By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire March 3, 2011 at 6:49AM
With the 2011 SXSW Film Conference and Festival kicking off a week from tomorrow in Austin, indieWIRE is releasing its first slate of SXSW filmmaker interviews, as part of the "Meet the 2011 SXSW Filmmakers" series, that spotlights directors with films in this year's Narrative Competition, Documentary Competition and Emerging Visions lineups.
Today's first crop include Janet Grillo's "Fly Away" (Narrative Competition), Vikram Gandhi's documentary "Kumaré" (Documentary Competition) and Guy Defa's "Bad Fever" (Emerging Visions).
Soon after the SXSW unveiled its 2011 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 Thursday's three featured interviews:
First up is Janet Grillo's "Fly Away," competing in the Narrative Feature section. Based on her short film "Flying Lessons," which starred Dana Delany, "Fly Away" follows Jeanne, a single mother of a teenager with sever Austism, who finds herself at a crossroads in her life. Grillo wrote the script within a short six weeks and with the help of Catherine Hardwicke ("Thirteen"), got the film made. "Catherine Hardwicke, has been a tremendously supportive friend, both personally and professionally, for over a decade," Grillo said. "She came on as Executive Producer, and provided great guidance as we developed the visual life of the film as well as spot on script notes. Catherine models what it is to be thorough, meticulously prepared, and well organized."
Over in the Documentary Competition, Vikram Gandhi merges his two biggest creative influences - mythology and documentary - to create a film that "challenges our beliefs about spirituality." In "Kumaré," Gandhi assumes the role of a wise Indian Guru and proceeds to build a large following in Arizona, before revealing his true identity to his disciples. "Since I am a non-actor, the deeper I got into the production, the further I got into character," he said. "You can call it method acting, but I was just transforming myself into someone else by living like it. As a swami I grew up knowing, ‘fake it till you make it.’ Inevitably, the character of Kumaré began changing the person Vikram. I had to be ready to be humbled by the experience, and allow myself to be consumed by the monster that I had created."
A true passion project, Guy Defa's "Bad Fever" (Emerging Visions) tracks the rocky attempts of a young man to win over a girl who videotapes their fleeting moments together. "I wanted to deal with people who were unable to get comfortable, with themselves, with other people, even if a path is laid out for them that could be a breakthrough," Defa said of the film. "I think life is a lot harder than we see in most films, and people are more complex than what we usually see on the screen."
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)