As the sun sets on this year’s SXSW, the time has come to reflect on some of the biggest stories — and winners — to come out of the film festival, which Variety claimed "had more girl power than ever."
When SXSW announced the lineup for the 2015 edition of the Austin fest, we were disappointed by the lack of female filmmakers chosen to showcase their work — only 19% of the titles screened were directed or co-directed by women. Still, our coverage of the festival — including interviews with the directors of "Mavis" (Jessica Edwards), "Honeytrap" (Rebecca Johnson), and "The Invitation" (Karyn Kusama) — was a testament to the fact that the few women who were invited to the table arrived with incredibly interesting and varied projects.
If you’re wondering when you’ll be able to see the female-helmed docs and narratives screened at the festival, you may be disappointed to learn that not much information has been revealed yet. We do know that Hannah Fidell’s atmospheric tale of young love, "Six Years," has been sold to Netflix. What’s next for the writer-director? In an interview with Women and Hollywood, Fidell shared that she’s in the midst of writing a comedy about two men on a road trip. She explained, "Even though this will come off sounding a little ridiculous since both [my previous feature] ‘A Teacher’ and ‘6 Years’ are relationship dramas, I wish more movies by women weren’t love stories. I look to this film as an inspiration to try and get out of my storytelling comfort zone."
We’re hoping that more news of acquisitions will come through soon, but keep in mind that last year’s SXSW grand-jury prize winner for best narrative film, "Fort Tilden," didn’t get a distribution deal until last week. The slacker comedy, co-written and co-directed by Sarah Violet-Bliss, will be distributed by Orion Releasing and released theatrically and on VOD this August.
Highlights from this year’s festival include the female-centric "Spy," which is being heralded as Melissa McCarthy’s best role to date, with Variety calling the comic actress a "one-woman powerhouse." Sally Field’s stunning performance in "Hello, My Name is Doris," her first leading role in almost 20 years, is earning the actress Oscar buzz. Amy Schumer’s vehicle "Trainwreck," which the Comedy Central star wrote, was a resounding success with audiences and critics. And we were super inspired by Ava DuVernay’s keynote speech at the festival, where the "Selma" director advised, "If your dream only includes you, it’s too small."
Here are the female award winners of SXSW 2015:
Feature Film Jury Awards
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Directors: Alex Sichel, Elizabeth Giamatti – Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Sichel and Giamatti
Short Film Jury Awards
Special Jury Recognition:"Share"
Director: Pippa Bianco
Director: Meg Smaker
Winner: "Kiss Kiss Fingerbang"
Director: Gillian Wallace Horvat
TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SHORTS
Winner:"It’s A Thing"
Directors: Meredith Morran, Sage McCommas
SXSW Special Awards
SXSW Gamechanger Award
Winner: Yvonne Kerékgyártó, "Free Entry"
Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship
Presented to: Anna Gustavi
Audience Award Winners
Winner:"A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story"
Director: Sarah Hirsh Bordo — Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Sarah Hirsh Bordo.
Winner:"Kings of Nowhere"
Director: Betzabé García — Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with García.