Just barely recovered from the blowout at Sundance, the Film Threat troops will be heading to Austin for SXSW, March 7-15. Here are the films we’ll be cheering about –
“156 Rivington” – Dir: Andrea Meller ^ The story of ABC No Rio, a group comprised of artists and activists who, for decades, have occupied one of New York City’s innumerable abandoned buildings. The film chronicles the history of their struggles, and their ongoing fight against eviction.
“7th Street” – Dir: Josh Pais ^ A personal documentary about growing up and continuing to live on the same block: 7th Street between Avenues C and D in New York City. When Pais first came to 7th Street as a boy in 1967 it was a vibrant jumble of artists, drug dealers, con men, street gangs, and hippies.
“American Dancer” – Dir: Adam Ballachey ^ A feature-length, character-driven, darkly comedic, verite documentary that follows the lives of male strippers from Tampa, Florida over the course of more than three years.
“A Certain Kind of Death” – Dir: Blue Hadaegh & Grover Babcock ^ Our main characters are dead, found alone in their homes. The coroner unravels the mystery of who they are. When no relatives can be found, they dispose of the body, the money, a person’s entire identity. This documentary follows this process and what happens to both sides.
“Cinemania” – Dir: Angela Christlieb, Stephen Kijak ^ This documentary about the culture of intense cinephilia in New York City reveals the impassioned world of five obsessed movie buffs. The filmmakers expose this delightfully deranged cult by chronicling the daily lives of its members, human encyclopedias of cinema who see two to five films a day, and from 600 to 2,000 films per year.
“The Dance” – Dir: John Darling Haynes ^ A documentary on the remarkable life of former champion prize fighter from the 1960’s, Billy “The Kid” Roth, who has volunteered for 44 years to serve in the prisons of Louisiana as a boxing coach, and “father” to thousands of inmates.
“Flag Wars” – Dir: Linda Goode Bryant, Laura Poitras ^ A cinema verite documentary that follows the conflicts that arise when gay white professionals move into a black working-class neighborhood. Filmed over a four years in Columbus, Ohio, the film leads viewers on an eye-opening journey into a divided community.
“The Flute Player” – Dir: Jocelyn Glatzer ^ A heroic story of one man’s fight against the legacy of war. Arn Chorn Pond is a survivor of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge genocide, an activist, and a gifted flute player who revives Cambodia’s once outlawed music while facing the dark shadows of his war-torn past.
“Girl Hood” – Dir: Liz Garbus ^ This new documentary chronicles the dramatic three year journeys of two young girls from the juvenile justice system and back out on the bleak streets of East Baltimore, MD.
“Girl Wrestler” – Dir: Diane Zander ^ Tara is thirteen. She likes to go to the mall … and she wrestles boys. She battles critics who believe girls should not wrestle boys competitively, she struggles with her father’s high expectations, and she fights with her own body to control her weight.
“Go Further” – Dir: Ron Mann, featuring: Woody Harrelson, Dave Mathews, Nathalie Merchant, Ken Kesey, Bob Weir, Michael Franti, Anthony Keidis, Medeski, Martin & Wood ^ This documentary follows actor and activist Woody Harrelson and his entourage as they take to the open road in a hempseed-oil fuelled bus for Harrelson’s Simple Organic Living tour. Along the way, Harrelson stops at college campuses to give lectures about environmentalism, diet, hemp, yoga, and the effects on personal and planetary transformation.
“Jon E Edwards Is In Love” – Dir: Chris Bradley & Kyle La Brache ^ Jon E. Edwards, self-proclaimed “Number 3” soul man in the world wants to be “International Soul Rocker Number One.” Equal parts Frank Sinatra and Johnny Rotten, Jon is a self-styled crooner whose real talent lies in his belief in himself rather than in his singing ability. When Jon learns that his mother is given one month to live, he leaves his New York City apartment to take care of her in Los Angeles.
