Docs

SXSW unveils 2020 documentary lineup

Spike Jonze’s Beastie Boys Story, David Darg and Price James’s You Cannot Kill David Arquette, and Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar’s 9to5: The Story of A Movement are among the documentaries selected to screen at ...
January 15, 2020

Spike Jonze’s Beastie Boys Story, David Darg and Price James’s You Cannot Kill David Arquette, and Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar’s 9to5: The Story of A Movement are among the documentaries selected to screen at the 27th edition of the SXSW Film Festival.

During the nine-day event, which runs from March 13 to 22 in Austin, Texas, 102 features and episodics will be shown, with additional titles to be announced on Feb. 5. The complete program typically includes more than 250 total projects, the festival said.

The 2020 program was selected from 2,316 feature-length film submissions, with a total of 8,362 films submitted this year.

“Every year we pore through thousands of submissions searching for the best films to present to the SXSW audience. We are astounded by the talent at every level, from the emerging micro-budget artist to those at the peak of their careers, and can’t wait to share their risk-taking, passion, and achievements in March,” said Janet Pierson, SXSW’s director of film, in a statement.

Director Spike Jonze’s Beastie Boys Story, which was earlier today (Jan. 15) acquired by streaming service Apple TV+, will enjoy its world premiere at the Texan festival. The film tells an “intimate, personal story” of the seminal hip hop band and their 40 years of friendship.

Elsewhere, Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar’s 9to5: The Story of A Movement will document the untold story of America’s secretaries who took to the streets in throughout the 1970s to protest on-the-job abuse and ultimately created a movement dubbed 9to5.

As previously announced, David Darg and Price James’ You Cannot Kill David Arquette will seek to clear the Ready to Rumble actor’s name as Arquettereturns to the ring to compete in 19 professional wrestling matches.

Hannah Olson’s feature-length documentary Baby God, meanwhile, will deconstruct the story of Dr. Quincy Fortier who, for more than 30 years, covertly used his own sperm to inseminate his fertility patients. The world premiering film follows Fortier’s now-grown children as “they seek the truth about his motives and try to make sense of their own identities.”

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

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Ten world premieres: ten real world stories that demonstrate innovation, energy and bold voices. Selected from 1,011 feature documentary submissions in 2020.

The Boy Who Sold The World
Director: Adam Barton
At age 15, Ben Pasternak dropped out of high school and moved to NYC. Leaving behind his family in Australia, Ben sacrificed his childhood to pursue his dream of changing the world through innovation. But things didn’t quite go according to plan. (World Premiere)

Bulletproof
Director: Todd Chandler
What does it mean to be safe in school in the United States? Safe from what, and from whom? Bulletproof poses and complicates these questions through a provocative exploration of fear and American violence. (World Premiere)

The Donut King
Director: Alice Gu, Screenwriters: Alice Gu, Carol Martori
The rise, fall, and rise again of a Cambodian refugee who escaped genocide and overcame poverty to build a life for himself and hundreds of other immigrant families by baking America’s favorite pastry and building an unlikely empire of donut shops. (World Premiere)

An Elephant in the Room (Denmark)
Director: Katrine Philp
At Good Grief in New Jersey, groups of children meet to understand the passing of a parent or a sibling through play. Death may come suddenly or slowly, violently or peacefully, but it leaves a pain that the child has never felt before. (World Premiere)

Finding Yingying
Director: Jiayan “Jenny” Shi
After a young Chinese student is kidnapped on a university campus, her family travels to the US for the first time, first hoping to unravel the mystery of her disappearance, and then to seek justice, find closure and reclaim their daughter. (World Premiere)

For Madmen Only
Director: Heather Ross, Screenwriters: Heather Ross, Adam Samuel Goldman
Del Close, the hidden architect of modern comedy, sets out to smash open the creative process by writing an autobiographical comic book. (World Premiere)

Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide
Directors/Screenwriters: Malia Scharf, Max Basch
Kenny Scharf is surveyed through the eyes of his daughter — revealing a private struggle for identity and acceptance through the ups and downs of a prolific career driven by a passion for making his fantastical inner worlds a very public reality. (World Premiere)

Lights Camera Uganda
Directors: Cathryne Czubek, Hugo Perez
When “Africa’s Tarantino” casts a New York film nerd as his next action hero, it’s the beginning of a friendship that makes their no-budget studio world famous. But as their success grows, tensions flare and threaten everything they built. (World Premiere)

Red Heaven
Directors: Lauren DeFilippo, Katherine Gorringe
Six people live for a year on “Mars” in a NASA experiment studying what happens to humans when they are isolated from Earth. (World Premiere)

We Don’t Deserve Dogs
Director: Matthew Salleh
A contemplative odyssey across our planet, looking at the simple and extraordinary ways that dogs influence our daily lives. People need dogs, and perhaps they need us, but what do humans do to deserve the unconditional love they provide? (World Premiere)

DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHT
Shining a light on new documentary features receiving their World, North American or U.S. premieres at SXSW.

