Docs

SXSW ’19 adds “State of Pride”, “I Am Richard Pryor”

The Austin-based SXSW Film Festival has unveiled the remainder of its 2019 program, with projects from Academy Award-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, and Jesse James Miller filling out this ...
February 6, 2019

The Austin-based SXSW Film Festival has unveiled the remainder of its 2019 program, with projects from Academy Award-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, and Jesse James Miller filling out this year’s lineup.

Epstein and Friedman’s State of Pride, in which the award-winning directors travel to three diverse communities for an in-depth look at LGBTQ Pride 50 years after the Stonewall uprising, will enjoy its world premiere in the Documentary Spotlight tract at the nine-day film festival.

Miller’s I Am Richard Pryor (pictured) will also screen as part of the Documentary Spotlight category. The film, which will air across Paramount Network on March 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT as part of its ‘I Am’ strand, explores and celebrates the life and career of the iconic comedian who lifted himself out of poverty to achieve worldwide success. From his first comedy album until his death of a heart attack in 2005, the revolutionary stand-up comedian dispensed what critics regarded at the time as a poignant and penetrating comedic view of African-American life.

Also added to the Documentary Spotlight category is Amy C. Elliott’s Salvage (world premiere), which explores the Yellowknife dump, its unrestricted salvage area and a group of thrifty locals attempting to save it from closing down.

Elsewhere, Andre Chemetoff and Armand Beraud’s Iris: A Space Opera by Justice has been added to the 24 Beats Per Second lineup, which showcases “the sounds, culture and influence of music and musicians, with an emphasis on documentary.”

The film is an adaptation of Justice’s Woman World Wide live show from 2017-2018. Recorded in an empty and invisible space, Iris focuses on the production and music of the live electronic concert.

Acclaimed standouts and selected premieres from festivals around the world, meanwhile, will screen as part of the Festival Favorites tract. Included are Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11, profiling the 1969 lunar landing; Victor Kossakovsky’s Aquarela, a cinematic journey through the transformative beauty and raw power of water; Brett Story‘s The Hottest August, about climate change disguised as a portrait of collective anxiety; Alex Gibney‘s The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, about Elizabeth Holmes and her ill-fated biotech company Theranos; Rachel Lears’ politically-focused Knock Down the House; Alex Holmes’ Maiden, chronicling the journey of 24-year-old Tracy Edwards and the first all-female sailing crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race; Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan’s Pahokee, which follows four teens as they celebrate the rituals of senior year in a small agricultural town in the Florida Everglades; and Janice Engel‘s Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins, a profile of the legendary journalist and warrior for the Bill of Rights.

The 26th edition of the festival, running March 8-17 in Texas, will also see 101 short films and music videos added to its all-encompassing slate, selected from 5,478 submissions.

Receiving their world premieres in the Documentary Shorts program will be Adrienne Collatos’ Anas v. the Giant, tracing an 18-year-old who becomes embroiled in fake news on Facebook; Jessie King’s In the Dark, which follows an Austin woman who says she can reverse dyslexia; and Sandra Winther’s Lowland Kids, detailing the last two teenagers on Louisiana’s Isle de Jean Charles and their fight to remain on the island.

“Welcoming these films and filmmakers into our community is a major highlight for me,” said Claudette Godfrey, SXSW’s senior film programmer, in a statement. “The work this year is contemplative and tender. In an uneasy era, these shorts show us how to connect across the abyss by exposing and embracing vulnerability through their originality, authenticity, and humor. Rightly so, over half of the films across our Shorts Programs, Music Videos, and Episodic Pilot Competition are directed by women.”

A comprehensive list of the Documentary Short program, plus late-addition documentary features and non-fiction episodics, follows below. Synopses are provided by SXSW.

FESTIVAL FAVORITES
Acclaimed standouts and selected premieres from festivals around the world.

Apollo 11
Director: Todd Douglas Miller
A look at the Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon led by commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin.

Aquarela (Germany, United Kingdom)
Director: Victor Kossakovsky, Screenwriters: Victor Kossakovsky, Aimara Reques
Aquarela is a deeply cinematic journey through the transformative beauty and raw power of water. Filmed at 96 frames per second, it’s a visceral wake-up call that humans are no match for the sheer force and will of Earth’s most precious element.

The Hottest August (Canada, U.S.)
Director: Brett Story
A film about climate change, disguised as a portrait of collective anxiety.

