Beauty at SXSW, Day 3: Six Movies??

That’s right, folks, I watched six movies in twelve hours today. I think it’s my personal record. Even more surprising than the sheer amount of movies is the fact that they were all good — in fact, four were excellent, moving films.

In the interest of my bedtime and ability to do this again tomorrow, here are my top four, in the order I saw them, and with high recommendations that you see all of them if you get the chance:

youssou1) Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love

This movie follows Youssou Ndour, Grammy Award-winning Senegalese singer and hero, over two years as he releases “Egypt,” an ambitious and controversial album on which he sings about his beloved Islam. (Western listeners not familiar with his name will certainly recognize his voice — he sang backing vocals on Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”)

Ndour’s story and the movie’s telling of it brought me to tears several times; from the sheer power of his voice in performance, to the scenes with his grandmother, the film was beautiful and I want to see it again.

Trailer, and three more stellar films after the jump.

artoisbig2) Artois the Goat

Vu put it well: this fiction film is like Amélie, but about creating legendary goat cheese and set in the Texas Hill Country. Cheeky, well-shot, adorable, and come on, there are goats! And cheese! (Shout out to my aunt, who loves goats, makes way cool goat milk soap, and would absolutely love this movie.)

The filmmakers’ description of the movie is what got me into the theatre, so I have to share an excerpt of it here:

Lab technician Virgil Gurdies embarks on an epic quest to create the greatest goat cheese the world has ever known, and reclaim the heart of his beloved Angie…With Angie awaiting his imminent return and a conference of the International Cheese Consortium just a few months away, he has no choice but to go for broke. Throw away everything he has on a gamble: That, before it is too late, he can craft a cheese that will change the world. A cheese that will buy him a new life. A cheese of destiny.

3) American Violet

A superbly-acted, satisfying fiction film based on real events in a small Texas town in 2000, where a young African-American woman was rounded up in a drug raid and falsely pinned with drug dealing charges. With the help of the ACLU and a local ally, she sues the D.A., alleging

Not only was the movie tight and well-told, this screening was also fantastic! It played at the Paramount, this old, storied theatre downtown, to a full, engaged audience. I won’t give anything away, but we all cheered and hissed at the appropriate moments. This one should be coming to a theatre near you in mid-April; it’s definitely worth your $10.

4) Say My Name

I’ve been looking forward to this one since I heard about it several months ago, and I was not disappointed. Filmmaker Nirit Peled, with the support of the awesome organization Women Make Movies, created this documentary about women in hip-hop, featuring interviews with over a dozen women in hip-hop, from pioneer Dr. Roxanne Shanté to a crew in high school called the Georgia Girls.

I loved getting to hear these women talk frankly about their experiences of hip-hop music and the industry. I was struck by the theme of breaking ground for the next generation of women artists. Each woman, no matter her age, mentioned something to the effect of “the further I go in my art, the further the next woman can go.” Yes, yes, yes, y’all. That is what we are here to do, in my opinion.

Beauty in a Wicked World is a weekly column by Jennifer Gandin Le. It appears on Wednesdays, with a special daily edition during the SXSW Film Festival.


Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Career/Life, Gender, Movies, Music, Politics, Pop Culture, Race

4 responses to “Beauty at SXSW, Day 3: Six Movies??

  1. Elz

    awesome . . . i have a grant due in two hours and a scary meeting with my boss later and instead of prepping i’m watching trailers at my desk and crying . . .

  2. jas

    Props to my niece for not only watching all these gems, but also managing to remember the uniqueness of each. Austin is THE place to be!! And yes, you made me wanna watch the goat pic. 🙂

  3. Courtney Martin

    JGL! I saw American Violet and the Ndour bio pic at Telluride. They were both amazing. And I was SO excited about American Violet b/c it featured a friend of Felice and mine–Malcolm Barrett. He was the young, black attorney for the ACLU. Awesome. Again, thanks so much for blogging all of this. Can’t wait to check out Say My Name!

  4. Elz, I hope that your tears were cleansing and paved the way for your strength to emerge in that scary meeting with your boss!

    JAS, I think the family gals should come down one year for SXSW — movie-loving is in our blood, and it would be so much fun to indulge in it all together.

    Courtney, that is SO AWESOME that you and Felice know Malcolm Barrett. He looked incredibly familiar and I now wonder if I’ve seen him thru you two. His performance was solid and so enjoyable. He has much success in front of him, I’m sure!