South by Southwest Film Festival Talking Movies


South by Southwest Film Festival

In a special edition, Talking Movies reports from Austin, Texas. We look back at some of the highlights of this year's South by Southwest Film Festival.


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for the South by Southwest Film Festival.

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Hello and welcome to the South by Southwest Film Festival

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In today's programme we hear from hometown hero and top American

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director Richard Linklater on his movie made in Texas.

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A big comedy on opening night and I'm happy to make

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With more music films from Britain and Japan shown

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They might be the biggest band in the world.

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And two very different festival documentaries,

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one looking at a team of female bicyclists trying to reclaim

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the streets and another reconstructing, by way of animation,

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a mass shooting almost 50 years ago here in Austin.

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There is a sniper on the university campas firing at will.

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All that and more in this special South by Southwest edition

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A music, interactive and film festival all rolled into one.

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It's an event that certainly energizes and, in some instances,

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almost overwhelms the city of Austin every spring.

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Today we're going to be focusing on the film festival which came

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It has grown to become a highly respected showcase for independent

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cinema and also there's a smattering of Hollywood.

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For the past 30 years, Austin, the state capital of Texas,

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Last year it brought more than 80,000 people to the city.

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When it comes to film, this year some 140

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I think it is becoming more and more formidable as the years go on.

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Ever since Bridesmaids premiered at South by Southwest,

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it has been a very splashy festival for big comedy movies.

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Trainwreck too was the big one last year and it went

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This year, there's one called Sausage Party which is a very

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It has really become the landing spot for really good

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The festival has been the launching pad for several noteworthy films.

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From blockbusters like Furious 7 to the low-budget Tiny Furniture

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which helped put Lena Dunham on the map.

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It also showcases local Texas films and film makers.

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A case in point, the Oscar-nominated hometown hero, Richard Linklater,

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pleased that for the first time a film of his, Everybody Wants Some,

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has been selected for the opening night.

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It's a great tradition to have a comedy on opening night

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and so I am glad to have made a comedy that qualifies to be

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A big event on the first day of the film festival wasn't just

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the unveiling of that film, but President Obama being in town

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I don't know how to say it any better.

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It's an honour to have him here at the same time.

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Given that South by Southwest incorporates a music festival,

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music films have always loomed large.

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Documentaries are very important in the lineup.

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Not as important as comedies in the lineup but they are gaining

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There are many music documentaries, many strange

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Many documentaries are about eccentrics which sort of falls

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So where at the end of the day does South by Southwest stand

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in the constellation of world film festivals,

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falling as it does between Sundance and Cannes?

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Some of the locals think nothing can beat it.

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It's a big and influential festival but I think because it's Austin,

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it retains a bit of an outsider non-industry vibe,

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It has got a really good feel and it is really about the movies.

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But there are detractors who think South by Southwest shows mediocre

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films and that the wider event is too commercial but there are also

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avid fans who believe in South by Southwest and think that every

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March, Austin in Texas is just the coolest place to be.

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There was a British presence at South by Southwest this year

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and one British electronic music pioneer, Gary Numan,

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was the subject of a festival documentary.

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Now we go to our correspondent who reports on that film.

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Gary Numan is sometimes called the godfather of electro-pop,

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probably best known for his 1979 hit Cars.

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# Here in my car #

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He was arguably one of the most famous men on the planet.

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At one point he had three albums in the charts at the same time.

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That is kind of Beatles level of success and fame.

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The film is a portrait of a man who was a trail blazer

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He would say himself he was not the only one at the time.

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There are people like Bowie, of course, and Kraftwerk,

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all of whom experimented with electronic music

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and synthesizers but Gary was the first one who became

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I would say he was the first to become, as he says

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in the film, kind of the first synth-rock superstar.

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The documentary follows Numan at a moment of transition

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as he's moving his family from England to Los Angeles

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and trying to rekindle his career with a new album.

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The one I'm doing now has been six years.

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My career is as strong as it has ever been.

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We learn that the musician has Asperger syndrome and is often

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And at some point you lose your grip and then you find yourself

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in the middle of nowhere, a bit beaten up and totally lost.

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His mannerisms, his personality, comes across clearly,

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that he is really very nervous about the new album.

