SXSW 2021 reviews: ‘Nuevo Rico’ & ‘The Thing That Ate The Birds’

Nuevo Rico

A brother and sister stumble upon a celestial secret that propels them into Reggaetón stardom, but at what price?

This mixed media animation is a literal bright spot in the shorts program. It’s a little Adult Swim, a dash of video game, part music video, all drenched in neon-colored deliciousness. Twins Barbie and Vico find out about the trappings of fame and dismissing their culture the hard way. In 16 minutes it manages to touch on socio-economics, politics, and identity, just to name a few relevant issues. Writer-director Kristian Mercado uses voice-over, songs, and dialogue to communicate this unique short.  Angélica Agélviz‘s character designs are striking. I could easily watch an expanded series about these characters. There’s enough content to warrant more in-depth episodes. Plus, you won’t be able to get enough of the distinctive look of Nuevo Rico. It’s just plain cool.”


The Thing That Ate The Birds

Set on the North Yorkshire Moors, the film follows Abel, the Head Gamekeeper as he discovers the thing that is eating his grouse. His blunt and violent response brings the menace back home shattering his already crumbling relationship with his wife.

The short has its SXSW premiere from Gunpowder & Sky’s horror brand, ALTER – The Thing That Ate The Birds by writer and director duo Sophie Mair (Ella, And the Baby Screamed) and Dan Gitsham (Ella, And the Baby Screamed). If this is meant to be a treatment for a feature, I want to see that feature. The score is classic Hitchcock strings. The cinematography is gorgeous and that last shot is pure Ari Aster, unapologetic horror. It’s one hell of an introduction to those who are unfamiliar with Mair and Gitsham. Someone, please give them a huge budget and the freedom to scare the crap out of us in a longer form.

ABOUT ALTER

ALTER is a horror brand for novel and grounded stories exploring the human condition through warped perspectives.

Giving voice to emerging, diverse, and established filmmakers, ALTER’s owned and operated channel is distributed across YouTube and Facebook, with more than 15M monthly uniques,  where three short films or series are released each week. In addition to curating and distributing award-winning content, ALTER develops unique stories with some of the most innovative minds in the genre through its ALTER Studio projects – which are not bound to a particular platform or format.

In October, ALTER, along with Executive Producer Sam Raimi (Evil DeadSpider-Man), premiered Part 2 of the horror series “50 States of Fright”, starring Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Travis Fimmel (“Vikings”, Warcraft: The Beginning) and Christina Ricci (“Monster,” “Z: The Beginning of Everything”). In 2019, the BAFTA-nominated horror short, The Blue Door starring (Gemma Whelan – Game of ThronesThe End of the F***ing World) premiered on ALTER, and earlier this year it was also announced that “Moreau”, a sci-fi TV series that puts a modern spin on the classic novel, “The Island of Dr. Moreau” by H.G. Wells has gone into development and will be written by Zack Stentz (X-Men: First Class, Thor, Rim Of The World). In addition, the psychological thriller “Horror Accidental”, based on the Japanese TV drama series, ‘Horror Accidental 1&2’, will be brought to life by writer and director Evan Daugherty (‘Divergent,’ ‘Tomb Raider’).

Additional releases include the brand’s first unscripted podcast series, “ALTER Weekly”, which gives its audience a deep dive into the past, present, and future of the horror genre; short film La Noria, directed by Carlos Beana, that won best-animated film at The Webby Awards; CAM, winner of Best Screenplay at 2018’s Fantasia Festival and was acquired by Netflix; the official 2018 Sundance Film Festival selection, Summer of 84, the thriller directed by RKSS (Turbo Kid); and the  SXSW selection, Villains, starring Bill Skarsgard (It) and Maika Monroe (It Follows).

ABOUT GUNPOWDER & SKY

Gunpowder & Sky is an independent studio that creates and distributes feature films, series, short-form content, podcasts, and channels, bridging digital and traditional entertainment.

Since its inception in 2016, Gunpowder & Sky has released more than 30 feature films and series, more than 750 short films in theatres, on TVOD, and leading platforms such as HBO, Netflix, MTV, Hulu, Sky, Showtime, Spotify, Amazon, YouTube, Quibi, Audible and Discovery.

Notable films and series include 69: The Saga Of Danny Hernandez, Her Smell, Everybody’s Everything, Prospect, Sea Fever, The Little Hours, Cam, Hearts Beat Loud, Lords of Chaos, Tragedy Girls, Betting on Zero, Summer of 84, Villains, Survive, 50 States of Fright and Drawn & Recorded.

