Documentary Lineup at SXSW 2011

Announced today, SXSW 2011’s lineup is as diverse as ever. Obviously, we focus on the 40+ documentaries at the festival, and there are numerous films of note. Alongside the recent Sundance Grand Jury-winning How to Die in Oregon are other Sundance titles such as Morgan Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Andrew Rossi’s Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times, and Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey by Constance A. Marks (who we interviewed for our upcoming Sundance podcast). The programme also includes a few of the biggest films from the last twelve months, such as Tabloid by Errol Morris, Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog and Armadillo by Janus Metz (Doc Blog reviews here).

It’s lovely to see El Ambulante by Eduardo de la Serna, Lucas Marcheggiano and Adriana Yurcovich, which I loved at HotDocs and Benda Bilili! by Renaud Barret & Florent de La Tullaye, which has received incredible buzz throughout its festival tour.

There are a few films included that were recommended in our Documentaries to look out for in 2011 listDragonslayer (pictured) being one that seems to be highly anticipated. True/False’s David Wilson named it one of ‘Ten Movies that People Will Be Talking About One Year From Today’ in our list. I also am extremely looking forward to seeing Michael Tucker & Petra Epperlein’s Fightville and Jeanie Finlay’s crowd-funded film, Sound It Out.

The Documentary Feature Competition films are below and the full programme of documentaries is after the jump. SXSW takes place between March 11-19 in Austin, Texas. Their website is here.

Documentary Feature Competition

This year’s 8 Documentary Feature Comptetition films were selected from 808 submissions. Each film is a World Premiere

A Mouthful
Director: Sally Rowe

Considered a rising star of haute cuisine, Paul Liebrandt found his career stalled in New York’s austere environment post 9/11. Paul struggles over the next decade as he tries to make his way back to the top. (World Premiere)

Better This World
Directors: Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega

Two childhood friends from Midland, Texas cross a line that changes their lives forever. The result: eight homemade bombs, multiple domestic terrorism charges and a high stakes entrapment defense hinging on a controversial FBI informant. (World Premiere)

The City Dark
Director: Ian Cheney

The film chronicles the disappearance of darkness, following astronomers, cancer researchers, ecologists and philosophers in a quest to understand what is lost in the glare of city lights. (World Premiere)

Director: Tristan Patterson

Killer Films presents the transmissions of a lost kid, falling in love, in the suburbs of Fullerton, California. Featuring skateboarding, the usual drugs, and stray glimpses of unusual beauty. (World Premiere)

Directors: Michael Tucker & Petra Epperlein

A documentary about the art and sport of fighting: a microcosm of life, a physical manifestation of that other brutal contest called the American Dream. (World Premiere)

Kumaré (U.S.A/India)
Director: Vikram Gandhi

A documentary about a man who impersonates a wise Indian Guru and builds a following in Arizona. (World Premiere)

Directors: Don Argott & Demian Fenton

The film follows middle-aged rocker Bobby Liebling, lead singer of the cult hard rock/heavy metal band Pentagram, as he leaves his parents’ basement in search of the life he never lived. (World Premiere)

Where Soldiers Come From
Director: Heather Courtney

Prosecutors say Issa Sesay is a war criminal, guilty of crimes against humanity. His defenders say he is a reluctant fighter who protected civilians and played From a snowy small town in Northern Michigan to the mountains of Afghanistan and back, the film follows the four-year journey of childhood friends and their town, forever changed by a faraway war. (World Premiere)


Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (Ireland)
Director: Rodman Flender

Did Conan O’Brien go on tour to connect with his fans or fill a void within himself? Rodman Flender’s documentary captures an artist trained in improvisation at the most improvisational time of his career. (World Premiere)

Spotlight Premieres

Shining a light on new documentary and narrative features receiving their World, North American or U.S. Premieres at SXSW.

Becoming Santa
Director: Jeff Myers

In an effort to rekindle his Christmas spirit, Jack decides to spend this season as Santa Claus, but the role of Kris Kringle is more complex than he thinks. (World Premiere)

Bob and The Monster
Director: Keirda Bahruth

A highly compelling portrait of outspoken indie-rock hero Bob Forrest, through his life-threatening struggle with addiction, to his transformation into one of the most influential and controversial drug counselors in the US today. (World Premiere)

Director: Anne Buford

From a basketball academy in Senegal, to the high-pressure world of American prep schools, the film documents the extraordinary personal journeys of four particularly tall West African Muslim teenage boys with NBA dreams. (World Premiere)