“Lubbock Lights” – Dir: Amy Maner, featuring: Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, John D. Graham, Lloyd Maines, Natalie Maines, Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Jesse Taylor, Ponte Bone, Bob Livingston, David Byrne ^ From Buddy Holly to Natalie Maines to the Flatlanders, this documentary explores the unique sound of the Texas Panhandle. Whiler distinctly and amusingly individualistic, these artists share a philosophy uniquely affected by a time and space.
“MAMA/M.A.M.A”. – Dir: Nonny de la Pena ^ An examination of the authenticity of the science surrounding Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, the psychological disorder where a mother fabricates a child’s symptoms in order to get the sympathy and praise. The filmmaker examined a multitude of medical records and brings to light never before explored scientific research.
“Missing Peace” – Dir: Karin Hayes, Victoria Bruce ^ The true story of Colombian presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt, who was kidnapped by Colombian guerrillas three months before the elections. As Ingrid was held hostage in the Colombian jungle, her family continued a desperate quest to free her and keep her campaign alive.
“Off the Charts: the Song-Poem Story” – Dir: Jamie Meltzer ^ A fascinating, hilarious, and at times unsettling documentary that exposes the strange underworld of the Song-Poem industry. In this little known subculture, “ordinary people” respond to ads in the back pages of magazines mailing in their heartfelt but often bizarre poems to “music industry” companies that, for cash, set those poems to music.
“Only in America” – Dir: Ron Frank, featuring: Joseph Leiberman, Haddash Leiberman, Senator Diane Feinstein, Congressman Henry Waxman, Senator Paul Wellstone ^ An inside look at Connecticut Senator Joseph Leiberman’s career from the 2000 presidential race to his recent announcement to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 2004.
“Rebel Without a Pause” – Dir: Nancy Savoca, featuring: Reno ^ It’s not everyone who can make jokes about September 11 and get away with it. Thankfully, off-Broadway treasure Reno has emerged to offer comic relief.
“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” – Dir: Kim Bartley and Donnacha O’Brian ^ Over the course of seven months, from January to July 2002, a group of filmmakers secured unprecedented access to film Venezuela President Hugo Chavez in his daily life. During this time, there was a coup. This group of filmmakers were the only crew inside the presidential palace at the time and the first there for his triumphant return some 48 hours later. This film chronicles those events from the inside-out.
“Rise Above: The Tribe 8 Documentary” – Dir: Tracy Flannigan A chronicle of the hilarious live performances as well as candid moments at home and on the road for lesbian punk rock band Tribe 8.
“Sex: Female” – Dir: Louis Alvarez, Andrew Kolker
What’s on the mind of the woman next door when it comes to sex? Five dozen American women representing a rich variety of ages, ethnic groups, and economic backgrounds go public with some of their innermost secrets.
“Speedo” – Dir: Jesse Moss ^ This is a demolition derby love story: a feature documentary about the promising racing career and troubled family life of Ed “Speedo” Jager, one of the nation’s top demolition derby drivers.
Stevie – Dir: Steve James ^ While attending college in Southern Illinois, Steve James was a Big Brother to a troubled 11-year-old named Stevie Fielding. James graduated in 1985, leaving Stevie to deal with his demons. But spurred by a sense of duty, a desire to reconnect, and a feeling that it would make an interesting film, James returned 10 years later to find out what had become of Stevie.
Tom Dowd & the Language of Music – Dir: Mark Moormann, featuring: Tom Dowd, Eric Clapton, Ray Charles, The Allman Brothers Band, Les Paul, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ahmet Ertegun, Phil Ramone, Barry Gibb, Arif Mardin, Mike Stoller, Al Schmitt, Joe Bonnamassa. ^ This film profiles the work of legendary music producer/recording engineer Tom Dowd and offers a rare glimpse into the history of the music making process. Including exclusive interviews with many world renowned recording artists, the film illustrates the symbiotic relationships between artist, producer and engineer in making hit records.
“Valley of Tears” – Dir: Hart Perry ^ This film begins in 1979 with a farm strike in South Texas. When pistols were flourished and strike leaders arrested, migrant worker Juanita Valedez recalls: “We realized for the first time Mexican-Americans had rights, that we were the majority…that we were Americans.” It took over 20 years to document this dream come true.
