SXSW Report: Tchoupitoulas, Wolf, and Kid-Thing

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SXSW Report: <i>Tchoupitoulas</i>, <i>Wolf</i>, and <i>Kid-Thing</i>

For the last week, Paste has been catching you up on the films of SXSW 2012. Here are three more narrative films we caught there:

A visual and aural feast that blurs the line between documentary and drama, Tchoupitoulas is the story of 8-year old William, who spends an entire night exploring the sights and sounds of New Orleans. With his two brothers and their dog Buttercup, William takes the ferry from his neighborhood in Algiers Point to the Crescent City. For the next 12 hours, the affable boys explore the French Quarter. Brilliantly framed at a kid’s-eye level and edited with surgical precision, directors Bill and Turner Ross capture the amazement and wonder of a young boy peeking into a very adult world. William has big dreams: he wants to play football for the New York Giants, he wants to fly, he wants to be a lawyer, and he wants to learn to play the recorder. “You never know what life is gonna bring, so you gotta keep moving,” he explains early on in the film. Tchoupitoulas presents New Orleans in all its pulsing, brassy glory; aglow with tiny lights, paint peeling, misted with sweat and breathing to the beat provided by the snare drums of street-corner buskers. Strippers grind inside tiny theaters while sidewalk oyster vendors patter away to customers outside; time is kept only by the regular passing of the mule-pulled carriages filled with tourists. William drinks it all in with the unselfconscious, saucer-eyed wonder of the innocent. Fresh from the critical success of their film 45365, the Ross brothers offer this celebratory tribute to the legendary city of excess with exuberance, volume, and a startlingly fresh point of view. —Joan Radell

Wolf, written and directed by Ya’Ke, tells the story of a teenage boy who has fallen in love with the priest who’s been molesting him since he was eleven. The discovery of this secret, brought about by the boy’s attempted suicide, sends his family and the religious community reeling. The film is a dark, depressing, downward spiral that forces viewers to come face to face with some of the terrifying realities of pedophilia. It offers no hope for resolution, or respite from the brutality, delivering one blow after the next without any real opportunity for this family to heal from what’s happened to them. A desperately sad, warped film, Wolf is deeply disturbing from start to finish. -Emily Kirkpatrick

In the opening credits of Kid-Thing, derby cars drive on an open track, crashing into each other and peeling out in the dirt. There’s action going on everywhere, but the camera stands still, unfocused and disinterested. The scene acts as a preview of what is to come: a film that, despite a fascinating subject, a 10-year-old tomboy named Annie (Sydney Aguirre) living on the outskirts of Austin, cares little about that subject. Annie, whose deadbeat dad lets her do whatever she pleases, proves to be an interesting girl. Freckled faced with long blonde hair and a t-shirt three sizes too big, she spends her days making prank phone calls, stealing from a convenient store, throwing biscuits at cars, destroying things with a baseball bat, shooting dead cows with a paintball gun—the list goes on. With a strong performance from Aguirre, writer-director David Zellner definitely creates an intriguing protagonist, but he ultimately shows no love or sympathy for her. We think he may as the plot takes a turn, when Annie discovers a helpless woman in a pit, but nothing comes of it. Despite a contrast of bright, beautiful scenery—visuals full of life—Zellner wallows in suffering and misery. He doesn’t give us a kid-thing. He gives us a bleak-thing. -David Roark