The wait is over film lovers!
South by Southwest (SXSW) 2013 begins tonight with the opening of the film festival and the Austin film community as well as film lovers from around the world are in for a real treat. With the festival lineup including everything from major studio world premieres to striking documentaries, the 2013 SXSW film festival will have something for everyone. Without further ado, here are my ten most anticipated films of the festival to assist you with your own festival schedule.
1. Short Term 12 - The feature length version of the 2009 award winning short film, “Short Term 12” tells the story of Grace, a twenty something year old foster-care worker played by Brie Larson, who must not only deal with the difficulties of her job but also those presented by her troubled past. Also starring John Gallagher Jr. (“The Newsroom”) as Grace's long-term boyfriend, the film written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton has maintained a significant level of buzz by leaving festival attendees with only a couple still photos as a preview of the longer adaptation of the work. As an admittedly huge fan of Larson since her teens, you can count me in for this one without a doubt. Screening times: 3/10 11:00 a.m. (Alamo Ritz 1&2), 3/11 1:15 p.m. (Violet Crown 1&2), 3/14 1:15 p.m. (Topfer at ZACH)
2. Spring Breakers - Nothing screams "film festival film" like bikinis, sex and guns right? Well maybe not but the latest film from eccentric filmmaker Harmony Korine (“Trash Humpers”), “Spring Breakers,” roars into SXSW after many European red carpet premieres and a successful showing at last year's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). This sexy exploitation film obviously set around a wild spring break trip will be a visual and aural feast that only a filmmaker like Korine can provide. With a star-studded cast including James Franco (“127 Hours”), Selena Gomez (“Wizards of Waverly Place”), Vanessa Hudgens (“Beastly”) and Ashley Benson (“Pretty Little Liars”), this much anticipated U.S. premiere is a must see event. Screening times: 3/10 9:30 p.m. (Paramount), 3/14 7:00 p.m. (Alamo Ritz 1)
3. Evil Dead - Perhaps the most anticipated film of the festival's opening night is the world premiere of the Fede Alvarez directed "rebirth" of the 1981 horror classic “Evil Dead.” Starring Jane Levy of ABC”s “Suburgatory” as Mia, the remake is sure to be a fun filled blood fest that will satisfy the most devout horror and original “Evil Dead” fans. Judging from the film's red band trailer, we're all in for a wild ride. Oh I almost forgot, I have it on very good authority that Bruce Campbell a.k.a. Ash from the original will indeed be in attendance at the premiere! Hope I'm not spoiling a surprise there but get excited everyone! Screening times: 3/8 9:45 p.m. (Paramount)
4. The Network - Journalism nerd alert time! Receiving the honor as my most anticipated documentary of the 2013 festival is “The Network,” a film covering the establishment of Afghanistan's first independent television network TOLO TV. Featuring and providing the same variety of programming as any major American network, the station must face the challenge presented by the imminent withdrawal of foreign troops as well as the constant difficulties of running a television network in Afghanistan. As a journalism degree holder, the film's captivating trailer sent chills up my spine and filled me with as much as excitement as any narrative film's trailer. This one is a personal one for me and I am anxious to see what these journalism and media pioneers must go through and prepare to go through to make TOLO TV happen every day and in the future. Screening times: 3/11 7:00 p.m. (Vimeo), 3/13 1:30 p.m. (Stateside), 3/14 6:45 p.m. (Alamo Ritz 2)
5. Kelly + Victor - The feature length adaptation of a novel by Niall Griffiths, “Kelly + Victor” tells the love story of a young couple living in beautiful Liverpool, England. After a buzz filled run on the European festival circuit in 2012, this Kieran Evans directed story described as "raw, compelling and passionate" by the film's official synopsis will finally make its North American debut at the 2013 SXSW film festival. Antonia Campbell-Huges stars as Kelly and “Pretty Little Liars” star Julian Morris portrays the role of Victor so hardcore PLL fans won't want to miss this one. Screening times: 3/9 7:45 p.m. (Violet Crown 1&2), 3/12 11:00 a.m. (Stateside), 3/14 5:45 (Violet Crown 1&2)
6. V/H/S/2 - After sparking some life into the well-traveled "found footage" genre last year with “V/H/S/”, a fresh cast of directors (Sanchez, Hale, Tjahjanto, Huw Evans, Eisener) have teamed up with Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard to create the different scenes the much-anticipated sequel. This installment, revolving around a VHS tape collection that's found while searching for a missing student, turns up the scares according to several rave reviews from Sundance and will be another must see for horror fans. The first film gave me nightmares; I'm ready for this one to keep me awake for days. Screening times: 3/8 11:59 p.m. (Topfer at ZACH), 3/9 6:30 p.m. (Alamo Slaughter), 3/14 11:30 p.m. (Topfer at ZACH)
7. You”re Next - Remember those Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard guys I was talking about before? Well they have another film at SXSW and this one is epic to say the least. After a long hiatus from the festival circuit after Lionsgate picked up the award winning film at Austin's own Fantastic Fest 2011, “You're Next” returns to Austin with as much or more buzz than before. The film about a potential victim of masked ax murderers becoming the most talented of all will invigorate and thrill you to the max. I was in the audience for the single Fantastic Fest 2011 showing and I am excited to relive the fun all over again. Screening times: 3/10 11:45 p.m. (Topfer at ZACH), 3/13 11:59 p.m. (Topfer at ZACH), 3/15 11:45 p.m. (Topfer at ZACH)
8. Downloaded – The second documentary to appear on the list, “Downloaded” covers the creation of peer-to-peer file sharing with a focus on the rise and fall of the infamous Napster service created by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker. With the file sharing revolution still evolving, this documentary has a relevance that few other documentaries on the SXSW lineup can match. Screening times: 3/10 6:15 p.m. (Paramount), 3/12 1:45 p.m. (Vimeo), 3/16 4:30 p.m. (Vimeo)
9. Drinking Buddies – Another SXSW world premiere, “Drinking Buddies” tells the story of two friends Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) who work together at a brewery. The two are perfect for each other yet they have other lovers in Chris (Ron Livingston) and Jill (Anna Kendrick) respectively. Will an unexpected weekend alone together help bring Kate and Luke together? We'll just have to find out when we see the film now won't we? Screening times: 3/9 7:15 p.m. (Paramount), 3/10 1:30 p.m. (Alamo Village), 3/13 9:30 p.m. (Topfer at ZACH), 3/16 11:00 a.m. (Rollins at The Long Center)
10. The East – Last but not least is the official closing night film of the 2013 SXSW film festival, Zal Batmanglij's “The East.” Brit Marling (“Another Earth”) stars as Sarah Moss, a top level operative assigned to infiltrate a group of anarchists who attack major corporations to punish them for their various crimes against humanity that have gone largely unpunished. Sarah must deal with the consequences of a growing interest in the leader of the anarchists and her changing priorities. Fresh off its festival premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival and featuring another all-star cast comprised of names like Ellen Page (“Juno”) and Alexander Skarsgard (“True Blood”), this intense thriller should help the 2013 SXSW film festival end on a grand note. Screening Times: 3/16 8:00 p.m. (Paramount)
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.