Breaking Down The 2018 Edition of South By Southwest Film Festival

 

By Jason Whyte, Managing Editor

With contributions from Kielan Ellis, Daniel Azbel & Ben Scanga

2018 marked my 11th year at the South By Southwest Conference & Festivals and my first covering as Managing Editor for GetReelMovies.com. To say this was a fun year in Austin is a massive understatement; every day brought great movies, talent and interactions in the film, music and interactive community with universal acclaim throughout the festival. There was always something happening, always something that we were all missing throughout the festival’s nine days.

Our Canadian staff at SxSW 2018 saw an incredible amount of movies throughout; I saw 46 and the rest of the team saw at least 30 titles each. We were all over the festival from gala screenings at the Paramount, navigating through crowds at the Austin Convention Centre and enjoying queso and milkshakes out at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. We ran into many like minded film fans, had a lot of fun film conversations and even met a celebrity or two along the way.

For your reading pleasure, presented here are our top selections, performances and moments not only from myself but my amazing Get Reel Movies contributors Kielan Ellis, Ben Scanga & Daniel Azbel.

 

Leigh Whannell
UPGRADE – Audience Award Winner in the Midnighters Section!

Jason Whyte’s Top 10 Films

#1. UPGRADE

In the nearly 20 years I have been covering and attending film festivals, UPGRADE is the only movie I have ever watched three times during a film festival. There have been many instances where I will watch a festival movie twice, but this Audience Award Winner in the Midnighters section just kept bringing me back for more. Leigh Whanell’s explosive sophomore feature (INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3) is about Grey (Logan Marshall Green) who, after his wife is killed and he becomes permanently injured, is implanted with a device called STEM to make him mobile again. The results of this experiment may or may not be exactly what he had hoped for. The movie’s thrilling concept, which questions how would you react if you had the ability to become superhuman even if that eventually meant what was keeping you alive was all a machine’s intelligent design, is a deeply thought-provoking idea that will have you talking about it long after it’s over. It is all presented in a low-budget but gorgeously presented package, beautifully composed and technically skill production by Whannell and his creative team that owes a lot to action filmmaking from yesteryear. Grounding it all is a career best by Logan Marshsall -Green (THE INVITATION) who I can tell had a lot of fun with the idea, and it comes off in his inspired performance as Grey. Sure to be a cult classic! 

Release notes: UPGRADE is currently seeking theatrical distribution but should not take very long to find a home and a healthy theatrical release.

 

#2. EIGHTH GRADE

One of the best movies I have ever seen about growing up and the high school experience, Bo Burnham’s wicked directorial debut is about Kayla (Elsie Fisher) and her navigating her way from middle to high school and the loneliness that surrounds her, all the while pretending to be a social media sensation on YouTube; or so she thinks, as one of the movie’s highlights is watching her cringe-worthy, unrehearsed, direct-to-camera tutorials which mean nothing and finish with a pathetic sign-off. At no point during EIGHTH GRADE was my attention elsewhere; I was completely engrossed in Kayla’s journey and the people around her, and the film takes some truly bold steps into presenting her plight with astonishing realism. The movie takes no easy course and lets us alternately laugh and cringe at the absolutely honest and real depictions of where kids are now in this social media landscape of growing up.

Release notes: The film is due for a release in the summer and is destined to become a sleeper hit. My only recommendation is to make this a June release and have middle and high school students attend this screening. And yes, I know both my #1 and #2 picks rhyme.

 

#3. THUNDER ROAD

Based off his SxSW 2016 of the same name (unseen by me), Jim Cumming has created a fierce and original work that magically balances between dark comedy and pathos; Cummings himself is in the lead role as a conflicted cop who has many moments of personal growth and family strife in the aftermath of his mother’s death, so much so that the film’s classic opening shot, over ten minutes in length, has him breaking down giving his mother’s eulogy in a way I have never seen before in a motion picture. There are also many incredible, original moments to be had throughout, including Jim’s daughter who has a story all her own, and the movie doesn’t shy away from powerful drama that makes us care about everything that happens on screen but also doesn’t shy away from letting us laugh. A lot.

Release notes: This movie won the Jury award for Best Narrative Feature at SxSW and will very likely secure distribution and a release soon.

