A look at the Australian & New Zealand films set to premiere at SXSW Film Festival 2017

The SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas has fast become one of the world’s most anticipated and influential events, with film projects big and small making their debut here. Among them in 2017 – at least from the program announced yesterday, will be three Australian films, one from New Zealand, and an American film about an  Australia’s most unassuming cinema icons.

First up, as part of the Documentary Features Competition, and comprising of one of ten world premieres (selected from 973 submissions) is Emma Franz’s Bill Frisell, A Portrait.

Bill Frisell at home in the film, Bill Frisell, A Portrait | Credit: Emma Franz

The film is “an intimate, behind-the-music portrait of one of the most unassuming yet influential creative artists of our time, guitarist Bill Frisell. Frisell said of the film, “It’s like the inside of my brain!”.”

Under “Narrative Spotlight” are a group of high profile narrative features receiving their World, North American or U.S. premieres at SXSW. Making its North American premiere will be one such Australian film, Hounds of Love, from Director and Screenwriter Ben Young.

The film stars Ashleigh Cummings, Emma Booth, Stephen Curry, Susie Porter, Damian de Montemas, Harrison Gilbertson and Fletcher Humphrys. And here’s what it’s all about: “In the mid 1980’s seventeen-year-old Vicki Maloney is randomly abducted from a suburban street by a disturbed couple. As she observes the dynamic between her captors she quickly realizes she must drive a wedge between them if she is to survive”.

Making its world premiere in the Documentary Spotlight program is Barbecue, from director Matthew Salleh. Here’s its synopsis: “Barbecue is about more than grilling a piece of meat. It’s a ritual performed religiously across the world. For some it’s a path to salvation. It is the pride of nations. And the stories told around the fires become a way to bring the world together.”

Also in the Documentary Spotlight program is the sole New Zealand entry into the SXSW Film Festival, Annie Goldson’s Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web, which tells “the story of the most wanted man online”. The film will be enjoying its North American premiere at the event.

And finally, we have a film which is no either Australian nor is it from New Zealand, but it will hold great interest to our Australian audience. As part of the VISIONS program, Josh Greenbaum’s Becoming Bond tells 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 despite having never acted a day in his life.” He also never played the role again, turning down an offer to continue in the Bond series.

Aussie actor Josh Lawson plays Lazenby, while Aussie actress Kassandra Clementi will play Belinda. Jeff Garlin, Jake Johnson (New Girl) and Jane Seymour also star in the film.

SXSW Film Festival takes place in Austin, Texas from March 10th through to the 19th. For tickets and more details about the event, head to sxsw.com/film.


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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

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