SXSW Wrap-Up: Brooklyn Castle, Audience Award Winners And Our Biggest Disappointments

By Sean O'Connell 2012-03-19 06:41:33discussion comments
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This year’s South By Southwest Film Festival wrapped over the weekend with the Closing Night screening of the musical ensemble Big Easy Express, capping nine days of screenings that numbered somewhere north of 130 films.

I didn’t see them all, though I did manage to see 20 good-to-great films (and one dud) that I covered during this year’s fest. Click HERE to peruse our coverage from this year’s fest. As the SXSW team announced more Audience Award winners in various categories, I wanted to run through the last of the films I’d yet to write about in some detail, and also post the last two videos I shot with MovieHole columnist Adam Frazier. Conveniently, we discussed a couple of the films that took home Audience Award trophies this year, including the Documentary Spotlight winner Brooklyn Castle and the Narrative Spotlight winner Fat Kid Rules the World, by first-time director (but long-time Shaggy) Matthew Lillard. Check out our comments below:



I’m thrilled to see Fat Kid score an Audience Award at SXSW. As I mentioned here, it has enormous heart, and Lillard’s tight direction flourishes once he realizes he can step outside of the well-walked path of similar coming-of-age dramas. Now it just needs proper distribution. Which studio will step up?

We also talk, in the above clip, about the loose-structured Paul Williams: Still Alive, a documentary shot by feature-film director Stephen Kessler once he realized that the ‘70s pop-culture superstar – who penned The Rainbow Connection and dominated Match Game, to name just two accomplishments – was still alive and performing. The doc works because it avoids the traditional documentary format. Kessler, in fact, admits halfway through that he has no story, and isn’t sure where his movie’s going. But by leaving in all of the behind-the-scenes tinkering (stuff that’s normally left on the cutting room floor), Williams demonstrates just how charismatic the real Paul Williams is, and we start to understand why his star continues to shine so bright.

Not everything shone as bright during SXSW this year, though. Sleepwalk With Me is stand-up comic Mike Birbiglia’s attempt at converting his early battles with sleep anxiety into an introspective and entertaining narrative feature. Birbiglia’s an incredibly nice guy. He took the stage after the screening for a Q-and-A, and had the crowd in stitches. He’s funny. But his movie is so soft, particularly when compared to the cutting-edge work Louis CK is doing on FX. Heck, it’s tame compared to old Seinfeld episodes. And instead of focusing on his sleep therapy, which would have been a unique subject, Birbiglia keeps Sleepwalk centered on a fledgling comic’s quest to reach the “big time.” We’ve seen that story, though. Countless times before. And done better than this. I like Birbiglia. I wasn’t bowled over by his effort.

But Sleepwalk wasn’t terrible enough that I felt it necessary to include it in Adam and my final video blog from SXSW, which covered the biggest disappointments from this year’s programming. What did we choose? Watch and see.



And that concludes CinemaBlend’s coverage from the 2012 South By Southwest Film Festival. I hope I managed to turn you on to some truly great films. And keep an eye on the sight for full interviews with SXSW alums like Joss Whedon (The Cabin in the Woods), Aubrey Plaza (Safety Not Guaranteed) and Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe) as their movies get closer to release date.
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