SXSW Film: Smaller Quality Movies Seek Distribution Deals and Audiences Embrace

After the excitement of the premiere’s and parties calm down after the SXSW Film Festival, cautious filmmakers and eager studios negotiate distribution deals for releasing movies. It can be a long on going process but it is important to keep the audience in mind. If it is a great movie with a niche audience, it will do well and be adored by fans. I foresee exceptional movies such as Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter and What We Do in the Shadows primed for major indie market exposure so don’t want to focus on them. Some smaller, quality movies deserve to be seen as well. Here are a few that need distribution deals:


Butterfly Girl

butterfly-girl-DOC_WS-1000x562A beautiful life celebration of Abbie Evans, a determined, spunky teenager battling a rare skin disease with her devoted parents by her side. Audiences were buzzing about this movie during the festival and were talking about how much it moved them. After a SXSW premiere, it became a launching pad for a tour of a film festival circuit including festivals in Nashville, Chicago, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. If it continues to play on the festival circuit, I hope a studio discovers it. This moving and captivating doc with emotionally engaging moments and great music deserves a larger audience.


No, No: A Dockumentary

NoNoDockumentary0Touring the festival circuit, No No played at Sundance Film Festival and I barely caught it at the Boulder Film Festival last month. It played at SXSW this month and is heading the Hot Docs next month. That is an impressive list for elite film festivals. No, No chronicles the life of Dock Ellis who pitched a no hitter on LSD in an entertaining way with some gripping moments of raw realism. I was surprised to hear a distribution deal hasn’t happened because No, No is an insightful documentary for baseball fans and I’m not one. Sports fans are a big market and with baseball ramping up and lasting until the fall, now would be an ideal time for press attention to promote the movie.


Song From The Forest

song_from_the_forestAs the synopsis states, in 1985, Louis Sarno purchased a one-way ticket to the Central African Republic to live in the rainforest among tribal people. This chronicles his life which contrasts with the seclusion of the woods and the busy big city. Watching the young teen from the Central African Republic encounter the West was incredible footage captured on film. This highly recommend introspective documentary is a fascinating, surreal, & poetic journey about how humanity has trailed off the beaten path! It might be a while for audiences to see it, but I hope they one day will!


Take Me to the River

takemetotheriverRecently, SXSW has featured terrific platform venues for recent award winning music documentaries Searching for Sugarman and 20 Feet From Stardom. Music docs are perfect for this festival. Well, another movie had the ideal positioning which received major attention. The Audience Award winning (24 Beats Per Second) Take Me to the River focuses on the racial turmoil and the influential Memphis music scene is poised to win over audiences across the country. The doc features collaberations from multiple generations as the more seasoned generation and established/up-and-coming younger artists. Attention studios: this is the SXSW movie to buy!



premierspecial_jury_award_for_vessel_film-newsPro-choice activists’ pirate the seas seeking reproductive freedoms for women in country’s where abortion is illegal (they perform procedures in International waters mostly via swallowing of a pill). This Audience Award winner is an informative and captivating documentary over a decade in the making. The crowd reacted strongly afterward applauding the director! As abortion restrictions are being implemented across America, it could be a very timely documentary. A studio would be wise to purchase Vessel to tell this brave story not to mention captialize on the American political turbulant climate on this divisive issue.


What We Do In The Shadows

what we do in the shadowsI changed my mind. I expect a studio to pick up What We Do In the Shadows but you never know. Besides Neighbors, it was the funniest movie I saw at SXSW. Jermaine Clement (FLIGHT OF THE CONCORDS) co-leads with three flat mates who are the subject of this vampire “mockumentary” poking light fun at the mythology. With no distribution deal for this always amusing & consistently hysterical crowd pleaser (the audience was constantly howling with delight), fingers crossed people one day will watch! It has cult following written all over it!


SXSW Housing for me in Austin, TX was courtesy of Dakota Pratt of D. REDINGTON DESIGN. You can learn more about his award winning, creative artwork here: (

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About Kenny Miles

Whether something is overlooked by Hollywood or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies (especially the cultural impact of a film). He covers various aspects of movies including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous "awards season." Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. You can follow him on Twitter @kmiles723.

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