Midwest crashes SXSW party

Midwest crashes SXSW party

Greetings from Austin! Here’s a look at a few films out here at South by Southwest this week with some Midwest ties…

DRINKING BUDDIES. Chicago filmmaker Joe Swanberg’s biggest budget to date bows in Austin this week. Cast includes Oscar nom Anna Kendrick (UP IN THE AIR), Olivia Wilde (COWBOYS AND ALIENS) and Ron Livingston (SWINGERS). Kate (Wilde) and Luke (NEW GIRL’s Jake Johnson) work together at a craft brewery. They have one of those friendships that feels like it could be something more. But Kate is with Chris (Livingston), and Luke is with Jill (Kendrick). And Jill wants to know if Luke is ready to talk about marriage. The answer to that question becomes crystal clear when Luke and Kate unexpectedly find themselves alone for a weekend.

AWFUL NICE. The Branson boys are back at it… Missouri filmmaker Todd Sklar returned to Branson to film his latest comedy and now is off to Texas. Estranged brothers Jim and Dave must travel to Branson together when their father dies and leaves them the lake home. A series of hilarious mishaps and costly misadventures follow as they attempt to restore the house and rebuild their relationship.

BORN IN CHICAGO. This soulful documentary chronicles the story of first generation blues performers who had made their way to Chicago from the Mississippi Delta and their ardent and unexpected followers – young white, middle class kids who followed this evocative music to smoky clubs deep in Chicago’s ghettos. There, against all odds, they were encouraged by the greats who had became their musical mentors and learned the art of the blues at the feet the masters, going on to make the music their own. Passed down from musician to musician, the Chicago blues transcended the color lines of the 1960s as young, white Chicago musicians apprenticed themselves to legends such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.

SOME GIRL(S). Last but certainly not least, the latest from Detroit native Neil LaBute makes its debut at SXSW this week. The production team for SOME GIRL(S) includes Chicago native and Northwestern grad Patty West as well as Chicago producer Joe Klest. Based on his play, Neil LaBute's script follows a successful writer (Adam Brody) who, on the eve of his wedding, travels across the country to meet up with ex-lovers in an attempt to make amends for past relationship transgressions. Cast includes Kristen Bell (FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL), Daisy von Scherler Mayer (PARTY GIRL) directs. One more Midwest note about LaBute: he filmed his debut feature – and probably my favorite Midwest independent film to date – IN THE COMPANY OF MEN, right in South Bend, Indiana…

If you’re in Austin this week, feel free to drop me a line via the contact page over at www.midwestfilm.com, hopefully we’ll bump into each other on 6th Street, cheers!

Mike McNamara is the Co-Founder of The Midwest Independent Film Festival, www.midwestfilm.com. Mike pays his rent as an actor in Chicago in theatre, commercials, television and film. More from Mac at www.findmac.com.