Film - SXSW Film Festival

The SXSW Film Festival wrapped up for another year at the weekend by announcing the Audience Award Winners and the Virtual Cinema Jury Award Winners. Here's the full list...

Over the course of nine days, the 2019 SXSW Film Festival screened 133 features, consisting of 102 World Premieres, 9 North American Premieres, and 3 US Premieres, with 62 first-time filmmakers. 101 shorts and music videos will screen as part of 12 curated shorts programs, plus two episodic pilot programs. The 256 films were selected from 8,496 overall submissions, including approximately 2,361 features and 4,734 shorts.

2019 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award Winners:


Audience Award Winner: Saint Frances, Director: Alex Thompson

At the start of the summer, Bridget has an abortion just as she lands a much-needed job in an affluent Chicago suburb - nannying a six-year old. With no time to recover, she clashes with the obstinate Frances and struggles to navigate a growing tension between Frances’ moms. As her personal relationships suffer, a reluctant friendship with Frances emerges, and Bridget contends with the inevitable joys and shit-shows of becoming a part of someone else’s family.


Audience Award Winner: For Sama, Directors: Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts

Tells the astonishing story of a 26-year old female Syrian filmmaker, Waad al-Kateab, who filmed her life in rebel-held Aleppo through 5 years of the Syrian uprising.

She fell in love, got married and had a daughter all whilst filming the violence raging around her and in particular documenting the challenges the conflict imposed on women and children. Along with a close group of friends, she stayed in the city to fight for her dream of a free Syria.


Audience Award Winner: The Peanut Butter Falcon, Directors: Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz

An adventure story set in the world of a modern Mark Twain that begins when Zak, a young man with Down syndrome runs away from a nursing home where he lives to chase his dream of becoming a professional wrestler and attending the wrestling school of The Salt Water Redneck. Through circumstances beyond their control Tyler, a small time outlaw on the run becomes Zak’s unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor, a kind nursing home employee with a story of her own to join them on their journey.


Audience Award Winner: Running With Beto, Director: David Modigliani

This behind-the-scenes documentary follows Beto O'Rourke's rise from virtual unknown to national political sensation through his bold attempt to unseat Ted Cruz in the US Senate. Embedded with Beto for the final twelve months of his campaign, the film follows his journey in real time through intimate access to Beto, his family, and a team of political newcomers who champion a new way of getting to know a candidate — one Texas county at a time. The film reveals the challenges and triumphs of an unconventional campaign as Beto navigates an onslaught of negative advertising, inevitable strain on his family, and the pressure of delivering for legions of supporters. This film is creatively and financially independent from Beto O’Rourke and his campaign.


Audience Award Winner: The Garden Left Behind, Director: Flavio Alves

The Garden Left Behind traces the relationship between Tina, a young Trans woman, and Eliana, her grandmother, as they navigate Tina's transition and struggle to build a life for themselves as undocumented immigrants in New York City.


Audience Award Winner: Boyz In The Wood, Director: Ninian Doff

Set deep in the Scottish Highlands, Boyz In The Wood is an anarchic cocktail of generational politics, hip-hop loving farmers, and hallucinogenic rabbit shites.


Audience Award Winner: Ramy, Showrunner: Bridget Bedard

Ramy Hassan is a first generation Egyptian-American who is on a spiritual journey in his politically-divided New Jersey neighborhood. RAMY will bring a new perspective to the screen as it explores the challenges of what it’s like being caught between a Muslim community that thinks life is a moral test and a millennial generation that thinks life has no consequences.


Audience Award Winner: Cachada: The Opportunity, Director: Marlén Viñayo

Five Salvadoran women -poor, single mothers, street vendors- have decided to embark on an unlikely dream: they want to become theater actresses. After forming their own company, they accept the challenge of putting on a play through which they'll bring their cruel life stories to the stage. What began as an experiment has turned into the only opportunity to transform their lives, but will they be able to face their past and get over their fears, traumas and dark secrets?