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He is nervous about moving to the States, is it going to work

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This documentary is generous to its subject.

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It's an affectionate, relatively uncritical portrait that

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will no doubt bring Numan fans much satisfaction.

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Gary Numan has suffered for his art and the same goes for another film

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It covers a Japanese pop group which has been plagued

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by troubles the last few years, all of which has been overseen

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I had a chance to sit down with Yoshiki.

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Yoshiki and his childhood friend and lead vocalist started X Japan

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They forged a music culture called visual kei that borrowed

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from the glam rock scene emerging in the West and mixed up

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The film shows that when it comes to Yoshiki, who is also classically

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trained as a pianist, personal tragedy was at the centre

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of his entrance to rock music and the birth of X Japan.

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When he was ten, his father committed suicide.

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I was so depressed, so angry but rock was perfect,

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the perfect music to just throw all my emotion and sadness into.

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But I didn't stop playing classical music either,

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so now I play both, classical and rock.

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What hardship has the band gone through over the years?

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The vocalist, Toshi, got brainwashed and then our band broke up.

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Our guitar player Hidei passed away and our bass player Taiji

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The film depicts death and pain as a villain in your life but do

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you think it has also fuelled your creativity?

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I'm not sure, the new place where you are just sad,

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So I started writing lyrics and composing melodies.

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I don't know if I would have survived otherwise.

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The band reunited in 2008 and has been touring since 2009.

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Critics have found this film rewarding although there have been

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complaints that it's superficial, but the live footage is seen

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As you heard, Richard Linklater, who is perhaps the biggest name

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in Texas film had a new picture released at the festival.

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He made an impact recently with his ingeniously structured

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Oscar-nominated coming-of-age drama Boyhood.

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His latest picture is, to some extent, a sequel

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Do you guys know anything about a party here tonight?

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The director's picture Dazed and Confused focused on Texas teens

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It was a well-received coming-of-age comedy and to its fans is one

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of the best high school comedies ever made.

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His new picture, Everybody Wants Some, moves on to paint a portrait

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You're really good at dialogue and social observation

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This comes across at times as a frat boy movie.

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Did you try to get social observation very consciously into it

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or were you operating on a different level?

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I think I had so many years to think about this movie.

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I started wanting to make it around 2002, so I couldn't help but see it

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as a social or anthropological critique of young men

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It's fun, they're the party and I am embracing their behaviour

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but at the same time, I am sort of critiquing it

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because I look back and it's amazing how driven

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by entitlement and swagger these young men are.

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No 2, no girls upstairs in the bedrooms.

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Early reviews have been very positive, but one review said

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Can you understand where that reviewer is coming from?

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There is definitely a lot, but, too much?

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At least the guys have some wit and humour to them.

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I see some of that is a critique, but I don't know about too much.

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It's not balanced out, it's very male.

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It's very much a Texas film, set in Texas and, I think,

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you shot it entirely within the state.

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What is it in terms of its content that will make it appealing

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to audiences who don't live in Texas, or who aren't

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Either over time or geography there is a point in everyone's life

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where they leave home and head out to the next adventure in their life,

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and developmentally they are in a new stage.

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And also the social situations you find yourself in.

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You're the new kid thrown in with others,

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whether it is your first date or a job, or...

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One day in Austin history will live in infamy.

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August 1st, 1966, when a sniper climbed to the top of the University

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of Texas tower behind me and started firing at random individuals below.

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16 people died and three dozen were wounded.

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It was the first mass college shooting of its kind in the US.

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One South By Southwest documentary artfully recreates what happened

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on that day, partly through the use of animation.

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There is a sniper on the university tower firing at will.

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For those old enough to remember the shootings in Austin

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on August 1st, 1966, it was horrifying.

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A 25-year-old engineering student at the top of the tower engaging

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This event really sliced a giant wound into the psyche of this town.

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You have to remember that the shooting happened three

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years after the JFK assassination, so the entire world had

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To have this happen on the heels of that really changed the way

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16 people were killed, so the connection points went deep

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The film blends animation with live-action.

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Using animation to simulate a mass killing may sound odd.

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The words come from young people recounting the oral history

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One student who was there that day really embraces

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what the director did using animation.

