The SXSW Film Festival in Austin kicks off Fridayand, as usual, the wealth of choice is dizzying.
If you’re going down for some cinematic overload, what should you check out? To help keep you from feeling overwhelmed, here are 10 suggestions.
“Song to Song” (6:30 p.m. March 10: This is the world premiere of the latest from reclusive Texas director Terrence Malick and it not only has a star-studded cast — Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett — but it’s set against the backdrop of the Austin music scene.
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“Barbecue” (5:30 p.m. March 11, 5:45 p.m. March 12, 2 p.m. March 18): Aussie director Matthew Salleh’s gorgeously shot, globetrotting tribute to grilled meats is less Guy Fieri and more “Koyaanisqatsi.” It’s an often contemplative documentary on how the combo of fire and flesh always has brought people together. And, yes, part of it was shot in Texas.
“Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall” (6:45 p.m. March 11, 1:30 p.m. March 14, 5:15 p.m. March 15): Texan Hall (a former Arlington resident and former “American Idol” semifinalist) is a YouTube sensation and this documentary chronicles his ambitious plans to stage a full-scale, original music called “Straight Outta Oz.”
“Meth Storm: Arkansas USA” (8:30 p.m. March 11, 4 p.m. March 14, 2:30 p.m. March 15): There’s a lot of buzz about this documentary from the Peabody Award-winning Renaud Brothers that delves deep into the world of meth. By giving voice to dealers, users and law enforcement, it is being compared to the lauded 2015 doc “Cartel Land.”
“Baby Driver” (9 p.m. March 11): This one promises to be a crowd-pleaser. Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”) directs this thriller about a young getaway driver. Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Lily James, Jon Hamm and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers star.
“Stranger Fruit” (11:30 a.m. March 12): Director Jason Pollock plunges behind the headlines about the high-profile killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. in 2014, the incident that led to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Bill Frisell, A Portrait” (4 p.m. March 12, 2 p.m. March 13, 10:45 a.m. March 16): Making its much anticipated world premiere, this is a documentary about legendary guitarist Bill Frisell, a guitar hero many might not know by name. Appearing in the film are Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Jack DeJohnette, Hal Willner and many more.
“Hot Summer Nights” (6 p.m. March 13): Chatter has been strong about this debut from young writer/director Elijah Bynum that is making its world premiere here. The script for this coming-of-age tale had been at the top of Hollywood’s “Black List,” a survey of the best screenplays not yet produced.
“Free Fire” (9:30 p.m. March 13): There’s a whiff of Tarantino surrounding this action-thriller about two warring crime gangs trapped in a warehouse with only their wits and their guns for escape. Directed by Ben Wheatley (”High Rise,” “Kill List”), it has a solid cast including Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Noah Taylor and Cillian Murphy.
The Most Hated Woman in America (2:30 p.m. March 14) Atheist activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who lived in Texas, was one of the most controversial figures in her day with “Life” magazine bestowing on her the moniker that became the title of this film. Melissa Leo stars as O’Hair with Juno Temple, Peter Fonda and Adam Scott co-starring.
South by Southwest Festival
Various venues in Austin