SXSW2021: Virtual Film Festival Expands Cinematic Horizons

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – The virtual/online 2021 SXSW Festival began on March 16th, and continues through March 20th. In the participation of its film festival part of the fest, many of the newest and most cutting edge voices are creating new cinema perspectives. Below are capsule reviews of three new films.

There will be many advantages and unique opportunities through this event, centered as usual in Austin, Texas, including the keynote/speeches, conference sessions, music festival showcases, film festival screenings, world-class networking, online exhibitions, and the unexpected discoveries that are always a part of SXSW, all in a digital setting.

Broadcast Signal Intrusion
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StarFILMS OF SXSW: Capsule Reviews

Click the title for film information and screening status … Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

”Dear Mr. Brody” – Some phenomenons fly under the radar in our information obsessed world. Way back in January of 1970, a lone hippie kept the world enthralled with a vision. 21-year-old Michael Brody was the heir to a food fortune, and announced to the world that he was going to give away that fortune to anyone that needed it. In the space of ten days, he appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” got a music deal and was deluged by over a 100,000 letters and solicitations. This multi-layered film expounds upon the “15 minutes of fame,” greed, desperation and sanity-in-celebrity. Besides being a “lost story” of the flower power era, this is definitely a screen analysis that reflects right back to us. Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

”Broadcast Signal Intrusion” – Based on true story that happened in Chicago in the 1980s, when a TV signal hacker managed to get a few minutes of pirated video onto the air, interrupting two broadcasts. “Broadcast Signal … “ reframes this event as a thriller narrative, in which a man (Harry Shum Jr.) becomes obsessed about the interruptions, looking for messages within them that could reveal some secrets. Although the story is a bit too episodic, allowing clues to appear out of nowhere, the script by Phil Drinkwater and Tim Woodall and the sure direction of Jacob Gentry creates a chilling bit of psychological horror, mainly about the mystery of how people are motivated to live in atmospheres of their own paranoia, and how that results in the strange hacks of consciousness. Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

”Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free” – The late rocker Tom Petty, taken abruptly away in a flash, left a gift behind that has been built into a fly-on-the-wall documentary. In the mid 1990s, a crew of filmmakers documented the making of Petty’s “Wildflowers” album, considered to be one of his best. It caught the singer/songwriter in a transition, flexing his creative energies beyond his band The Heartbreakers, toward a more soulful sound. This was realized by the iconic music producer Rick Rubin, and director Mary Wharton combines reminiscences of the era with the found footage. This is a laid back and magical mystery ride into “the great wide open” as Petty used to sing, and was the perfect elegy for the legendary songster. RIP

How about a walk through the “Wildflowers” with Tom Petty …

Patrick McDonald of will be providing coverage of the SXSW 2021 throughout the duration of the festival.

The virtual 2021 South by Southwest Festival will take place March 16th through March 20th. For tickets, events schedule and all information click on senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor, Film Writer

© 2021 Patrick McDonald,

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