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Last week, we featured the announcement of much of SXSW's feature programming, but noted that they still hadn't announced the Midnights section.
Now that they have, I think it's safe to say that SXSW plans to blow your ass off this year. And I mean surgically and precisely. They are programming an aggressively wild line-up, some of which I've seen, some of which I haven't. They've also announced shorts in a wide array of categories, filling out what are frequently some of the most exciting parts of a festival in terms of finding new voices. You add this batch of titles to what we'd already heard, and it's looking like a great year for one of my favorite fests, starting on March 9 with "The Cabin In The Woods."
There are eleven Midnighters this year. I've linked back to my reviews of a few of them, but I'm curious to see all eleven as they work together on audiences. "REC 3" is a pretty big get for SXSW, but honestly, the title that excites me most is "Iron Sky." This is a great example of a crowd-sourced piece of art that has been nurtured along from initial joke to trailer to feature film, and if it works, it's going to be something a lot of people have helped happen. Great to see that "John Dies At The End" and "V/H/S" are going to screen for Austin crowds. Both films almost feel custom-designed for these audiences.
Interesting that at Toronto, "The Raid" and "God Bless America" were both midnight movies, and they're playing the regular SXSW program, while in Toronto, "Intruders" was playing as part of the regular fest, and here it's a Midnighter. I love the way each of these fests make their own statement with how they program their various sections. They can't help but react to one another in some way.
Here's the full list of this year's Midnighters:
"The Aggression Scale"
Director: Steven C. Miller, Screenwriter: Ben Powell
4 hitmen + $500,000 of stolen cash + 1 family = WAR
Cast: Fabianne Therese, Ryan Hartwig, Dana Ashbrook, Derek Mears, Jacob Reynolds, Joseph McKelheer, Boyd Kestner, Lisa Rotondi, Ray Wise (World Premiere)
"CITADEL" (Ireland, Scotland)
Director/Screenwriter: Ciarán Foy
An agoraphobic father teams up with a renegade priest to save his daughter from the clutches of a gang of twisted feral children.
Cast: Anuerin Barnard, James Cosmo, Wumni Mosaku, Jake Wilson, Amy Shiels (World Premiere)
"Girls Against Boys"
Director/Screenwriter: Austin Chick
A psychological thriller about two girls on a killing spree. With edgy and ironic humor and a darkly meditative tone, it is also a coming-of-age story about a girl learning how the world really works.
Cast: Danielle Panabaker, Nicole LaLiberte, Liam Aiken, Michael Stahl-David, Andrew Howard (World Premiere)
"Intruders" (Spain, UK)
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo,
Screenwriters: Nicolás Casariego, Jaime Marques
The haunting story of two children living in different countries, each visited nightly by a faceless being who wants to take possession of them.
Cast: Clive Owen, Carice Van Houten, Daniel Brühl, Pilar López de Ayala (U.S. Premiere)
"Iron Sky" (Finland, Germany, Australia)
Director: Timo Vuorensola, Screenwriters: Michael Kalesniko, Timo Vuorensola
In 1945 the Nazis went to the moon; in 2018 they are coming back.
Cast: Julia Dietze, Götz Otto, Christopher Kirby, Peta Sergeant, Stephanie Paul, Tilo Prückner, Michael Cullen, Udo Kier (North American Premiere)
"Modus Anomali" (Indonesia)
Director/Screenwriter: Joko Anwar
A man tries to save his family who go missing during a vacation in the forest.
Cast: Rio Dewanto, Hannah Al Rashid, Izziati Amara Isman, Aridh Tritama, Surya Saputra, Marsha Timothy, Sadha Triyudha, Jose Gamo (World Premiere)
"John Dies At The End"
Director & Screenwriter: Don Coscarelli
On the street it’s called “soy sauce,” a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. Suddenly, a silent otherworldly invasion is underway. Can college dropouts John and Dave save humanity? No, they can’t.
Cast: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman
"[REC] 3 GENESIS" (Spain)
Director: Paco Plaza Screenwriters: Luiso Berdejo, Paco Plaza
Koldo and Clara’s wedding is horrifically interrupted when some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness. Before they know what’s happening, the bride and groom find themselves in the middle of a hellish ordeal, as an uncontrollable torrent of violence is unleashed on the wedding.
