Kickstart This! Five Films That Need Your Help to Make It to SXSW

Five of this year's festival's most promising films, from the archival doc "Our Nixon" to the wondrous "Swim Little Fish Swim," have launched crowdsourcing campaigns to help them get...

For many independent filmmakers, the celebration surrounding being selected to premiere at a film festival is usually followed by the harsh reality of actually getting there. This year’s SXSW Film Festival is no exception. Between the production costs of actually finishing the film such as sound mixing and color timing and the ever-increasing plane fares and hotel fees that have grown as the festival has in popularity, it’s not enough to have accomplished the feat of, say, spending four years on the streets of Baltimore to reveal a new look at life in the city or digging up never-before-seen home movies of a U.S. president. Which is why for the second consecutive year, we wanted to highlight five promising films headed to Austin this March in need to a little support. Here’s a rundown of these worthy films currently crowdsourcing towards the festival – each title leads to its crowdsourcing page:

“12 O’ Clock Boys” (IMDb, Facebook, official site, trailer, SXSW schedule listing)

Judging from its trailer, Lotfy Nathan’s profile of a 13-year-old boy named Pug who dreams of joining the film’s titular dirt-bike riding street crew in West Baltimore is bound to be one of the festival’s most exciting films. Having already funded production of the coming-of-age documentary with one Kickstarter campaign, Nathan is turning to the crowdsourcing site once more for the final stretch, offering rewards ranging from digital downloads of the film for those who may not be able to make it to Austin to dirt-bike riding in Baltimore. Still, the biggest reward appears to be supporting a film that offers yet another side to the city than the one seen on “The Wire.” Deadline: March 6th

“Improvement Club” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, official site, SXSW schedule listing)

Traveling from one of our favorite film scenes to another, Seattle-based filmmaker Dayna Hanson is bringing a little bit of the Emerald City with her to Austin with her directorial debut about a performance troupe who stumble through tough times, a feature described as “a hybrid narrative with doses of mockumentary, musical comedy and dance.” While that’s an unusual mix for most, it’s territory Hanson knows well, having helmed several dance films, and she’s joined by frequent Lynn Shelton and Guy Maddin cinematographer Benjamin Kasulke to help capture it. A clip from the initial 2009 short the feature is based on hints at the likelihood “Improvement Club” will be one of the festival’s special, singular achievements much like previous SXSW hits “NY Export: Opus Jazz” and “Girl Walk//All Day” and with a modest fundraising goal, it’s easy to dance to their tune. Deadline: March 4th

“Our Nixon” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, official site, trailer, SXSW schedule listing)

Decades after Richard Nixon left office, a new documentary reveals he wasn’t the only one compelled to keep an extensive record of his presidency, though as history has taught us, he was partial to audio recordings. Filmmaker Penny Lane shows that was literally only half the story with a film comprised largely of the personal Super 8 footage made by aides H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin from the start of the Nixon presidency to its ignonimous end with Watergate. In an age where there’s more stories about the White House than ever, but actual access may be more limited, the film promises an unmediated look at the inner workings of the 37th president’s office. Early reviews from its international bow at Rotterdam suggest the film allow for Nixon’s rarely-seen sense of humor to emerge as well as candid footage from the president’s trip to China. Deadline: March 2nd

“Swim Little Fish Swim” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, official site, trailer, SXSW schedule listing)

Naturally, a film about the travails of a put-upon nurse and her slacker musician husband is bound to be in need of a little cash, but the feature debut of French filmmakers Ruben Amar and Lola Bessis appears to be
rich in other ways. Featuring “Bad Fever” director Dustin Guy Defa as the aforementioned troubadour and “Diving Bell and the Butterfly” star Anne Consigny, the dramedy is the result of a two-year journey divided between New York and Paris and promises “magic tricks” and “surrealism” in the all-too-real story of an unhappy couple with a three-year-old daughter whose lives are upended by a perky 19-year-old who comes to live with them. Past collaborators of Lena Dunham and Michel Gondry have helped with the production as part of the crew and now you can too, even potentially earning a small role in the filmmaker’s next film, amongst the many rewards to be had on Kickstarter. Deadline: March 13th

“Zero Charisma” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, official site, trailer, SXSW schedule listing)

Since this comedy was shot in Austin, travel isn’t likely a concern for Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews’ comedy, but their IndieGoGo campaign still is about the long haul. The duo has had plenty of good fortune in Texas’ capitol city where their doc collaborations with Michael Paul Stephenson — 2009’s “Best Worst Movie” and 2012’s “The American Scream” — have launched to great success at SXSW and Fantastic Fest, respectively, and they hope to continue that run with their shared directorial debut about an aimless donut store clerk who compensates for the lack of power in his day job in the evening as a Game Master in his tabletop fantasy RPG, though both these lives are potentially compromised by the arrival of a new kid in town.  For the low price of $5,000, one can still claim an Associate Producer title on the festival-approved film, but smaller donations surely will be appreciated by the production in need of color correction, sound mixing and music costs to put them on the proper path to showing the film to audiences beyond the city limits of Austin. Deadline: February 23rd

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