SXSW documentary and feature films: Marley, We are Legion and more
There are 132 feature films playing in the film portion of SXSW, 74 of which are world premieres, 17 North American premieres, and 11 U.S. premieres. That’s 12 hours of film viewing for the next 9 days. Here are the films we are looking forward to seeing.
Beauty is Embarrassing
Synopsis: Raised in the Tennessee mountains, Wayne White started his career as a cartoonist in NYC. He found success as one of the creators of the Pee-wee's Playhouse TV show which led to work designing some of the most iconic images in pop culture. The movie features Matt Groening, Mark Mothersbaugh, Todd Oldham, Paul Reubens, Gary Panter, Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Feris and many more.
Synopsis: The definitive life story of Bob Marley - musician, revolutionary, legend - from his early days to his rise to international superstardom. Made with the support of the Marley family, the film features rare footage, incredible performances and revelatory interviews with the people that knew him best. Directed by Academy Award Winner Kevin Macdonald.
Uprising: Hip Hop and the LA Riots
Synopsis: 20 years after riots ripped through Los Angeles, "Uprising" documents how hip hop forecasted – and some say ignited – the worst civil unrest of the 20th century. The film revisits the riots in gripping detail and draws from a diverse collection of voices – the rappers, rioters, victims, police officers, journalists and everyday citizens of South Central Los Angeles. The documentary traces the rise of dissent in Los Angeles in the 80's and 90's and explores why citizens chose to rise up violently against police abuse and perceived injustices.
Synopsis: This film takes us inside the world of Anonymous, the radical "hacktivist" collective that has redefined civil disobedience for the digital age. The film explores early hacktivist groups like Cult of the Dead Cow and Electronic Disturbance Theater, then moves to Anonymous' raucous beginnings on the website 4chan.
Through interviews with current members, people recently returned from prison or facing trial, writers, academics, activists and major players in various "raids," the documentary traces Anonymous’ evolution from merry pranksters to a full-blown movement with a global reach, the most transformative civil disobedience of our time.
Waiting for Lightning
Synopsis: From the producers of "Step Into Liquid", comes "Waiting For Lightning", the story of Danny Way, a young boy from a broken home in Vista, CA, whose passion for skateboarding would one day bring him and his creation, a ramp of prodigious and dangerous proportions, across many cultural and ideological boundaries to attempt the impossible: jump China’s Great Wall on a skateboard. It’s a film about how much abuse the body can sustain, how deep you have to dig to survive the betrayals of family, and how high and far dreams can fly.
Big Easy Express
Synopsis: 3 bands, 6 cities, 1 train, and thousands of miles of track…BIG EASY EXPRESS captures a musical journey. Harkening back to the days of jubilant railroad revivals, three bands set out in April 2011 to tour America by vintage train. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Mumford & Sons climbed aboard amid the rail yards of Oakland and set out for New Orleans on a “tour of dreams.” BIG EASY EXPRESS documents the bands’ railway adventures; the high canyons, joyous crowds, blasted skies, late-night laughter, endless music…and a train that was bound for glory.
21 Jump Street
Synopsis: In the action-comedy 21 Jump Street, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are more than ready to leave their adolescent problems behind. Joining the police force and the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances to go undercover in a local high school. As they trade in their guns and badges for backpacks, Schmidt and Jenko risk their lives to investigate a violent and dangerous drug ring. But they find that high school is nothing like they left it just a few years earlier – and neither expects that they will have to confront the terror and anxiety of being a teenager again and all the issues they thought they had left behind.
Synopsis: Small Apartments' Franklin Franklin is a fully realized and sympathetic protagonist in the vein of Ignatius Reilly (A Confederacy of Dunces), a simple man who yearns for “a land of pastoral serenity” devoid of the irritants of contemporary urban life. An off-beat tale, Small Apartments is accented along the way by murder, strange fingernail collections, and the occasional blast from a treasured alphorn.
Synopsis: Jenn and Matt are best friends from college who are now in their thirties. Single by choice, Jenn spends her days teaching hot yoga and running errands for her boss. Matt suffers from comic-book writer’s block and can’t get over his ex-boyfriend. They decide to fulfill a youthful promise to have a child together… the old-fashioned way. Can they navigate the serious and unexpected snags they hit as they attempt to get their careers and dating lives back on track in preparation for parenthood? "Gayby" is an irreverent comedy about friendship, growing older, sex, loneliness, and the family you chose.
Synopsis: When 22-year-old Chris is in hock to a drug lord, he needs money quick and stumbles on the scheme of hiring a hit man to dispatch his mother, whose $50,000 life insurance policy is supposed to go to his sister Dottie. Chris has heard of Joe Cooper, a creepy, crazy Dallas cop who moonlights as a contract killer. Although Joe usually demands cash up front, he finds himself willing to bend the rules and takes Chris' attractive younger sister, Dottie as carnal collateral. A garish, Southwestern Gothic tale, Killer Joe is a shocking, sexy, and violent black comedy that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Casa de mi Padre
Synopsis: Armando Alvarez (Will Ferrell) has lived and worked on his father's ranch in Mexico his entire life. As the ranch faces financial strains, Armando's younger brother Raul (Diego Luna) shows up with his new fiancée, Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez) and pledges to settle all his father's debts. It seems that Raul's success as an international businessman means the ranch's troubles are over, but when Armando falls for Sonia, and Raul's business dealings turn out to be less than legit, the Alvarez family finds themselves in a full-out war with Mexico's most feared drug lord, the mighty Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal).
*Synopses gathered from the SXSW website