 

#4. ISLE OF DOGS

A bizarre and complicated tale of the literal underdog. The array of lead characters are a group of self-proclaimed Alpha Dogs as they try to overcome adversity by humans as they are banished to a garbage island in Japan. Wes Anderson, in his second animated follow up to the delightful THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX, has returned with another complicated story that I think will have families alternately scratching their heads and parents concerned for their little ones at the proceedings. And yet for this film fan it is a supremely entertaining love letter to Japanese cinema in the quirky, hipster-ironic way that Anderson is famous for. I loved ISLE OF DOGS while sitting in the closing gala at SxSW this year, where it won the Headliners audience award, but I know I will admire the movie even more on subsequent viewings.

Release notes: ISLE OF DOGS will open in limited release Friday with additional markets to follow in April.

 

#5. AMERICAN ANIMALS

A heist story that really is too bizarre to be true, but it all really happened. Set in 2003, the movie features a group of college students who discover a way to possibly steal a bunch of very collectable books and hatch a plan to get away with them. Featuring great young talent including Jared Abramson (HELLO DESTROYER), Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan & Blake Jenner, Bart Layton has created a terrific heist picture that oddly reminded me of the dark joys of BOOGIE NIGHTS, in where we see the horrors of not where crime leads, but the dark underbelly of what was always there. It starts out highly amusing and entertaining and gets very scary, very quickly, but remains fascinating throughout. One of the most loved by audiences at SxSW.

Release notes: The movie has a distributor through both The Orchard and Moviepass and I am sure will do very well on release.

 

#6. NEVER GOIN’ BACK

Like with EIGHTH GRADE, this movie features youth characters acting and playing real, even if the story if a flat out comedy that aims to entertain and even offend at times. The simple set-up of two high-school drop out waitstaff clamouring to go on a trip to Florida reminded me of another funny SxSW title from a few years ago, FORT TILDEN (2014) where we see flawed yet likeable millennial characters come to life in weird, unique ways as they plow through one comedic misadventure after another, all the while trying to get to one particular destination. The leads, Maia Mitchell & Camilla Morrone (who just recently starred in the DEATH WISH remake) are remarkably funny and I came to love these two and their plight, as ridiculous as it all is. Director Augustine Frizzell shows great love for these two and there is a strong message underneath of being yourself and sticking to your guns amidst all the comedy. As well, there’s a sequence where our two leads get stoned before their work shift that leads to some of the biggest laughs of any movie that i saw at the festival this year.

Release notes: A24 acquired this movie during SxSW so a release will be happening later in the year.

 

#7. THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET

One of the most inspiring documentaries I have seen in 2018 so far features lead subject Matt Green as a man who has set upon himself to walk every street in New York City, a project taking him years and nearly 10,000 miles in journey and all of the inspired characters he meets along the way. Jeremy Workman’s doc is a touching story with a very strong lead that will get people on their feet once again. It is told in a fresh style as well, complete with intricate maps and designs of New York City that I found really entertaining to follow along with Matt’s crazy journey. As cliche as it sounds, I am a walker myself and since seeing the documentary I have gone on more walks and longer, thinking of new paths to take every time in my travels.

Release Notes: Currently playing film festivals and seeking distribution, this would make for a wonderful addition to most docu-heavy film festivals this year.

 

#8. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

One of the most beloved comedies of SxSW this year, and one of the hardest to get into, was the hilarious and self-aware new feature from director Boots Riley, which paints a lot of light on sexual and race politics all around a group of characters around a call center in Oakland that turns out to have a lot of dark secrets buried underneath. Featuring echoes of OFFICE SPACE but taking on an entirely new journey with an even more strange presence, the movie is consistently funny and my kind of weird. The less you know, the better, although I will mention the movie had audiences in stiches in Austin this year. The lead is Lakeith Stanfield (GET OUT) in a performance so assured and confident this will no doubt make him a star.

Release Notes: The US release scheduled for July and hopefully a Canadian release will follow.

