The 2018 South by Southwest (aka SXSW) Film Festival closed March 20 with Chris Morris’ black comedy Four Lions. The bustling but famously laid-back film festival, which is held annually in Austin, Texas, attracts in excess of 50,000 attendees eager to catch some of the 260+ films screened over ten days.
Kick-Ass and MacGruber Generate Buzz at SXSW
The festival opened for the seventeenth time on March 12 with Kick-Ass. Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake), the film is an adaption of Mark Millar’s comic series and stars Aaron Johnson as the would-be action hero.
Premiering three days later, MacGruber succeeded in grabbing some of the attention that had surrounded Kick-Ass throughout the weekend. Based on a Saturday Night Live skit, MacGruber is also an action hero story, of sorts.
After living in seclusion for years following the murder of his wife, MacGruber (Will Forte) is persuaded to help the military recover a Russian nuclear warhead stolen by his sworn enemy Dieter Von ****h (Val Kilmer). The movie also stars Kristen Wiig and Ryan Phillipe as members of MacGruber’s crack team.
Some of the other big-ticket movies screened during film festival the included Steven Soderbergh’s biopic of writer/actor Spalding Gray, And Everything is Going Fine, and Aaron Schneider’s Get Low – already being spoken about in the same sentence as the 2011 Oscars – starring Robert Duvall and Bill Murray.
Also on this year’s SXSW line-up were a handful of movies that did well at other film festivals. Riding high from Sundance in January was Grand Jury Prize-winner Winter’s Bone and The Runaways, a coming-of-age biopic about the 1970s girl band of the same name.
SXSW 2018 Award Winners
None of the movies above, while big audience pleasers, garnered enough attention from the judges to win any of the film festival’s top awards. In the Narrative Feature category, director Lena Dunham won for Tiny Furniture (she also won the SXSW Chicken & Egg Emergent Narrative Woman Director award).
Special Jury Awards went to Myth of the American Sleepover for Best Ensemble and Brian Hasenfus in Phillip the Fossil for Best Individual Performance. Jeff Malmberg won the Best Documentary Feature award for Marwencol.
South by Southwest also hands out several awards for films made locally in Texas. These include the Texas Shorts award, which this year went to the five-minute Petting Sharks by Craig Elrod. One of the jury members for Texas Shorts was Chris Holland, Austin resident and author of the book Film Festival Secrets, who spoke to us last year about how to get the most out of a film festival.
SXSW Film Festival History
First launched in 1994, the SXSW Film Festival is the third arm of the massive SXSW event that takes over Austin each March. Running alongside the movie screenings are the SXSW Music and Media Conference, which showcases nearly 2,000 musical acts on over 80 stages, and the SXSW Interactive Festival, which brings together web developers, designers, bloggers and gamers.