The South by Southwest Film Festival begins today, and if you’re anything like me, you’re not attending. And you’re kind of bummed about it. But fear not! Just because you’re not in Austin this week doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the best parts of a film festival: the films themselves.
IFC Films will be premiering four SXSW films on demand in conjunction with their fest premieres. And these aren’t just a bunch of movies nobody wants to see; among the films premiering on cable is Alexander the Last, the latest film from Joe (Hannah Takes the Stairs) Swanberg, which is getting incredible notices. This movie may be the breakout of SXSW 09, and you’ll be able to see it just like the rest of those Texas motherfuckers.
Here are the full details, straight from an IFC press release:
This March, IFC Films and Austin’s South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival are creating the first-ever nationwide on-demand film festival experience, giving film lovers coast-to-coast the opportunity to experience a major film festival as it happens right from their own living room. As part of this initiative, a select group of five exceptional films screening at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival will simultaneously be available in 30 million homes – and virtually all major U.S. markets – nationwide on-demand through the IFC Festival Direct program. All five directors will be attending the 2009 Festival and will be available for interviews prior to the start or on-the-ground in Austin.
On March 14, IFC Films and SXSW will present the festival and on-demand world premiere of ALEXANDER THE LAST from the groundbreaking indie director and SXSW favorite Joe Swanberg. Produced by Swanberg and Academy Award® nominee Noah Baumbach (THE SQUID AND THE WHALE) and Anish Savjani (WENDY AND LUCY), the film stars Jess Wexler (TEETH), Justin Rice (MUTUAL APPRECIATION and from the acclaimed alternative rock group BISHOP ALLEN), Barlow Jacobs, Amy Seimetz, Josh Hamilton and Jane Adams in a sexy ensemble drama about a married actress, her sister and their myriad sexual and creative temptations. This marks the third time IFC Films and Swanberg have partnered together, following the successful releases of NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS and HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS, and the fourth film Swanberg has premiered at SXSW.
Additional films in the IFC Films-SXSW partnership include the Javor Gardev’s striking neo-noir ZIFT, Bulgaria’s official 2009 Oscar entry; and the U.S. Premiere of Matthew Newton’s THREE BLIND MICE, a dark comedy about three Australian naval officers who spend a testosterone-packed night on the town before returning to Iraq. ZIFT premiered in 2008 at the Toronto Film Festival where it was hailed by Variety critic Eddie Cockrell as “a genre thrill ride and an instant midnight fest fave.” THREE BLIND MICE also premiered at Toronto last year. The film stars Matthew Newton, a household name in Australia, who currently stars in the hit Australian TV crime drama Underbelly. Megan Lehmann from the Hollywood Reporter called THREE BLIND MICE “a smart and sophisticated freewheeling romp with a dark heart.”
Also included as part of the partnership are two celebrated films from the 2008 SXSW Festival which will have encore screenings at this year’s festival: Barry Jenkins’ Independent Spirit and Gotham award-nominated MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY; and Joe Maggio’s poignant drama PAPER COVERS ROCK. MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY, a love story told through two African-American twenty somethings in a rapidly gentrifying San Francisco, was recently released theatrically at the IFC Center in New York City to an impressive screen average of more than $14,000. The film stars Wyatt Cenac, a writer and fake news correspondent on The Daily Show. In his New York Times review, A.O Scott called MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY “an exciting debut, and a film that, without exaggeration or false modesty, finds interest and feeling in the world just as it is.” PAPER COVERS ROCK, a gripping drama about a troubled young woman struggling to regain custody of her daughter, is acclaimed filmmaker Joe Maggio’s follow up to VIRGIL BLISS and MILK AND HONEY. The film was made in 10 days for $7000, and is the first installment of a ten-film series inspired by Krystof Kieszlowski’s DECALOGUE.
All of the films included in the IFC Films-SXSW partnership will be available nationwide on-demand for 90 days on most major cable systems in more than 30 million households. Concurrent with the start of SXSW, these films will be found in a special “SXSW” branded section within most cable company’s on-demand platforms. The special “SXSW” branded section will launch on March 11th.
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey