Tag Archives: SXSW 2010

Interview: Meredith Danluck on The Ride (2010)

therideThe cowboy isn’t dead – he’s working the PBR, the Professional Bull Riders circuit. It’s big business, a 32-date traveling extravaganza with all the pizzazz of pro-wrestling and millions of dollars – as well as lives – on the line. Yet the bull riders portrayed in documentarian Meredith Danluck’s debut feature, The Ride, don’t just strap on some chaps, throw on a 10-gallon hat, and feign John Wayne for the crowd. When they’re not risking life and limb on the back of a half-ton of angry beef, they’re a bunch of humble ranchers and small-town dreamers, tapping into something iconic about the Old West.

Richard Whittaker: How does an East Coast filmmaker, working for Spike Jonze’s VBS.TV online news network, get to travel with the PBR?

Meredith Danluck: I’d gone to the Indy 500 and had such an amazing time. When I got back to New York, our creative director Eddy Moretti and [producer] Jeff Yapp said we should do more Americana stuff like this. We should go to the rodeo; we should go to the Kentucky Derby; we should just explore all these things that are mainstream but are outside of our hipster radar. Jeff had just run into some cowboys at an airport bar, and they turned out to be from the PBR. The next weekend, we flew to Nashville, went to a PBR event, and after that I convinced both Jeff and Eddy that we needed to make a feature. Basically, I just badgered the hell out of them until they said, “OK.”

Continue reading Interview: Meredith Danluck on The Ride (2010)

Review: Four Lions (2010)

fourlionsDirected by Chris Morris

Starring Kayvan Novak, Riz Ahmed, Nigel Lindsay, Adeel Akhtar

Ever since the 2005 al Qaeda attacks on London, there has been a siege mentality in the UK. That makes first-time director Morris’ broad comedy about homegrown jihadists in the post-industrial English city of Sheffield so timely and essential. This extraordinary combination of high farce and lo-fi filmmaking is a textured and incisive examination of what drives ordinary people to become suicide bombers – with added exploding crows for giggles.

Controversial British satirist Morris made his reputation as a ruthless critic of the media and government on TV and radio, As he explained during the films debut at SXSW, even with his reputation this was a difficult project on which to sell backers, noting that  they saw it as “delicious like a lobster and revolting like a locust.”

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Review: Camp Victory, Afghanistan (2010)

campvictoryDirected by Carol Dysinger

The people of Afghanistan, who have endured millennia of invasions, have a saying: “You have the clocks; we have the time.” These words open up this depiction of three years in the forgotten war from a group whose voice is seldom heard – the Afghan National Army.

Dysinger liberates the compromised term “embedded journalism” and uses her incredible access to depict a war of inertia and ancient feuds. As foreign forces come and go, the only constant is the haunting central figure of Gen. Fazil Ahmad Sayar.
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Interview: Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas on American: The Bill Hicks Story (2010)

hicksflaggagWhat’s that old saying about a prophet being despised in his homeland? Until his death in 1994, Bill Hicks was a cultural exile in the United States, a stand-up comedian both cerebral and visceral who poured fiery scorn on corruption and apathy, Reagan Republicans, and corporate whores like Jay Leno. For his effort, he was a cult performer, notoriously censored from The Late Show With David Letterman. But in Great Britain in the early 1990s, when the culturally literate stared in despair at the nation that gave the world the First Gulf War and Carrot Top, he was the best evidence for the defense. Hicks was the angry American whose fury was driven not by greed but by disappointment that things weren’t just better.

Matt Harlock, half of the team behind new documentary American: The Bill Hicks Story, explained, “I was one of the guys who was at university in the UK in the late Eighties, early Nineties, who was handed a sweaty and much-coveted bootleg” of Hicks’ work. For co-director/producer Paul Thomas, the interest was much more professional. Harlock explained, “His job for [Welsh TV broadcasters] HTV and the BBC was to find and bring on new comedians, so he came upon [Hicks] that way.”

Continue reading Interview: Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas on American: The Bill Hicks Story (2010)

Review: A Serbian Film (2010)

aserbianfilmDirected by Srdjan Spasojevi´c

Starring Sergej Trifunovi´c, Srdjan Todorovi´c, Ana Saki´c

There is a good reason why this is called A Serbian Film: Only the Balkan nation of Serbia could produce this landmark of transgressive cinema. With the nation’s terrible decadelong civil war a constant and unspoken subtext, former porn star Milosh (Todorovi´c) is lured back into the industry by enigmatic producer Vukmir (Trifunovi´c). Short of cash and intrigued by the suggestion of porn as art, he finds himself duped into a hell of depravity that would make Hieronymus Bosch blanch.

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Review: The People Vs. George Lucas (2010)

tpvglDirected by Alexandre O. Philippe

It made sense that this documentary was preceded at its SXSW screenings by the short <i>Star Wars: Retold</i> (retold by someone who’s never seen it). Even people who have never sat through George Lucas’ epic tale of a galaxy far, far away have been touched by its cultural impact.

Continue reading Review: The People Vs. George Lucas (2010)