BABY DRIVER and FREE FIRE to Headline SXSW 2017

Plus, Meredith supplies us with an early review of Edgar Wright's latest!

Believe it or not, we’re already living out the last day of January ‘17 and, barring Trump scorching the Earth via nuclear holocaust (whilst still refusing to acknowledge Jews who died in the actual Holocaust), we’re now a little over a month away from the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival. Meredith, Evan and myself will be on the ground in Austin, Texas, covering SXSW ’17, and now that the Headliners and Narrative/Documentary Competition titles have been announced, we can’t wait for February to fly by.

The big news here is that Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver will join Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire and Terrence Malick’s previously reported Song to Song (which is billed as the Opening Night Feature) as Festival Headliners. But something else we should all get excited for is the fact that seven out of the ten Narrative Features in competition are either directed or co-directed by women. Fifty-one films showcased will come from first-time filmmakers. There are eighty-five World Premieres on the docket, including titles from Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies), Evan Katz (Cheap Thrills), Frank Oz (The Score), and Giancarlo Esposito (your worst nightmares). There’s also a documentary about Kim Dotcom which…whatever. I’ll watch that too, I guess. Midnight genre selections have yet to be announced, so look for that soon.

The line-up goes as such:

Headliners

Baby Driver
Director/Screenwriter: Edgar Wright
A talented, young getaway driver relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss, he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom. Cast: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx (World Premiere)

Free Fire
Director: Ben Wheatley, Screenwriters: Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
Bold, breathless and wickedly fun, Free Fire is an electrifying action comedy about an arms deal that goes spectacularly and explosively wrong. Directed by Ben Wheatley. Starring Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley, Jack Reynor. Cast: Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, Babou Ceesay, Enzo Cilenti, Sam Riley, Michael Smiley, Noah Taylor (U.S. Premiere)

On The Road
Director/Screenwriter: Michael Winterbottom
Michael Winterbottom follows acclaimed British rock band and Grammy nominees Wolf Alice on their tour, recording their gigs as well as the romance and routine of their daily life backstage. (North American Premiere)

Song to Song
Director: Terrence Malick
In this modern love story set against the Austin, Texas music scene, two entangled couples — struggling songwriters Faye and BV, and music mogul Cook and the waitress whom he ensnares — chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal. Cast: Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett (World Premiere)

Narrative Feature Competition

A Bad Idea Gone Wrong
Director/Screenwriter: Jason Headley
Two would-be thieves forge a surprising relationship with with an unexpected housesitter when they accidentally trap themselves in a house they just broke into. Cast: Matt Jones, Eleanore Pienta, Will Rogers, Jonny Mars, Sam Eidson, Jennymarie Jemison (World Premiere)

A Critically Endangered Species
Directors/Screenwriters: Zachary Cotler, Magdalena Zyza
An internationally respected poet announces she is going to kill herself and needs an heir and executor. Young writers drive up the mountain to compete for the position and are challenged intellectually, emotionally, and erotically. Cast: Lena Olin, Rosanna Arquette, Jordan Gavaris, Alexander Koch, Nathan Keyes, Chris Voss (World Premiere)

Dara Ju
Director/Screenwriter: Anthony Onah
A young Nigerian-American financier struggles with love, family, and a prescription drug dependency as his ambitions steer him down a criminal path. Cast: Aml Ameen, Lucy Griffiths, Michael Hyatt, Peter Vack, Hope Olaidé Wilson, Souléymane Sy Savané, Craig muMs Grant, Bill Sage (World Premiere)

Fits and Starts
Director/Screenwriter: Laura Terruso
A struggling writer can’t seem to escape his wife’s literary success. When a road trip to a publisher’s salon takes an unexpected turn, he has to face his own creative shortcomings and find a way to regain control of his life and work. Cast: Wyatt Cenac, Greta Lee, Maria Dizzia, Alex Karpovsky, Ben Sinclair, Onur Turkel, John Rothman, Louis Cancelmi, Larry Murphy, Sam Seder (World Premiere)

La Barracuda
Directors: Julia Halperin, Jason Cortlund, Screenwriter: Jason Cortlund
A strange woman comes to Texas to meet her half-sister and stake a claim to the family music legacy—one way or another. Cast: Allison Tolman, Sophie Reid, JoBeth Williams, Luis Bordonada, Larry Jack Dotson, Butch Hancock, Bob Livingston, The Mastersons (World Premiere)

The Light of the Moon
Director/Screenwriter: Jessica M. Thompson
After her world is irrevocably changed, a successful New York City architect struggles to regain intimacy and control in her life. Cast: Stephanie Beatriz, Michael Stahl-David, Conrad Ricamora, Catherine Curtin, Olga Merediz, Cindy Cheung, Susan Hayward, Craig Walker, Cara Loften, Michael Cuomo (World Premiere)

Like Me
Director/Screenwriter: Rob Mockler
A reckless loner, desperate for human connection, sets out on a crime spree that she broadcasts on social media. Her reality quickly splinters into a surreal nightmare as her exploits spiral out of control. Cast: Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden, Jeremy Gardner, Stuart Rudin, Nicolette Pierini (World Premiere)

MFA
Director: Natalia Leite, Screenwriter: Leah Mckendrick
The accidental death of her rapist sets an art student on a course for justice, fueling the inspiration for her thesis exhibition. Cast: Francesca Eastwood, Clifton Collins Jr, Peter Vack, Leah Mckendrick, Marlon Young, David Sullivan, Michael Welch (World Premiere)

Most Beautiful Island
Director/Screenwriter: Ana Asensio
An undocumented young woman struggling to begin a new life in New York City is offered an opportunity she can’t pass up. But as day turns to night she discovers she’s been lured to the center of a dangerous game. Cast: Ana Asensio, Natasha Romanova, David Little, Nicholas Tucci, Larry Fessenden, Caprice Benedetti (World Premiere)

The Strange Ones
Directors: Lauren Wolkstein, Christopher Radcliff, Screenwriter: Christopher Radcliff Mysterious events surround the travels of two brothers as they make their way across a remote American landscape. On the surface all seems normal, but what appears to be a simple vacation soon gives way to dark and complex truths. Cast: Alex Pettyfer, James Freedson-Jackson, Emily Althaus, Gene Jones (World Premiere)

Documentary Feature Competition

Bill Frisell, A Portrait
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!”(World Premiere)

The Blood is at the Doorstep
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. (World Premiere)

Dealt
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. (World Premiere)

I Am Another You
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. (World Premiere)

Let There Be Light
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. (World Premiere)

Maineland
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. (World Premiere)

Mommy Dead and Dearest
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. (World Premiere)

Served Like A Girl
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. (World Premiere)

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

The Work
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. (World Premiere)

SXSW ‘17 kicks off Friday, March 10 and runs through Sunday, March 19. Meredith has already informed me that she had a dream where she saw Baby Driver, and her review is: “it’s good.”

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