South by Southwest, one of America's biggest cultural events, won't happen this year. The cause, of course, is the coronavirus pandemic, its own status as an event unprecedented in our age evidenced by the fact that South by Southwest has never in its 33-year history been canceled before. When SXSW, as it's now known, launched in Austin, Texas back in 1987, it did so purely as a music festival; cinema came in 1994, when it became the "SXSW Film and Multimedia Conference." Since then quite a few movies have launched from Austin into international renown, including Jeffrey Blitz's spelling-bee documentary Spellbound, Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War thriller The Hurt Locker, and the entire genre of "mumblecore."
Spare a thought, then, for the filmmakers with work accepted into SXSW 2020 — or better yet, spare some time to watch their films online. While the festival's organizers figure out whether and how to reschedule, e-mail newsletter service Mailchimp and independent film company Oscilloscope Laboratories "have created a digital home for this incredible slate of short films, so you can watch them from wherever you are."
That slate includes selections from subcategories such as animation, documentary, the "preview of the next filmmaking generation" offered by the work of Texas high-school filmmakers, and even the beloved "midnighters," officially described as "bite-sized bits for all of your sex, gore, and hilarity cravings."
One such midnighter, a piece of domestic horror by Janina Gavankar and Russo Schelling called Stucco, appears at the top of the post. You'll find it on this Youtube playlist of short official selections from SXSW 2020, which also includes Zoe and Hanh, Kim Tran's examination of "girls, boys, and mothers," a "triangle of tension since… forever," and Charlie Tyrell's Broken Orchestra, a documentary on a Philadelphia community's effort to breathe life into a troubled public-school music program. There isn't much overlap between this playlist and the many shorts available to watch free on Mailchimp's site, so if you want to discover the filmmakers you would have at Austin this year — including the makers of Grand Jury Prize winners No Crying at the Dinner Table, Regret, Just Hold On, and Wish Upon a Snowman — head over there and have your own private SXSW Film Festival.
via No Film School
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.