Cast: Leticia Dolera, Diego Martin (World Premiere)
Super Secret Screening
Be the first to see this feature film coming to theaters near you.
"The Tall Man"
Director/Screenwriter: Pascal Laugier
When her child goes missing, a mother looks to unravel the legend of the Tall Man, an entity who allegedly abducts children.
Cast: Jessica Biel, Jodelle Ferland, Stephen McHattie, William B.Davis (World Premiere)
Directors: Ti West, Adam Wingard, Joe Swanberg, David Bruckner, Glenn Mcquaid, Radio Silence, Screenwriter: Ti West, Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Radio Silence, Glenn Mcquaid
A group of misfits are hired to burglarize a house in the countryside and acquire a rare tape. The guys are confronted with a dead body and an endless supply of cryptic footage, each video stranger than the last...
Cast: Joe Swanberg, Calvin Reeder, Kate Lynn Shiel, Sophia Takal, Lane Hughes, Helen Rogers, Adam Wingard
A secret screening, eh? Good line-up on paper. Eclectic. A number of different types of storytelling and a number of genres represented. I'm definitely going to do whatever I can to see every one of these films.
There are a ton of shorts this year, and I see that Nash Edgerton's "Bear" is screening. We actually have an interview we shot at Sundance with Nash that I'm excited to share with you as SXSW gets closer. I love his work, and "Bear" is another great example of how much fun he can have while torturing an audience.
You can see the whole list at the official site, but here are the main two categories:
Aaron Burr, Part 2
Director: Dana O'Keefe History is a contest.
Another Bullet Dodged
Director: Landon Zakheim In the fading echoes of a relationship, character is revealed.
Director: Nash Edgerton Jack means well, but sometimes good intentions have horrible consequences.
The Black Balloon
Director: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie In New York City, a lone black balloon, once part of a huge 100-balloon bouquet, learns that humans are complicated creatures with extreme highs and lows. Part Sci-Fi, part children's film.
Director: Grainger David The story of one boy's reaction to a mysterious outbreak of poisonous mold in his small town.
A Chjána (The Plain)
Director: Jonas Carpignano Inspired by real events, A Chjàna (The Plain) follows Ayiva, an African migrant worker who seeks to reunite with his best friend in the wake of the most significant race riot in Italian history.
Director: Aly Muritiba An inmate convinces his mother to take a risk smuggling a cell phone for him into the penitentiary.
Director: Lorcan Finnegan A young couple trapped in a remote estate of empty houses and shrieking foxes are beckoned from their isolation into a twilight world. A world of the paranormal or perhaps insanity.
Heimkommen (Coming Home)
Director: Micah Magee When Robert's girlfriend dies, he turns his grief against his younger sister Jo. Jo plays ice hockey with the boys, hoping to gather strength to bring her brother back to the land of the living.
In The Pines
Directors: Zeek Earl, Chris Caldwell Simultaneously an exploration of nature and psyche, the film documents a young woman's hunt for extraterrestrial meaning. Part science fiction, part psycho-thriller, part poetry - this film crafts a memorable scene rooted in the Pacific Northwest.
Director: Colm Quinn Nicola reluctantly introduces her newborn daughter to her best friend Tess.
Director: Adam Garnet Jones When a brutal teenage revenge plot gets pushed too far, 14 year-old Tara is forced to choose between standing helplessly on the sidelines or stepping in to defend the boyfriend that hurt her.
Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke
Directors: Jillian Mayer, Lucas Leyva A modern Miami adaptation of the 1962 French short film La Jetee, starring Uncle Luke of the 2 Live Crew.
Director: Noah Pritzker An insecure father prepares for a party at his in-laws.
Director: Robert G. Putka Bobby and Bliss are a happy couple, that is, until they begin to tell each other things probably better left unsaid. A single question leads them down a highway to relationship hell.
My Friend Kills Time
Director: Jakob Rørvik Thomas moves to a remote cabin in an attempt to disappear completely... even from himself. My Friend Kills Time mixes visual textures and haunting soundscapes to create a cinematic diary of a young man's isolation.
Not Far From The Abattoir
Director: Kyle Thomas A story of a man controlling his demons and trying to imagine a better life outside of the only town he has ever called home.
