South By Southwest Film Festival 2013 (March 8-17)

March 17th, 2013 - Graham Eley

Feature competition:


Awful Nice
Todd Sklar


Todd Sklar’s comedy, starring Alex Rennie and James Pumphrey, has two estranged brothers rebuilding the family home and a sibling relationship after the death of their father.  It is the follow-up to Sklar’s debut feature, ‘Box Elder’, which received a limited US release.



Carlos Puga


A father, who abandoned his terminally ill wife nine years earlier, unexpectedly reappears at a family reunion.  Carlos Puga is mainly known for his TV work (‘True Life’) but did make his theatrical debut eleven years ago with the comedy, ‘The S1gnificance of Se7enteen’.  Christopher Abbott (Martha Marcy May Marlene) stars alongside Gaby Hoffmann.



Improvement Club
Dayna Hanson


Dayna Hanson’s intriguing debut feature employs dance as an integral part of the storytelling.  Magge Brown and Dave Proscia star alongside Hanson in a musical drama that focuses on the challenges facing a politically motivated avant-garde performance group.



Jonathan Singer-Vine


After serving two years in the ‘Big House’ for a robbery gone wrong, a young offender must decide upon the future shape of his life.  Jonathan Singer-Vine’s feature debut has newcomer, Stanley “Doe” Hunt, playing the lead character, who goes by the enigmatic name ‘D’.



The Retrieval
Chris Eska


Chris Eska came to the fore with his festival hit, ‘August Evening’, which won multiple awards, including the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes’ prize.  After a six year wait, Eska returns with his follow-up, ‘The Retrieval’, a civil war bounty hunter drama, which will be very different from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’.



Short Term 12
Destin Daniel Cretton


Destin Daniel Cretton’s ‘troubled adolescents facility’ short film, ‘Short Term 12’ won many awards on the festival circuit, including the coveted top prize at Sundance.  His latest feature of the same name, deals with similar territory and follows a young supervisor at a foster home as she faces demanding situations that extend beyond the day job.  In between, Cretton directed the indie music drama, ‘I Am Not a Hipster’.



Swim Little Fish Swim
Ruben Amar and  Lola Bessis


Ruben Amar has collaborated with writer/producer Lola Bessis on various shorts including festival favourite, ‘Checkpoint’.  The pair have now joined forces as co-directors of ‘Swim Little Fish Swim’, a surreal drama looking at an unconventional young couple with competing ideologies.



This Is Where We Live
Josh Barrett and Marc Menchaca


Local handyman forms bond with a boy suffering from cerebral palsy before becoming close to the boy’s mother in a complex domestic drama.  It is Josh Barrett and Marc Menchaca’s debut feature and stars CK McFarland.


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Destin Daniel Cretton’s ‘Short Term 12′ completed its domination of the SXSW’s narrative feature competition yesterday, when it scooped the audience award.  The foster home drama, starring Brie Larson as a young supervisor, had already bagged the grand jury prize last Tuesday.


Cretton is no stranger to festival success following his earlier short of the same name.  Dealing with similar subject matter, it won multiple awards on the circuit, including the coveted top prize at Sundance.


The audience and jury did not agree, though, on the documentary feature competition.  Ben Nabors’ ‘William and the Windmill’, picked up the grand jury prize earlier in the week and tells the remarkable story of William Kamkwamba’s attempt to save his family from famine by constructing a windmill from waste.  The audience, on the other hand, voted for Josh Greenbaum’s look at the ‘world championship’ for 7 year old golfers in ‘The Short Game’.


And AJ Schnack and David Boone Wilson received a special jury prize for directing the feature documentary, ‘We Always Lie to Strangers’, a portrayal of change in conservative Branson, Missouri on its own terms.




Grand Jury Prize – narrative feature
Short Term 12 (Destin Daniel Cretton)
Grand Jury Prize – documentary feature
William and the Windmill (Ben Nabors)


Special Jury Prize – acting
Tishuan Scott (Chris Eska’s The Retrieval)


Special Jury Prize –  ensemble cast
Carlos Puga’s Burma (Christopher Abbott, Gaby Hoffmann, Christopher McCann and Dan Bittner)


Special Jury Prize –  directing a documentary feature
AJ Schnack and David Wilson (We Always Lie to Strangers)


Special Jury Prize – cinematography on a documentary feature
Scott Duncan (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s Touba)


Audience Award – narrative feature
Short Term 12 (Destin Daniel Cretton)


Audience Award – documentary feature
The Short Game (Josh Greenbaum)


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