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Film Independent Wed 3.9.2016

A Lone Star Is Born: Film Independent Members Invade SXSW

Long heralded as “the live music capital of the world,” the dusty urban chuckwagon known as Austin has long been famous as the Lone Star State’s premiere refuge for outsiders and artists of every discipline and derangement—be they musicians, painters, poets, performance artists or—gasp!—filmmakers. 

In recent years, the juke joints, BBQ pits, tattoo parlors and microbreweries of South Congress Street and surrounding environs have swelled to virtual capacity with scores of bespectacled and (for the gentlemen) bearded creators hustling and hawking their wares—the locus for which, since 1987, has been SXSW.

Originally begun as a music festival, SXSW has expanded to include Interactive and Educational sections, as well as the SXSW Film Festival, which begins this Friday, March 11—plenty of time to commandeer an art car and hit up the Texas capital.

We’re particularly excited for SXSW this year. Film Independent boasts a staggering 39 Members with film premiering at the festival—a total of 32 different projects in 11 different festival categories. What better cause is there to shout, “Yee-Haw”? 

So take off your ten-gallon hat and slap it against your thigh—careful now, that’s raw denim! Here’s your definitive roundup of Film Independent Members at SXSW.


Competing in the Narrative Feature Competition:

  • Debra Eisenstadt, writer/director/producer, Before the Sun Explodes
  • Ryan Cunningham, co-producer, Claire in Motion
  • Yael Melamede, executive producer, Claire in Motion
  • Michael B. Clark, producer, Miss Stevens
  • Molly Christie Benson, producer, Transpecos

Film Independent Members competing in the Documentary Feature Competition:

  • Susan Glatzer, writer/director/producer, Alive and Kicking
  • William A. Kirkley, writer/director/producer, Orange Sunshine
  • Laura Dunn, director/producer, The Seer: A Portrait of Wendell Berry
  • Gill Holland, co-producer, The Seer: A Portrait of Wendell Berry

 Members showing their work in the Headliners category include:

  • Amanda Marshall, producer, Don’t Think Twice
  • John Sloss, executive producer, Everybody Wants Some
  • Jacob Jaffke, producer, In A Valley of Violence
  • Peter Phok, producer, In A Valley of Violence
  • Justin Wilkes, executive producer, Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru

Members showing their work in the Narrative Spotlight category include:

  • Mel Eslyn, executive producer, Rainbow Time
  • Brock Williams, producer, Slash
  • Henry Winterstern, executive producer, The Trust
  • Rosalie Swedlin, producer, The Waiting

Members showing their work in the Visions section of the festival include:

  • Chris Martin, producer, I Am Belfast
  • Brandon Vedder, producer, In Pursuit of Silence
  • Jennifer Brown, executive producer, Little Sister
  • Logan Kibens, writer/director/producer, Operator
  • Alex Taylor, writer/director, Spaceship

Members showing their work in the Episodic section include:

  • Robert Kirkman, writer/executive producer, Outcast
  • Pavlina Hatoupis, producer, Outcast

Members with projects included in the 24 Beats Per Second section include:

  • Howard Barish, executive producer, And Punching the Clown
  • Matt Ratner, producer, And Punching the Clown
  • Arun Kumar, producer, And Punching the Clown
  • Rob Alexander, director/producer, Gary Numan: Android in La La Land
  • Daniel Wagner, producer, Miles Ahead
  • Diane Becker, producer, We Are X

Members with projects playing in the Festival Favorites section include:

  • Brent Stiefel, producer, Free In Deed
  • Tim League, executive producer, The Greasy Strangler
  • Michael B. Clark, executive producer, Morris from America
  • Regina K. Scully, executive producer, Newton
  • Jamie Wolf, executive producer, Newton

Members with Documentary Shorts playing in the festival include:

  • Laura Poitras, executive producer, The Black Belt and Like

Members with projects shown in the Midnight Shorts section include:

  • J. Briones, writer/director/producer, The Smiling Man

And lastly, Members with films showing in the Texas Shorts section include:

  • Chris Durham, executive producer


So step outside and let your eyes to acclimate the bright Texas sun. Once you’ve found a suitable honkytonk to call home, brush the peanut shells of the upturned pickle barrel that serves as your dining table, crack open the SXSW program and let this recap guide your schedule. It’s up to you to keep Austin weird.

To read an interview with Logan Kibens, writer and director of the SXSW premiere Operator, click here. To watch SXSW-bound producer Mel Eslyn accept the Piaget Producers Award at the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards, click here.

For more information about becoming a Member of Film Independent—who knows? Maybe we’ll see you next year at SXSW—click here. To learn more about Film Independent, visit our website or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Matt Warren / Film Independent Digital Content Manager


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