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It was so much better than acting or anything else would have been,

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because they had the fluidity to get the idea across much

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It would have been wooden with actors and actresses

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The purpose was to get oral history, and the animation made

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You could have put it together using live actors in a docudrama.

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What do you think animation brought to the final result?

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When I first pitched the animation to several producers

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I was rebuffed because they said, "No, this is such a personal story,

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and animation will keep audiences at arms length".

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I have worked with animation, and I know the opposite is true.

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There is a kind of intimacy you can't get without the tremendous

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production costs of live action and that I knew I wouldn't be

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A controversial law came into being saying that students

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The fact that someone next to you on this campus

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could have a gun in a backpack, that's absurd.

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I do hope Texans see this movie and it makes them feel something

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But Tower is not so much an overt political film as a look at how

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One of the most remarkable characters is Claire Wilson,

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who was 18 years old and pregnant at the time.

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Not only was she shot, but she also lost her baby.

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And her boyfriend, who was right next to her, died in the mayhem.

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Yet she has forgiven Charles Whitman, the sniper

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I guess I just believe that people constantly are making choices,

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and he made some really horrible choices that hurt all of us.

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I think we all have the capacity for great evil in us,

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but we just keep making choices to not act out that evil.

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Tower certainly engaged audiences at the festival and won

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Although it's a film showing gun slaughter it's unlikely to shift

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entrenched opinion on gun ownership in Texas.

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But it does show, without doubt, the true heartbreak that

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We did not know who was being killed.

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There is a fair amount of biking in Austin,

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and one of the films shown at the festival focused

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There is a fair amount of biking in Austin,

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and one of the films shown at the festival focused on a group

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of female cyclists whose mission is to reclaim the streets.

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They are also trying to dismantle a number of stereotypes.

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The Ovarian Psychos sprung up in East Los Angeles in 2011,

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A group of Latinos who were eager to reclaim streets that

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could sometimes be dangerous for women.

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The film-makers were very interested in how they presented themselves in

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particular. They have a very powerful look,

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they wear their politics on the body, they wear

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bandannas over their faces, Everything about them

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was so clever, so political The films two first-time feature

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directors spent two years making the documentary focusing

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on the Ovarian Psychos. They wanted to debunk

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a number of stereotypes. In the film we cover

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that they have been called a gang, that people have really focused

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on the fact that they are brown women from East LA, in this

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stereotypical language. I am not one of them but I can

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imagine that would be very frustrating, especially

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when the work they are doing It was a dream to have a collective

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of women from our neighbourhood. They wear bandanna masks,

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fiercely emblazoned with an image of the uterus and fallopian tubes,

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partly to embrace their femininity, but also as an attention-getting

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move to make people aware of their true commitment

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to community healing, It's like a Trojan horse or a tool

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to get people interested. But the Ovarian Psychos themselves,

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what they do is much more personal and internal, and about

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healing and sisterhood All of us have some kind

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of trauma in our lives. For women, bicycling

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can be a political act. In the US or Europe in the early

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20th century a woman riding a bike They have faced a backlash,

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as women engaging in all the fields considered the domain

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of men always have. Women experience street harassment

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so often. Yes, it's a political act to get

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together as a group of women For the filmmakers, earning

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the trust of the Ovarian Psychos I'm a white filmmaker,

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making a film about an organisation of women with colour, and it was not

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without complications. We had to have many conversations

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off camera in order to build Texas is a state where 37%

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of the population is Hispanic. But films about the lives

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of Hispanics or Latinos don't feature that prominently in

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South By Southwest's film line-up. Even then, it's about the experience

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of Latinos living in another state. In the US media landscape that often

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exploits conflict among women, such as on Real Housewives

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and other programmes, the Psychos and their filmmakers

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give what many find is a welcome portrait of female

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solidarity and support. You can always reach us

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online at our website. From everyone here in Austin

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in Texas, it's goodbye as we leave you with a clip from the Gary Numan

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documentary shown here at SXSW. I hope you are enjoying the weekend,

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there is a lot of righty out

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In a special edition, Talking Movies reports from Austin, Texas. We look back at some of the highlights of this year's South by Southwest Film Festival.


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