Ten Enticing Titles at SXSW 2013

Tony Vespe stars in Emily Hagins’ “Grow Up, Tony Phillips.” Courtesy of Cheesy Nuggets.

Tony Vespe stars in Emily Hagins’ “Grow Up, Tony Phillips.” Courtesy of Cheesy Nuggets.

With movie theaters currently overrun with would-be blockbusters painfully underserving of a full-price ticket, it’s a mighty consolation to see so many enticing titles emerge from festivals such as SXSW. Here are ten titles from this year’s lineup that I absolutely can’t wait to check out…


Carlos Puga’s tense family drama received the festival’s Special Jury Recognition accolade for its ensemble cast which includes Gaby Hoffmann and the wonderful Christopher Abbott (best known as Charlie on “Girls”).

Drinking Buddies

Critics aren’t the only ones finally hurling praise at Chicago’s brilliant microbudget filmmaker, Joe Swanberg. The A-list actors headlining his latest improvisational comedy have plenty of positive things to say about his stripped-down approach. Star Olivia Wilde dubbed it “the best experience I’ve ever had on film.”

Evil Dead

Culminating in what promises to be one of the bloodiest finales in film history, Fede Alvarez’s brutal remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult classic stretches the R-rating well past its breaking point. This might just amount to one big bile-spewing mess, but it can’t be as bad as “Cannibal Holocaust”…right?

Grow Up, Tony Phillips

The most accomplished and exuberant young filmmaker in America, Emily Hagins, directs her fourth feature about a Halloween-obsessed teen (the very funny Tony Vespe) resisting the urge to grow up. Hagins’ film will make its Chicago premiere at the first-ever Chicago Critics Film Festival, which runs from April 12-14 and features special guests including William Friedkin and Sarah Polley (for showtime/ticket info, click here).

I Am Divine

Jeffrey Schwartz’s acclaimed documentary explores the life of “Divine” (Harris Glenn Milstead), the drag icon who became the muse for trailblazing provocateur John Waters in films such as “Pink Flamingos” and “Hairspray.”

Much Ado About Nothing

Joss Whedon follows up last year’s mega-moneymaker “The Avengers” with a modernized version of Shakespeare’s oft-adapted comedy. Talk about a change of pace. Hopefully shawarma will make a cameo appearance.

Short Term 12

Brie Larson is a captivating talent. She stole every one of her scenes on Diablo Cody’s sitcom, “The United States of Tara,” and now stars in Destin Cretton’s foster care drama that snagged the Grand Jury prize for narrative features at SXSW. The cast also includes the ever-underutilized Melora Walters. Check out DP/30’s recent chat with Larson below…

Some Girl(s)

Neil LaBute penned the script for this dark dramedy about a writer (Adam Brody) who reconnects with his ex-lovers in the days leading up to his wedding. Zoe Kazan’s supporting turn has already earned raves.


Though I was not a fan of the original “V/H/S,” I am intrigued about the sequel. There are less chapters in this anthology, and most of them are apparently quite unnerving. Plus I love that the co-grandfather of the modern found footage genre, Eduardo Sánchez (“The Blair Witch Project”), is one of the directors.

William and the Windmill

I was first introduced to the extraordinary story of William Kamkwamba, a young Malawian who built a life-saving windmill from scratch, on an episode of the short-lived series, “Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention.” Now his life gets the feature length treatment in Ben Nabors’ nonfiction crowd-pleaser that won SXSW’s Grand Jury prize for documentaries.

For more info on the films that played at SXSW 2013, visit the official site.

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