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Entries in SXSW (22)


Abe's SXSW Wrap: Top Ten + Best Performances

by Abe Fried-Tanzer

Jay Duplass and Tatiana Maslany star in the romantic drama "Pink Wall"

The SXSW Film Festival is officially over, and the official winners have all been announced. I managed to catch 34 titles this year, but just three of them won prizes: Alice, the story of a mother who becomes an escort after learning her husband spent all their money on them (which just barely missed my top 10 best of the fest), the comedy Yes, God, Yes and the doc Running with Beto, which was cool to see with an audience of Texas liberals.

Nathaniel likes us to do "jury of one" wrap-ups if we see a lot of festival films so here are my picks for the best in multiple categories, including acting honors... 

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The winning films from SXSW and SLO Festivals

Austin's SXSW extravaganza (it's not just films there but music and comedy festivals simultaneously) and San Luis Obispo's 25th anniversary film festivals are both a wrap. And with festival wraps come jury and audience prizes! While each year's mainstream gold rush culminating in the Oscars sometimes get snarky reactions in terms of all the back-patting of already über successful people, festival prizes are different. They can be career-making or at least significantly augmenting moments for indie filmmakers, who don't have the benefit of millions in P&A budgets or A list careers to bolster public interest. Awards are often the way artists can begin to forge a creative career. So keep an eye out on these titles and people in case they work their way around to you.


Saint Frances

• Main Slate: Saint Frances (Alex Thompson) This dramedy is about a young woman who takes a job as a nanny shortly after having an abortion.
• "Headliners": Longshot (Jonathan Levine) New comedy starring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen
• "Spotlight": The Peanut Butter Falcon (Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz) <-- Abe reviewed this one for us. Shia Labeouf stars...

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SXSW: "Sister Aimee" and an actress to watch

Abe Fried-Tanzer reporting from SXSW

It’s fitting that the last film I got to see at SXSW is actually one I missed at the Sundance Film Festival, brought to Austin as part of the “Festival Favorites” section which also included buzzy titles like Apollo 11 and Little Monsters. Billed as a comedy, drama, musical, romance, and western, Sister Aimee is certainly ambitious. It's also one of the most intriguing films currently on the festival circuit. In its opening title card, Sister Aimee bills its story as five and a half percent truth; the rest: imagination...

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SXSW: "X & Y"

Abe Fried-Tanzer reporting from SXSW

X & Y's stars Mikael Persbrandt and director Anna Odell

If you’ve ever wondered what the Scandinavian version of a Charlie Kaufman movie would look like, here’s your answer. The Oscar-winning writer of such imaginative explorations of inner machinations within the movie business as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation and director of Synecdoche New York. The latter serves as the best comparison for this film, featuring a copy of New York City built inside a warehouse designed to have life truly imitate art, or rather the other way around, for his new play. Synecdoche is broader and more tinted with science fiction than this film, but those who have seen it will see an immediate parallel...

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SXSW: Elle Fanning has "Teen Spirit"

Abe Fried-Tanzer reporting from SXSW

It feels like every other movie these days is directed by a famous actor. There are a handful of them at SXSW this year, including Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart (reviewed) and Logan Marshall-Green’s Adopt a Highway starring Ethan Hawke. Both of those make sense given the type of films those actors have starred in, which match up decently with what they have made behind the camera. Max Minghella’s Teen Spirit, on the other hand, is a less expected debut.

Minghella is probably most recognizable from his starring role as the kindhearted Nick on The Handmaid’s Tale, and he also had a memorable part in The Social Network, among other things. His father was the late Oscar-winning Anthony Minghella (The English Patient). That piece of trivia makes the subject of Max’s first film even stranger since it doesn’t track with that kind of serious prestigious filmmaking either...

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SXSW: Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in "Booksmart"

Abe Fried-Tanzer reporting from the SXSW Festival

Everyone loves a buddy comedy – usually. It’s rare that such films are both crowd-pleasing and critically well-received, since entertainment value doesn’t always go hand-in-hand with quality. Though its detractors would surely disagree, Superbad is a great example of a film that, while inherently stupid, manages to be intelligent and funny in its portrayal of two teenagers trying desperately to have sex before the end of high school. It’s fitting that Jonah Hill’s younger sister Beanie Feldstein, who is close to the age he was when he made that film in 2007, is one of the two stars of a new buddy comedy that feels particularly forward-focused.

In Booksmart, Feldstein plays Molly, the class president and valedictorian whose need to point out other people’s mistakes and shortcomings earns her few friends. She has the only friend she needs in Amy, played by Kaitlyn Dever, who shares her passion for homework and whose social skills are only moderately more palpable...

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