Kickstart This! – A Selection of Six Films for This Very Special SXSW Edition

You’d think beating out thousands of other movies for just eight slots would be the difficult part for the filmmakers who had the good fortune to be selected as part of this year’s SXSW Film Festival, but apparently not. No sooner than the films were announced, three narrative features and three documentaries launched campaigns on Kickstarter to raise the funds to make sure they look their best when they play at the Paramount or the Drafthouse in Austin…that is after they have enough money to make it to Austin in the first place. Since we trust the SXSW programmers’ taste implicitly, here’s a rundown of the worthy films currently crowdsourcing towards the festival – each title leads to its Kickstarter page:

“Bay of All Saints” (IMDb, SXSW listing and schedule, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)

For her feature debut, Annie Eastman returns to Bahia, Brazil where she was once worked in the local water slums in her early 20s. After more than a dozen visits in the past six years, she’s now put together a film about the families struggling to survive there, particularly three single mothers — a manager at a pizza place, a launderer, and a trash picker with 16 kids to take care of – who are faced with eviction from their homes when the government wants to reclaim the land. Considering Eastman slept in the creaky palafitas (the slums erected on stilts over the river) to capture the footage that she did, it'd be nice if she could rest more comfortably during the festival knowing the music rights and other post-production odds and ends are taken care of. Deadline: March 9th

“Booster” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)

After working in various capacities on such documentaries as “Wiliam Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe” and “The Hip Hop Project,” which he directed, Matt Ruskin makes the transition to helming a drama. Yet he clearly hasn’t lost interest in capturing real life by casting two nonprofessional actors as the leads of this thriller set in Ruskin’s hometown of Boston, where a civilian (Nico Stone) might have to break the law if he wants to help his brother get out of prison on the armed robbery charges he’s being held for. Hopefully, if his Kickstarter campaign is successful, Ruskin won’t have to go to the same lengths to finish the film’s post-production before the film’s premiere. Legendary co-star and Cassavetes cohort Seymour Cassel is signing autographs for one of the rewards. Deadline: March 7th

“The Last Fall” (IMDb, SXSW listing and schedule, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)

When Matthew Cherry attended the University of Akron Ohio, he took radio/TV/broadcast classes on weekdays and a wide receiver for the Zips on Saturdays before ultimately going pro in 2004. But after a career that saw him with the Jaguars, Bengals, Panthers and Ravens over the course of two years, he moved onto a new career, working his way up from serving as a production assistant on the sitcom “Girlfriends” to making his directorial debut that’s clearly inspired by his personal experience. “House of Payne” star Lance Gross loosely fills in for Cherry as an NFL player faced with having to move on with his life and unlike Cherry, he doesn’t have a promising film career ahead. “Shame” star Nicole Beharie, Henry Lennix and Keith David lend their support on screen, though behind the scenes, the film could use yours for HD mastering and music licensing. Deadline: March 10th  

“Pavilion” (SXSW listing and schedule, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)

Within days of launching its campaign, the directorial debut of Tim Sutton reached its $25,000 goal and then some, so consider everything else that comes in before its March 2nd deadline to start the foundation for a sequel. Or more likely some extra breathing room for the final sound mix and color correction for what appears from the trailer to be an evocative character study of a 15-year-old spending a summer in suburban Arizona with his father and finds himself isolated in the endless freedom he has as a young man in the middle of nowhere. Deadline: March 2nd

“Welcome to the Machine” (IMDb, SXSW listing and schedule, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)

A producer on SXSW alums “Cinemania” and “Scott Walker: 30th Century Man,” Avi Zev Weider returns to Austin as the director of this look at how human values shape technology and vice versa. Inspired by the birth of his triplets which were immediately cared for in a high-tech neonatal facility, Weider hit the road to interview the likes of futurist Ray Kurzweil and former Wired exec editor Kevin Kelly among others — the Kickstarter page alludes to correspondence with the ultimate technology-phobe Ted Kacynski — to discuss our connection to technology and the potential for disconnection. However, by crowdsourcing, Weider is aiming to bring everyone into the fold to help pay for completion costs. Deadline: March 22nd

“Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines” (IMDb, SXSW listing and schedule, official site, Facebook, Twitter)

While that David E. Kelley-produced pilot for “Wonder Woman” didn’t get picked up by NBC this season Kristy Guevara-Flanagan’s new documentary should do more than pick up the slack by not only taking a look back at the famous DC Comics creation, but also looking forward to all the strong women it inspired in pop culture and in real life such as actresses Lynda Carter and Lindsay Wagner, feminist activists Gloria Steinem and Shelby Knox, and authors Trina Robbins and Gail Simone. And in case you’re wondering, yes, if you help this film finish its sound mix and color grading, you can get a customized silicone gold metallic bracelet just like Diana of Themyscira herself. Alas, there’s no golden lasso, but some of the upper eschelon rewards are still pretty choice. Deadline: March 3rd

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