Midwest Filmmakers Shine at SXSW

Midwest Filmmakers Shine at SXSW

Greetings from Austin! With the 2015 South By Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) in full swing, I thought it would be good to take a minute to celebrate the tremendous showing Midwest filmmakers are making in Austin this year. Here's a quick rundown...

FRESNO had the packed house rolling at its world premiere Saturday evening and features quite a few Midwesterners on the team. Executive Producer Patty West hails from Evanston and graduated from Northwestern; she returns to SXSW after landing in Austin with the 2013 Selection SOME GIRL(S). Director Jamie Babbit is a Cleveland native while the all-star cast is headed by Michigan native Judy Greer (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT). Investors in this raucous comedy include Paula Froehle and Steve Cohen of Chicago Media Project and Chicago producer Joe Klest.

As you're reading this article, Chicago director Steven Piet and producer Erik Crary are walking into the Ritz Theater on 6th Street for the World Premiere of their riveting Midwest-made drama UNCLE JOHN. Wanna check out the brand-new trailer? Swing by SCREEN's TRAILER PARK.

Wisconsin filmmaker Barry Poltermann edited the documentary RAIDERS!, premiering at SXSW this week. In 1982, three 11 year-olds in Mississippi set out to remake their favorite film: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. 30 years later, they attempt to finally realize their childhood dream. Follow Barry on twitter @onionbap.

Co-directors Kevin Pang of the Chicago Tribune and Mark Helenowski are receiving raves following the Friday night world premiere of their feature-length documentary debut FOR GRACE. The film centers on renowned Chicago chef Curtis Duffy and the building of his Michelin three-star restaurant, Grace, from concrete box to opening night.

As I mentioned in my earlier article, the Swanberg's are everyone's favorite festival couple once again as Kris is here with her Chicago-made drama UNEXPECTED and husband Joe with UNCLE KENT 2, which he co-stars in and executive produced.

Congratulations to Jonathan Lacocque and his team at Coat of Arms for being selected as a Finalist for the SXSW 2015 "Excellence In Title Design" competition, for their work on Nick Cavalier's upcoming documentary FORCED PERSPECTIVE about famed artist Derek Hess. Click here to check out the titles from Coat of Arms.

More news from SXSW coming up... I'll be in Austin for the festival through Thursday, drop me a line anytime at mac@screenmag.com if you're heading to SXSW or have any news to share.

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