Nanfu Wang, Lysa Heslov make up SXSW ’17 line-up

Nanfu Wang‘s I Am Another You, Lysa Heslov’s Served Like A Girl and Sandra Adair’s The Secret Life of Lance Letscher are among the documentaries selected to screen in competition ...
January 31, 2017

Nanfu Wang‘s I Am Another You, Lysa Heslov’s Served Like A Girl and Sandra Adair’s The Secret Life of Lance Letscher are among the documentaries selected to screen in competition at the 24th edition of the SXSW Film Festival.

The nine-day event runs from March 10 to 19 in Austin, Texas, and will feature 125 features, with additional titles forthcoming, including 84 world premieres, 11 North American premieres and six U.S. premieres.

First-time filmmakers account for 51 scripted and documentary films slated to grace the silver screen in Austin.

Among the 10 documentaries screening in competition – selected from 973 feature submissions in 2017 – are Wang’s I Am Another You (pictured), documenting a drifter’s rejection of society’s rules and intentionally choosing to live on the streets; Heslov‘s Served Like A Girl, following five women veterans banding together to help stranded homeless women veterans; and Adair’s The Secret Life of Lance Letscher, which profiles the visionary mind of collage artist Lance Letscher.

Also screening in competition are Emma Franz‘s Bill Frisell, A Portrait, a portrait of influential guitarist Bill Frisell; Erik Ljung’s The Blood is at the Doorstep, examining the police killing of an unarmed black man diagnosed with schizophrenia; Luke Korem’s Dealt, providing an in-depth look at one of the world’s greatest card magicians who also happens to be blind; and Mila Aung-Thwin’s Let There Be Light, following the story of dedicated scientists working to build a small sun on Earth.

Other documentary films enjoying their world premieres at the festival include director Miao Wang’s Maineland, documenting wealthy Chinese teenagers living out their American dreams in small-town Maine; Erin Lee Carr‘s Mommy Dead and Dearest, exploring the abuses involving a mother and daughter thought to be living a fairy tale; and Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous’s The Work, following three men during four days of intensive group therapy with convicts.

Below is a listing of the films screening as part of this year’s Documentary Feature Competition, as well as the Documentary Spotlight and 24 Beats Per Second, with descriptions provided by SXSW:


Bill Frisell, A Portrait (Australia) (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Emma Franz
An intimate, behind-the-music portrait of one of the most unassuming yet influential creative artists of our time, guitarist Bill Frisell. Frisell said of the film, “It’s like the inside of my brain!”

The Blood is at the Doorstep (World Premiere)
Director: Erik Ljung
After Dontre Hamilton, a black, unarmed man diagnosed with schizophrenia, was shot 14 times and killed by police in Milwaukee, his family embarks on a quest for answers, justice and reform as the investigation unfolds.

Dealt (World Premiere)
Director: Luke Korem, Screenwriters: Bradley Jackson, Luke Korem
Sixty-two year old Richard Turner is renowned as one of the world’s greatest card magicians, yet he is completely blind. This is an in-depth look at a complex character who is one of magic’s greatest hidden treasures.

I Am Another You (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Nanfu Wang
Through the eyes of a young drifter who rejects society’s rules and intentionally chooses to live on the streets, Chinese filmmaker Nanfu Wang explores the meaning of personal freedom – and its limits.

Let There Be Light (Canada) (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Mila Aung-Thwin
Let There Be Light follows the story of dedicated scientists working to build a small sun on Earth, which would unleash perpetual, cheap, clean energy for mankind. After decades of failed attempts, a massive push is now underway to crack the holy grail of energy.

Maineland (China, United States) (World Premiere)
Director: Miao Wang
Chinese teenagers from the wealthy elite, with big American dreams, settle into a boarding school in small-town Maine. As their fuzzy visions of the American dream slowly gain more clarity, their relationship to home takes on a poignant new aspect.

Mommy Dead and Dearest (World Premiere)
Director: Erin Lee Carr
Child abuse, mental illness, and forbidden love converge in this mystery involving a mother and daughter who were thought to be living a fairy tale life that turned out to be a living nightmare.

Served Like A Girl (World Premiere)
Director: Lysa Heslov
Five women veterans who have endured unimaginable trauma in service create a shared sisterhood to help the rising number of stranded homeless women veterans by entering a competition that unexpectedly catalyzes moving events in their own lives.

The Secret Life of Lance Letscher (World Premiere)
Director: Sandra Adair
Witness the collision of memory, color, and chaos in this unprecedented journey through the visionary mind of collage artist Lance Letscher.

The Work (World Premiere)
Directors: Jairus McLeary, Gethin Aldous
Set entirely inside Folsom Prison, The Work follows three men during four days of intensive group therapy with convicts, revealing an intimate and powerful portrait of authentic human transformation that transcends what we think of as rehabilitation.