 

#9. PASS OVER

What I absolutely love about Spike Lee’s career of late is his insistence to do projects that vary so wildly that you never really know what he’s going to do with each project; just buy a ticket and go once you see his name on the poster. PASS OVER is a thrilling presentation of a play written by Antoinette Nwandu performed at Chicago’s Steppenwolf theater, featuring high-resolution hidden cameras in a complete performance of a play on racism, the American Dream and finding yourself. Short and sweet at just under 80 minutes, PASS OVER is a telling look into our current culture and is essential viewing for youth.

Release Notes: To be released by Amazon Studios in the US; Canada release to follow. I am hoping audiences seek out a big screen experience as the presentation I saw at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz was beyond stunning.

 

#10: THE DAWN WALL

Winner of the audience award for Best Documentary Feature, THE DAWN WALL asks if you remembered that national story that took place in 2015 when two climbers decided to risk it all and free-climb rock face of the film’s title in Yosemite, California? Both Tommy Caldwell and his assistant Kevin Jorgensen spend years attempting to put this all together, and directors Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer bring forward a telling story that begins on Tommy Caldwell who faced a terrorist kidnapping, a broken marriage AND a critical injury to battle this wall. And yet where the documentary soars is the brave step it takes in the third act switch to Kevin, who we quickly learn is THE star of the story and his amazing achievement had our audience cheering right along with him (leading to his appearance at the Q&A and a standing ovation). THE DAWN WALL is inspired documentary storytelling that left me thrilled throughout its running time.

Release notes: Produced by the entertainment division of Red Bull, and currently seeking theatrical distribution. Looks and sounds amazing on the big screen!

A24 Films
EIGHTH GRADE – It made all of our top selections for a reason!

 

Daniel Azbel’s Top Films

 

#1. EIGHTH GRADE

A shockingly incredible debut from both director Bo Burnham and actress Elsie Fisher, EIGHTH GRADE is a coming of age story with a lead that breaks against stereotypes, nevermind having an incredibly sharp script and one of the most relatable films I have seen in ages.

#2. PASS OVER

Spike Lee’s PASS OVER is unlike any film I have ever seen, and that’s if I even can consider it a film. This is a filmed play about racial tensions that needs to be seen on the big screen, and even without any special effects or gimmicks that a narrative feature film would have, the fantastic lead performances and poetic dialogue put it in near-masterpiece territory.

#3. NEVER GOIN’ BACK

NEVER GOIN’ BACK, a fun romp of a stoner comedy, is spectacular especially in its way of breaking away from what we expect in stoner comedies. Beautifully shot, extremely well acted and laugh out loud hilarious in the most clever of ways, this film is sure to get lots of buzz when it releases this summer.

 

A24 Films
NEVER GOIN’ BACK – Loved by all at Get Reel Movies!

Kielan Ellis’ Top Films


#1. EIGHTH GRADE

Bo Burnham is my favourite stand up comedian. His jokes and lyrics are clever, quick, winning, silly, incredibly dark, and somehow rather thought provoking. Many of his songs have much deeper meanings than one might think, or assume based on his stage persona. These very same qualities, which made his stand up work so captivating, can be found in his first attempt at writing and directing, in Eighth Grade. Eighth Grade handles one of the worst years of many people’s adolescent lives with incredible poise, presenting a hilariously dark film, with some of the best laughs in recent years, and a surprisingly unique directorial vision. Based on Bo’s lack of experience with filmmaking, I expected a generically shot and edited film, but Bo’s clever use of one-take shots, opacity and wonderful lighting and colour amount to a visually stunning film. This, when coupled with the amazing script, and an absolutely astounding break-out performance from Elsie Fisher combine to create a movie that is easily the best film of SXSW, and a film that I believe will end up in my top 10 of the year.

 

#2. NEVER GOIN’ BACK

When thinking of how to describe this film, I realized that it’s somewhat impossible to categorize. It’s dramatic, but also too funny to be labeled a drama. It’s not really a coming of age film, it just has young characters in it. It’s definitely a comedy, but it has many serious themes as well, which detract from it being a full-out comedic film. I think this lack of a category will serve this film well upon release, because going into this film with preconceived notions about it will be nothing but a disservice for the audience. Never Going Back is stylishly directed and filmed, as well as sharply written, but the main praise of the film has to land on the shoulders of the lead actresses: Camila Morrone and Maia Mitchell. These young women have such good chemistry, and work so well with each other, that from moment one you’re drawn in, and the characters become real. You feel as if you’re there, with them and along for the journey they’re on, which is a really special quality you don’t find in a lot of films like this. Although, to be fair, there are not many films like this.

