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SXSW 2015

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BRAND: A Second Coming (World Premiere)

Director: Ondi Timoner

BRAND: A Second Coming follows comedian/author Russell Brand’s evolution from addict & Hollywood star to unexpected political disruptor & newfound hero to the underserved. Brand is criticized for egomaniacal self-interest as he calls for revolution.


A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story (World Premiere)    

Director: Sara Hirsh Bordo    

From the producers of the most viewed TEDWomen event of 2013 comes A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, a documentary following the inspiring journey of 25-year-old, 58-pound Lizzie from cyber-bullying victim to anti-bullying activist.


Ex Machina (North American Premiere)

Director/Screenwriter: Alex Garland

Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, makes his directorial debut with the stylish and cerebral thriller Ex Machina, starring Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander.

Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander


Hello, My Name is Doris (World Premiere)

Director: Michael Showalter, Screenwriters: Michael Showalter, Laura Terruso

An isolated 60-year-old woman is motivated by a self-help seminar to romantically pursue a younger coworker, causing her to stumble into the spotlight of the Brooklyn hipster social scene.

Cast: Sally Field, Max Greenfield, Beth Behrs


The Invitation (World Premiere)

Director: Karyn Kusama, Screenwriters: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi

A reunion of old friends turns into a nightmare when one guest, a haunted man whose ex-wife is among the hosts, begins to fear that the night is part of a terrifying agenda.

Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lindsay Burdge


Mavis! (World Premiere)

Director: Jessica Edwards     

Her family group, the Staple Singers, inspired millions and helped propel the civil rights movement with their music. After 60 years of performing, legendary singer Mavis Staples’ message of love and equality is needed now more than ever.       


Son of the Congo (World Premiere / SXsports screening)

Director/Screenwriter: Adam Hootnick                                 

Serge Ibaka’s improbable journey has taken him from the violence of Congo to the top of the NBA. In Son of the Congo, Ibaka returns home, hoping his basketball success can help rebuild a country and inspire a new generation to dream of a better life.        


In addition to nine full days of film screenings, SXSW Film will ultimately feature over 150 informative and entertaining sessions including previously announced Keynote speakers Mark Duplass, Ava DuVernay and RZA, Featured Sessions, panels, workshops and mentor sessions. 




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I should be there for the first seven days but not the whole shebang. (Last year I was on sabbatical so I could do the whole thing...)

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So, it's a good experience then? I keep hoping I'll be able to justify a work trip to SxSW Interactive and then stay over for a bit of the film festival, but I haven't yet been able to pull it off. Is it like TIFF in that you can watch four or five films a day?

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So, it's a good experience then? I keep hoping I'll be able to justify a work trip to SxSW Interactive and then stay over for a bit of the film festival, but I haven't yet been able to pull it off. Is it like TIFF in that you can watch four or five films a day?


I like it...but then they give me press credentials, so there's that.


The offereings are less than TIFF. You can watch 4 films a day, but I found by the end last year I was scraping the barrell a bit. (I also felt like everyone had left the film side; Bob Koehler mocked me a bit a FB for sticking around until the end). Also, a lot of the centerpiece films (Veronica Mars, Boyhood, Grand Budapest) only got *one* showing, and the press don't have separate showings. (They give you an all-access pass, but you still have to get in line...or get up early to get an express ticket [i.e. cutsies] for whatever you are going to see.). Though *some* of the films are available on demand in the virtual screening room.


I don't find as much to see--but you know me, I like at TIFF the ability to see some of the Oscar films early. You seems to like more of the esoteric stuff, and there's plenty of that. But it's more indie, less highbrow. And for me that's a plus, because I tend to overbook at TIFF anyway and try to stuff in more than I can do. I like the pace at SXSW a bit more.


The biggest thing I haven't figured out about SXSW is Austin. The city itself is too small for a festival of this size, and a lot of the centrally located venues are bigger, single screen theaters for the big ticket attractions. (For example, Double Play, the documentary by Austin Film Society alum about Richard Linklater and James Benning played at a satellite location; you know what American suburbs are like; if you want to go to a satellite location, that's most of your day. So you need to plan a little more carefully than at TIFF where it's not really a problem to see somethign at the Elgin and then hop the subway to the ScotiaBank and then hop back to the Ryerson.) Last year I stayed at a houe in the suburbs via Airbnb and used public transportation to get to downtown; this year I'm staying at one of the approved hotels that has free shuttle service. Austin has one train and it tends to get packed during festival; I was grateful to have a car on the days I went boppign around the satellite locations, but I'm looking forward to being more centrally located. That being said, because of the size of the city, the festival tends to be more expensive (as far as food and lodging is concerned); it's either harder to do on the cheap or I haven't figured out how yet.


On the plus side, I like Austin, which surprised me because...well, Texas. I don't know if it's the university or the young people or the festival, but it's like a more progress oasis in a sea of Texas conservatism. And the participants and attendeess seem less...snobbish...than TIFF. It's a younger crowd, and TIFF is getting more corporate. I think b/c the tech festival and the music festival are on-going, b/c film isn't the only thing happening, there's less of a cliquishness about the enterprise.


It might not be my first recommendation for the hard-corse cinephile who just wants to watch as many films as possible, but it's a really pleasant and enjoyable experience for someone willing to do a little less (maybe 3 films most days). Also outside the red carpet (which I don't care about as much), people (directors) were a little more accessible. In that way, it still has some of the feel of smaller, regional festival (VFF, Full Frame) where people are glad to have your attention, rather than the crowd-control, processed festival experience that is TIFF.


Be warned, hotels sell out *very* early. A lof of press end up sharing space. If you don't want to do that (I seem to recall you liking to have your own space), you do need to make reservations early.

Edited by kenmorefield

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Preliminary schedule, it will probably get tweaked:


Friday: Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson; Last Man on the Moon
Sat: Mangelhorn, Hello My Name is Dories, Ex Machina
Sun: Love & Mercy Press day, interviews & screening Spy
Mon: Twinsters, She's the Best Thing in It, The Ceremony, Road Warrior (with George Miller!)
Tues: Wild Horses, Peace Officer interviews, Out to Win (with interviews)
Wed: Bone in the Throat and TDB

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