The Weather Underground – Dir: Sam Green ^ This feature-length documentary tells the story of the rise and fall of the Weather Underground, a controversial group of idealistic young people who – outraged by the war in Vietnam and racism in America – tried to violently overthrow the US government during the 60s and 70s.
“Assassination Tango” – Dir: Robert Duvall, Cast: Robert Duvall, Ruben Blades, Kathy Baker, Lucinana Pedraza, James Keane, Frank Gio, Katherine Micheaux Miller, Frank Cassavetes, Michael Corrente, Raul Outeda,Geraldine Rojas, Elvio Nessier ^ John J. is a seasoned hit man sent on a job to Argentina. When the General he’s sent to kill delays his return to the country, John passes the time with Manuela, a beautiful dancer who becomes his teacher and guide into Argentina’s sensual world of the tango. Spellbound by the rich and mysterious world Manuela has shown him, his idyll is shattered when the reality of why he’s there comes crashing down around him.
Assisted Living – Dir: Elliot Greenebaum, Cast: Michael Bonsignore, Maggie Riley, Nanci Jo Boone, Clint Vaught, Jose Albovias, Dale Carter Cooper, The Residents of Masonic Homes of Kentucky ^ Shot and staged on location in a real nursing home, the film tells the story of Todd, a nursing home janitor who spends his days getting high and enjoying the surrealism of resident life. Todd’s detachment from his surroundings is compromised only by his unlikely friendship with a resident who is losing her mind.
“Bollywood/Hollywood” – Dir: Deepa Mehta, Cast: Rahul Khanna, Lisa Ray, Moushumi Chatterjee, Dina Pathak, Kulbushan Kharbanda, Ranjit Chowdhry, Jessica Pare ^ Rahul Seth is a dashing young millionaire who believes he is “western” enough to rebel against his mother and grandmother. They are not too keen about his Caucasian girlfriend Kimberly, who, to make matters worse, is a pop star. Before you can say karmic intervention, Kimberly dies in a freak accident and Rahul is devastated. Instead of allowing him to mourn in peace, Rahul’s mother sees the opportunity she’s been waiting for.
Bubba Ho-Tep – Dir: Don Coscarelli, Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis ^ We find Elvis Presley as an elderly resident in an East Texas rest home, having switched identities with an Elvis impersonator years before his death, then missing his chance to change back. Elvis teams up with Jack, a fellow rest home resident who thinks he is President John F. Kennedy. The two valiant old codgers sally forth to battle an evil Egyptian entity who has chosen their long-term care facility as his happy hunting grounds.
“The Burial Society” – Dir: Nicholas Racz, Cast: Rob LaBelle, Jan Rube, Allan Rich, Bill Meilen, David Paymer, Seymour Cassel ^ A gripping, suspenseful thriller about the world’s most unlikely criminal, as he infiltrates the mysterious world of the Jewish burial society, in order to execute a most ingenious and unlikely of crimes.
“Cabin Fever” – Dir: Eli Roth, Cast: Jordan Ladd, Rider Strong, James DeBello, Cerina Vincent, Joey Kern ^ Six young adults venture into the woods to host a private graduation party. But soon a diseased vagrant happens upon them and spews up blood, unleashing a contagious virus that induces instantaneous, accelerated decay in its host and very quickly, moves through the group of campers.
“Deprivation” – Dir: Jesse Scolaro, Cast: Neil Driscoll, Jr, Jeremy Davidson, Kellee Stewart, Carlos Trevino, Melanie Torres, Mary Monohan, Larissa Raphael, Deana Barone ^ Using techniques of improvisation, along with scripted material, Deprivation is a performance-based character piece about two friends who are reunited after years of infrequent communication.
“Dirt” – Dir: Nancy Savoca, Cast: Julieta Ortiz ^ A moving and powerful story of Dolores, a housekeeper in New York who must face the day-to-day drama of supporting her husband and son as they long for their home in El Salvador.
