11 films you can’t miss at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas

Kicking off in Austin tomorrow, this year’s SXSW has one of their most eclectic line-ups ever, full of hidden treasures through the entire line-up. Trying to cut it down to just ten picks of the event proved impossible, so here are our 11 picks of the films you can’t miss at South by Southwest 2017:

Becoming Bond (USA)

A unique documentary/narrative hybrid chronicling the stranger-than-fiction true story of George Lazenby, a poor Australian car mechanic who, through an unbelievable set of circumstances, landed the role of James Bond in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969), despite having never acted a day in his life. Then after being offered the next six Bond films and a $1 million signing bonus, he turned it all down…

Head HERE for screening times.

Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live… and More (USA)

A celebration of the musical legacy of Memphis’ best-known secret – Big Star – and their legendary THIRD album. Performed by a collective featuring members of Big Star, the dB’s, Let’s Active, the Old Ceremony, the Posies, R.E.M., Semisonic, Wilco, and Yo La Tengo with Kronos Quartet, Skylar Gudasz, Brett Harris, Robyn Hitchcock, Jessica Pratt, Luther Russell and others. Following the untimely death of Alex Chilton two days ahead of Big Star’s SXSW performance in 2010, famous friends and fans came from far and wide to play the gig in his honor. Much of that spontaneous ensemble, along with other musical titans, return to SXSW in this triumphant film.

Head HERE for screening times.

Hounds of Love (Australia)

In suburban Perth during the mid 1980s, people are unaware that women are disappearing at the hands of serial killers John and Evelyn White. After an innocent lapse in judgment, Vicki Maloney is randomly abducted by the disturbed couple. With her murder imminent, Vicki realizes she must find a way to drive a wedge between Evelyn and John if she is to survive. Hounds of Love is an exercise in expertly-crafted tension, offering a bold, challenging debut from writer/director Ben Young.

Head HERE for screening times.

Muppet Guys Talking – Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched (USA)

For the first time ever, five of the original Muppet performers come together to discuss the creation of their iconic characters under the visionary leadership of Jim Henson. With unexpected stories, rare behind-the-scenes footage, and important insights into how Jim led his team, this documentary gives a private glimpse into the true spirit of the Muppets and how a culture of innovation, hard work, and playfulness produced one of the most successful creative endeavors in history.

Head HERE for screening times.

Inheritance (USA)

When Mara returns to her childhood home of Belize for her father’s 70th birthday, she brings her lover Aaron and hopes to reconnect with her estranged father and brother who live there. After landing, she learns the tragic news that her father has just died. Mara is upset but lies about calling her brother Ben to tell him. Furious, Ben barges in on Aaron and Mara at the father’s house the next day. Tensions build between all three; Mara runs off for a tryst with Aaron, and Ben overdoses on their father’s medications, forcing Mara to care for him. At the wake, an all-night affair, Mara gets drunk and reveals secrets about the father, changing forever the relationships of those closest to him.

Head HERE for screening times.

Baby Driver (USA)

In one of the festival’s most anticipated and star-studded world premieres, a talented, young getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. When he meets the girl of his dreams (Lily James), Baby sees a chance to ditch his criminal life and make a clean getaway. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey), he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom.

Head HERE for screening times.

Walk With Me (UK)

With unprecedented access, “Walk With Me” goes deep inside a Zen Buddhist community who practice the art of mindfulness with their world-famous teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. Filmed over three years in their monastery in rural France and on the road in the USA, this visceral film is a meditation on a community grappling with existential questions and the everyday routine of monastic life. As the seasons come and go, the monastics’ pursuit for a deeper connection to themselves and the world around them is amplified by insights from Thich Nhat Hanh’s early journals, narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Head HERE for screening times.

Bill Frisell, A Portrait (Australia)

A character portrait of anti-archetype guitar hero, Bill Frisell, this nuanced film traces the ideas and processes that shaped Frisell’s music, and provides rare insight into the mind and personality of one of the significant musicians of recent decades. Full of live music, revealing stories, and intimate access to the normally reclusive Frisell, various collaborations are followed from development to fruition, including the last ever performance of the Paul Motian Trio with Frisell and Joe Lovano. Also featuring Bonnie Raitt, Hal Willner, Paul Simon, Joey Baron, Jim Hall, Jason Moran, Nels Cline, Mike Gibbs, John Zorn, Jack DeJohnette, John Abercrombie, Kenny Wollesen and Tony Scherr.

Head HERE for screening times.

Song to Song (USA)

In this modern love story set against the Austin, Texas music scene, two entangled couples — struggling songwriters Faye and BV, and music mogul Cook and the waitress whom he ensnares — chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal. This film opens the event tomorrow night and stars Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett. Terrence Malick directs.

Head HERE for screening times.

The Disaster Artist (USA)

This is a true story about the making of “The Room” – the cult classic described as the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” “The Disaster Artist,” directed by and starring James Franco, is a buddy comedy about two outsiders chasing a dream. When the world rejects them, they decide to make their own movie – and it’s a movie so wonderfully awful due to its unintentional hilarious moments, meandering plots and terrible acting. (This screening is a “Work-in-Progress”)

Head HERE for screening times.

The Most Hated Woman in America (USA)

A true-crime biopic about the disappearance of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, founder of the “American Atheists” and pioneering firebrand in the political culture war, The Most Hated Woman in America captures the rise and fall of a complex character who was a controversial villain to some and an unlikely hero to others.

The film stars Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, Josh Lucas, Adam Scott, Vincent Kartheiser and Juno Temple, and was directed by Tommy O’Haver from a script by O’Haver and Irene Turner. Elizabeth Banks, Max Handelman and Laura Rister produced for Netflix. The film launches worldwide on Netflix on March 24th, following its world premiere at SXSW.

Head HERE for screening times.

SXSW runs from tomorrow, March 10th through the 19th in Austin, Texas. Head to sxsw.com/film for more details about the festival.


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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

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