As always SXSW was both overwhelming and a blast. The first night I caught the premiere of 1985 with the Texas Shorts and I'm so proud to be part of a film this beautiful and moving. Lindsay Pulsipher took home a well deserved special jury prize for her performance. In fact (and I say this as the production designer, meaning I had absolutely nothing to do with the acting) I felt that the performances were what really set 1985 apart from the other films. Lindsay and Robby were brilliant and totally devastating.
Day 1. The next morning I caught Little Sister, Zack Clark's new film, which was great. Then I saw Shorts 2 - my standouts were Homeful Bliss, Ernestine & Kit, and Victor. Later that night I saw Ti West's new western In A Valley of Violence which was a return to form (I'm admittedly not a Sacrament fan) and probably the most fun I had throughout the festival.
Day 2. I started with Shorts 1 - another super strong block with no glaring weak links - my standouts were Homebodies, How Was Your Day?, and Thunder Road. Next I went to a very amusing and illuminating discussion with David Lowery and Andrew Bujalski. Then later I saw the premiere of Collective:Unconscious, which was terrific. All of the shorts were so different, yet they all felt part of a hypnotic whole. I was partial to the segment with Frank Mosley by Daniel Carbone, it had breathtaking black and white imagery and was a short film that I felt was strong enough on it's own to play any festival on the planet. I'm also prepping a project in black and white, so I couldn't help being drawn to its visual style. The last film I saw was Transpecos - an Austin produced border thriller that was OK. The director seemed incredibly humble but the script had some problems for me and I couldn't stand the lead actor.
Unfortunately that was it for me this year. My grandfather passed away recently and I needed to take time off for a short trip to Louisiana. This along with other factors meant that I had to return home early to get back to prep for this music video next week. It's alright because I came away inspired and focused which is always my post SXSW goal. Mostly, I was reminded of something I feel I had lost sight of lately - stay true to yourself. Make films out of whatever you are drawn to and don't chase an audience because you can't please everyone and you'll drive yourself mad trying to.
David Lynch puts it this way "You've got to be the audience for most of this trip (making a film). You can't second guess them. If you did, you'd be removing yourself from yourself. Then you'd be out there in really dangerous territory, trying to build something for some abstract group that's always changing. I think you'd fail. You've got to do it from the inside first and hope for the best."
Intake for 3/15-17
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
The Roaring Twenties (1939)
The Killers (1946)
The Witch (2016)