SXSW brought out the big guns with a star-studded film lineup: Nicolas Cage, Channing Tatum, Anne Hathaway and Daniel Radcliffe all had a film showing at this year's festival. However, for every big studio production, there are a dozen independent films and even less time to watch them all.
There are hundreds of films to choose from at SXSW, from feature-length movies, to documentaries, to episodic content, to local short films, but here are a few we checked out this week.
Crows are White
Encircling the subject of religion and how it impacts our lives, director Ahsen Nadeem travels to Kyoto, Japan to meet with an ancient Buddhist sect of monks who complete acts of extreme physical endurance in the name of enlightenment. Hoping to find the answers to his own troubles as he struggles to tell his strict Muslim parents that he has married a woman outside his religion, Nadeem enters the monastery to a less-than-thrilled reception and is quickly put to the test. For a few days, Nadeem follows a monk named Kamahori on his daily walks and rituals until he is abruptly escorted out and asked not to return.
When Nadeem returns, hoping to masquerade as a tourist, he meets a monk named Ryushin, who would rather spend his days listening to heavy metal and searching the city for the best ice cream sundae. Ryushin agrees to visit with Nadeem in secret and the pair forms an unlikely friendship.
Over the course of five years, Ryushin and Nadeem watch each other through their ups and downs. Nadeem values Ryushin's comfort with himself, despite breaking the rules—a trait Nadeem wishes to foster in himself. "Crows are White" will take you over three continents, intertwining the director's own story with the monks', telling stories of two religions and Nadeem's personal reckoning.
"Crows are White" is playing twice more on March 16, with one showing at 12:30 p.m. and another at 1 p.m., at Violet Crown Cinema.
Following the brief rise and lengthy fall of Leslie, a single West Texas mother, after winning $190,000 in the lottery and quickly drinking it away. The film, directed by Michael Morris, begins years after her lottery win with Leslie—homeless, an alcoholic and down on her luck—waiting to be picked up by her now young adult son, James, who gives her a roof over her head and clothes on her back with one condition: no drinking.
After she breaks James' rule less than one day later, her son sends Leslie back to her hometown to confront the consequences of her actions and the people that she hurt in the process. After being kicked out of every place she was given to stay, motel clerk Sweeney takes a chance on Leslie and gives her a job.
Sweeney's influence leads Leslie to come face-to-face with herself and gives her the chance to turn things around. You may not feel sorry for Leslie but you'll root for her, share in her joys and sorrows, and hope she makes it through to the other side.
To Leslie is playing one last time on March 18 at 9:45 p.m. at Alamo Lamar A.
Who do you call to clean up the mess on the worst day of your life? Australians might call Sandra Pankhurst, a trauma cleaner who cleans spaces that nobody else would go near—hoarder homes, meth labs, crime scenes and shudder-worthy sights—with extreme kindness for the folks that live in them.
"Clean," directed by Lachlan McLeod, not only goes into the details of what it takes to be a trauma cleaner but tells the tale of how Pankhurst started the first trauma cleaning business in Melbourne. From an extremely traumatic background herself, Pankhurst was adopted and rejected by her new family at a young age, transitioned from male to female as a young adult, and went into prostitution all before starting the business.
You'll follow McLeod as he visits with clients to learn how the service has changed their life but you'll also bear witness to ongoing changes in Pankhurst's life, like living with a terminal lung illness from cleaning unprotected and getting in touch with her birth mother for the first time in her more than 70 years on Earth. "Clean" shows the fragility of life and gives hope of human connection.
"Clean" has one more screening on March 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Alamo Lamar A.
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The cost of living in Austin may be on an upswing but just because you might have less money in your pockets doesn’t mean you have to compromise your lifestyle.
With gas prices rising above $4 per gallon, rents rising 25-40% and reports showing that Austinites pay more in household bills than any other Texas city, you may find yourself with less cheddar than you’re used to this time of year.