The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley
Director/Screenwriter: Alex Gibney
Elizabeth Holmes was once the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, heralded as the next Steve Jobs. Then, overnight, her $10-billion-dollar company dissolved.

Knock Down the House 
Director: Rachel Lears Screenwriters: Rachel Lears, Robin Blotnick
Four women run for Congress, overcoming personal adversity to battle powerful political machines across the country. One of their races will change the country forever.

Maiden (United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Alex Holmes
In a moving portrait of resilience, Alex Holmes chronicles the unprecedented journey of 24-year-old Tracy Edwards and the first all-female sailing crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race.

Pahokee
Directors: Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan
In a small agricultural town in the Florida Everglades, hopes for the future are concentrated on the youth. Four teens face heartbreak and celebrate in the rituals of an extraordinary senior year.

Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins
Director: Janice Engel, Screenwriters: Janice Engel, Monique Zavistovski
Six-feet of Texas trouble, Molly Ivins, a legendary journalist and a warrior for the Bill of Rights, fought Good Old Boy corruption with razor-sharp wit that left both sides of the aisle laughing and craving ink in her columns. Raise Hell y’all!

DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHT

I Am Richard Pryor
Director/Screenwriter: Jesse James Miller
I Am Richard Pryor tells the life story of the legendary performer and iconic social satirist, who transcended race and social barriers by delivering his honest irreverent and biting humor to America’s stages and living rooms until his death at 65. (World Premiere)

Salvage
Director: Amy C. Elliott
The Yellowknife dump, and its massive, unrestricted salvage area, has long played a central role in this remote Canadian city’s civic and social life. Can a colorful group of thrifty locals save it from city bureaucrats determined to close it down? (World Premiere)

State of Pride
Director/Screenwriters: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Fifty years after the Stonewall uprising, Oscar winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman travel to three diverse communities – Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama – for an unflinching look at LGBTQ Pride. (World Premiere)

24 BEATS PER SECOND
Showcasing the sounds, culture and influence of music and musicians, with an emphasis on documentary.

Iris: A Space Opera by Justice (France)
Directors: Andre Chemetoff, Armand Beraud
Iris is a film adaptation of Justice’s Woman World Wide live show from 2017-2018, which is widely regarded as the greatest live electronic concert created. Recorded in an empty and invisible space, Iris focuses on the impressive production and music. (World Premiere)

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

All Inclusive (Switzerland)
Director/Screenwriter: Corina Schwingruber Ilić
Under the spell of mass entertainment on the high seas.

Anas v. the Giant
Director: Adrienne Collatos
What happens when an 18-year-old who thought he had nothing more to lose, becomes embroiled in fake news on Facebook? (World Premiere)

Exit 12
Director: Mohammad Gorjestani
After two tours in Fallujah in the Iraq war, US Marine Roman Baca came home a different person. To deal with the effects of war, Roman turned to an unlikely place, ballet.

Ghosts of Sugar Land
Director: Bassam TariqIn
Sugar Land, Texas, a group of young Muslim-American men ponder the disappearance of their friend “Mark,” who is suspected of joining ISIS.

Guns Found Here
Director: David Freid
A surprisingly non-fictional tragicomedy about how America traces a gun involved in a gun crime back to its owner.

In the Dark
Director: Jessie King
Reading isn’t natural. It’s a struggle for each of us to master, but those with dyslexia fight to read their entire lives. In the Dark is about performance, persistence and Phyllis, a woman in Austin, Texas, who says she can reverse dyslexia. (World Premiere)

Life in Miniature (United Kingdom)
Director: Ellen Evans
A celebration of one woman’s mission to document the everyday, as she carves a place for herself in the precious world of miniatures.

Lowland Kids
Director: Sandra Winther
As climate change erases the Louisiana coast, the last two teenagers on Isle de Jean Charles fight to stay on an island that’s been their family home for generations. (World Premiere)

The Separated
Director: Jeremy Raff
An unflinching look at one family’s experience being forcibly separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trans In America: Texas Strong (United Kingdom, U.S.)
Director: Daresha Kyi
An intimate portrait of Kimberly and Kai Shappley in Texas: a Christian mother rejects her community’s beliefs as her 7-year-old transgender daughter navigates life at school, where she’s been banned from the girls’ bathroom.

The Trial (United Kingdom, U.S.)
Director: Johanna Hamilton
Meet the lawyers tasked with defending 9/11 suspects against the U.S. government.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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