Fambul Tok
Director: Sara Terry

Victims and perpetrators of Sierra Leone’s brutal war come together for the first time in an unprecedented reconciliation program of grassroots truth-telling and forgiveness ceremonies. (World Premiere)

It’s About You.
Director: Kurt Markus

First-time filmmakers, photographer Kurt Markus and son, Ian, document John Mellencamp’s 2009 summer tour and recording of his latest album. This film celebrates the visual beauty and power of Super8 film and the human voice. (World Premiere)

The Other F Word
Director: Andrea Blaugrund Nevins

When the most anti-authoritarian among us become the ultimate authorities… we might just have to use The Other F Word. (World Premiere)

One Night in Vegas
Director: Reggie Rock Bythewood

On the evening of 9/7/96, Mike Tyson attempted to regain the WBA title in Vegas. Sitting ringside was his friend Tupac Shakur. This ESPN Films documentary tells not only the story of that infamous night but of their remarkable friendship. (World Premiere)

Directors: Victor Köhler & David Dworsky

The first real testimony of the digi-creative revolution. It’s an 80 minute global journey capturing how digital technology and mindset has transformed the concept of art and culture. (North American Premiere)

Something Ventured
Directors: Dan Geller & Dayna Goldfine

Apple. Intel. Genentech. Cisco. Atari. This film tells the story of a handful of risk-takers who alongside visionary entrepreneurs created these revolutionary companies, and in the process ignited the industry known as venture capital. (World Premiere)

Square Grouper
Director: Billy Corben

A colorful portrait of Miami’s pot smugglin’ scene of the 1970s, populated with redneck pirates, a ganja-smoking church, and the longest serving marijuana prisoner in American history. (World Premiere)

Directors: Dan Lindsay & T.J. Martin

A volunteer coach helps a neglected inner-city football team in their quest to win the first playoff game in the high school’s history. (World Premiere)

Emerging Visions

Innovation and creativity from new and emerging feature filmmakers, showcasing raw talent in documentary and narratives of varying premiere status.

The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye
Director: Marie Losier

A portrait of the life and work of ground-breaking performance artist and music pioneer Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV) and his wife Lady Jaye, centered around their sexual transformations for their “Pandrogyne” project. (North American Premiere)

CONVENTO (Portugal)
Director: Jarred Alterman

Artist Christiaan Zwanikken resurrects deceased wildlife by reanimating the skeletal remains with servomotors and robotics. He breeds these new species in a 400-year-old monastery in Portugal, restored from ruins and converted into his laboratory. (North American Premiere)

World Peace and other 4th-Grade Achievements
Director: Chris Farina

World Peace and other 4th-Grade Achievements portrays John Hunter, a remarkable public-school teacher who has dedicated his life to teaching children the “work of peace.” (World Premiere)

Lone Star States

Texas proud! Documentaries and Narratives with a special connection to the Lone Star State.

Building Hope
Director: Turk Pipkin

Filmmaker Turk Pipkin’s promise to help build the first high school for a remote African community connects Americans and Kenyans in this true story.(World Premiere)

24 Beats per Second

Showcasing the sounds, culture and influence of music and musicians, with an emphasis on documentary.

Benda Bilili! (France)
Directors: Renaud Barret & Florent de La Tullaye

Ricky dreams of making Staff Benda Bilili the best band in Congo Kinshasa. Roger wants to join these stars of the ghetto. Together, they must avoid the pitfalls of the street and believe in music. (U.S. Premiere)

Foo Fighters
Director: James Moll

The definitive documentary of the last great American rock n’ roll band: chronicling Foo Fighters’ 16 year history from their first club gigs to the recording of their new album in Dave Grohl’s garage. (World Premiere)

Le Tigre: On Tour
Director: Kerthy Fix

A concert film that follows a feminist electronic band across 4 continents and 10 countries and provides an unusual peek behind the curtain of the contemporary pop machine. (World Premiere)

Live at Preservation Hall: Louisiana Fairytale
Director: Danny Clinch

The film documents the collaboration between New Orleans’s legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band and American rock band My Morning Jacket, demonstrating the power of Preservation Hall to inspire a whole new generation of musicians. (World Premiere)

Love Shines (Canada)
Director: Douglas Arrowsmith

Love Shines follows Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith as he makes his latest studio album with legendary producer Bob Rock. (U.S. Premiere)

NYMAN IN PROGRESS (Germany/England)
Director: Silvia Beck

A documentary about composer and artist Michael Nyman, who at 65, surprises the world with a new insight into his creativity. (U.S. Premiere)

Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW
Director: Alan Berg

Four guys living on next to nothing created a music event in the hopes of giving bands a way of connecting with music insiders. The result was the biggest music industry event in the world. (World Premiere)

Sound It Out (England)
Director: Jeanie Finlay

A documentary portrait of the very last record shop in Teesside. A distinctive, funny and intimate film about men, the North of England and the irreplaceable role of music in our lives. (World Premiere)

Taken By Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis
Director: Roddy Bogawa

Real? Surreal? Iconic? Impossible? The album art of Storm Thorgerson is so far deeply embedded into our psyche, it’s hard to believe it all came from one mind. (World Premiere)

Director: Danny O’Connor

The definitive and fully authorized documentary of the highs and lows of the UK’s most inspired and dissolute independent record label – Creation Records. (North American Premiere)

SX Global

A diverse panorama of international filmmaking talent, including premieres, interactive documentaries and shorts.

Armadillo (Denmark)
Director: Janus Metz

Following a group of Danish solders on a 2009 tour of Afghanistan, Janus Metz’s acclaimed documentary is a gripping, visually stunning probe into the psychology of young men in the midst of a senseless war.

Beats of Freedom (Poland)
Directors: Leszek Gnoinski & Wojciech Slota

A captivating film about the birth of rock music in Poland.

El Ambulante (Argentina)
Directors & Writers: Eduardo de la Serna, Lucas Marcheggiano and Adriana Yurcovich

A traveler arrives at a village and proposes to make a feature film – but only the villagers will act in the film.

El Bulli – Cooking in Progress (Germany)
Director: Gereon Wetzel

The starred chef Ferran Adrià is known as the best, most innovative and craziest cook in the world. Every year, the restaurant closes for six months and Adrià and his creative team retire to their cooking laboratory in Barcelona, to create a new menu for the following season. Everything is allowed – except copying themselves.

Heaven Hell (Czech Republic)
Director: David Calek

A documentary film dealing with human diversity that doesn’t necessarily lead to hell even though it might seem like that from the outsider’s point of view. (U.S. Premiere)

IDFA DocLab presents: New Documentary Narratives (Finland)

For the third year in a row, SXSW has invited IDFA DocLab ( to organize a panel and a special live cinema screening. IDFA DocLab is the new media program of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Since 2008, IDFA DocLab showcases the many new and unexpected forms of documentary storytelling made possible by digital technology. In Europe, the program has become a platform for transmedia and multiplatform projects, ranging from interactive webdocs to documentary media art.

My Life With Carlos (Chile/Germany/Spain)
Director: German Berger-Hertz

The film chronicles the journey of a son (director German Berger-Hertz) trying to learn the truth about his father, who was killed in 1973 in Pinochet’s Chile.

Reindeer Spotting (Finland)
Director: Joonas Neuvonen

Without moralizing the film shows the real life of a group of friends in the Arctic Circle, dabbling in petty crime and hard drugs. Disturbing, brutal and beautifully honest. Trainspotting in Santa Land. (North American Premiere)

Directors: Tim Plester & Rob Curry

Filmmaker Tim Plester journeys from the English village green to the killing fields of The Somme, in search of a connection with the much-maligned native dance traditions that run deep in his blood. (World Premiere)

Festival Favourites

Acclaimed standouts and selected previous premieres from festivals around the world.

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey
Director: Constance A. Marks

The Muppet Elmo is one of the most beloved characters among children across the globe. Meet the unlikely man behind the puppet – the heart and soul of Elmo – Kevin Clash. Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, this documentary includes rare archival footage and offers a behind-the-scenes look at Sesame Street and the Jim Henson Workshop.

Director: Werner Herzog

Filming in 3D, Herzog captures the wonder and beauty of one of the most awe-inspiring sites on earth.

The First Movie (Canada/England)
Director: Mark Cousins

What’s it like to be a child in war – not when the conflict is raging, but when the war tide is out, as it were, when kids are telling stories or playing games?

How to Die in Oregon (Iceland)
Director: Peter D. Richardson

The film tells the complex stories of terminally ill Oregonians, their families, doctors and friends, as they decide whether to end their life by lethal overdose under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act.

Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times (Ireland)
Director: Andrew Rossi

Unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom yields a complex view of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity.

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Director: Morgan Spurlock

Morgan Spurlock (Oscar nominee, Super Size Me) explores the world of product placement, marketing and advertising in POM Wonderful Presents: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD, a film fully financed through product placement.

Director: Errol Morris

Errol Morris further redefines and pushes the boundaries of documentary film with the tale of Joyce McKinney and the infamous “Case of the Manacled Mormon.”