2017 SXSW Film Festival Preview


In just a few days, we’ll be headed to Austin, Texas for the 2017 SXSW Film Festival to cover opening weekend (and to indulge in some breakfast tacos, of course). This year’s lineup boasts another strong collection of offerings, including the latest from Terrence Malick, an early look at Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, and the world premiere of James Franco’s The Disaster Artist.

As previous trips to Austin have taught us, there’s no way to see everything we want to see – but that won’t stop us from trying. So with that in mind, here are the films we’re hoping to catch at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival.

Song to Song
Directed by Terrence Malick

In this modern love story set against the Austin, Texas music scene, two entangled couples — struggling songwriters Faye and BV, and music mogul Cook and the waitress whom he ensnares — chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal.

Brent: I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Malick’s work, but the subject matter and the stellar cast have me intrigued. Hopefully this is better than Knight of Cups.

Directed by Nacho Vigolando

An unapologetic party girl dreams of a fresh start only to  discover a mysterious and fantastical connection between  herself and a city-wrecking monster on the other side of the globe. 

Kyle: Your typical indie-film about a girl finding herself after a relationship falls apart is given the insanely weird twist of instilling Anne Hathaway’s character with the apparent ability to control a giant Godzilla-sized monster in South Korea – such a bizarre plot with this solid of a cast is something I have to see for myself.

American Gods
Directed by David Slade

Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s award-winning novel, American Gods follows Shadow Moon and Mr. Wednesday in a hidden world where a battle is brewing between Old Gods and New.

Kyle: Neil Gaiman. That name is reason enough for me to want to see this much-hyped adaptation of one of his best works. I’ll attend for the Gaiman, but stay for Ian McShane and David Slade’s (Hannibal) almost always brilliant direction.

The Hero
Directed by Brett Haley

The Hero tells the story of movie star Lee Hayden whose career high as a Western film icon is now several decades in the past.

Kyle: It’s hard not to like Sam Elliot and this film looks to make audiences laugh (and maybe cry) in a role that the old school actor was born to play – and Parks and Rec showed us that Sam Elliot and Nick Offerman are gold together.

Small Town Crime
Directed by Eshom and Ian Nelms

Ex-cop Mike Kendall  finds the body of a young woman and, in an act of self-redemption, becomes hellbent on finding the killer. While his uncouth, quirky detective style helps break the case, his dogged determination puts his family in danger.

Brent: I’m a massive fan of John Hawkes, and I’ll pretty much see anything he’s in. Throw in a great supporting cast that includes Octavia Spencer, Robert Forster, and Clifton Collins Jr., and I’m all in for this.

Kyle: Everybody loves a good revenge flick and this one has some truly talented actors and actresses headlining it. Did I mention the DC TV Universe’s Caity Lotz has a supporting role? Yeah, count me in.

Win it All
Directed by Joe Swanberg

Small time Chicago gambler, Eddie Garrett, agrees to watch a duffel bag for an acquaintance who is heading to prison. When he discovers cash in the bag, he hatches a plan to win big, against the advice of his gambling sponsor and his brother.

Kyle: Director Joe Swanberg has the indie-flick charm thing down, and the promise of a gambling caper that sees the underrated Jake Johnson sharing screen time with Keegan-Michael Key has me intrigued.

Directed by Aaron Burns

Diana, a pregnant woman who is taking care of her son with development problems, is at her breaking point when a caregiver from the Philippines steps into her life. Diana suspects that she’s using voodoo against her after the quick improvements of her son. 

Baby Driver
Directed by Edgar Wright

A talented, young getaway driver relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss, he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love, and freedom.

Brent: I’m a huge fan of Edgar Wright and I’m always excited to see anything he’s attached to, and I love the idea of a crime caper from his uniquely original point of view. I’m expecting a lot of great things from this film, and the SXSW audience should only help elevate the experience.

Kyle: Edgar Wright is one of the most consistently interesting creative minds working in Hollywood, so wanting to see his newest film immediately is a given for me. But with this tremendous cast and Wright’s always brilliant soundtracks, it’s no wonder this film is such an anticipated debut.

The Archer
Directed by Valerie Weiss

Archer champion Lauren Pierce escapes a corrupt juvenile correctional facility with Rebecca, a fierce but alluring inmate, and together they must survive a desperate warden who is bowhunting his prey to make sure his secret stays buried.

Brent: I caught the last feature from Weiss at the 2016 Phoenix Film Festival, and she’s been on my radar ever since. It’s definitely an intriguing setup, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this one plays out.

Easy Living
Directed by Adam Keleman

Sherry Graham, a self-destructive makeup saleswoman, hopes a new man and business venture will provide her a fresh start. After her plans are foiled, she takes control of her life in a dramatic turn of events.

Infinity Baby
Directed by Bob Byington

A comedy about babies that don’t age.

Kyle: “Baby” and “Crime” titled films are all the rage this SXSW. The film’s premise sounds absolutely bonkers and I’m completely obsessed with seeing what this one is all about. It can’t sound more blissfully insane.

Small Crimes
Directed by Evan Katz

A delightfully suspenseful, blackly comic tale that follows a disgraced former cop, fresh off a six-year prison sentence for attempted murder, who returns home looking for redemption but winds up trapped in the mess he left behind.

Kyle: I love a good dark comedy, and Macon Blair’s pen on any script definitely catches my interest. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is one of those actors I just can’t wait to see fully breakout, and maybe this role will finally be the one that gets the job done.

Mommy Dead and Dearest
Directed by Erin Lee Carr

Child abuse, mental illness, and forbidden love converge in this mystery involving a mother and daughter who were thought to be living a fairy tale life that turned out to be a living nightmare.

Brent: I’m a sucker for true crime docs to begin with, and I vividly remember watching this tale unfold in the headlines back in 2015. Munchausen by proxy syndrome is a fascinating and terrifying disorder, and Carr’s film looks to be pulling no punches on this story.

The Transfiguration
Directed by Michael O’Shea

Michael O’Shea’s debut feature follows troubled teen Milo, who hides behind his fascination with vampire lore. When he meets the equally alienated Sophie, the two form a bond that begins to challenge Milo’s dark obsession, blurring his fantasy into reality.

Brent: On the surface, this sounds like it could be offering a slightly different riff on Let the Right One In. Well-received at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, this should be just the sort of horror flick worth keeping an eye on.

Muppet Guys Talking
Directed by Frank Oz

Five of the original Muppet performers come together for the first time ever to share behind-the-scenes secrets of the Muppets. Includes rare performance footage, surprising stories, and insights into how Jim led his team to produce legendary work. 

Kyle: Part of me doesn’t want to pull back the curtain on some of my favorite childhood characters, but a documentary directed by Yoda himself, Frank Oz, about the early days of building the Henson Muppet empire sounds too irresistible to pass up.

The Disaster Artist
Directed by James Franco

This is a true story about the making of The Room – the cult classic described as the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.”

Brent: This film has been in the works for what feels like an eternity, and the fact that it’s premiering at SXSW is definitely on of the highlights of this year’s festival. James Franco and his crew seem like the perfect group of people to bring this bizarre story to life, and I’m hoping this lives up to my lofty expectations.

The SXSW Film Festival takes place from March 10-18 in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit sxsw.com

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