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Meet the 2011 SXSW Filmmakers | “American Animal,” “Fightville” & “Convento”

Meet the 2011 SXSW Filmmakers | "American Animal," "Fightville" & "Convento"

indieWIRE is again profiling filmmakers taking part in the SXSW Film Festival’s Narrative and Documentary Competitions and Emerging Visions sections with nearly two dozen filmmakers providing responses. Today’s three profiles include Jarred Alterman’s “Convento” (Emerging Visions), “Fightville” by Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein (Documentary Competition) and director Matt D’Elia’s “American Animal” (Narrative 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 Tuesday’s three featured interviews:

Jarred Alterman’s “Convento” is the story of a Dutch family that left Holland to move to a 400 year-old monastery in a remote village in Portugal. Their goal was to transform the building into a home, artist’s workshop, and nature preserve. Filmed entirely on location, the camera is almost perpetually in motion, tracking through the monastery and its landscape, transporting the audience into the daily lives of its inhabitants. Each family member simultaneously nourishes the coexistence of art and nature, documented through a series of connected micro-narratives.

“Dances are also counter-intuitive for a camera operator; they are not scored to rhythm, only time,” observes Alterman. “And when you think the dancers will move forward, they move backward.  I began to appreciate the simplicity and complexity of camera movement in relation to dance, and I carried these ideas with me while filming “Convento.”

Mixed Martial Arts take center stage in Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein’s “Fightville.” The pursuit has grown from a controversial no-holds-barred gladiatorial sideshow into a billion dollar phenomenon eclipsing boxing as the dominant combat sport in the world. But far from Las Vegas, in sweat-soaked gyms and low-rent arenas across America, the big lights are but a dream. Here, men fight to test their mettle, fortified with the mythic promise that an ordinary man can transform into a champion.

“Jack London used to spar with his wife in his garden. Hemingway bragged of his fighting skills [and] Mailer wrote as much about boxing as he did about culture,” notes Tucker, adding, “Joyce Carol Oates – the most unlikely fan of all – spent her childhood with her father at the Garden watching the champions of the day battle it out. Fightville is the kind of place where they would have saddled up to the bar and written about the next big thing.”

In “American Animal” by Matt D’Elia, an eccentric and terminally ill young man, Jimmy, further loses touch with reality when he finds out that his best friend and roommate James is leaving for a new job tomorrow morning. Jimmy sees this as a betrayal of their perfect way of life, and over the course of a night full of drinks, drugs and women, the two men engage in a classic, humorous battle of wills as James prepares to enter the real world and Jimmy falls deeper and deeper into his world of illness, isolation, madness, and make-believe.

“The film’s story came from the subsequent question: What would happen when Jimmy’s world of make-believe collided with the ‘real world’ of those around him? That excited me, and all of this led directly to the ‘American Animal’ screenplay, which I wrote in less than two months,” said D’Elia to iW. “It was an incredibly speedy process. I was deeply connected to the material and it just sort of came out of me.”

Wednesday’s full-length SXSW filmmaker profiles (3/9):

“Fightville” Directors Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein

“Convento” Director Jarred Alterman

“American Animal” Director Matt D’Elia

The full-length interviews follows for Tuesday (3/8):

“New Jerusalem” Director R. Alverson (Emerging Visions)

“Better This World” Directors Galloway and Duane de la Vega (Documentary Competition)

“Small, Beautifully Moving Parts” Co-directors Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson (Narrative Competition)

The full length-interviews follows for Monday (3/7):

“Charlie Casanova” Director Terry McMahon

“The Catechism Cataclysm” Director Todd Rohal

“The City Dark” Director Ian Cheney

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)

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