Mood swing at fest as focus switches to music
With the departure of thousands of tech geeks from South by Southwest Interactive, which wrapped Tuesday, hyperactive “what’s next” chatter yielded to an equally intense but more “in the moment” groove as the 25th annual SXSW Music kicked into full gear Wednesday.
SXSW Film — which runs concurrent to its sister events and wraps Saturday — reflected that mood swing with a record number of world-preeming music docus, many of which exploited the fest’s unique context and delivered live bonus material.
Four-hundred lucky souls queuing for Tuesday night’s world preem of James Moll’s docu “Foo Fighters: Back and Forth” — chronicling the creation of the band’s new album, “Wasting Light” — got wristbands that put them first in line for a surprise two-hour concert by the Foos at Stubb’s. Pic gets limited theatrical release April 5 and preems April 8 on VH1, VH1 Classic and Palladia.
Punk rock dads pic “The Other F Word” preemed with strong buzz on Saturday, with musicians from bands including Black Flag, Pennywise, the Vandals and Everclear appearing at the screening.
And Thursday afternoon saw the world preem of Danny Clinch’s docu “Live at Preservation Hall: Louisiana Fairytale,” about the 50-year-old Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s collaboration with American rockers My Morning Jacket, followed that evening by a SXSW showcase perf that was taped for a future episode of “Austin City Limits.” On a completely different note, Thursday saw the screening of “Furious Force of Rhymes,” about hip-hop as worldwide protest music, which will show on the Smithsonian Channel on June 24.
Wednesday’s world preem of “Outside Industry,” Alan Berg’s behind-the-scenes feature docu about the scrappy origins of the SXSW music fest, attracted a lively hometown crowd.
But darker themes were also present on the SXSW slate. Three standout docus that world preemed here to warm aud reception — and all on buyers’ radar now — present different perspectives on musicians’ struggles with drug addiction.
“Last Days Here,” from co-helmers Don Argott and Demian Fenton (“The Art of the Steal”), charts the almost unbelievable recent trajectory of Bobby Leibling, lead singer of early 1980s cult rock band Pentagram, who’s wracked with multiple addictions and living in his parents’ basement when the film begins. Josh Braun of Submarine confirms strong interest from two theatrical distributors in “Last Days,” which screens in competition at the Sarasota Film Festival next month.
“Bob the Monster” — Keirda Bahruth’s feature docu about the transformation of indie-rock hero Bob Forrest, frontman of L.A.’s Thelonious Monster, from drug addict to high-profile addiction counselor — has buyer traction at it rolls toward its Nashville film fest appointment next month.
And never-before-seen Hi8 footage of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love is just one selling point of “Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death of Patty Schemel.” P. David Ebersole’s docu follows the rocky life story of Schemel, the openly gay former drummer of Love’s band Hole — who became addicted to heroin in the early 1990s and is now recovered.
Key Hole members Love, Schemel, guitarist Eric Erlandson and bassist Melissa Auf Der Mar are expected to attend pic’s March 28 screening at Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films.