What You Missed at SXSW

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This year’s South by SouthWest (SXSW) Film Festival has brought high caliber films and talent to the spotlight. The festival runs from March 10-18 and celebrates emerging and creative minds in film, music and interactive media.

Held in Austin, TX, over the nine days, 130 features, consisting of 84 world premieres, 14 North American premieres, and 5 U.S. premieres screened at SXSW. Films such as “Residente,” “As I Walk Through the Valley,” and this year’s festival award winners represent diverse and unique voices shining through film.

Spanish director Ana Asensio’s film “Most Beautiful Island,” received the Feature Film Grand Jury in the Narrative Feature Competition. Asensio, mainly known as a TV actress, wrote, directed and stars in her film. She plays an undocumented immigrant who spends a hellish day trying to survive a job that sounds too good to be true.

Directors Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous received the documentary feature award for “The Work.” The film follows “three convicts and three civilians who are participants in an unconventional four-day men’s group therapy program inside the Northern California facility,” according to the LATimes.

The ceremony was held Tuesday night in Austin’s Paramount Theater and Lewis Black, co-founder of SXSW, opened the night by saying what was on everyone’s minds.

“I shouldn’t get partisan here,” Black said, “but given the people in the White House, given the current administration, given the fact that stories that have not been told are now being suppressed, given that voices that haven’t been heard from are being driven out of the country, more important than ever are independent narrative, documentary, experimental and animated film.”

He went on to say that even if not everyone feels the same way, as members of the film industry, the main goal is to share stories that unite people. “It’s about inclusion and not exclusion,” he said.

Even though that message seemed to be the theme for the festival, news broke about at least 11 artists heading to SXSW being denied access to the U.S. Nevertheless, SXSW proved yet again to be a place for diverse content.

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