SXSW is happening virtually this year due to the pandemic and I have the opportunity to take part in the film festival. Each day I will be recapping and shortly reviewing every film, big and small, that I see during the festival.
Broadcast Signal Intrusion: Directed by Jacob Gentry
SYNOPSIS: In the late 90s, a video archivist unearths a series of sinister pirate broadcasts and becomes obsessed with uncovering the dark conspiracy behind them.
This actually turned out to be quite a disappointment just based on the concept of the film. I was utterly fascinated by the concepts of signal intrusion and watching the mystery unfold was very interesting. However, the film struggled in terms of writing. The story lacked overall direction and has some pretty significant pacing issues. The film is interesting and have intriguing concepts, but misses the mark when it comes to story.
Witch Hunt: Directed by Elle Callahan
SYNOPSIS: In a modern America where witches are real and witchcraft is illegal, a sheltered teenager must face her own demons and prejudices as she helps two young witches avoid law enforcement and cross the southern border to asylum in Mexico.
The thing that worked in this film was the mythology, world building and suspense. Those are the strong points of the runtime and that is pretty much where it stops. I left the film feeling cold and hollow. We are not made to be attached to our characters at all. With a story as reliant on the characters and their journey, I was left not caring for them. The ending should be a huge and triumphant moment, but I left feeling very dissatisfied.
Here Before: Directed by Stacey Gregg
SYNOPSIS: A bereaved mother begins to question her life after new neighbours move in next door.
This film really swung for the fences and ended up hitting a long pop fly. There were definitely elements that I enjoyed. The elements of suspense are really well done and the performance from Andrea Riseborough carries the runtime of the film. I feel like the writing was trying to be too clever in its ending but left me scratching my head and dissatisfied with the ending. The potential was absolutely there. But it just missed the mark.
Femme: Directed by Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping
SYNOPSIS: When Jordan gets into the car of a flirtatious drug-dealer, his night takes a dangerous turn.
A fast-paced, pulse-pounding suspense thrill ride. The film is mesmerizing and something I had to watch from start to finish without missing a beat. Brilliant performances, insane writing and just a clinic in pure suspense.
Sisters: Directed by Jessica Brunetto
SYNOPSIS: Hidden secrets cause tension when two estranged sisters are forced to confront each other while preparing for their ailing mother’s death.
It’s cute and funny and just an overall good time. But at the core it has some good heart. Two sisters who bash each other only to learn that they aren’t as put together as they think they are. The ending is pretty funny and it was a nice time for a short film.
Red Taxi: Directed by Anonymous
SYNOPSIS: An anonymous, authentic video secretly filmed from taxi windows captures fragments of violence right in the middle of clashes between police and protesting Hong Kong residents. In addition to the contact sound of fights, screams, singing, chants of the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times!”, and the howls of those who’ve been beaten, we also hear the conflicting comments of taxi drivers from both sides of the border – Hong Kong and the neighboring mainland Shenzhen.
A very interesting look at two sides to a conflict and two very different points of view. The variety of voices and viewpoints is what did it for me. With events like this, it’s important to see all sides and that’s exactly what was done.
Nuevo Rico: Directed by Kristian Mercado
SYNOPSIS: A brother and sister stumble upon a celestial secret that changes their lives forever and propels them into Reggaetón stardom, but they soon discover that their newfound fame comes at a deep price.
Some of the most unique animation since ITSV. A very interesting look at fame, family and home. I dug the story and the shocking ending as well as some of the mythology. But it all goes back to the animation, so clever and inventive.