Barbecue (Australia) (World Premiere)
Director: Matthew Salleh
Barbecue is about more than grilling a piece of meat. It’s a ritual performed religiously across the world. For some it’s a path to salvation. It is the pride of nations. And the stories told around the fires become a way to bring the world together.

Bill Nye: Science Guy (World Premiere)
Directors/Screenwriters: David Alvarado, Jason Sussberg
A famous television personality struggles to restore science to its rightful place in a world hostile to evidence and reason.

Disgraced (World Premiere)
Director: Pat Kondelis
The untold story of the summer of 2003 at Baylor University that exposes the attempted cover-up, and the corruption that became the most bizarre scandal in college sports history.

Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web (New Zealand) (North American Premiere)
Director: Annie Goldson
Discover the story of the most wanted man online.

Meth Storm: Arkansas USA (World Premiere)
Directors: Craig Renaud, Brent Renaud
With unparalleled access on both sides of the law, METH STORM: Arkansas USA is a thrilling non-fiction cops and robbers drama told from inside the American drug war.

Muppet Guys Talking – Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched (World Premiere)
Director: Frank Oz
Five of the original Muppet performers come together for the first time ever to share behind-the-scenes secrets of the Muppets. Includes rare performance footage, surprising stories and insights into how Jim led his team to produce legendary work.

Pornocracy (France) (World Premiere)
Director: Ovidie
Never before have we watched as much porn as today yet the traditional porn industry is dying. The arrival of web sites showing amateur clips has transformed the way porn is made and consumed. Behind this transformation lies one opaque multinational.

Spettacolo (World Premiere)
Directors: Jeff Malmberg, Chris Shellen, Screenwriter: Chris Shellen
Once upon a time there was a tiny hill town in Tuscany that found a remarkable way to confront their issues – they turned their lives into a play.

Stranger Fruit (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Jason Pollock
What happened on August 9th, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri? On that hot summer day, Officer Darren Wilson killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Stranger Fruit is the unraveling of what took place that day, told through the eyes of Mike Brown’s family.

Todrick Hall Documentary (World Premiere)
Director: Katherine Fairfax Wright
After building an empire on YouTube, Todrick Hall leaps beyond his comfort zone and deep within his own backstory to create his most dazzling and vital work yet, but with only a few weeks and a few coins, will he crush it or will it crush him?

The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin (World Premiere)
Director: Jennifer M. Kroot
The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin celebrates one of the world’s most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels inspired millions to reclaim their lives.

Walk With Me (UK) (World Premiere)
Directors: Max Pugh, Marc J. Francis
Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, Walk With Me is a cinematic journey into the world of a monastic community who practice the art of mindfulness with Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh.


Paa Joe & The Lion (Ghana, United Kingdom) (North American Premiere)
Director: Benjamin Wigley
A true story about the art of love and death. A thought provoking and cinematic documentary film rooted in the universal themes of love, death and legacy set against one of the most beautiful art-forms in the world – Ghana’s very own fantasy coffin.


As I Walk Through The Valley (World Premiere)
Directors: Ronnie Garza, Charlie Vela
As I Walk Through The Valley is a journey into the underground music scene of Texas’ southernmost border-region. Follow four generations of Valley musicians as they struggle to find a voice of their own in the land of charro beans and Tejano legends.

G-Funk (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Karam Gill
G-Funk is the untold story of three childhood friends from East Long Beach who helped commercialize hip hop by developing a sophisticated and melodic new approach – merging Gangsta Rap with elements of Motown, Funk, and R&B.

Give Me Future (aka Incoming Transmission) (United States, Cuba)
Director: Austin Peters
Cuba as you have never seen it before.

A Life in Waves (World Premiere)
Director: Brett Whitcomb, Screenwriter: Bradford Thomason
A Life in Waves explores the life and innovations of composer and electronic music pioneer, Suzanne Ciani.

Long Strange Trip
Director: Amir Bar-Lev
Emerging from the Bay Area’s vibrant 1960s counterculture, the Grateful Dead were a motley crew whose unique sound sprang from an eclectic blend of influences: bluegrass, folk ballads, R&B, free-form jazz, classical, and jug band.

May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers (World Premiere)
Directors: Judd Apatow, Michael Bonfiglio
An intimate portrait of the acclaimed North Carolina band the Avett Brothers, as they create their hit album “True Sadness.”

Residente (Armenia, Burkina Faso, China, Georgia, Mongolia, Niger, Russian Federation, USA) (World Premiere)
Director: René Pérez Joglar
After taking a DNA test, Latin America’s most decorated artist – Rene Perez (AKA Residente), embarks on a global adventure, to trace the footsteps of his ancestors and record his latest album.

Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live… and More (World Premiere)
Director: Benno Nelson
A celebration of the musical legacy of Memphis’ best-known secret – Big Star – performed by a collective featuring members of Big Star, the dB’s, Let’s Active, the Posies, R.E.M., Semisonic, Wilco and Yo La Tengo with the Kronos Quartet and more.

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