“Dummy” – Dir: Greg Pritikin, Cast: Adrien Brody, Milla Jovovich, Illeana Douglas, Vera Farmiga, Jessica Walter, Ron Leibman, Jared Harris ^ A comedy/drama set in the suburbs of New York, a young man struggles to express his feelings as a ventriloquist. through his dummy. With the support of his best friend, an asexual punk-rocker chick, the derision of his sister, a frustrated singer, and the indifference of his parents, he finds true love with his unemployment counselor.
“EvenHand” – Dir: Joseph Pierson, Cast: Bill Sage, Bill Dawes ^ The story of two cops, Francis and his volatile partner, Morning, working in a run-down neighborhood in fictional San Lovisa, Texas. This is a police story, but it’s not about car chases or shoot-outs. It’s about two cops struggling to survive in a world that’s 90% boredom and 10% primal fear.
“The Eye” – Dir: The Pang Brothers, Cast: Lee Sin-je, Lawrence Chou, Chutcha Rujinanon, Cindy Lo, Pierre Pang ^ After a childhood without sight, Mun undergoes a cornea transplant. The gift of sight is a mixed blessing, as Mun witnesses the passage of souls that weave lost paths through the fabric of human life. Mun’s sightings of the dead intensify, and to save what remains of her fragile psyche, she travels to a village on northern Thailand to uncover the identity of the donor whose sight she has been cursed with.
“Flowers” – Dir: Kirven Blount, Cast: Justin Hagan, Ralph McCain, Piper Perabo, Daniel Dresner, Mary Catherine Garrison, Fenton Lawless, Amy Gunther, Chrsitian Maelen, Janet Bushor, Lloyd Porter ^ Bill Potter is coasting when he gets a job at Flowers, an illegal after-hours nightclub. The job quickly becomes an attractive way to avoid real life. After Bill disrespects the club, he’s sent away to straighten out. Now he must decide which way he wants to go.
“Fulltime Killer” – Dir: Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai, Cast: Andy Lau, Takashi Sorimachi, Simon Yan, Kelly Lin, Cherrie Ying ^ An operatic and action-packed saga between two hit men determined to extinguish the other through a tidal wave of bullets and deceit.
“Happy Here And Now” – Dir: Michael Almereyda, Cast: Ally Sheedy, Clarence Williams III, David Arquette, Gloria Reuben, Shalom Harlow, Liane Balaban, Karl Geary ^ A young woman comes to New Orleans in search of her missing sister. Her only clues to the disappearance are the few fragments that remain on her sister’s wiped-clean computer hard drive of mysterious chat sessions with a philosophically-inclined young man calling himself Eddie Mars – a man reachable only in the disembodied realm of Cyberspace.
“The Hard Word” – Dir: Scott Roberts, Cast: Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Robert Taylor, Joel Edgerton, Damien Richardson ^ Three Australian brothers have become the masters of their armed robbery trade. While in jail a final job is lined up, with the prospect of wealth and freedom to follow. Things begin to look questionable when their lawyer and family end up getting thrown into the mix.
“Lilya 4-ever” – Dir: Lukas Moodysson, Cast: Pksana Akinshina, Artiom Bougucharskij, Elina Benenson, Lilia Sinkarjova, Pavel Ponomarjov ^ Set in contemporary Russia, the film recounts the 13-year old Lilya’s struggle to survive the grim streets of Moscow.
Melvin Goes To Dinner – Dir: Bob Odenkirk, Cast: Michael Blieden, Stephanie Courtney, Matt Price, Annabelle Gurwitch, Maura Tierney ^ Melvin goes to dinner with three almost complete strangers. They discuss marital infidelity, religion, a guy in heaven wearing a Wizard’s jersey, anal fetishes, cigarettes and schizophrenia, ghosts, stewardesses, masturbation, and how it’s all going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
“A Midsummer Nights Rave” – Dir: Gil Cates Jr ., Cast: Andrew Keegan, Lauren German, Corey Pearson, Sunny Mabrey, Chad Lindberg ^ A modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play Midsummer Night’s Dream set in a rave two years in the future. A group of friends share an adventure fueled by pounding beats, a magical Puck and his glowing pills, and a hot pursuit of some stolen drug money.
