What to Watch at SXSW This Week

What to Watch at SXSW This Week

If you're heading to Austin for South by Southwest (SXSW) this weekend, here are some Midwest-made productions and panels you must fit into your jam-packed schedule:

SIGNATURE MOVE is a Chicago-made comedic and heartfelt look at modern families and the complexities of love in its many forms (click here for our past articles on the feature). Zaynab (Fawzia Mirza) is a Pakistani, Muslim lawyer living in Chicago who begins a new romance with Alma (Sari Sanchez), a confident Mexican-American woman. Zaynab's recently widowed mother Parveen (Shabana Azmi) has moved in and spends her days watching Pakistani TV dramas while searching for a potential husband for her only daughter. Alma's mother is a former professional Luchadora which Zaynab finds fascinating as she's recently taken up lucha-style wrestling with a former pro wrestler. Zaynab tries to keep her secrets from her mother who knows more than she lets on. SIGNATURE MOVE makes its World Premiere MARCH 11 at 1PM at ALAMO LAMAR E (1120 S. LAMAR BLVD).

Milwaukee filmmaker Erik Ljung brings his gripping documentary THE BLOOD IS AT THE DOORSTEP to Austin this week. On April 30, 2014, Dontre Hamilton, a black, unarmed man diagnosed with schizophrenia, was shot 14 times and killed by a Milwaukee police officer responding to a non-emergency wellness check in a popular downtown park. His death sparked months of unrest and his family into activism. Offering a painfully realistic glimpse inside a movement born out of tragedy, this explosive documentary takes a behind the scenes look at one of America’s most pressing social issues.

Chicago filmmaker Joe Swanberg returns to SXSW with his latest feature WIN IT ALL. Small time Chicago gambler, Eddie Garrett, agrees to watch a duffel bag for an acquaintance who is heading to prison. When he discovers cash in the bag, he hatches a plan to win big, against the advice of his gambling sponsor and his brother. Swanberg co-wrote the film with Jake Johnson of NEW GIRL fame, who leads this cast.

The Midwest filmmaking community will be represented on the panel side as well. Here are a couple to add to your calendar:

#YoutubeSoBrown: Diversity & Digital Storytelling features Chicago filmmakers Puja Mohindra and Fawzia Mirza. This panel explores how the digital space can foster new & diverse stories, as well as explore the challenges, rewards & responsibilities that come with telling these stories.

Multimedia Grants and Fiscal Sponsorship in Action panel featuring IFP Chicago's Executive Director Nicole Bernardi-Reis, Milwaukee Film Festival Director Jonathan Jackson and Leavens Strand & Glover's Michigan man Joe Voss. This session explores the best practices, strategies and tactics employed by three organizations working in Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee respectively, and examines the challenges the organizations face in their work.

If you have a film or panel coming up in Austin this week, please email me anytime at mac@screenmag.com. In the meantime, have a great time at SXSW and please keep supporting your local filmmakers!

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.