SXSW Film Awards

The South by Southwest Festival was one of the first major film and tech festivals to be hit hard by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the city of Austin canceling the event entirely out of abundance of caution. But the cancelation, which came merely a week before the Austin festival was set to run from March 13 through 22, left filmmakers scrambling for a place to showcase their films. Independent filmmakers, and especially short film filmmakers, were even more at a loss without access to resources that would allow them wider distribution. But a local drive-in theater in Austin has stepped in to rescue the short films from their fate.

Read More »

SXSW 2020 award winners

Amid growing concerns about the coronavirus, the city of Austin, Texas ended up cancelling this year’s SXSW Film Festival. But the event wasn’t a complete loss. Many films were sent out to reviewers virtually, so even though the surge of coverage was nowhere near what it would have been under normal circumstances, you’ve probably seen sites like /Film posting reviews of the movies we managed to cover from afar.

And even though the festival couldn’t happen in person, juries still gathered remotely to bestow awards on some of the movies that were accepted into this year’s competition. Check out the full list of winners below. Read More »

Once Upon a Time in Uganda Review

In Hollywood, independent cinema is mostly made up of auteur filmmakers, producers, financiers, and up-and-coming talent who want to take a chance on a movie becoming a surprise hit or sparking a career that will bring them into the big leagues of Tinseltown. But in Wakaliwood, a makeshift production studio in Uganda, independent cinema is purely a passion driven by determined filmmaker Isaac Nabwana (or Nabwana I.G.G.), who continually rounds up volunteer actors, homemade props, crudely constructed camera equipment, and self-made computers, all so he can make blockbuster action movies.

Once Upon a Time in Uganda (formerly known as Lights, Camera, Uganda) is a new documentary that follows American actor and festival programmer Alan Hofmanis as he abandons his life in New York City to help the man known as “Africa’s Tarantino” get on Hollywood’s radar with his unique, bombastic brand of action comedy movies made possible by a passionate community in the slums of Uganda. Read More »

For Madmen Only Review

You may not know the name Del Close, but you are undoubtedly familiar with the comedians he taught. Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Dratch, Mike Myers, Gilda Radner, Bob Odenkirk, Amy Sedaris, Chris Farley and many more all received improvisational comedy training from Del Close, but in a rather unconventional way.

For Madmen Only is a new documentary that chronicles the life of Del Close as he goes through the process of creating a DC Comics title called Wasteland, a horror anthology series that took cues from Close’s life, but exaggerated them into gnarly, surreal tales of terror. But perhaps more importantly, it follows his never-ending ambition to turn long-form improv into an art form that was not only accessible to audiences, but could also be taught to generations of comedians. Oh, and you should probably know that Del Close is absolutely insane, and everyone who knew him confirms that here. Read More »

Critical Thinking Review

There are plenty of movies where inner-city kids with troubled lives get inspired by their teachers. But you’ve never seen one like Critical Thinking, which takes that formula and puts a different kind of intellectual twist on it by focusing on a group of Black and Latinx kids in 1998 who were determined to become national chess champions. In the face of underwhelming support by school administrators, troubled family dynamics, and a world that never gives them the opportunities they deserve, these kids were driven to be better than the criminals or underachievers everyone expected them to be. And it’s all thanks to a teacher who never gave up on them. Read More »

We Don't Deserve Dogs Review

(The SXSW Film Festival may have been cancelled, but our coverage will go on with reviews of films and TV shows made available to our critics.)

Dogs have already been given the designation of man’s best friend, and while that seems a little unfair to cat-lovers out there, it’s hard to argue with the idea that dogs are generally more loyal and loving than their feline counterparts. If you don’t believe that now, you might after you see Matthew Salleh‘s new documentary We Don’t Deserve Dogs.

The title cashes in on the popularity of the phrase that is constantly used on the internet whenever people’s dogs do wonderful, touching and lovely things for their humans, implying that dogs are too good to us. In reality, the film makes a strong case for why humans not only deserve dogs, but in many cases, desperately need their affection, loyalty and companionship to get through the hardships of life, recover from trauma, make a living, or just enjoy life to its full potential. It’s a compassionate chronicle of dogs from all around the world, but it’s also a portrait of their humans who have been through the wringer, and it will make you shed enough tears to fill your dog’s water bowl. Read More »

Insert Coin Review

(The SXSW Film Festival may have been cancelled, but our coverage will go on with reviews of films and TV shows made available to our critics.)

Today, most video games are played from the comfort of our own homes. But there was a time when adults, teens, and kids flocked to arcades to play the latest video games. The late 1970s and early 1980s is considered the golden age of arcade games, but it all came crashing down suddenly and hard in the late 1980s. However, there was a renaissance of coin-operated gaming in the 1990s, even in the face of Nintendo and SEGA bringing more and more advanced video games into the home. At the heart of this resurgence was Midway Games, a group of tech-savvy geeks who would create some of the most influential and popular video games of all time.

The new documentary Insert Coin, which was meant to play the SXSW film festival, tells their story, and it’s an excellent look back at this exciting period in gaming history. Read More »

Drunk Bus Review

(The SXSW Film Festival may have been cancelled, but our coverage will go on with reviews of films and TV shows made available to our critics.)

John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke’s Drunk Bus is an anti-road-trip comedy with plenty of mileage. Where Seann William Scott and DJ Qualls once learned salacious lessons while crossing state borders, this is a story about retracing the same college-town loop day after month after year. Steering the wheel but electing to venture nowhere. Yes, metaphors run heavy in this public transit dramedy about dulling innermost pains with “safe” routines – but that doesn’t make (supposed) “real 2006 shit” any less resonant. Annoying dispatch operators, bean burrito firing squads and all.

Read More »

She Dies Tomorrow Review

(The SXSW Film Festival may have been cancelled, but our coverage will go on with reviews of films and TV shows made available to our critics.)

When writer and director Amy Seimetz conceptualized She Dies Tomorrow, I doubt anyone channeled Coronavirus premonitions – and yet, current events prevail. Life imitating art, art imitating life as the prophecies foretell. Her unconventional outbreak thriller absorbs urgency amidst 2020’s ongoing worldwide pandemic, spotlighting an all-too-relevant viral subplot. No, don’t expect some indie rehash of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion. Instead, bear the weight of humanity’s numbing disease as Seimetz challenges our mortal value by weaponizing its historical antithesis: death. Freeing, paralyzing, and most of all, inescapable.

Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

SXSW Film Awards

SXSW may be canceled due to coronavirus fears, but some vestige of the fest will live on this year in the form of the film awards. The SXSW Film Festival will be handing out awards to films set to premiere at the fest. While this might seem a little odd, it’s also bound to be helpful to filmmakers who have been broadsided by the cancelation. All films will still be eligible for the Independent Spirit Awards, and the shorts will be eligible for Academy Awards nominations.

Read More »