“A Mighty Wind” – Dir: Christopher Guest, Cast: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard ^ This mockumentary from the creators of Waiting For Guffman and Best In Show captures the reunion of 1960s folk trio the Folksmen as they prepare for a show at Carnegie Hall to memorialize a recently deceased concert promoter.
“The Nature of Nicholas” – Dir: Jeffrey Erbach, Cast: Jeff Sutton, David Turnbull, Ardith Boxall, Tom McCamus, Bob Hulculak, Katherine Lee Raymond, Samantha Hill ^ A surreal fable that follows twelve-year-old Nicholas as he struggles with an intense attraction to his best friend, Bobby.
“Nosey Parker” – Dir: John O’Brien, Cast: George Lyford,Natalie Picoe, Richard Snee ^ Sick of suburbia, Natalie and Richard Newman move to rural Vermont where they expect the unspoiled setting and the indigenous values to rejuvenate their marriage. Over the course of settling in, Natalie finds solace with a local handyman.
Raising Victor Vargas – Dir: Peter Sollett, Cast: Victor Rasuk, Judy Marte, Melonie Diaz, Altagracia Guzman, Silvesttre Rasuk, Krystal Rodriguez ^ Victor lives with grandmother and his younger brother and sister on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and frequents a minuipal swimming pool that is the summertime hub of local adolescent life. On the cusp of manhood, Victor is out to prove himself and rescue his reputation by winning the hand of the hottest girl in the neighborhood.
Robot Stories – Dir: Greg Pak, Cast: Tamlyn Tomita, James Saito, Wai Ching Ho, Cindy Cheung, John Cariani, Greg Pak, Julienne Hanzekla Kim, Bill Coelius, Sab Shimono, Eisa Davis, Tim Kang, Ron Domingo ^ This is four stories about love, death, family … and robots. In real life, mechanical office workers, robot babies, and digital immortality are just a heartbeat away. Funny, moving, and ultimately heroic, Robot Stories depicts utterly human characters struggling to connect with each other in the face of these technological changes.
“Security” – Dir: Brien Burroughs, Cast: Tim Orr, Bill Lillehammer, Stephen Kearin Pat Sullivan ^ Two graveyard shift security guards investigate a series of missing candy prototypes and discover a world of corporate espionage, the depth of their friendship, and the meaning of “the code of the badge.”
“Sexless” – Dir: Alex Holdridge, Cast: Alex Holdridge, Brian McGuire, Kelly Dealyn, Camille Chen, Michelle Fairbanks, Sara Simmonds, Scoot McNairy, Kierstin Cunnington , Babs George, Kerry Glamsch ^ Two twentysomething couples entwine themselves in a gut-wrenching and sex-crazed last month in Austin, Texas. Having made plans to leave town both find themselves seizing fleeting opportunities and reexamining their own relationships.
Spun – Dir: Jonas Akerlund, Cast: Jason Schwartzman, John Leguizamo, Mena Survari, Patrick Fugit, Brittany Murphy, Mickey Rourke, Peter Stomare, Alexis Arquette, Debbie Harry, Eric Roberts, Ron Jeremy ^ Ross, an out-of-control speed freak is introduced by his dealer to the creator of his drug of choice. Featuring a score by Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, the film with revolves around three frantic, sleepless days in Ross’ life.
“Three and a Half” – Dir: Boris Mojsovski, Cast: Kim Huffman, Don Allison, Santino Buda, Valerie Buhagiar, Matthew Ferguson, Dragana Varagic, Walter Alza, Barbara Gordon, Matt Lemche ^ Three artists, a director, writer and painter, imagine three separate stories of yearning and loneliness, that feature and are based on the passengers that surround them while riding on a subway.
“Where’s The Party Yaar?” – Dir: Benny Mathews, Cast: Mohan Bakshi, Harishkumar Patel, Ramesh Kumar, Priya Varghese, Janvi Valia, Shyam Sunder Balabhadrapatramukhi, Poonm Mehta ^ A colorful, romantic comedy about a lovable yet naive Indian student who travels to America. There he meets a wildly entertaining group of college kids who engulf him in their world.
For more information, visit the SXSW website.