#3. PASS OVER


PASS OVER is a play filmed by Spike Lee, but the movie is not the play. The movie is a statement about the black experience in America, and about modern racism and discrimination. The play itself is a metaphor for the treatment of black people in America, and itself is captivating enough, with stellar performances and wonderful cinematography despite the limitations of shooting on a stage from outside the audience’s field of view. However the play is not the point of the movie. The film is bookended by montages of black people in Chicago, simply living their lives, as well as of a group of young black men and women going to the theatre to watch the play. The film is about these people, and not the play itself. It is about how they react and how they feel about the play, which is further demonstrated by the use of cut-aways to the audience during the play, showing us their reactions, to events on stage that many of them would be able to relate to. Discrimination and hate is something black communities and individuals across America have had to deal with for decades, and I think that this film does an incredible job telling that story, a very impactful story that needs to be told. Many people may not see this film due to it being promoted as a play that someone filmed, but it so much more than that. When it’s release comes around, if you’re thinking about it, go see it. It’s worth it.

#4. HEARTS BEAT LOUD


It might be an unpopular opinion to put this film this high on my list, but in a week where I saw 22 movies, this one made me the happiest, and what’s going on in the world right now, happy is something I wanted to be. If I may paraphrase the director, Brett Hayley, in his introduction to our screening: ‘This is a feel good movie, so when you walk out of this theatre you are going to feel good whether you want to or not!’. The movie is really well written, with a lot of really lovely beats that’ll make you smile! A perfect movie to go to with your family whenever it hits theatre.

#5. UNLOVABLE

This movie can be described as anything but the titular adjective. The move is very lovable, and is truly a lovely film. The film is about a sex-addict, who learns to overcome her addiction through a platonic friendship with a man with a mental disability. It’s a really touching movie, with a great message, a fantastic lead performance, and wonderful supporting performances as well. It’s rather generically directed and scored, but it’s made up for with the performances and writing, which will make you laugh, cry, and appreciate terrible music videos.

 

Annapurna Pictures
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU – A Get Reel Movies team favorite!

Ben Scanga’s Top Films:

#1. THUNDER ROAD

Jim Cummings’ passion project is easily one of the most emotionally potent experiences you’ll ever have in a theatre auditorium. The pessimism that rings throughout every frame of Lowell A. Meyer’s cinematography still feels reminiscent of something hopeful. To top it all off, Jim Cummings’ somehow balances the positions of being the writer, director, and star perfectly, excelling in terms of perfection in all three categories. It’s equal parts hilarious and heart-wrenching. You’ll love it!

#2. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

For fans of surrealist and absurdist comedy, this will definitely be a treat for you! American musician Boots Riley’s directorial debut is just as balls-to-the-wall insane as it is politically relevant, utilizing over the top metaphors to commentate on the current status of humanity. Although it is borderline masterful and I could rant on for hours about the pure brilliance of the concept, this work of art could be spoiled with ease so I’ll leave you with this; if you’re into Armie Hammer snorting table lengths of cocaine, orgies, and politically-charged revolutions, this is a film for you.

#3. EIGHTH GRADE

The transition from stand-up comedian to feature length writer and director isn’t always a smooth one but for Bo Burnham, the shoe couldn’t have slipped on easier. The savant of self-deprecating and pitch-black comedy does a phenomenal job at integrating his shock humour into a narrative about middle school, where the sexual confusion and self-esteem issues come out in droves, all while remaining somewhat tasteful. Burnham has found a peaceful balance between rip-splitting comedic timing and emotional climaxes. I can’t wait for his next feature.

#4. UPGRADE

I’m not going to lie, I was a little iffy on Leigh Whanell’s follow-up until a few days ago. INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER THREE left a horrendous taste in my mouth but Upgrade was a brand new toothbrush and minty fresh toothpaste. The concept of a revenge story with a technophobe taking center stage did seem slightly odd but Whannell proved me wrong with impeccable stunt choreography and brutal commentary on technologies chances of becoming world leaders. I can’t wait to see this on a bi-weekly basis during its theatre release and showing it to different friends/family each time.

