Billy Nye, DNA, and Hackers: A Few Films to See at 2017’s SXSW


The SXSW festival is coming to Austin in just a couple weeks, and it promises to be a wealth of films, music, and general craziness. For those who have never been to downtown Austin during the festival, think of it as an introvert’s worst nightmare. There are people everywhere, bubbling in and out of restaurants, special previews, and panels, like the world’s largest anthill. For those of you brave enough to travel through the crowds, here are some films to check out and their screening dates:


Bill Nye: Science Guy


Bill Nye is retiring his kid show act in a bid to become more like his late professor, astronomer Carl Sagan. Sagan dreamed of launching a spacecraft that could change interplanetary exploration. Bill sets out to accomplish Sagan’s space mission, but he is pulled away when he is challenged by evolution and climate change contrarians to defend the scientific consensus. Can Bill show the world why science matters in a culture increasingly indifferent to evidence?


World Premiere: Sunday, March 12 at 6:45 p.m. (Vimeo Theater)

Public Screening #2: Tuesday, March 14 at 5:30 p.m. (Alamo Lamar E)

Public Screening #3: Wednesday, March 15 at 11:00 a.m (Stateside Theater)



An official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, writer/director Michael O’Shea’s debut feature The Transfiguration follows troubled teen Milo who hides behind his fascination with vampire lore. When he meets the equally alienated Sophie, the two form a bond that begins to challenge Milo’s dark obsession, blurring his fantasy into reality. A chilling portrait of violence, The Transfigurationis an atmospheric thriller set against the grit of New York City.


March 10th, 9:30pm (Alamo Lamar A)
March 13th, 9:45pm (Alamo Ritz 1)
March 17th, 2:15pm (Alamo Ritz 2)


Photos in Ghana for Rene recording, in a village near Tamale.


After taking a DNA test, Latin America’s most decorated artist, Rene Perez, AKA Residente, embarks on a global adventure, to trace the footsteps of his ancestors and record his latest album. The film reveals how he grew from struggling art student into the founder of Latin America’s most influential rap group, Calle 13, and how he became one of Latin America’s most outspoken critics of injustice and corruption. It explores why he left Calle 13 at the peak of its success and why he embarked on a new project through Siberia, the Caucasus, China and West Africa after mapping out his DNA. Music becomes the film’s primary focus, framing each destination and informing every conversation.

SXSW Screenings:

World Premiere: Saturday, March 11 at 9:30 p.m. (Alamo Lamar D)

Public Screening #2: Tuesday, March 14 at 1:40 p.m. (Rollins Theater at The Long Center)

Public Screening #3: Thursday, March 16 at 11:00 a.m. (ZACH Theater)

The Ballad of Lefty Brown

Lefty Brown is a 63 year old sidekick. Loyal, crotchety and rarely taken seriously, he’s ridden with Western legend Eddie Johnson for his entire adult life. Now Johnson has been appointed Senator of Montana, and despite the objections of his spirited wife Laura, he plans to leave Lefty in charge of his ranch. But when a rustler kills Johnson, Lefty is forced from his partner’s shadow. Devastated by guilt, he sets out on a journey that will reunite him with old friends US Marshall Tom Harrah and Governor James Bierce as he confronts the ugly realities of frontier justice.


World Premiere: Saturday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. (Stateside Theater)

Public Screening #2: Monday, March 13 at 1:00 p.m. (Alamo Lamar B)

Public Screening #3: Wednesday, March 15 at 2:00 p.m (Rollins Theater at The Long Center)



Provocative and powerful, INHERITANCE chronicles one woman’s efforts to reconcile her past with her present. As she returns to her childhood home in Belize, Mara is faced with the death of her estranged father, the ire and instability of her brother, and her increasingly frayed relationship with her new lover. It all comes to the surface during her father’s tense, all-night-long wake.

In their first feature outing, co-writers and directors Laura E. Davis and Jessica Kaye offer a raw and unflinching story about illicit love, the universal need for intimacy, and the indirect path towards healing. Powerful performances by Kaye in the lead role of Mara, along with Daniel Ahearn and Mark Webber, bring to life characters that are complex and real, sexy and flawed.


Saturday, March 11 at 8:00PM – Alamo Lamar B

Monday, March 13 at 6:30PM – Alamo Ritz 2

Thursday, March 16 at 3:30PM – Alamo Ritz 2
La Barracuda
A young British woman named Sinaloa (Sophie Reid) comes to Texas to find Merle (Allison Tolman, FX’s “Fargo”), her half-sister by way of their dead country musician father. It doesn’t take long for Sinaloa to charm her way into Merle’s life. Her singing awakens something in Merle and erases some of the lingering doubts about their shared bloodline. But an all-too-familiar chaos comes with it, which soon starts to unravel Merle’s stable world—her job, her upcoming marriage, and an already tense relationship with her mother, Patricia (JoBeth Williams). And while the family music legacy brought this stranger to town, darker motives are woven into the songs she sings, showing glimpses of a violent rage that’s been building for years.

