Columbia Filmmakers Screen at South by Southwest 2022

Angeline Dimambro
April 27, 2022

The 2022 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, which ran from March 11-20, featured several projects from Columbia filmmakers. They are: 2nd Chance, written, directed, and produced by Associate Professor Ramin Bahrani (CC ’96)The Girl From Plainville, episodes directed by alumna Lisa Cholodenko '97, as well as The Last Movie Stars and X, both featuring work by current student Cheryl Wang.

2nd Chance is a new documentary written, directed, and produced by Bahrani. Its story starts in 1969, when a bankrupt pizzeria owner, Richard Davis, invented the modern-day bulletproof vest. To prove that it worked, he shot himself—point blank—192 times. He launched Second Chance, which became the largest body armor company in the world, saving over 3,000 lives. Charming and brash, Davis became a celebrity figure among police and gun owners across the country. But when a police officer dies wearing a Second Chance vest, Davis’s friend and employee becomes a government whistleblower in a case against the company. This exploration of Davis’ rise and fall reveals a man of contradictions, decades of reckless lies and threats, and the nature of power and impunity in America.

The film is Bahrani’s first documentary feature and has been called “a piece of perverse Americana” in a review from Variety as well as a “morbidly funny capitalism horror story” by IndieWire. Showtime Documentary Films has acquired North American rights to the documentary.

The Girl From Plainville also had its world premiere at SXSW. Cholodenko directed the first two episodes of the limited series, which is inspired by the true story of Michelle Carter’s unprecedented “texting-suicide” case. Based on the Esquire article of the same name by Jesse Barron, the limited series explores Carter’s relationship with Conrad Roy III and the events that led to his death, and, later, her conviction of involuntary manslaughter.  The series, which stars Elle Fanning and Chloë Sevigny, debuted on Hulu at the end of March and has since gone on to become one of the streaming service’s top true-crime shows.

Both The Last Movie Stars and feature work by current student Cheryl Wang, who served as the music coordinator on both projects.

Directed by actor Ethan Hawke, The Last Movie Stars is a biographical documentary series that premiered its first episode at the festival. “Chapter 1: Cosmic Orphans” begins with a young Paul Newman and an even younger Joanne Woodward set out for stardom in 1950s NYC. Joanne finds early success as Paul, a married father of three, struggles to find his way, until the pair fatefully cross paths backstage during a production of “Picnic.” The long lost transcriptions of interviews with Paul, Joanne, and those close to them are brought to life by Hawke and other contemporary actors, including Laura Linney, Oscar Isaac, Melanie Griffith, Sam Rockwell, Billy Crudup, and more.

The Last Movie Stars premiered exclusively via CNN+, the new subscription streaming service from CNN.

X is a new horror film from director Ti West. Set in 1979, the film follows a group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in rural Texas, but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives. The film was released theatrically by A24 on March 18, 2022.

Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conferences and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. For nine days in March, creatives of all stripes gather for the acclaimed SXSW Film Program to celebrate raw innovation and emerging talent both behind and in front of the camera. Running concurrently with the SXSW Conference and Music and Comedy Festivals, attendees can take advantage of the opportunity to connect with tech and music industry experts, making the SXSW Film Festival an unparalleled experience at the forefront of discovery, creativity, and innovation.