SXSW 2017: Documentary Overview

sxsw-filmThis Friday, March 10 sees the opening of this year’s edition of SXSW, Austin TX’s popular film/interactive/music event. The film festival component, which runs through Saturday, March 18, offers approx 125 features, including new and retrospective work. Among these are more than 50 documentary features, appearing in the event’s various sections, with highlights noted below:

on-the-road-f70911SXSW’s high-profile special presentations, Headliners, presents just one nonfiction entry, Michael Winterbottom’s ON THE ROAD (pictured), which follows UK band Wolf Alice on tour.



the-blood-is-at-the-doorstep-f69708Ten world premieres are part of the Documentary Feature Competition, among them: Nanfu Wang’s I AM ANOTHER YOU, in which the filmmaker accompanies a drifter across the country; Erik Ljung’s THE BLOOD IS AT THE DOORSTEP (pictured), a searing investigation into the Milwaukee police-related death of a schizophrenic African-American man; Mila Aung-Thwin and Van Royko’s LET THERE BE LIGHT, about an international collaborative attempt to create an artificial star; Erin Lee Carr’s MOMMY DEAD AND DEAREST, a true crime story about an unusual case of matricide; and Miao Wang’s MAINELAND, which looks at the lives of wealthy Chinese teenagers in a US boarding school.

the-untold-tales-of-armistead-maupin-f70840An additional baker’s dozen of nonfiction appears in the Documentary Spotlight, including: David Fairhead’s MISSION CONTROL: THE UNSUNG HEROES OF APOLLO, an insider’s look at NASA history; Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen’s SPETTACOLO, about a Tuscan village which annually stages a play about its past and present concerns; Jennifer M Kroot’s THE UNTOLD TALES OF ARMISTEAD MAUPIN (pictured), on the author of the popular TALES OF THE CITY series; David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg’s BILL NYE: SCIENCE GUY, which follows the popular science educator as he takes on anti-science forces; Frank Oz’s MUPPET GUYS TALKING: SECRETS BEHIND THE SHOW THE WHOLE WORLD WATCHED, a candid look back at the creators behind the cultural phenomenon; and Pat Kondelis’ DISGRACED, which explores an unprecedented case of murder in college athletics.

ramblin-freak-f71268Visions, the fest’s section for more exploratory fare, includes a number of docs and hybrids, such as: Parker Smith’s RAMBLIN’ FREAK (pictured), a road trip quest by the filmmaker and his cat; Josh Greenbaum’s BECOMING BOND, about the unlikely story behind George Lazenby’s single turn at portraying Agent 007; and Kristoffer Borgli’s DRIB, which reveals how a famed energy drink’s marketing campaign failed.


residente-f68851A selection of remaining docs include René Pérez Joglar’s RESIDENTE (pictured), which follows a Latin American musicians global travels, in the music-focused 24 Beats Per Second strand; Leandra Leal’s DIVINE DIVAS, a profile of aging Brazilian trans performers, in the fest’s internationally-minded Global section; Phil Keoghan’s LE RIDE, THE AMAZING RACE’s host’s recreation and retelling of an Australasian team’s 1928 attempt at the Tour de France, screening as a Special Event; while seven additional documentaries, most of them recent Sundance debuts, appear in Festival Favorites.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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