|Written by Todd Sokolove|
Another SXSW Film Festival starts this Friday, and in addition to the usual unveiling of a Richard Linklater film (this time it’s Everybody Wants Some), the line-up is packed with quirky documentaries, highly anticipated genre flicks, midnight cult selects and of course some world premieres.
This year in Austin, I plan to attend a lot of sessions during the day, and probably a few events at night, but when I can scoot off to some screenings, they’ll likely to be any of the following:
A film about 70s superstar Burt Reynolds, his best friend, roommate and stunt-double Hal Needham, and the making of their unlikely smash-hit SMOKEY & THE BANDIT. The film tells the action-packed story of the making of SMOKEY, while tracing the vivid personal journeys of Reynolds and Needham from obscurity to stardom and highlighting one of the most extraordinary relationships in Hollywood history. Featuring new interviews with Reynolds, rare archive material, including footage from Reynolds’ personal archive, as well as candid interviews with the late Hal Needham, the documentary tells an exhilarating and moving story about loyalty, friendship and creative risk.
TAKE SHELTER writer/director Jeff Nichols proves again that he is one of the most compelling storytellers of our time, as a father (Michael Shannon) goes on the run to protect his young son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), and uncover the truth behind the boy’s special powers. What starts as a race from religious extremists and local law enforcement quickly escalates to a nationwide manhunt involving the highest levels of the Federal Government. Ultimately, his father risks everything to protect Alton and help fulfill a destiny that could change the world forever, in this genre-defying film as supernatural as it is intimately human.
Launched in 1982 by three friends in a Houston diner, Compaq Computer set out to build a portable PC to take on IBM, the world’s most powerful tech company. Many had tried cloning the industry leader’s code, only to be trounced by IBM and its high-priced lawyers. SILICON COWBOYS explores the remarkable David vs. Goliath story, and eventual demise, of Compaq, an unlikely upstart who altered the future of computing and helped shape the world as we know it today. Directed by Oscar-nominated director Jason Cohen, the film offers a fresh look at the explosive rise of the 1980’s PC industry and is a refreshing alternative to the familiar narratives of Jobs, Gates, and Zuckerberg.
From Irish Horror director Billy O’Brien (ISOLATION) comes this tale of dangerous 16-year old John Cleaver. He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. Terrible impulses constantly tempt him, so for his own sake, and the safety of those around, he lives by rigid rules to keep himself “good” and “normal”. However, when a real monster shows up in his town he has to let his dark side out in order to stop it – but without his rules to keep him in check, he might be more dangerous than the monster he’s trying to kill.
THE SLIPPERS pulls back the Wizard’s curtain on the unbelievable story and cultural impact of Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Through first-hand accounts and archival interviews, THE SLIPPERS will detail the life of the Ruby Slippers after their sale at the famed 1970 MGM auction. Discovered by costumer Kent Warner, it is unclear how many pairs were found and how many pairs exist. That mystery has only helped to propel the shoes to the forefront of the Hollywood memorabilia market. They have been bought, stolen, and coveted by many. They are considered the most important piece of Hollywood memorabilia and the catalyst for the creation of Hollywood memorabilia collecting.
Joel Potrykus, director of the 2014 SXSW favorite BUZZARD) brings this tale of a young outcast named Sean. He’s isolated himself in a trailer in the woods, setting out on alchemic pursuits, with his cat Kaspar as his sole companion. Filled with disdain for authority, he’s fled the daily grind and holed up in the wilderness, escaping a society that has no place for him. But when he turns from chemistry to black magic to crack nature’s secret, things go awry and he awakens something far more sinister and dangerous.