Jim Cummings in THUNDER ROAD

 

Jason’s Top 3 Performances of SxSW

 

#1. Jim Cummings, THUNDER ROAD

I have never seen a performance like this in a motion picture. We have seen many directors star in their own pictures but Jim really risks it all for a brave, strange and utterly fascinating breakdown of a man dealing with his mother’s death and trying to put his life back together. My favorite sequence was our lead dealing with being fired from his job and his disrobing, both figuratively and literally, in the parking lot outside of the police station. It has to be seen to be believed.

 

#2. Elsie Fisher, EIGHTH GRADE

Remember the TV show FREAKS & GEEKS? Remember the character of Kim Kelly (Busy Phillips) who looked and felt so utterly REAL that you seriously believed they picked her up off of the street and dropped her into the show, documentary style? The same can be almost be said for Elsie Fisher’s flawless performance that is absolutely convincing as someone who is nervous, shy and quiet yet is totally confident by herself with her face in her phone or laptop. And yet some of the most stirring moments are the ones with her dad (Josh Hamilton, in a performance I hope doesn’t go overlooked) where she reacts to him harshly at first then eventually opens up.

 

#3. Kevin Jorgensen, underdog subject in THE DAWN WALL

I know I am cheating a bit here as this is a documentary subject, but something amazing happens at one point in THE DAWN WALL where the shift moves over to Kevin, who is constantly climbing behind . A heartbreaking but eventually tears-of-joy moment comes late in the movie where Kevin triumphs and the result sent a shockwave through the entire audience . Kevin then appeared after the screening for a Q&A and recieved a standing ovation with many tearful people in the audience.

Annapurna Pictures
Lakeith Stanfield & Armie Hammer in SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

 

Daniel’s Top 3 Performances of SxSW

 

#1. Elsie Fisher in EIGHTH GRADE

The best acting debut I have seen in a while, Fisher’s performance is required for this film to work. Balancing the morals and humour of Burnham’s script at a pitch-perfect level, this is a young actress that you should definitely be looking out for!

#2. Armie Hammer in SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

One of the oddest performances I have seen in my entire life, but in the best way possible, Armie Hammer’s brilliantly coked-out business executive with some shady notices is one for the ages, and definitely the highlight of Boot’s Riley’s film SORRY TO BOTHER YOU.

#3. Charlie Plummer in LEAN ON PETE

A24 brings out another gem with Lean on Pete at this years fest, the highlight of the film being lead Charlie Plummer. Providing audiences with a resonant, emotional and unforgettable performance, Plummer’s overall charm made this powerful story even more affecting.

Nick Offerman & Kiersey Clemons in HEARTS BEAT LOUD

Kielan’s Favorite Performances of SxSW

 

#1. Elsie Fisher in EIGHTH GRADE


Elsie Fisher’s performance in Eighth Grade is realistic as can be, likely due to the fact that she was in between eighth and ninth grade when shooting the film. It’s raw, powerful, and makes you feel for the character more than you think you will. It’s not cheesy or over the top, but the perfect balance of subtlety and theatricality. It’s excellent, and best summed up by the fact that she received a standing ovation (the only one I saw happen at the festival) when she came out after the film for the Q&A with Bo Burnham.

#2. Nick Offerman in HEARTS BEAT LOUD


Coming out of PARKS & RECREATION, I expected Nick Offerman’s performance to be broadly comedic and over theatrical, but it really wasn’t. His performance actually reminded me of Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird. I don’t think his performance is as good, but it has similar shadings. What made Laurie so good is the subtle darkness in the character, but not a malignant darkness, a benign and very subtle darkness. The same can be found in Offerman, as he goes through the closing of his record store, failed relationships and as attempting to deal with the loss of his wife. Its a really excellent performance.

#3. Charlene deGuzman in UNLOVABLE

Charlene deGuzman in Unlovable is one of the most underrated performances of the festival. She’ll rope you in with her charming and venerable performance, and will leave you with more emotions than you can count. She will break your heart, and then put it back together again, in a performance that is poignant, stirring, and really very sweet.

