?*; SXSW Films (2020) -Pt1

-Film festival in Austin, TX, cancelled …
-Amazon Prime Video showing selected works

With the 2020 cancellation of the SXSW Festival (aka “South by Southwest”), I partook of some selections they chose to stream through Amazon Prime Video, April 27 to May 6, free to Prime Members.

Prior experience in this field totaled one day of a North Carolina film festival. I think 1.25 days of film festivals is my new tally, with this SXSW “attendance” lacking all the ambiance and much of the content, but getting “partial credit.”

My take is that a film festival is like mining for riches. The mine is deep. The waste products are abundant. The nuggets that shine might make it worthwhile. If not, one has stories of mind-numbingness endured. My story concludes with money pocketed by never making the trip to Austin.

The Southwest is home to “Black Gold, Texas Tea.” I didn’t find much that was my cup of tea, but let us start with the gold.

“Selfie” – a contemporary classic (8 stars)

Algorithms, Technophobics, Dating App addicts, Vloggers, cloud security breach… each one of us can relate to the wired madness happening on screen. In five subversive and hilarious Black Mirror-like tales, Selfie takes on our digital shortcomings and shows how the new 2.0 era is driving all of us nuts!

I’m betting many viewers missed this one, and that’s a pity. Why was it shortchanged? Listings on the web incorrectly indicated this was a 9-minute short. That would keep some away.

I was intrigued. However, on just the second day of the Prime offerings, it was “no longer available.” The potential audience was evaporating, I’m sure.

I was still intrigued. A week later I found this film on Amazon, available for streaming, with a run time of 1hr 48 minutes! Ah, “9 minutes” referred to the first of the “five subversive” scenes in the above description, not the whole.

In their entirety, these tales weave together a pastiche of self-aggrandisement known all too well in the modern world of social media, dating apps, and other iterations of modern culture. This is fun, humorous, and extremely well-acted entertainment. I recommend it to all, with a guarantee you will ‘LOL’ and ‘Like’ “Selfie.”

Quilt Fever” – fun Americana (7 stars)

Every year, thousands of quilters descend upon Paducah, Kentucky for its annual quilt competition, doubling the town’s population. “The Academy Awards of quilting” is a weeklong spectacle in which quilters from all over the world vie for the coveted Best of Show.

A documentary is not everybody’s favorite, but I enjoy discovering that entire cultures exist in America of which I am totally unaware. Quilt-making is one such thing, celebrated annually in a special way. It’s sixteen minutes, people! I think it will tickle your heart and turn the edges of your mouth upward into a smile.

Hiplet: Because We Can” – contemporary Americana (7 stars)

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.

“Americana” usually means old and quaint. In this film, young people take an old art form and provide it with marvelous twists and turns. Ten minutes was not enough to fully appreciate their achievements and how the ballet has shaped them while they do the same to it. I’m happy that their story has been told and I was able to learn of it through this movie-airing platform.

Runon” – dragged on (2 stars)

All Luke and his mom have are two garbage bags full of clothes, and two tickets out of town on the midnight Greyhound. Like he’s assembling a puzzle, Luke has to figure out the why of it — all before the person they’re running from puts together the pieces.

What will happen to young Luke? Will he survive this experience? That’s what I did … survive for 12 minutes. There must be an audience for this, and it’s probably one film maker wanting to appreciate another film maker. If that is you, give this a try; if it is not, simply “run on.”

More SXSW commentary from DougInNC at this link: SXSW-2020-Pt2.

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