Garnering comparisons to both Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and Lena Dunham’s Girls, the debut feature from Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers has polarised opinions, with The Hollywood Reporter praising its light touch and Variety unsure about “ever escalating levels of annoyance that never quite cohere into satire”. Following a mini-road trip taken by two twenty-something Brooklynites (played by Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty), the film was a hit with the SXSW jury, winning the festival’s narrative feature grand jury prize. In one interview, discussing a scene where the pair abandon some kittens on a beach, McNulty said: "When I read the script, one of my first reactions was, 'How would they forget about the kittens?'"
The Dance of Reality
It’s turning out to be a busy year for Alejandro Jodorowsky. The Chilean filmmaker – whose proposed 1974 adaptation of the science-fiction novel Dune has been called “the greatest movie never made” – is the subject of a documentary that screened at the Sundance Film Festival; meanwhile, his first movie in over two decades has been the talk of SXSW. Shot in Tocopilla, a coastal town on the edge of the Chilean desert where Jodorowsky grew up, The Dance of Reality (pictured above) is a surreal autobiography featuring a mother who sings operatically instead of speaking and a chorus of amputees.
What we do in the Shadows
This new take on vampires borrows more from Shaun of the Dead than Twilight and breathes new life into the mockumentary format – a genre which might be as tired as a long-undead creature of the night. Written and directed by Kiwi pair Taikia Waititi (Eagle vs Shark) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), it shows a documentary crew filming four bloodsucking roommates as they bicker over household chores and prepare for the annual Unholy Masquerade. A slow shuffle away from the zombie comedy.
The Great Invisible
Winner of the SXSW documentary feature award, Margaret Brown’s documentary examines the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, which killed 11 workers and resulted in the worst oil spill in US history. With a recurring map graphic charting the impact of the 176 million gallons that leaked into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days, it also traces the emotional devastation wrought on survivors, family members left behind and the volunteers who helped them.
A hit at Sundance, Frank is an apt choice at SXSW: the music festival features in the film. Following cult British comedy character Frank Sidebottom’s forays into pop music, it’s not afraid to put Michael Fassbender in a giant papier-mâché head and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a bowl haircut. Journalist Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare At Goats) – who was a member of Sidebottom’s band – co-wrote the script, which displays his trademark eccentricity.