SXSW is here again and with great weather, it means everyone is going to want to move here. Unless they get on MoPac or 35. Can we get a venue on Far West to scare people off?
This year the SXSW Conference and Festivals have made one AMAZING change, which is that SXXPRESS Passes are digital and can be done from your phone. Big advantage to us as attendees to not have to drag our asses early out of bed and stand in line… big advantage to SXSW as it means more use of the app and impressions for whatever marketing they have on it. True win win. If you are looking to grab a SXXPRESS pass for a film, they are available 24 hours before the start of the screening and end when the limited number of Passes have been claimed, or 5 hours before the screening, whichever comes first.
Normally I would try to consume the entire program and spit out some trends and topics I see in Film, but since I am running late and honestly this film slate has me MORE EXCITED THAN ANY PREVIOUS YEAR since I started to really look at these things with any more discernment than just ‘it’ cool to be at a film festival!’
Anyway, here are the 10 genre films/events I am most excited about that I would recommend any blood-thirsty fan fit into their schedule.
The Bleeding Edge: A New Generation of Horror
Speakers: Jason Blum, Vera Miao, Steven Susco, Leigh Whannell
Horror has always been a staple in cinema but now thanks to creative vision, voices and casts, it’s moving from theatrical to broadcast to on-demand to digital to mobile. Horror is expanding not only storylines and casts, but also platforms. Join us for a forward-looking panel on the rise of the horror genre for audiences and how it is allowing fans to connect to the genre anywhere, anytime and digital.
BEARS: Blum, the mastermind behind Blumhouse and last year’s GET OUT, and Susco (THE GRUDGE) have a new film at the fest (its untitled so I can’t list it in all caps), Miao is the genius behind TWO SENTENCE HORROR STORIES and a filmmaker from Guam (i.e. Trump, she’s an American), and Leigh Whannell is, well, my favorite horror writer of all time (SAW, INSIDIOUS, COOTIES) – his SciFi Horror UPGRADE can be found elsewhere on this list. I don’t normally go in for panels at SXSW, too many movies to see, but wow the fire power on this one.
Director/Screenwriter: Owen Egerton
In Blood Fest, fans flock to a festival celebrating the most iconic horror movies, only to discover that the charismatic showman behind the event has a diabolical agenda. Cast: Robbie Kay, Jacob Batalon, Seychelle Gabriel, Tate Donovan, Barbara Dunkelman, Nick Rutherford, Zachary Levi (World Premiere)
BEARS: I am a huge fan of Egerton’s work, FOLLOW being one of my favorite shorts expanded into a feature of all time. Now he has teamed up with ROOSTER TEETH so the meta-fan experience makes perfect sense.
Director/Screenwriter: Julia Hart
In this genre-bending supernatural drama, a woman is forced to go on the run when her extraordinary abilities are discovered. Years after having abandoned her family, the only place she has left to hide is home. Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lorraine Toussaint, Saniyya Sidney, Christopher Denham, David Strathairn. (World Premiere)
BEARS: Hart’s MISS STEVENS was one of my favorite films at SXSW a few years back and I can’t imagine what she would do with SciFi… certainly the characters in this are going to have a bit more depth than Ready Player Paycheck.
Directors: Jukka Vidgren, Juuso Laatio, Screenwriters: Jukka Vidgren, Juuso Laatio, Aleksi Puranen, Jari Olavi Rantala
A young man is trying to overcome his fears by leading the most unknown heavy metal band in to the hottest metal festival of Norway. The journey includes heavy metal, grave robbing, Viking heaven and an armed conflict between Finland and Norway. Cast: Johannes Holopainen, Minka Kuustonen, Max Ovaska, Antti Heikkinen, Samuli Jaskio, Chike Ohanwe, Ville Tiihonen (World Premiere)
BEARS: I am a sucker for Scandinavian horror, and metal. Conidering LORDS OF CHAOS disappointed me at Sundance for not being out there enough, this one seems like it might be able make up for that.
Directors/Screenwriters: Zeek Earl, Chris Caldwell
A teenage girl and her father travel to a remote moon on the hunt for elusive riches. But there are others roving the moon’s toxic forest and the job quickly devolves into a desperate fight to escape. Cast: Sophie Thatcher, Pedro Pascal, Jay Duplass, Andre Royo, Sheila Vand, Anwan Glover (World Premiere)
BEARS: Father/daughter story and SciFi?!! Even better, I saw the short back in 2014, it was compelling, emotional, heart-wrenching, and full of tension. Can’t wait to return to that moon.
Director/Screenwriter: Sarah Daggar Nickson
A once abused woman, Sadie (Olivia Wilde), devotes herself to ridding victims of their domestic abusers while hunting down the husband she must kill to truly be free. Cast: Olivia Wilde, Morgan Spector, Kyle Catlett, CJ Wilson, Tonye Patano, Chuck Cooper, Betsy Aidem, Jusy Marte (World Premiere)
BEARS: Pure selfish pick, I am currently writing a screenplay with a similar plot… not that there doesn’t seem to be a zeitgeist around this right now (last year’s M.F.A. covered similar territory). But Olvia Wilde never disappoints.
Director/Screenwriter: Leigh Whannell
In a utopian near-future when technology controls everything, a technophobe avenges his wife’s murder and his own paralysis-causing injury with the help of an experimental computer chip implant – STEM – that turns out to have a mind of its own. Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel, Harrison Gilbertson, Benedict Hardie (World Premiere)
BEARS: Did I mention Whannell is my favorite horror writer? Also, my wife practices what I literally call SciFi law, working on blockchain and A.I and the internet of things and the various ways we will die in the 21st century.
Wild Nights With Emily
Director/Screenwriter: Madeleine Olnek
Molly Shannon plays Emily Dickinson in Wild Nights With Emily, a humorous drama. This independent film explores her vivacious, irreverent side that was covered up for years — most notably Emily’s lifelong romantic relationship with another woman. Cast: Molly Shannon, Amy Seimetz, Susan Ziegler, Brett Gelman, Jackie Monahan, Kevin Seal, Dana Melanie, Sasha Frolova, Lisa Haas, Al Sutton (World Premiere)
BEARS: Fight me that this isn’t genre. Dickinson basically invented ‘elevated’ macabre with her lifelong fascination for illness, dying and death. Her poems include crucifixion, drowning, hanging, suffocation, freezing, premature burial, shooting, stabbing and the guillotine.
(Panel) State of Genre: Are We “Elevated” Enough Yet?
Speakers: Hugues Barbier, Josh Goldbloom, Mike Moran, Jenn Wexler
Such terms as elevated genre or ‘Post-horror seem to be a new trend in independent films but is in fact a natural evolution of the genre market. Past films as CAT PEOPLE (1942) or BODY SNATCHERS (1954) already showed the creative and commercial potential of giving films a fantastic ‘twist’, foreshadowing recent success such as GET OUT (2017) and RAW (2017). Genre expanded to include horror, action, drama or comedy, creating a very exciting space for filmmakers. But is there a future for GENRE?
BEARS: I mean okay, stupid question, of course there is a future for Genre. That being said, having this as a conversation between 2 film programmers, a distrubtor and a producer is sort of an interesting way to go about it, because everyone is looking for different things.
SXSW Conference and Festivals starts today and takes over Austin until March 17.