In fact, only one day remains between now and the start of the much anticipated film festival on Friday. With its vast collection of films ranging from major studio films to the most independent of documentaries, SXSW has established itself as a film festival to watch on the festival circuit. Without further ado, here are my top 10 most anticipated films of the 2014 SXSW film festival:
1. "Stage Fright" - What's better to playfully illustrate the horrors of the musical theater world than a horror musical film about a musical theater camp? Well, that's exactly what "Stage Fright" is. Starring "The Rocky Horror Picture Show's" own Meat Loaf, the eccentric Minnie Driver and Allie MacDonald, this world premiere written and directed by Jerome Sable should build on the success Sable enjoyed with his award-winning horror musical short "The Legend of Beaver Dam." With theatrical distribution already announced via Magnet Releasing, expect a bloody good time with this one. Here's to hoping for this generation's own Rocky Horror-esque classic. It's about time. Screening times: 3/10 11:45 p.m. (Alamo Ritz 1), 3/11 7 p.m. (Marchesa), 3/12 11:15 a.m. (Alamo Ritz 2)
2. "God Help the Girl" - If it's not obvious that I love musicals with my #1 choice, well this film should seal the deal. An indie musical from the mind of Belle & Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch, "God Help the Girl" tells the story of three young Scottish teens using music to get over different issues in their lives. Starring Emily Browning ("Sucker Punch"), Olly Alexander ("Enter the Void") and Hannah Murray ("Skins"), this Sundance award winner will surely satisfy the music loving hearts of the SXSW audience. Screening time: 3/15 5:00 p.m. (Paramount)
3. "Ukraine Is Not a Brothel" - While not about the current unrest in Ukraine, this documentary about the topless female protest group FEMEN can't be missed. Working against women being sold as brides or tools of the sex trade, FEMEN have been gaining more and more exposure internationally partly thanks to this documentary from director Kitty Green. Judging from the biting cinematography in the film's trailer (Warning: contains nudity/NSFW), this is no ordinary documentary and hopefully will provide a deeper glimpse into the country we have been hearing so much about lately. Screening times: 3/8 1:30 p.m. (Alamo Ritz 2), 3/9 1:30 p.m. (Alamo Village), 3/13 4:30 p.m. (Alamo Village)
4. "The Heart Machine" - After a turn in last year's SXSW awards sweeping "Short Term 12," John Gallagher Jr. returns to SXSW in another film gunning for the narrative feature crown in "The Heart Machine." Gallagher Jr. plays a young man named Cody who begins to fall in love over the internet with a girl in Berlin named Virginia played by Kate Lyn Sheil. However, as Cody begins to dig deeper into Virginia's life, things are not as they seem. Providing a different angle to the dissection of the online relationship, "The Heart Machine" looks to offer a thought provoking love story for those who seek it out. Screening times: 3/8 7:00 p.m. (Alamo Ritz 1&2), 3/9 7:00 p.m. (Rollins Theatre at The Long Center), 3/13 4:30 p.m. (Rollins Theatre)
5. "Sequoia" - While it's hard to put a comical and sweet spin on a story about a girl planning to end her own life, writer Andrew Rothschild and director Andy Landen are trying to exactly that with "Sequoia." Starring Aly Michalka of Disney fame as the suicidal Riley, "Sequoia" offers a sweet and darkly comedic take on someone's last moments and the distractions life throws at them to perhaps keep them alive. Screening times: 3/9 5:00 p.m. (Topfer Theatre at ZACH), 3/10 2:00 p.m (Alamo Village), 3/13 4:30 p.m. (Stateside), 3/14 2:00 p.m. (Rollins Theatre at the Long Center)
6. "The Legend of Shorty" - Another timely documentary, "The Legend of Shorty" comes to SXSW only days after the arrest of infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Known as "El Chapo" or "Shorty" to many, this documentary looks to shed light on the chase for one of the most wanted men in the world and the divisive opinions many have of the drug lord in his own country. Screening times: 3/7 9:30 p.m. (Vimeo Theater), 3/8 2:00 p.m. (Alamo Slaughter), 3/11 11:30 a.m. (Stateside), 3/15 7:00 p.m. (Rollins Theatre at The Long Center)
7. "Open Windows" - The return of Nacho Vigalondo is here! While this film is the first of the director's films to premiere at an Austin based film festival other than Fantastic Fest, "Open Windows" will surely inspire a Fantastic Fest level of excitement in SXSW attendees. A self-proclaimed 21st century "Rear Window" starring the acclaimed Elijah Wood and former adult film actress Sasha Grey, this world premiere will provide for one hell of a ride. Screening times: 3/10 9:00 p.m. (Alamo Ritz 1), 3/12 9:15 p.m. (Alamo Ritz 1), 3/13 4:30 p.m. (Alamo Slaughter), 3/15 11:00 a.m. (Alamo Ritz 1)
8. "Leave the World Behind" - In 2007, when the first joint single from Swedish DJ/producers Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso hit the airwaves, the legend that would become Swedish House Mafia was born. The trio took the EDM (electronic dance music) world by storm and soon was the genre's biggest act. However, close quarters and a busy schedule took its toll and lead the band to schedule a final tour and announce their separation. This documentary covers those final gigs together and the reasons why Swedish House Mafia took over electronic music and why they are no more (for now). Screening time: 3/12 6:00 p.m. (Paramount)
9. "Oculus" - A standout selection in Toronto's "Midnight Madness" lineup in 2013, this Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) led paranormal thriller finally arrives stateside. Still trying to defend her convicted brother Tim (Brenton Thwaites) and clear him of any responsibility for the death of their parents, Kaylie (Gillan) begins to investigate a mysterious mirror in their house that she feels is responsible for the tragic deaths. Unfortunately, she begins to discover the mirror has a grisly past and its horrors are only beginning. Screening times: 3/8 11:45 p.m. (Stateside), 3/11 11:59 p.m. (Alamo Ritz 1), 3/12 11:45 p.m. (Alamo Ritz 1)
10. "Space Station 76" - Last but not least, this comedic drama about a 1970's vision of the future is not short on wit or star power. "Wrong" star Jack Plotnick brings his first feature as a director to SXSW with a star-studded cast featuring Patrick Wilson ("The Conjuring"), Liv Tyler ("The Lord of the Rings" trilogy) and Jerry O' Connell ("Sliders"). Sure to be full of absurdity and laughs, "Space Station 76" should be one of the funniest and most enjoyable films of the 2014 SXSW film program. Screening times: 3/8 5:00 p,m. (Topfer Theatre at ZACH), 3/9 4:30 p.m. (Alamo Slaughter), 3/14 9:30 p.m. (Stateside), 3/15 1:30 p.m. (Stateside)
More information on the various SXSW theaters, their locations and capacities can be found on SXSW's film venues site.
The SXSW film festival runs from March 8-16 at various locations across Austin. More information on the festival including badge and pass purchasing information is available here.