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Culture / Entertainment

Movie Stars Take Over Austin for SXSW — the Celebrity Invasion is Real

Charlize Theron, Kevin Costner, Seth Rogen, Lupita Nyong'o and More Run Wild

BY // 03.14.19

AUSTIN – Sure, SXSW has evolved into a full fledged phenomenon covering just about every subject under the globe, but at the heart of this 10 day extravaganza is the star-studded film festival. Count Lupita Nyong’o, Kevin Costner, Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen and Kathy Bates among the headliners in town promoting their latest films.

Out of the 8,000 films submitted to be a part of the festival, only 139 were selected for screening. Considered one of the most reputable film festivals around the globe, SXSW has catapulted numerous feature films, documentaries and TV series into major fame and industry respect.

Celebrity Premieres

The amount of celebrities who descend upon Austin for the film festival is as exciting as it is overwhelming. Noteworthy actors flooded the streets of Austin and entertained the crowds on the red carpets of the festival’s theaters.

The opening night headliner was Jordan Peele’s thriller Us. The Oscar winning screenwriter and powerhouse movie director cast Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke in this psychological nightmare in which a family is pitted against their dopplegangers. The three were joined on the SXSW red carpet by more of the film’s cast including Elizabeth Moss (who also attended the SXSW premiere of her film Her Smell) and Tim Heidecker.

Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen made a big splash at the premiere of their film, Long Shot, a romantic comedy about the unexpected romance between a self-deprecating comedian and a put together presidential hopeful. The actors were also seen about town promoting their film off the red carpet.

The most eclectic cast to grace the red carpet was the crew from the highly anticipated The Beach Bum, starring Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Zac Efron and Isla Fisher. The film  follows the hilarious misadventures of Moondog, a rebellious rogue who lives life by his own rules.

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Another hopping, headline-grabbing premiere was that of The Highwaymen, a film starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson which tells the untold, true story of the investigators who brought down Bonnie and Clyde. The actor duo, along with Kathy Bates entertained the crowd after the screening. Willie Nelson even made a surprise guest appearance to celebrate the film’s opening.

Fortunately these buzz worthy films will be coming to a screen near you — but unfortunately without the celebrity pomp and circumstance.

Winners

The Film Festival Awards ceremony took place at the Paramount Theatre on Tuesday night recognizing the cream of the crop. The Grand Jury, which consists of a panel of more than 40 film experts, chose the best of the best to be awarded the top prizes. The Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature went to Alice, a French film about a woman who finds herself drawn into the world of high-end prostitution as a means of caring for herself and her child. The nuanced character study won several other awards as well.

Among the many notable documentaries presented in the festival, For Sama won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature. The resounding film tells the epic story of a young woman’s journey through love, war and motherhood across five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria.

As SXSW reserves special recognition for films created by Texans and about Texas, the eye opening documentary The River and the Wall, by Texas A&M graduate Ben Masters, won the Lone Star Award. Masters and his four friends journey the distance of the Texas Borderlands and come face to face with both the nature and human sides of the border debate.

Documentaries

An underlying theme of this year’s festival seemed to be the many noteworthy and thought provoking documentaries. In a world of podcasts and ever ready media at our fingertips, many are becoming more and more interested in real life tales and unearthing hidden stories. In addition to the above-mentioned award winners, there were countless other documentary features and narratives that will no doubt spark attention following their release.

Ernie and Joe follows two San Antonio police officers who work tirelessly to promote the mental health unit by diverting people away from jail and into mental health treatment — one 911 call at a time. The film was awarded special recognition by the Grand Jury for empathy in craft.

Another Texan recognized for his accomplishments was MD Anderson Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Jim Allison, who is featured in the documentary Breakthrough about his incredible discovery that has led to serious progress in the fight against cancer.

Stuffed is a documentary feature film that offers an insightful view into the surprising world of taxidermy and the passionate artists across the world who see life and art where others only see death.

Well Groomed, a playful documentary features the visually stunning world of Competitive Creative Dog Grooming with colorful women transforming their beloved poodles into living sculptures. Several of these stunning poodles were present at the premiere, much to the crowd’s amusement

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