South By Southwest Film Festival 2014 (March 7-15)

March 16th, 2014 - Graham Eley

Jon Favreau’s estranged family comedy, ‘Chef’, starring Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr and Dustin Hoffman, gets this year’s SXSW under way tomorrow night.

 

The narrative feature competition provides its usual launch pad for eight emerging filmmakers, the majority of whom have already made their mark with shorts on the festival circuit and now turn to features for the first time.

 

Shawn Christensen has attracted most pre-ceremony attention for his debut feature, ‘Before I Disappear’, an adaptation of his short, ‘Curfew’, which won the best live action Oscar two years ago.

 

Other buzz titles include Zachary Wigon’s take on social media persona, ‘The Heart Machine’, starring John Gallagher Jr, who appeared in last year’s winner, ‘Short Term 12′.

 

Almost 75,000 attended the last edition and the organisers are expecting even more this time around.

 

Narrative feature competition:

 

10,000KM (Spain)
Carlos Marques-Marcet

 

The 10,000KM of the film’s title is the distance between Los Angeles and Barcelona and separates two lovers, who communicate via computer links.  It is Carlos Marques-Marcet’s debut feature after six shorts of which the first, ‘I’ll Be Alone’, is best known outside his native Spain.  Natalia Tena and David Verdaguer play the two leads trying to keep their relationship together against the odds.

 

Animals
Collin Schiffli

 

David Dastmalchian and Kim Shaw (‘Snake and Mongoose’) join veteran, John Heard (‘Home Alone’, ‘Big’) in Collin Schiffli’s debut feature, ‘Animals’, where two young drug addicts hustle and steal to fund their habit until one of them ends up in hospital.  Lead actor, Dastmalchian, also wrote the script.

 

Before I Disappear
Shawn Christensen

 

Shawn Christensen was best known as a screenwriter until his short, ‘Curfew’, won the best live action Oscar and countless other awards on the festival circuit two years ago.  It was the kind of intimate family drama that dominated this year’s Sundance with unexpected circumstances bringing estranged siblings into contact.  Christensen has now adapted it into a feature, ‘Before I Disappear’, and, once again, stars alongside Fatima Ptacek (‘Fro Rojas’).

 

Fort Tilden
Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers

 

Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers are both beneficiaries of James Fronco’s two interlinked film/poetry NYU student initiatives.  The first led to Bliss’ debut feature, ‘Tar’, based on CK Williams’ poetry collection of the same name and starred Franco alongside Jessica Chastain and Mila Kunis – not bad for a grad.  Charles Rogers is one of nine students who won a competition to contribute shorts/episodes and receive director credits for James Franco’s film project/experimental feature, ‘Black Dog, Red Dog’, based on Stephen Dobyns’ poetry and which is currently in post production.  And now Bliss and Rogers have joined forces to make the character based ‘extended adolescence’ comedy/road movie to nowhere, ‘Fort Tilden’, and, at the very least, it has established an intrigue buzz.

 

The Heart Machine
Zachary Wigon

 

Film critic, Zachary Wigon, makes his feature debut with ‘The Heart Machine’ after three shorts.  John Gallagher Jr. (‘Short Term 12′) and Kate Lyn Sheil star as a couple who supposedly enjoy a long-distance online relationship before one starts to suspect that the other has lived nearby all along.  There are high expectations that this one will tackle important cultural issues surrounding social media personae.

 

I Believe in Unicorns
Leah Meyerhoff

 

After success on the festival circuit with her last two shorts, ‘Team Queen’ and ‘Twitch’, Leah Meyerhoff launches her debut feature,  ‘I Believe in Unicorns’.  Natalia Dyer and Peter Vack play a runaway teenager and punk dropout, who embark upon a disturbing relationship.  Unfortunately, the imaginative title – the best in competition – may be simplified to ‘Unicorns’.

 

The Mend
John Magary

 

John Magary’s last short, ‘The Second Line’ won a special jury prize at SXSW alongside four other prestige awards on the American festival circuit.  He now returns with his first feature, ‘The Second Line’, starring Josh Lucas, Stephen Plunkett and Lucy Owen, a Harlem set comedy drama with two brothers jostling for the upper hand at a domestic level.

 

Wild Canaries
Lawrence Michael Levine

 

Sophia Takal reunites with Lawrence Michael Levine after the pair co-starred in his debut feature, ‘Gabi on the Roof in July’, which picked up the best narrative film award at the Brooklyn International Film Festival.  They now star in his follow up ‘Wild Canaries’, playing a Brooklyn couple, who turn amateur detectives when their neighbour dies unexpectedly.cialis online pharmacy canada cialis online malaysia cialis overnight delivery generic cialis walmart cialis generic 20 mg generic cialis paypal payment generic cialis uk suppliers

Sarah-Violet Bliss’ and Charles Rogers’ comedy drama ‘Fort Tilden’ has won the narrative feature Grand Jury Prize at this year’s South By Southwest Film Festival.  Both filmmakers are beneficiaries of James Fronco’s NYU student initiative, which gave the film an intrigue buzz when it arrived in Austin.

 

Margaret Brown’s ‘The Great Invisible’ picked up the corresponding prize in the documentary competition.  It’s Brown’s third documentary feature and explores the lasting impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster from multiple perspectives.

 

The narrative audience award went to Shawn Christensen’s siblings drama, ‘Before I Disappear’, a feature version of his Oscar winning short, ‘Curfew’.  Diana Whitten picked up the documentary equivalent for her look at abortions on the high seas in ‘Vessel’. 

 

JURY AWARDS:

 

Narrative Feature

 

Grand Jury Winner: Fort Tilden, Directed by Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers

 

Special Jury Recognition for Courage in Storytelling: Animals, actor and screenwriter: David Dastmalchian

 

Special Jury Recognition for Best Acting Duo: 10,000KM (Long Distance), Natalie Tena and David Verdaguer

 

Documentary Feature

 

Grand Jury Winner: The Great Invisible, directed by Margaret Brown

 

Special Jury Recognition for Political Courage: Vessel, directed by Diana Whitten

 

Special Jury Recognition for Editing and Storytelling: Print the Legend, directed by Luis Lopez and Clay Tweel

 

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