The Exchange
Jeremy Allen White & Maika Monroe in SHOTGUN

Ben’s Favorite Performances of SxSW

#1. Jim Cummings in THUNDER ROAD
As well as being my favorite film from the festival, Jim Cummings’ also steals my top favorite for best performance. Cummings’ slips into the character of Officer Jim Arnaud with ease and tender care to do the depth and thoughtful character justice. He breaks into different layers of his character like it’s some kind of second nature on multiple occasions, breaking the knowledge that there is an actor on screen and leading you to believe that it is strictly a character up there.
#2. Jeremy Allen White in SHOTGUN

Jeremy plays the character of “obnoxious alpha male” in a way that is both self-aware is charming but when the narrative progress and more layers are added to his characters, we continue to dive down the rabbit hole of untapped gold. Nearly every line that comes flying out of White’s mouth, whether it be a witty and quick joke or a sharp rebuttal during a tense verbal fight, comes with excessive amounts of passion. He truly kills the role here.

#3. Nick Offerman in HEARTS BEAT LOUD
Okay, maybe there is some slight amounts of Rob Swanson “bias” rooted deeply into my undying love for Offerman’s over the top, cute and misinformed performance. Either way, I just had too much fun letting Offerman continuously split my ribs in half with his giddy nature and incredible chemistry with up and coming superstar, Kiersey Clemons. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he can actually play the guitar, which saves the audience from the curse of horrendous musical dubbing when actors pretend to play instruments.

JW MediaSpike Lee!

Jason’s Top 3 Moments of SxSW

 

#1. Meeting Spike Lee at the PASS OVER premiere

In 2009 I attended the SxSW premiere of PASSING STRANGE which director Spike Lee also attended for a Q&A. I was too nervous to approach him after to say hello. Cut to 2018 when I am a bit older, a lot more wiser, and totally in love with his latest work PASS OVER. Spike was gracious enough to give not only an extended Q&A session but hang out in the lobby to approach and meet afterwards. My interaction with Mr. Lee was brief, but it was a great opportunity to let him know how much I adored PASS OVER and how much his work meant to me, and he happily posed for a photograph.

 

#2. The Q&A for THE DIRECTOR & THE JEDI featuring Rian Johnson & Mark Hamill

Running around and seeing many screenings during SxSW made me miss a LOT of Q&A’s (don’t get me started on missing the ISLE OF DOGS closing gala Q&A to make a midnight screening) but I was fortunate enough to witness a memorable session with not only the documentary’s creators but Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill who also turned up to participate. While the Q&A had a minor fault with guests asking more questions to Mark and Rian rather than the filmmakers of the documentary (this is an unfortunate but realistic downfall of SxSW Q&A sessions out of the control of the festival), it was nevertheless an engaging session and simply amazing to be in the same room as Luke Skywalker for a short period of time.

 

#3. The Mobbing of Ruben Blades

The title sounds dramatic, but it really happened. At the premiere screening of the solid documentary RUBEN BLADES IS NOT MY NAME, director Abner Benaim was overshadowed at the premiere of his documentary than none other than Latin legend Blades, who appeared for a Q&A session after the screening of Benaim’s documentary. After the screening, nearly the entire audience descended on Blades to take photos, get autographs and Mr. Blades was nearly overwhelmed by the reaction. For many in the audience this was a moment to interact with a political figure from back home. Me? I was wishing I had my Blu Ray of PREDATOR 2 for him to sign.

Alamo Drafthouse file photo
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar – Our favorite SxSW venue!

 

Daniel’s Top 3 Moments of SxSW

 

#1. The glowing reaction to EIGHTH GRADE

Elsie Fisher’s standing ovation at the second screening of EIGHTH GRADE was well deserved, and even further proved the success that could be ahead of her!

 

#2. The Q&A session for SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

The debate about the meaning of the Orgy Scene in SORRY TO BOTHER YOU between Boots Riley and an offended audience member might have been one of the most memorable Q&A moments I’ve witnessed in my entire life. This moment also very well showed that this film is going to sincerely divide audiences.

 

#3. Every single movie at Alamo Drafthouse!

