SXSW Day 1 Log (Kid Candidate, Introducing Selma, Islands,Demi Lovato, Hysterical, The Lost Sons)

Hey everyone! Today begins the first day of the South by Southwest Film Festival of SXSW. This is my first year attending the festival and of course I attended virtually this year. Hopefully next year I can go down to Austin and attend in person (which is something I was planning to do last year before the world went nuts).

I have to say day 1 I am mostly underwhelmed by what I saw. Maybe I just picked poorly but there is only 1 out of 6 I really loved and only 2 I think I will go fresh on. Oh well!

Here are my quick thoughts on the films:

Kid Candidate

The documentary Kid Candidate tells the story of Hayden Pedigo who is the 24 year old who decides to run for city council in Amarillo Texas. Hayden seems like a nice enough kid but his lack of motivation to study the issues and become an educated candidate makes the whole thing feel like a publicity stunt or at best a youtube gimmick.

The director also fails to challenge him on his ideology. He appears at tea party and MAGA events but then doesn’t seem to share their beliefs (or he may and the filmmaker just doesn’t ask him about it). The parts where we get to know the Senegalese population and the way religious dogma is used by the other candidates is interesting but not enough to carry the whole film.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Introducing Selma

Introducing Selma is only tangentially a celeb biopic. It briefly talks about Blair’s acting career and shows clips from Cruel Intentions and Legally Blonde but that’s about it. She could have had any job and the story would be compelling. It profiles her experiences with MS and her stem cell treatments in 2019 (and her time with the pandemic in 2020).

She is an inspiring, authentic person who struggles at times to speak and move. What could be cloying feels true and devastating. This was my favorite of the festival for the day.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Islands

Islands is a story about a 50 year old Filipino man who must start caring for his aging Father after his Mother dies. This film has some sweet moments and if you like slice of life movies it may be worth a watch.

However, the acting feels mostly amateurish and when they have Josh fall in love it is with his cousin, which is a weird choice. It could have been a very sweet little love story if they weren’t related. This one isn’t awful but I can’t recommend it.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil

If you are a big fan of Demi Lovato you will probably enjoy Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil. As someone who doesn’t know much about her I found the experience frustrating. First, it is a docu-series put into a movie format which I think made the editing kind of weird but I felt like this is a situation of a director wanting a certain narrative that the subject wouldn’t provide.

Particularly off is a section where she tries to argue for moderation instead of sobriety and it’s painted as an inspirational moment until other guests like Elton John strongly disagree with that approach. There’s interesting stuff in there and some shocking reveals of what Demi and her team have been through but it unfortunately wasn’t put together very well. Also there is a cheap tie-in to her new album at the end which adds to feeling of being manipulated.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Hysterical

Hysterical is a documentary about female stand up comics. There are definitely key figures I wish they had interviews with like Amy Schumer and Ali Wong who are seen but not heard from. Also Ellen Degeneres is never even mentioned (Tiffany Haddish, Sarah Silverman?).

Regardless, the ladies they do talk with are funny and I enjoyed hearing their stories and talking about how the comedy scene could do better in including female voices. It wasn’t a piece to complain but to show their obvious talent. Most importantly it was funny.

7 out of 10

The Lost Sons

When I watch a documentary I always ask: ‘would I rather read an article on the topic?’ If so than the film didn’t do it’s job. The Lost Sons is such a film. It does have a compelling story of a man who finds out he was a replacement baby for his parents who had their son kidnapped at the hospital. The problem is so many key players had died or were unwilling to be filmed that there’s not enough meat on the bone for a feature film. This would be great as a short true crime podcast or newspiece but not as a feature.

The man in question Paul Fronczak does about 80% of the interviewing and I wish he had more charisma. A side of me felt like this whole thing was an attempt to buoy his failing acting career (multiple clips are shown). It seems like others enjoyed this more than I did but it’s made by the same people who did Three Identical Strangers, which was far more absorbing and effective with a very similar story.

Feels like a TV spot stretched out to a feature film. Just listen to the podcasts about it instead.

3.5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

9 thoughts on “SXSW Day 1 Log (Kid Candidate, Introducing Selma, Islands,Demi Lovato, Hysterical, The Lost Sons)

  1. 4/10 for demi’s documentary? Are you kidding me….. The festival gave a score of 91/100 and you put a score of 4?? I also watched the documentary and it was AMAZING, it deserves at least 7/10. You just threw it in the trash a life of a young singer who suffered for bullying, body shaming, eating disorder, addictions and a almost death experience. she was the first one artist to talk about these things. She is an open book since 2011. A low score just because of the production? Yeah, you probably don’t like her and and there’s no compassion.

  2. On Kid Candidate it wasn’t a “MAGA event” it was a public forum for candidates running for public office during a local election. Every person running went to that same forum including republicans and democrats. On local elections most candidates will attend any public forum be it a republican or democrat hosted event. Local elections rarely are run with a public support for a political party because the issues are city based not national. I would recommend you study how local politics and political forums work before making half baked claims that someone went to a “MAGA event” Absolutely lazy review.

    1. It was labeled by the filmmakers as a tea party event. I dont have a problem with him attending such an event but I’d expect them to ask him some questions and make him clarify what he believes. They did not

  3. “When I watch a documentary I always ask: ‘would I rather read an article on the topic?’ If so than the film didn’t do it’s job.” That’s a very interesting perspective I never thought about before, but it does make a lot of sense.

  4. I feel as though your ‘review’ on Islands is more of an opinion rather than an overall review on the piece itself. You haven’t touched on any of the themes or technicalities of the piece. I strongly recommend you give it another go, perhaps this time you may actually notice what the film is about and what it is trying to portray. If you haven’t been loved or ‘seen’ in as long as Joshua has, then you may begin to crave affection and attention from all means and walks of life. It’s very apt and suitable for todays climate; self-isolating in a Pandemic and all that.

    1. Thanks for your comment. When it is released I will give it another watch. I just thought it was a strange choice to have the romance be with his cousin. I definitely get the whole loneliness thing but it ended up feeling odd rather than affecting on the first watch

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