Moviehole at SXSW : Warm-Up Lap

Tim Basham at SXSW


The independent spirit has always been strong in the Lone Star State. When it gained its independence from Mexico 169 years ago Texas immediately began to establish international relationships throughout the world.

Now independence returns to Texas in the form of an impressive list of films from America and abroad that celebrate the independent spirit.

“Light From The East” chronicles American filmmaker Amy Grappell who went to Kiev in 1991 as part of the first group of American actors to perform in the Ukraine since the Cold War. They were there to perform a docu-drama on Les Kurbas whose theater company, during the birth of communism in the 1920’s, defiantly ignored communist leader Joseph Stalin’s censorship orders and performed “radical productions of independent vision,” which resulted in his numerous arrests until he was eventually assassinated. Ironically, as Grappell’s production began, Mikhail Gorbechev was kidnapped and the walls of Communism literally began to collapse.

The documentary “Emmanuel’s Gift” is the story of a disabled man from Ghana who overcomes great obstacles in a country where ten percent of the country’s population is disabled and considered to be second hand citizens.

“The Grace Lee Project” looks at the life of Grace Lee. And Grace Lee and more Grace Lee. Filmmaker Grace Lee explores the lives of other Asian American women growing up in America as Grace Lee, revealing their personal experiences.

“Murderball,” the surprise hit of Sundance, is the story of quadraplegic Mark Zupan and his teammates who play a hard-hitting form of rugby from armored wheelchairs. The documentary follows Austin resident Zupan as he and his U.S. team make their journey to the Paralympic games in Athens.

The SXSW Film Festival begins March 11th and will feature over 170 films. Stay tuned for reviews, interviews, photos and (of course) the parties.

- TIM BASHAM