Aside from cutting back on spending, thrifting is a great way to stretch your dollar a little bit further. The average American spends $1,700 on clothes annually, of which 85% percent ends up in landfills, making secondhand shopping a greener, more affordable and nearly equally fashionable option.
These local secondhand emporiums sell most daily goods for a fraction of the price if you don’t mind a little wear.
Best antiques: Uncommon Objects, 1602 Fortview Rd.
You won’t find any clothing at Uncommon Objects but you will find oodles of objects from yesteryear to bring into your home. The store has been peddling items from “your eccentric uncle’s attic on steroids” since 1991, connecting Austinites with relics from the past. The items inside start at just a few dollars but range due to the great variety. Many of these items have passed through multiple hands–it doesn’t get greener than that!
Best for finding clothes on a budget: Texas Thrift, 5319 N Interstate Hwy 35
This enormous North Austin warehouse is packed with so many racks of secondhand clothing that it would be nearly impossible to go through them all in one visit. You’re probably not going to find a Gucci tracksuit or Christian Louboutins while you roam the racks but you’re almost certain to leave with at least one new-to-you article of clothing that fits your style for less than $10.
Best for fashionable finds: Uptown Cheapskate, multiple locations
Though it may be a bit more expensive than the run-of-the-mill thrift shop, Uptown Cheapskate is filled with gently used, name-brand clothing for a fraction of the new price. Uptown both buys and sells clothing released in boutiques within the last two years, meaning you’ll find brands like Free People, Zara, Nike and Patagonia in almost mint condition. Austonia reporter Claire Partain scored a pair of Steve Madden's last week for less than $15.
Best variety: Far Out Home Fittings, 1500 W Ben White Blvd.
With a full “Funkyard” out back, antiques, oddities, furniture, jewelry and knick knacks are Far Out Home Fittings’ specialty. This is not the place to come if you’re looking for something specific but if you’re open to a rummaging adventure, you’re likely to find something you didn't know you needed from furniture to jewelry to musical instruments. Our favorite Far Out finds: $5 gold chains, a vintage hand-crank whisk and long-forgotten lettering from signage.
Craft supplies: Austin Creative Reuse, 2005 Wheless Ln.
‘Waste not, want not’ would be a good tagline for Austin Creative Reuse, where you can find partially used art supplies that would have been thrown away otherwise. Looking to make your own clothes? ACR has shelves upon shelves of fabric and yarn for mostly less than a dollar per yard. Accessories? There are beads and thread aplenty. Scrap paper, paint, mosaics, magnets, zippers, glitter, findings in bulk and workshops to teach you how to be your craftiest self.
Furniture: Salvation Army, multiple locations
If you’re a fan of TikTok, you’ve probably wanted to try your hand at upcycling—repurposing objects in a way that makes it just as or more valuable than the original—at least once or twice and Salvation Army is the place to start. This store has everything: clothing, shoes, accessories, electronics, art and pieces of furniture that are begging to be made pretty again through a little TLC.
Vintage and variety fashion: Pavement, multiple locations
Racks on racks of modern and vintage mixed clothing await at Pavement, which is known for its legendary fill-a-bag sales. Meanwhile, its shoe and accessory walls are almost as spacious as its selection of clothing while maintaining a balance between current fashion and styles of yore. Clothing at Pavement isn’t the most affordable, but it will still bring you in lower than most prices at vintage and new clothing stores.
An Austin-Travis County ambulance was removed from a Central Austin St. David's Hospital and taken for a joyride until it was recovered in Round Rock.
Ezra Neal, 32, is now in the Travis County jail facing two felony counts for auto theft of $300,000 or more and evading in a motor vehicle, according to the Austin Police Department.
On Thursday morning, ATCEMS tracked down the missing ambulance truck and reported it to APD. An officer found the ambulance with its back door wide open on I-35 in Pflugerville.
The police officer followed Neal North for almost 10 miles as four more police vehicles joined the chase. When Neal entered Round Rock, he took the FM 1431 exit toward University Boulevard, police said.
He was able to get past spike strips set up in his path by police but eventually turned into an H-E-B parking lot where he was arrested.
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