Filmed over a year and a half, this observational documentary is witness to the process of creating their play, through which they'll discover themselves as victims and victimizers in a cycle of multigenerational violence.


Audience Award Winner: Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins, Director: Janice Engel

The story of Molly Ivins, the political columnist and Texas maverick that spoke truth to power and gave voice to those that had none. The first woman to co-edit The Texas Observer, she took on the good ol’ boys, cracking wise and drinking them under the table. At the height of her popularity 400 newspapers carried her column. She railed against “Big Bidness” in government, and often said, “Texas is the national laboratory for bad gub’ment.” Prescient words as the “Texification” of U.S. politics: anti-intellectualism, public religiosity and machismo is here. With her death in 2007, the nation lost a freedom fighter that charged us to continue to Raise Hell.

Virtual Cinema Jury Award Winners

The 25 projects in the Virtual Cinema, which ran Monday 3/11 through Wednesday 3/13, were eligible for 360° Video: Documentary, 360° Video: Narrative, Interactive, Storytelling, Best Use of Immersive Arts, plus special jury awards. The 2019 Virtual Cinema jury was composed of Eliza McNitt, Laura Mingail, and Lori Schwartz.

360° VIDEO: DOCUMENTARY – Send Me Home, Director: Cassandra Evanisko

Send Me Home is equally an unforgettable journey through the impact of Rickey Jackson’s wrongful incarceration, as it is an exceptionally inspiring experience.

360° VIDEO: NARRATIVE – Metro Veinte: Cita Ciega, Director: Maria Belen Poncio

This story transported us on a journey through laughter and tears. Metro Veinte: Cita Ciega is a touching story about being human. This experience exemplified the use of Virtual Reality in a way that transcended the medium and defined what 360° video is meant to capture. The boundaries of the headset slipped away as we were truly immersed in Juana's heartwarming and captivating world.

INTERACTIVE – Runnin’, Director: Kiira Benzing

This unity-based project driven by a Reggie Watts soundtrack is a euphoric dance experience that will take the user on a fun and playful journey of music and movement. With the ability to interact, physically, with music in a record store to transporting yourself across a geometric landscape with volumetric dancers is interactive joy at it’s best. The improvisational nature of ’transporting’ with controllers to go anywhere drives the excitement of this experience as well as the artistic rendering of Intel’s ‘voxel’ format.

STORYTELLING – Gloomy Eyes, Director: Jorge Tereso, Fernando Maldonado

In this experience we stepped off planet Earth and entered the realms of a world steeped in imagination and heart. Gloomy Eyes charmed us with its delightful characters and original story. This magical world pushed the boundaries of Virtual Reality storytelling in its ability to transport our hearts to a world beyond our own. With two more episodes on the horizon, it left us wanting to see more.

BEST USE OF IMMERSIVE ARTS – Home After War, Director: Gayatri Parameswaran

By combining room scale VR with 360° videos, this ‘4d' piece, which is focused on the devastating impact of improvised explosive devices in Iraq, allows us to truly ‘live' the devastation left upon families as they choose to go back home to a booby trapped house. By immersing the viewer in the environment, narrated and guided by a mourning parent who is physically there, talking to us, we become part of the story and are truly impacted by the devastation of war.

SPECIAL JURY RECOGNITION – The Future of Experience - Traverse, Director: Jessica Brillhart

Special recognition was given to Traverse for its breakthrough ability to augment any space into a live music experience, allowing fans to physically explore and be immersed in the composition of songs, igniting even greater appreciation for each track.

Images & info - SXSW apart from:

For Sama - Waad al-Kateab, Aleppo
The Peanut Butter Falcon - Nigel Bluck
Running with Beto - Charlie Gross
The Garden Left Behind - Koshi Kiyokawa
Boyz In The Wood - Patrick Meller
Ramy - Hulu
Raise Hell - Robert Beddell
Send Me Home - Lonelyleap Film
Runnin' - Candie Quach
Home After War - Felix Gaedtke

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