As SXSW enters it’s 32nd year, the festival’s film slate continues to grow with outstanding movies, documentaries and stories attracting some of the most outstanding talent in the industry.

This year’s Documentary Spotlight slate, features 19 films, making their world premiere.  From stories of inspiration to a few that highlight the downfall of celebrities, documentaries provide a behind the scenes look on real world stories that demonstrate innovation, energy and bold voices.

If you’re planning to attend the festival, check out our picks for the most anticipated Documentary Spotlight films of SXSW 2019.


Beto SXSWRunning With Beto

This behind-the-scenes documentary follows Beto O’Rourke’s rise from virtual unknown to national political figure through his bold attempt to unseat Ted Cruz in the US Senate. Embedded for the final twelve months of his campaign, the film follows his journey in real time through intimate access to Beto, his family, and a team of political newcomers who champion a new way of getting to know a candidate — one Texas county at a time. The film reveals the challenges and triumphs of an unconventional campaign as Beto navigates an onslaught of negative advertising, inevitable strain on his family, and the pressure of delivering for legions of supporters. 95 min.  Directed By DAVID MODIGLIANI.  Premieres March 9th, Paramount Theater. 


I Am Richard Pryor

I Am Richard Pryor tells the story of the legendary performer and iconic social satirist, who transcended race and social barriers by delivering his honest irreverent and biting humor to America’s stages and living rooms until his death at 65. Featuring an iconic comedic cast, historians, activists and artists who provide a unique brushstroke into the complex world of Pryor. The film dives deeply into the psyche of a comedic genius whose mother was a prostitute, father a pimp, and grandmother a madam. Pryor dispensed a penetrating comedic view of African American life – essentially comedy without jokes – that struck a chord with audiences of every ethnic, social and economic disposition.  Directed by JESSE JAMES MILLER.  Premieres March 12th, Stateside Theater





Breakthrough is the astounding story of one warm-hearted, stubborn man’s visionary quest to find a cure for cancer.  Today, Texan Jim Allison is a 2018 Nobel Prize winner for discovering how to prompt a cancer patient’s own immune system into defeating their disease, but for decades he waged an often-lonely struggle against the painful skepticism of the medical establishment. Narrated by Woody Harrelson, and featuring music by Willie Nelson, Mickey Raphael, and a powerful score by Mark Orton, Breakthrough tells Jim’s story in a way that is inspiring, informative and highly entertaining.  Premieres March 9, Atom Theater at Austin Convention Center.


kathy-griffinKathy Griffin: A Hell of A Story

In her first comedy concert film, Griffin shares the scary and hilarious behind the scenes stories of her fight to stand up for her first amendment rights.  No matter how polarizing you may find her, this is an unprecedented story.  An attempt to decimate an American citizen from the highest levels of government. From losing an entire career, receiving death threats, being the subject of a federal investigation, it only took Kathy Griffin one afternoon to learn the impact one photo could have to ignite a continuous smear campaign after TMZ published a photo of Griffin holding a mask that looked like the severed head of President Trump.  Everything she worked for in her life came crashing down overnight and she became the target of the President and the Department of Justice.  Directed by Troy Miller.  Premieres March 12th, Zach Theater.  


It Started As A Joke

This feature documentary chronicles a decade-long run of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival – including a final farewell show. The film celebrates Eugene’s unique brand of humor and his role in the alternative comedy movement, offers a bittersweet goodbye to an era, and reminds us of the healing properties of comedy – even in the most challenging of life’s circumstances. The film includes interviews with MICHAEL IAN BLACK, KRISTEN SCHAAL, WYATT CENAC, IRA GLASS, JOHN HODGMAN, KUMAIL NANJIANI, REGGIE WATTS and MICHAEL SHOWALTER, along with performances by JANEANE GAROFALO, JIM GAFFIGAN, JON GLASER, MIKE BIRBIGLIA, BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT and many others.




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