SXSW 2019: Documentary Overview

The 26th SXSW Film Festival

March 8-17

The popular Austin event includes approximately 60 new documentary features among its 140-odd feature and episodic presentations this year.


Once again, nonfiction is absent rom the high-profile Headliners section, putting the focus squarely on the Documentary Feature Competition for standout docs. Among the ten titles here are: Linda Goldstein Knowlton’s WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS, about an Oakland-based group of social justice-focused young girls of colors; Rodney Evans’ VISION PORTRAITS, a personal meditation on vision loss; Jenifer McShane’s ERNIE & JOE, which profiles two members of San Antonio’s police Mental Health Unit; Paul Solet’s TREAD, on a 2004 incident in Colorado involving a man with a bulldozer run amok; and Elizabeth Carroll’s NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY, about the nonagenarian British author, an expert in regional Mexican cuisine.


The bulk of the fest’s remaining nonfiction appears in the Documentary Spotlight, which includes: David Modigliani’s RUNNING WITH BETO, which follows Beto O’Rourke’s trailblazing campaign last year; Jesse James Miller’s I AM RICHARD PRYOR, on the legendary comedian; Julie Smith Clem and Ken Druckerman’s IT STARTED AS A JOKE, on the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival; Casey Pinkston and Luke Dick’s RED DOG, about Dick’s unconventional upbringing in an Oklahoma City strip club; Fernando Villena’s ANY ONE OF US, which follows a professional mountain biker is followed after a spinal cord injury; Adam Bolt’s HUMAN NATURE, which explores the potential implications of DNA discovery CRISPR; Uli Gaulke’s SUNSET OVER MULHOLLAND DRIVE, about the residents of the Motion Picture & Television Fund senior home; Erin Lee Carr’s I LOVE YOU, NOW DIE: THE COMMONWEALTH VS MICHELLE CARTER, on the infamous case involving a woman who urged her boyfriend via text to commit suicide; and Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s STATE OF PRIDE, which explores the enduring importance of LGBT pride celebrations.


SXSW’s music-focused strand, 24 Beats Per Second, is dominated by docs, and includes work like: Thom Zimny’s THE GIFT: THE JOURNEY OF JOHNNY CASH, about the iconic performer; Peter Michael Dowd’s MR JIMMY, about a Japanese Led Zeppelin fan who moonlights as Jimmy Page; Alfred George Bailey’s SHOW ME THE PICTURE: THE STORY OF JIM MARSHALL, about the acclaimed music photographer; Aaron Kunkel’s THE BOY BAND CON: THE LOU PEARLMAN STORY, on the infamous man behind the boy band phenomenon of the 1990s; and Scott Crawford’s BOY HOWDY! THE STORY OF CREEM MAGAZINE, about the influential, irreverent rock magazine.


Remaining nonfiction appears in Visions, with work like Sandy K Boone’s JR “BOB” DOBBS AND THE CHURCH OF THE SUBGENIUS, on the origins of the satiric religion; and Andrew Hevia’s LEAVE THE BUS THROUGH THE BROKEN WINDOW, a personal reflection of an American in Hong Kong; in Special Events, with a work-in-progress screening of Morgan Neville and Jeff Malmberg’s SHANGRI-LA, on music producer Rick Rubin; and Festival Favorites, which showcase recent docs from Sundance, Toronto, and True/False.

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

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