions sections at the SXSW Film Conference and Festival. Today's crop of profiled directors include Robbie Pickering ("Natural Selection," Narrative Competition), Andrew Haigh ("Weekend," Emerging Visions), and Heather Courtney ("Where Soldiers Come From," Documentary Competition).
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Meet the 2011 SXSW Filmmakers | "Natural Selection," "Weekend" and "Where Soldiers Come From"
Last year at the SXSW Film Festival. Photo by Brian Brooks

Yesterday, indieWIRE kicked off its annual series of interviews with filmmakers taking part in the Narrative and Documentary Competitions and Emerging Visions sections at the SXSW Film Conference and Festival. Today's crop of profiled directors include Robbie Pickering ("Natural Selection," Narrative Competition), Andrew Haigh ("Weekend," Emerging Visions), and Heather Courtney ("Where Soldiers Come From," Documentary Competition).

Soon after the SXSW unveiled its 2011 SXSW lineup, indieWIRE invited directors with films in the Narrative, Documentary and Emerging Visions sections to submit responses in their own words about their films.

A snapshot of Friday's three featured interviews:

In the Narrative Competition, Robbie Pickering tracks a woman's journey to find her husband's illegitimate son. As Pickering revealed to indieWIRE, the film's protagonist cuts close to home. "I always wanted to do a film about my mother, who is a fairly religious housewife in Jersey Village, Texas," he said. "I've rarely seen a person like her portrayed onscreen in anything besides a totally satirical light, and I wanted to do her character justice. The problem for me was coming up with an emotional window into her story. Then, late one night I got a call from my mom telling me that her husband (my stepfather) had stage four terminal kidney cancer. I was immediately overtaken by the knowledge that, for the first time in her life, my mother would soon be alone. I channeled all of that anxiety and worry into an odd story about a woman who is faced with the prospect of loneliness and death for the first time and goes to great lengths to escape that reality."

Andrew Haigh's "Weekends" (Emerging Visions) meanwhile centers on the bond between two men who meet at a club and spent the ensuing weekend together, taking drugs, telling stories and having sex. "I really wanted to make a different kind of gay themed film," Haigh said of his drama. "I didn’t want to tell just another story of coming out or the effects of violent prejudice. While these stories have their place I feel there is more to say about the modern gay experience than that. So I suppose my starting point was to tell a simple and authentic love story that also explored the more subtle issues that can affect gay people in society."

The documentary "Where the Soldiers Come From" (Documentary Competition) from filmmaker Heather Courtney, follows the four-year journey of childhood friends who go off to war in Afghanistan. "I spent nearly two years filming them as regular 19 and 20-year-olds before they became active duty soldiers serving in Afghanistan," Courtney said of her two leading subjects. "I also spent a lot of time with their families, friends and girlfriends. My goal was to get to know them as people rather than soldiers, and by knowing them and their families and (hometown) before they leave, we see how they all change over these four years."

The full length-interviews follows for Friday (3/4):

Meet the 2011 SXSW Filmmakers | "Natural Selection" Director Robbie Pickering (Narrative Competition)

Meet the 2011 SXSW Filmmakers | "Weekend" Director Andrew Haigh (Emerging Visions)

Meet the 2011 SXSW Filmmakers | "Where Soldiers Come From" Director Heather Courtney (Documentary Competition)

The full-length interviews follow for Thursday (3/3):

Meet the 2011 SXSW Filmmakers | "Fly Away" Director Janet Grillo (Narrative Feature Competition)

Meet the 2011 SXSW Filmmakers | "Kumaré" Director Vikram Gandhi (Documentary Competition)

Meet the 2011 SXSW Filmmakers | "Bad Fever" Director Dustin Guy Defa (Emerging Visions)

This article is related to: Features, Filmmaker Toolkit, Interviews