We wish this chain would expand to Canada after the amount our team enjoyed seeing movies here. It’s anti-talking policies, wonderfully weird pre show and mouthwatering chocolate chip cookie shakes made for a brilliant festival and cinematic experience.

A24 Films
Elsie Fisher & Josh Hamilton in EIGHTH GRADE

 

Kielan’s Top 3 Moments of SxSW

 

#1. The reaction to EIGHTH GRADE at the premiere screening:

 

I’m going to have to go back to EIGHTH GRADE for the top two moments of SxSW, because not only was it great, but great moments happened around it. My top moment of the festival was seeing Elsie Fisher receive a standing ovation from the premiere screening at the Zach Theatre. Elsie is in ninth grade as we speak, and she received a standing ovation from a crowd of press and movie fans and she was almost moved to tears on stage. It was a really magical moment to watch. I can tell she is going to have a very promising future ahead of her, and seeing that reaction is nothing but proof. It was a great experience just to be there observing it happen.

 

#2. Meeting Bo Burnham after the EIGHTH GRADE screening:

 

Again, Eighth Grade will take this moment, but this was more personal to me. I got to meet Bo Burnham after the screening, as he was walking out. I went up to him and thanked him for making Eighth Grade, and told him how personal and touching it was. It was a short interaction, but he asked what my name was, thanked me for coming to the movie, and for my words, and shook my hand. It was a lovely interaction, and Bo seems like a genuinely kind and humble person, the very opposite of his stage persona. His being my favourite stand-up comedian aside, being able to meet him and thank him for the movie was an experience I doubt I’ll forget.



#3. Q&A session after the SORRY TO BOTHER YOU premiere screening:

 

Finally, there was a moment during the screening of SORRY TO BOTHER YOU which i greatly enjoyed. A woman sitting directly in front of me asked director Boots Riley why he decided to include a sexually graphic scene, and accused him of appealing to the “male gaze”. Having seen the film I can assure you that this was not the meaning of the scene, and as Riley tried to explain the reasoning behind it, she continued to bombard him with reasons why he was wrong, going so far as to explain to him what the film was about. The moderator and even Armie Hammer attempted to step in to ease the tensions, but nothing would stop the woman until she stormed out of the auditorium in a huff. This prompted Hammer’s exclamation of “This is going really well so far” to the audience!

JW Media

Ben’s Favorite Moments of SxSW 2018

 

#1. Cookie Milkshakes at The Alamo Drafthouse

For this kind of experience in Canada, you would need to be over 19 to access the VIP auditoriums. At the Alamo Drafthouse during SxSW, however, you are treated to a luxurious experience with a kind and friendly staff waiting to meet your every need. One of their most acclaimed specialty drinks, the chocolate chip cookie milkshake, made the glorious experience even more euphoric. My physical well-being may not have agreed with me having one of this beautiful beverage nearly every day of the festival, but my mental well-being sure did!

#2. Experiencing Some Soon to Be Horror Classics in Theatres

The Midnighters programme this year was just as delightful as I hoped it would be. The well-balanced mix of genre-defining, blood-curdling horror and ambitious action-thriller filmmaking (UPGRADE, I’m looking at you right now) made for an adrenaline rush of a closer to each day. I am still disappointed I didn’t get the chance to see them all, but it seems that every year the programme ups the ante in terms of the spook-filled delights they choose for the audience.

#3. Being Welcomed by The Wonderful SxSW Film Fans

This being my first time at a film festival outside of my hometown of Toronto, I was very anxious to see how things would turn out. After the first few days, I started having conversations with strangers in line-ups that shared nothing in common with me aside from one thing, that we all love movies. The people of Austin welcomed me quickly to their wonderful community of cinephiles and it felt just as intimate and friendly as it did at home. So thank you, Austin, for making one of the best weeks of my entire life. Hope to see you again next year!

 

The Get Reel Movies team wishes to thank the entire SxSW staff, publicity team and as well as all of individual publicists, filmmakers and film fans who greatly assisted all of us with coverage of this annual event in Austin, Texas.

For more information on SxSW 2018 and for future festivals point your browser to www.sxsw.com/film! GRM will be featuring more interviews and news from SxSW throughout the year as many of these films and more will be released upon cinemas.

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