SXSW 2019 Film Festival and Awards Recap

SXSW 2019 Film Festival and Awards Recap

The festival continues to premiere anticipated films and recognize up-and-coming creatives.

The festival continues to premiere anticipated films and recognize up-and-coming creatives.

Text: Emma Li

The annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals has been in full session, with yesterday’s 2019 Film Award ceremony celebrating the talent and creatives that participated in this year’s program.

The ceremony took place at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas and is an official qualifying festival for the Academy Awards Short Film competition as well as a BAFTA-recognized festival for the EE British Academy Film Awards.

Yesterday’s winners included “Alice”, Josephine Mackerras’ drama that was awarded as the Grand Jury Winner of the Narrative Feature Competition. “Alice” is Mackerras’ debut feature that explores the demise of a couple's marriage. The film also won the CherryPicks Female First Award, which is awarded to a first-time female director, and named after the review aggregator site and platform for female film critics. Teams at both CherryPicks and SXSW selected the winning film, which was required to have least one female producer who had been involved in the production.

“For Sama” directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts was presented the Grand Jury Award for the Documentary Feature Competition. The film is an impactful documentation of al-Kateab’s personal five-year journey during Syria's civil war, which traveled through Aleppo when al-Kateab was a student. Four years later, al-Kateab became one of the last survivors who escaped the city.

Every night, the SXSW Film Festival also premieres work by established and emerging filmmakers. After making waves in 2017 with "Get Out", Jordan Peele has become known for his socially conscious horror films. The festival’s opening night film was Peele’s highly anticipated “Us” starring Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke. At the premiere, Peele framed the film through its construction and design. The result was a home-invasion thriller that chills even viewers who are familiar with Peele's methodology.

Other world premiere headliners include “The Beach Bum” directed by Harmony Korine, who also lensed the similarly neon-tinted "Spring Breakers". Matthew McConaughey plays Moondog, a rebellious rogue who plays by his own rules. Co-stars in the film include Snoop Dogg, Zac Efron, and Isla Fisher.

“Booksmart”, an unfiltered comedy about high school friendships, captures the coming of age story for a new generation. Two overachieving high school seniors are determined to live out four years of overdue fun in one night on the eve of their graduation. Director Olivia Wilde tells the film from an original, fresh, and modern perspective that encapsulates the spirit of our time.

The closing night film on March 16 will be “Pet Sematary”, which is based on Stephen King’s horror novel by the same name. The movie follows Louis Creed, a doctor from Chicago who moves with his family to rural Maine and discovers a mysterious burial ground near their new home. At times, this 2019 remake purposefully deviates from the original storyline, which is sure to make followers of King's canon turn in their graves.

For those who have missed out on an opportunity to attend this year’s SXSW, Platinum badges for SXSW 2020's Interactive, Film, and Music festivals are on sale for a limited time until March 31st.

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