World Premiere: Saturday, March 11 at 1:00 p.m. (Stateside Theatre)

Public Screening #2: Sunday, March 12 at 5:15 p.m. (Alamo Lamar D)

Public Screening #3: Thursday, March 16 at 8:30 p.m. (Alamo Lamar E)



Ethan and Pulkit are high school kids from Palo Alto who think they’ve got the tech to breakthrough, or at least get them into Stanford, where a start-up is as common as varsity letter. Shaher drives an Uber in New York to fund his company back home in Palestine, where his partner Ahmed keeps the coding going while supporting his family. Kizi and team Taka travelled all the way from Nairobi, Kenya with an app they hope can save lives back home. Dreams will be crushed and partnerships will crumble.

The film was directed by Andrew Wonder in partnership with AngelHack, the world’s largest and most diverse hacker community. Wonder began his career as a 17-year-old field producer for MTV and worked on the Emmy Award winning series Made. He has been on many unlikely adventures, including living with mole people, teaching high school, raiding drug cartels with the DEA, and capturing the last days of NASA’s space shuttles in 3D. Technology has always been an integral part of Wonder’s storytelling, which has led him to design new VR solutions, rebuild Kubrick’s trademark zoom lens, and create his own unique style of working with digital cameras. Wonder’s latest work was the viral hit, GE’s “Juice Train” which was featured by American Cinematographer for its innovative way of capturing a 48 hour anamorphic time lapse on the front of a locomotive. The film was funded by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).


Sunday, March 12, 2017,  11:00 am at Violet Crown

Monday, March 13, 2017, 11:00 am at Violet Crown



It’s the story of a small town gorilla, Sylvio, who is stuck in his job at a debt collection agency. Deep down he just wants to express himself with his hand puppet, Herbert Herpels, and his experimental puppet show that highlights the quiet moments of life. He accidentally joins a local TV program and a series of on-air mishaps threaten to shatter his identity, sending him on an adventure of self-discovery where reality and fantasy start to blend.


Saturday, March 11 at 11:00 a.m. (Alamo Ritz 2)

Screening #2: Monday, March 13 at 7:00 p.m. (Alamo Lamar B)

Screening #3: Wednesday, March 15 at 3:30 p.m (Alamo Lamar C

Let There Be Light


In the southern French countryside, a group of dedicated scientists from 37 countries around the world are collaboratively building the world’s most complex experiment: An artificial star on Earth that will provide perpetual, cheap, clean energy for all mankind. If it fails, it will be one of the biggest scientific and political blunders of all time. Meanwhile, maverick inventors in garages are also trying to unlock nuclear fusion, at a fraction of the cost. Sceptics are not convinced. As it is often said: “Nuclear fusion is the energy of the future…and always will be!” Are we about to engineer our way out of the energy crisis, or betting on a lottery ticket that won’t pay off?


Friday, March 10 from 9:00 PM to 10:24 PM – Alamo Ritz 1

Sunday, March 12 from 10:45 AM to 12:09 PM – Alamo Lamar A

Wednesday, March 15 from 2:00 PM to 3:24 PM – Alamo Lamar A

Walk with Me


With unprecedented access, “Walk With Me” goes deep inside a Zen Buddhist community who practice the art of mindfulness with their world-famous teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. Filmed over three years in their monastery in rural France and on the road in the USA, this visceral film is a meditation on a community grappling with existential questions and the everyday routine of monastic life. As the seasons come and go, the monastics’ pursuit for a deeper connection to themselves and the world around them is amplified by insights from Thich Nhat Hanh’s early journals, narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Note: A group of 10 Monastics will be coming from around the world to Austin to hold walking meditations, “meet a Monastic” Q/A sessions and a pop-up meditation event for all of Austin to participate in during the festival. 


Sunday, March 12 from  4:30 PM to 6:30 PM – ZACH Theatre

Monday, March 13 from 10:45 AM to 12:45 PM – ZACH Theatre

Wednesday, March 15 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM – Alamo Lamar C

The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin


The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin examines the life and work of one of the world’s most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels have inspired millions to claim their own truth. Jennifer Kroot’s documentary about the creator of “Tales of the City” moves nimbly between playful and poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. With help from his friends (including Neil Gaiman, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellen and Amy Tan) Maupin offers a disarmingly frank look at the journey that took him from the jungles of Vietnam to the bathhouses of 70’s San Francisco to the front line of the American culture war.


Saturday, March 11 from 12:15 PM to 1:44 PM – Alamo Lamar B

Monday, March 13 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM – Alamo Lamar C

Wednesday, March 15 from 8:00 PM to 9:29 PM – Alamo Lamar B


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