Pitch Black Heist
Director: John Maclean Two men, professional safe crackers, meet on a simple job to relieve an office safe of its contents. The catch; a light activated alarm system impelling them to embark on a pitch black heist.
Director: Lucas Mireles A seamless journey through the lives of German youth on a Sunday afternoon.
Director: Alexis Dos Santos Lulu and Rocky meet, fall in love, spend the night together, and fall asleep looking at each other...except for the fact that he is in Berlin and she is in Buenos Aires.
Director: Lucas Leyva Told from the point of view of a dying shark, Reinaldo Arenas is the story of an unintentional immigrant in Miami.
Directors: Jeremiah Zagar, Nathan Caswell A blend of documentary and fiction, Remains is about recollection and fading memories. Combining three years of recorded voice messages with stunning macro photography, the film documents a relationship from its inception to its end.
Director: Lily Baldwin A disoriented young woman stumbles upon an empty estate. There are signs of a lush life, but the inhabitants have disappeared. Or have they? Sea Meadow revamps the thriller with pop mashups and stylized dance tableaux.
Shoot the Freak
Director: Bradford Willingham Through the freak’s musings, this film chronicles the last days of the iconic, abrasive Coney Island attraction Shoot the Freak. In masked anonymity, the nihilistic teen indulges in drug-induced daydreams of violence and oceanic abandon.
A Short Film About Ice Fishing
Director: Jason Shahinfar In rural South Dakota two friends go out for the most explosive day of ice fishing either will ever experience.
Directors: The Golden Filter, Kristoffer Borgli A young girl's bizarre and unexplained ability to help others leads to her involvement in a sinister underworld.
Directors: Brian McGinn, Rod Blackhurst Two friends play 'Would You Rather.' When their choices magically start to come true, they find themselves in a variety of awkward and funny situations.
Director: Orlando von Einsiedel Musically lush and stunningly shot, Aisha's Song is a touching and uplifting story of female empowerment from a part of the world where women are all too often overlooked.
A Brief History of John Baldessari
Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman No more boring films! Everything you need to know about the godfather of Conceptual Art... narrated by Tom Waits.
Director: Ben Steinbauer The story of Apple Records notoriously irreverent recording artist, Brute Force.
Director: Seth Keal When a German engineer creates a tiny camera for his newly adopted stray cat to wear, the photographs reveal more than ever expected.
Directors: Finlay Pretsell, Adrian McDowall “I’m trusted with a pair of scissors and I’m in here for murder.” A snapshot of prison life in the build up to the annual hairdressing competition.
Director: Dustin Guy Defa Unearthed home movies and haunting dubbed voices collide to create a personal portrait of family dysfunction.
The Fuse: or How I Burned Simon Bolivar
Director: Igor Drljaca A nine-year-old boy thinks he is responsible for the civil war in Bosnia.
Director: Josh Gibson This ode to the climbing, trailing, and coiling species Pueraria lobata evokes the agricultural history and mythic textures of the American South.
The Love Competition
Director: Brent Hoff The World's First Love Competition.
The Man That Got Away
Director: Trevor Anderson A musical documentary that tells the true life story of Trevor's great-uncle Jimmy in six original songs.
Meaning of Robots
Director: Matt Lenski Mike Sullivan's world is overrun by an army of miniature sex robots with no end in sight.
Minor/Major: The TV on the Radio Tour Documentary
Director: Chioke Nassor An intense documentary portrait on the band TV on the Radio as they transition from minor label darlings to major label success.
New York Accent
Director: Caleb Slain Once a man with all the answers, Dr. Ed Dobson is struggling to resolve his own questions before succumbing to the unusual disease eating away his body.
Written in Ink
Director: Martin Rath Can one change what has already been written in ink?
In addition, they announced SX GLOBAL SHORTS, ANIMATED SHORTS, MIDNIGHT SHORTS,MUSIC VIDEOS, TEXAS SHORTS and TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SHORTS. You could have a rich and diverse festival and feel like you'd packed in a ton of viewing and never see a feature film if you wanted. That's how deep their bench is this year.
I remain impressed by their programming taste, and eager to get my ass on a plane. March 9, I'll be there, and as a result, that means you'll be there with me for full coverage of the festival.
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