Cinephiles from Austin and around the world have plenty of reason to be worked up over the current lineup of mainstream and independent films already listed by this year’s SXSW Film Conference and Festival, but don't think for a second that the festival’s programmers will forget to give props to Austin’s love of genre filmmaking.
For 20 years now, SXSW has paid tribute to the films that dare to go where others would never dream of going in terms of insane, high-concept subject matter that’s never afraid to throw in a healthy helping of gore, vampires and big ass spiders.
They are the fever dreams of deranged and demented filmmakers. They are the Midnighters.
The nine films that have been picked to represent the broad spectrum of genre films were recently revealed, including four world premieres and three U.S. premieres. It’s a selection that SXSW Senior Programmer and Operations Manager Jarod Neece hopes will make audiences run through a full range of emotions.
“We work year-round searching for films that will wow our audiences at midnight. This year we scoured the globe and brought back a batch that we knew would truly satisfy the gore hounds of SXSW. Full of scares, sex, madness, laughs, chills and major mind fucks, we hope there’s a little something for everyone.”
A little "something for everyone" who plans to be at the theater in the middle of the night for shocks, thrills and titillation. It’s not like anyone is expecting to get any sleep during the festival, right?
Some of the crazy titles grazing Austin screens will include Big Ass Spider!, a film that really doesn’t need any explanation because it does us all a favor by being so candidly titled; and Rob Zombie’s latest feature, The Lords of Salem, of course starring Sheri Moon Zombie, will make its U.S. premiere.
One other Midnighter film to keep an eye on is Kiss of the Damned. A list of genre films wouldn’t be complete without a vampiric romance, but this particular film is also enticing due to the fact that it is helmed by Xan Cassavettes, daughter of legendary actor, director and pioneer of cinéma vérité John Cassavetes. If anything, you'll see a filmmaking dynasty unfold before our eyes.
Along with the release of the lineup of Midnighter features, SXSW also rolled out the complete selection of short films that will join the features this year. After a record 3,597 short films were submitted, the entries were whittled down to 106 lucky shorts that will screen as part of ten curated shorts programs.
The shorts will encompass a variety of genres, including narrative, documentary, animation and music videos. The Midnighter screenings will also be accompanied by their own gory and frightening shorts, and films from Texas high school students will get their chance in the spotlight to show just what the future has to offer for homegrown filmmaking.