9to5: The Story of A Movement
Directors: Julia Reichert, Steve Bognar
In the 1970s, America’s secretaries took to the streets, fed up with on-the-job abuse. They created a movement called 9to5, which later inspired Jane Fonda to make a movie and Dolly Parton to write a song. This is the untold story of their fight. (World Premiere)

The Alpinist
Directors: Peter Mortimer, Nicholas Rosen
An elusive young climber explores the limits of solo mountaineering. (World Premiere)

And We Go Green
Directors: Fisher Stevens, Malcolm Venville, Screenwriter: Mark Monroe
Professional drivers on the international Formula E circuit race for victory across 10 cities in this white-knuckle documentary from filmmaker Malcolm Venville, Oscar-winning director Fisher Stevens (The Cove), and producer Leonardo DiCaprio. (U.S. Premiere)

Baby God
Director: Hannah Olson
For more than 30 years, Dr. Quincy Fortier covertly used his own sperm to inseminate his fertility patients. Now his secret is out. Baby God follows his children as they seek the truth about his motives and try to make sense of their own identities. (World Premiere)

Clerk (Canada, United States)
Director: Malcolm Ingram
A documentary on the career and life of filmmaker and raconteur Kevin Smith. (World Premiere)

Console Wars [title may change]
Directors: Jonah Tulis, Blake J. Harris
In 1990, Sega assembled a team of misfits to take on the greatest video game company in the world, Nintendo. Console Wars goes behind the scenes to meet the men and women who fought for both sides in this epic battle that defined a generation. (World Premiere)

Crazy, Not Insane
Director: Alex Gibney
Dr. Dorothy Lewis is a psychiatrist who’s spent her career examining violent people. Through the use of chilling never-before-seen inmate interviews, Crazy, Not Insane looks into the mind of a killer in an attempt to understand why people kill. (U.S. Premiere)

The Dilemma of Desire
Director: Maria Finitzo
The Dilemma of Desire explores the clash between the external power of gender politics and the equally powerful imperative of female sexual desire. How different would the world look if women’s libidos were taken as seriously as men’s? (World Premiere)

Hamtramck, USA
Directors: Razi Jafri, Justin Feltman
Through the exploration of daily life and democracy in America’s first Muslim-majority city, Hamtramck, USA examines the benefits and tensions of multiculturalism. (World Premiere)

Hood River
Director: Steven Cantor
In a small Oregon community, a high school soccer team struggles to overcome class and racial divide in a quest for team success. They are torn between their individual commitment to the team and the expectations of the town itself. (World Premiere)

Insert Coin
Director: Joshua Tsui
The oral history of a team of geeks and misfits in the back of a Chicago factory creating the biggest video games (Mortal KombatNBA JAM, and others) of all time. (World Premiere)

M For Magic
Director: Alexis Manya Spraic
M for Magic is the never-told story of the royal family of magic – four generations of the legendary Larsen family – and their tireless endeavor to save the art of magic with a private club for magicians – the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood. (World Premiere)

One Man and His Shoes (United Kingdom)
Director: Yemi Bamiro
One Man and His Shoes tells the story of Air Jordan sneakers, depicting their social, cultural and racial significance, showing how ground-breaking marketing strategies created a multi-billion-dollar business. (World Premiere)

A Secret Love
Director: Chris Bolan, Screenwriters: Chris Bolan, Alexa L. Fogel, Brendan Mason
A moving and triumphant love story about two trailblazing women who break barriers and conventional norms, coming out to their conservative families as they face the difficulties of aging. (World Premiere)

We Are As Gods
Directors/Screenwriters: Jason Sussberg, David Alvarado
“We are as gods and might as well get good at it,” Stewart Brand wrote in ’68. The legendary pioneer of LSD, cyberspace, futurism, and modern environmentalism now urges people to use our god-like powers to fight extinction by reviving lost species. (World Premiere)

You Cannot Kill David Arquette
Directors: David Darg, Price James
In 2000, actor David Arquette infamously became the world wrestling champion as a promotion for his movie Ready to Rumble. He wasn’t prepared for the backlash. 20 years later, Arquette seeks redemption by returning to the ring… for real this time. (World Premiere)

HEADLINERS
Big names, big talent: Headliners bring star power to SXSW, featuring red carpet premieres and gala film events with major and rising names in cinema.

Beastie Boys Story
Director: Spike Jonze
Beastie Boys, Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz, tell you an intimate, personal story of their band and 40 years of friendship in this live documentary experience directed by their longtime friend and collaborator, and their former grandfather, filmmaker Spike Jonze. (World Premiere)

LA Originals (Argentina)
Director: Estevan Oriol, Screenwriters: Brian Maya, Omar Quiroga
An exploration of the culture and landmarks of the chicano and street art movement that cemented Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol’s status as behind-the-scenes hip hop legends.(World Premiere)

VISIONS
Visions filmmakers are audacious, risk-taking artists in the new cinema landscape who demonstrate raw innovation and creativity in documentary and narrative filmmaking.

Echoes of the Invisible (Poland, United States)
Director: Steve Elkins
Daring explorers embark upon seemingly impossible journeys into the most extreme environments on Earth to find the connective tissue between all things seen and unseen. (World Premiere)

TFW NO GF
Director/Screenwriter: Alex Lee Moyer
A generation of disaffected young men searches for meaning in the dark corners of the internet. TFW NO GF offers an intimate portrait of five such individuals- as shared through the metaphor of an iconic meme. (World Premiere)

EPISODIC PREMIERES
Presenting world premieres of prestige serials slated for release and accompanied by show-runners, directors and cast members featuring extended Q&As.

Cursed Films (Canada)
Showrunner: Jay Cheel
Cursed Films is a five-part documentary series which explores the myths and legends behind some of Hollywood’s notoriously cursed horror film productions. (World Premiere)

Home
Showrunners: Joe Poulin, Matt Weaver, Bruce Gersh, Ian Orefice, Doug Pray, Collin Orcutt, Matt Tyrnauer
Home is a nine-part series that explores extraordinary interpretations of domestic architecture and the concept of “home.” The first season features homes in six different countries and was filmed in eight countries and 16 cities around the world. (World Premiere)

Outcry
Showrunner: Pat Kondelis
In a small Texan town in 2014, star football player, Greg Kelley, was convicted of a child sexual assault case. In an outpour of support, his community bands together to prove his innocence and rectify a crime that ruined lives. (World Premiere)

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

American Rap Star
Director: Justin Staple
American Rapstar chronicles the rise of a subculture of young rappers who utilized the SoundCloud streaming platform to disrupt the traditional norms of the music industry with their distinct self expression and rebellious approach. (World Premiere)

Biography: The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne
Director: R. Greg Johnston
A&E’s Biography: The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne celebrates the life of rock icon and Godfather of heavy metal Ozzy Osbourne and features interviews with Sharon Osbourne, Rick Rubin, Ice-T, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Jonathan Davis and Post Malone. (World Premiere)

Lydia Lunch – The War Is Never Over
Director: Beth B
Lydia Lunch – The War is Never Over by Beth B is the first career-spanning documentary retrospective of Lydia Lunch’s confrontational, acerbic and always electric music and art.

The Mojo Manifesto: The Life and Times of Mojo Nixon
Director: Matt Eskey
On a bicycle trip across the country, a young Neill Kirby McMillan Jr. experiences The Mojo Revelation. After teaming up with the enigmatic Skid Roper, he unexpectedly finds mainstream success but makes a decision that could jeopardize his career. (World Premiere)

My Darling Vivian
Director: Matt Riddlehoover
Director Matt Riddlehoover traces the dizzying journey of Vivian Liberto, Johnny Cash’s first wife and the mother of his four daughters. Featuring unseen footage and photographs, the film was produced by Dustin Tittle, Vivian and Johnny’s grandson. (World Premiere)

The Nowhere Inn
Director: Bill Benz, Screenwriters: Carrie Brownstein, Annie Clark
St. Vincent sets out to make a documentary about her music, but when she hires a close friend to direct, notions of reality, identity, and authenticity grow increasingly distorted and bizarre. Cast: Annie Clark, Carrie Brownstein

Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm (United Kingdom)
Director: Hannah Berryman
The unlikely tale of two Welsh brothers who turned their dairy farm into one of the most successful recording studios of all time. This is a story of rock and roll dreams intertwined with a family business’ fight for survival. (World Premiere)

Tomboy
Director: Lindsay Lindenbaum
Tomboy shines a light on four women drummers, in a field that was once the exclusive domain of men. The narratives of these trailblazing musicians interweave, launching a dialogue on gender and artistry, which extends far beyond the musical sphere. (World Premiere)

We Are The Thousand (Canada, Italy)
Director/Screenwriter: Anita Rivaroli
Fan of rock music, Fabio wants to convince the Foo Fighters to perform in his little village in Italy. To do that he gathered 1,000 musicians to play their song together… He created a huge community who became the biggest rock band on Earth. (World Premiere)

Without Getting Killed or Caught
Directors: Tamara Saviano, Paul Whitfield, Screenwriters: Tamara Saviano, Bart Knaggs
Guy Clark, the dean of Texas songwriters, struggles to write poetic songs while balancing a complicated marriage with wife Susanna, and a deep friendship with legendary songwriter Townes Van Zandt, on whom Susanna forges a passionate dependence. (World Premiere)

Zappa
Director: Alex Winter
The first all-access documentary on the life and times of Frank Zappa. (World Premiere)

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is a special reports editor at realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.

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