May 15, 2020

#154 Revisited: SXSW

SXSW was one of the first major events to be cancelled as the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping across the nation.  It was a shocking announcement that kicked off weeks of self-isolating that is still going on….at least in my household.

A bright side of the COVID crisis is that SXSW decided to partner with Amazon to present several of its film festival applicants for free public viewing.  So, technically, I was able to attend SXSW this year as well.  

Not only did I watch the following movies, I also perused their YouTube playlist that showcased several of their musical artists.  

One of the major downsides to the festival is the crushing, terrible, inches-not-miles per hour traffic that suffocates downtown Austin, so virtual attendance for the win!

Narrative Shorts
A Period Piece - Geetha, a control and order loving Indian-American woman, finally has sex with Vehd one afternoon but things quickly turn messy when period blood stains her pristine couch and a fight erupts mid-coitus. [Why are you having period sex on a light-colored couch with just a hand towel?]

Basic - Basic is a very, very, very short film about a dum lil’ ho doing lil’ ho things. It’s a darkish comedy exploring the insecure lil’ ho in all of us. [I followed the director on IG because of this film.]

Father of the Bride - The best man attempts to keep face and deliver his speech at his brother’s wedding, following an advance in the hotel bathroom by the father of the bride. [Not so much an advance, as an assault]

Waffle - Kerry is at a sleepover with the socially awkward, mysteriously orphaned heiress Katie. Friendship--in a society that grows ever isolating--is explored as Kerry learns the hard way that Katie always gets what she wants. [Loved this!]

Documentary Shorts
Affurmative Action - An exploration of workplace diversity through “meet the team” pages. [More dogs than people of color, funny in a really disheartening way.]

Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business - At 93, there’s no stopping when it comes to the legendary artist Betye Saar. [She's bad ass]

Hiplet: Because We Can - Created with the intention to inspire young Black women, this film brings the Hiplet [hip-lay] ballerinas to center stage. With elements of a Short Film, Music Video, and Documentary, this artistic work showcases not only the talent of the Hiplet ballerinas, it also gives them a platform to discuss the challenges they have faced with giving traditional ballet a hip new twist. [Loved!]

Mizuko - In Japan, there is a special way to grieve after having an abortion. [This seems to be true for any lost pregnancy, not just abortion, and it's really quite beautiful.]  This Buddhist ritual, called the water children memorial, allows people to metaphorically return their lost children to the sea. Told through the Japanese American filmmaker’s personal story of abortion in the US, Mizuko (Water Child) is partially animated, intimate reckoning with the impact of this cultural context.

Quilt Fever - Every year, nearly 30,000 quilters descend upon Paducah, Kentucky for its huge quilt competition, doubling the town’s population. “The Academy Awards of Quilting” is a weeklong spectacle in which quilters from all over the world convene. Beyond the competition, the film weaves through stories of individual quilters to reveal deeper motivations behind the art. [Lots of old white ladies, but charming nonetheless]

Motherland: Fort Salem - Set in an alternate American where witches ended their persecution by cutting a deal with the government to fight for the country, Motherland: Fort Salem follow three young women from training to deployment, as they fight terrorist threats with supernatural tactics. [You can watch this on Freeform/next day Hulu]

Tales from the Loop - Inspired by the wondrous paintings of Simon Stalenhag, Tales from the Loop explores the mind-bending adventures of the people who live above the Loop, a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe - making things previously relegated to science fiction, possible. [Entire series in included in Amazon Prime]

Narrative Features:
Cat in the Wall - This heart-warmng tale [not acutally heart-warming] presents a pivotal moment for Britain; the housing crisis, gentrifications, Brexit and a Bulgarian migrant family fighting their incresingly xenophobic working-class neighbours in a London council estate. An apparently owner-less cat which has had enough of the heated atmosphere, barricades itself “in the wall”, requiring the residents to collaborate.

Documentary Features:
My Darling Vivian - The story of Vivian Liberto, Johnny Cash’s first wife and the mother of his four daughters. Features never-before-seen footage and photographs. [His daughters have some stuff to say about the "great love story" of Johnny and June and they way their mother was perceived.]