With a collective audience of more than 65M monthly unique viewers, Gunpowder & Sky also owns and operates content brands that include DUST, the number one free sci-fi channel; ALTER, a leading horror brand, and CUT, an unscripted & comedy brand that is home to the successful formats “Truth or Drink” and “Fear Pong”. DUST, ALTER, and CUT are distributed on all major streaming platforms including Apple, Amazon, Comcast, Facebook, Peacock, Roku, Samsung, Sinclair, Sling, Vizio, Xumo, and YouTube.

Gunpowder & Sky also recently launched its premium audio studio, and in less than one year has established a leading position in music and sci-fi, claiming #1 fiction podcast on Apple and the #1 podcast on Audible.

With offices in Los Angeles and New York, Gunpowder & Sky was founded by Van Toffler and Floris Bauer, in partnership with The Chernin Group and AT&T.

Review: ‘Gridlock’

Gridlock

Release Date: March 2016

Guest review from Reel Reviews Over Brews

Gridlock is an Irish spin on an American style thriller, set during a traffic jam on a narrow country road. When Eoin’s young daughter Emma goes missing from their car, he forms a desperate search party to find her, and soon everyone is a suspect.

The last of the short films we have been reviewing, Gridlock is another home run! Like Penalty and Lost Face, Gridlock is also up for an Oscar nomination. This short film is roughly 20 minutes long and we certainly wish it had been a feature length because it had us from the beginning. Trying to figure out what happened to Eoin’s daughter and thinking that each character was more suspect than the last. Gridlock is a thrill from start to finish. Like the last few, we don’t want to give away too much, but this is another MUST SEE! Good luck to whoever has to decide which shorts will receive Oscar nominations… because we believe all three could take the cake. Gridlock, however, was our favorite. It had us locked into our seat, causing us to leave work late on a Friday to see the end. So we watched a movie about a traffic jam which then caused us to be in a traffic jam… totally worth it!

Reel ROB Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Post Credits Scene: No

We want to thank our friends at Reel News Daily for allowing us to do this guest review!

Review: ‘Lost Face’

Lost Face

Release Date: September 14, 2016

Guest review from Reel Reviews Over Brews

This award-winning short is based on Jack London’s short story.

In mid-1800’s Russian America, Subienkow finds himself the second-to-last survivor of a group of Russian fur-thieves who have just been defeated by liberators from the local tribe they have enslaved as forced labour. Now Subienkow faces a long, protracted and painful death unless he can come up with a plan for escape.

Subienkow calls over the tribe’s chief, Makamuk, and he begins to bargain…

Lost Face is another one of the shorts we’ve recently watched that is up for an Oscar nomination. This movie grabs you from the very beginning and doesn’t let go. We found ourselves wishing that it was a full length movie. Lost Face is about one survivor/prisoner trying to bargain for his life. We felt the whole time as though this could be the original con man. Now that we know this is based on a short story, you better believe we’ll be finding it to read on our next flight. Again, we don’t want to say too much and give away the whole movie, but we’ll be extremely surprised if Lost Face doesn’t get the Oscar nomination, yet alone win the whole thing. Another movie that if you have 15 minutes to spare and want to be on the edge of your seat the entire time, you need to go watch NOW!

Reel ROB Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

Post Credits Scene: No

We want to thank our friends at Reel News Daily for allowing us to do this guest review!

Review: ‘Penalty’

Penalty

Release Date: September 23, 2016

Guest review from Reel Reviews Over Brews

Aldo Iuliano’s award winning drama Penalty has been making waves in the film world, as this wonderful film has received nearly thirty awards and has been selected for five Academy qualifying Film Festivals. Penalty shares the story of a group of guys playing football in the middle of nowhere. There is a much more than a simple victory at stake.

Penalty is one of three short movies we’ve recently watched that are up for Oscar nominations. It’s no surprise why they are all up for nominations either. Penalty starts off a little tough to follow with a bunch of guys playing soccer, but something seems to be a little different… and that is the only reason why we rated it a little lower than the other two shorts. About halfway through is when it all begins to make sense. It’s amazing that in just 15 minutes you can feel like a movie is so complete. There are movies that are two to three hours long that don’t do that. What is even more amazing is none of the actors in this movie were profession actors… they were just guys that the director got to know by living alongside of them. Makes it even more amazing that it turned out so well. We don’t want to give away too much from any of these movies so our reviews will be a little shorter than normal, but if you have 15 minutes to spare, you should absolutely see Penalty.

Reel ROB Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post Credits Scene: No

We want to thank our friends at Reel News Daily for allowing us to do this guest review!