Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My very personal initial sxsw 2008 film picks pre-fest

Sxsw 2008 starts this Friday. I'm excited, and already daunted. It's always a pleasurefest where the challenge is to fit in all the films I want to see while catching up with film friends new and old from out of town. And I still haven't figured out how to fit in the interactive panels of interest!

I've already seen many films that I can strongly recommend. ( I'm on the pre-screening or doc selection committee, whatever it's called. I've seen some, not everything!) And there are many more that I'm looking forward to seeing. Which of course only includes the films that I've already heard about so far. I'm sure there are plenty of other gems that I'm not even aware of...yet.

This is just a quick initial and very personal list. Agnes did a much more thorough job on her site. I urge you to click through to the sxsw links here for more complete info.

Films I've already seen that I highly recommend:
(Keep in mind that my pre-screening was heavily skewed on the doc side. I'm wasn't in the loop for most of the narratives this year. I need someone else to recommend some to me.)

The Order of Myths. Director: Margaret Brown
I was sobbing by the end, as much with pride for my friend Margaret's artistry as from the rich work itself. Very beautiful. Very original. Real insight into the previously unseen world of class and race played out in Mobile, Alabama's Mardi Gras rituals.

Flying on One Engine. Director: Joshua Weinstein
A true surprise and delight about Dr. Dicksheet, an almost unbelievable subject. Really really funny, interesting, intimate, and full of substance. Filmed with tremendous talent and personality.

One Minute to Nine. Director: Tommy Davis
Harrowing. Heartbreaking. Raises really important questions and opens our eyes to subjects usually only deep behind closed doors.

Of All The Things. Director: Jody Lambert
Wonderfully moving story about a once successful singer/songwriter now of out of the business, touring the Phillipines where his solo work has become huge. Really charming.

The Wild Horse Redemption. Director: John Zaritsky
My shorthand for this is "cowboy porn" although that's not really fair. It just looks so damned amazing! Wild Horses, cowboys, convicts, great rehabilitation program, great insight, great suspense, cool film.

Throw Down Your Heart. Director: Sascha Paladino
Transcendent doc about Bela Fleck's journey to play with African musicians. Basically he brought his banjo to meet its "grandfather." Wonderful characters. Glorious music.

In A Dream. Director: Jeremiah Zagar
A son's film about his great artist father. How the work and life are inseparable. The thrilling work consists of blocks and blocks of buildings covered in mosaic. Truly fabulous.

Humboldt County. Director
Hugely satisfying narrative feature about a burnt out medical student who gets to change his life in the woods of the Pacific Northwest coast. Humor, warmth, depth. Great acting ensemble.

Crawford. Director: David Modigliano
Ruminative, moving piece on a place which happens to be Crawford, TX: George W. Bush's adopted home and what that meant, and still means.

The Aviatrix. Director: Toddy Burton
Tremendous short about a 20-something fighting her way out of her cancer. Original and very well realized.

Films I'm Really Looking Forward To:

The Toe Tactic. Director: Emily Hubley
Animator/Arist (and dear, delightful friend) Emily Hubley's live action/ animation hybrid. Soundtrack via Emily's sister's band, Yo La Tengo.

Body of War.
Director: Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue
UT prof Ellen Spiro's doc, shortlisted for the Oscars. Original music by Eddie Vedder.

Dear Zachary. Director: Kurt Kuenne
SXSW insiders were really buzzing about this one.

The Zellners are famous for their truly odd, original and hilarious sensibility. This is their first feature in years after many crowd pleasing shorts.

Shot in Bombay. Director: Liz Mermin
From the director of The Beauty Academy of Kabul and Office Tigers, a behind-the-scenes look at a particularly pungent Bollywood production with subplots rivaling a Bollywood film.

Secrecy. Director: Peter Galison & Robb Moss
An already acclaimed doc on this important issue.

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
. Director: Alex Gibney
No explanation needed.

Mister Lonely. Director: Harmony Korine
Again, what else to say? Starring Werner Herzog, Diego Luna, Samantha Morton and Anita Pallenberg.

They Killed Sister Dorothy. Director: Daniel Junge
Someone just recommended this to me. Curious but don't know anything about it.

Full Battle Rattle. Director: Tony Gerber and Jesse Moss
Wild premise. How Iraquis in the U.S. help our war effort. Not what you're thinking.

Nights and Weekends. Director: Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig
Joe's evolution continues...

Baghead. Director: Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass
Post Puffy Chair. Post Sundance premiere. Shot here in Austin.

At the Death House Door. Director: Steve James and Peter Gilbert
The Hoop Dreams collaborators back together again after many years on this death row related doc about a death house chaplain.

The New Year Parade. Director: Tom Quinn
A vague recommendation that just stuck.

Intimidad.Director: David Redmond and Ashley Sabine
Very much enjoyed this duo's Camp Katrina last year. This one is about the real costs of poverty and border politics.

Frontrunners. Director: Caroline Suh
Charming High School student election close-up. The twist? The high school is Manhattan's most competitive public school. Ah, NYC kids.

The Ostrich Testimonies.
Director: Jonathan VanBallenberghe
The couple of minutes I saw of this really whet my appetite. It looked amazing.

Stop Loss. Director: Kimberly Pierce
Shot in Texas. Pierce's first feature since Boys Don't Cry.

Young at Heart
. Director:
About a singing chorus - always of personal interest to me. Apparently a total crowd pleaser.


Agnes Varnum said...

Uh, Janet, I think your list is just as long as mine :)

grainyms said...

I said "thorough" but I meant "better." :) I thought you took more care with your descriptions! But yeah, surprised how quickly it grew- and I even left off films I'm interested in like The Wrecking Crew, Lou Reed, King of TX, Here is what is, Do you Sleep in the Nude?, Dancing Alfonso, and Choke. Kind of insane. Too much of a good thing!