For documentary fans, South By Southwest is a bit like Christmas and your birthday rolled into one. As with features, it’s a chance to see sharp, often boundary-pushing nonfiction in a theater setting, something that happens rarely even as the market for docs has exploded thanks to streaming services.
Here are 10 docs that we have not yet seen but are looking forward to checking out.
“Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes.” Robert S. Bader produced the acclaimed documentaries “Dick Cavett’s Watergate” and “Dick Cavett’s Vietnam” for PBS. Behold his look at Cavett chatting with maybe the most charismatic American human being of the 20th century. (8:30 p.m March 11, Alamo Lamar E; 10:30 p.m. March 12, Alamo Ritrz 2; 11 a.m. March 15, Zach Theatre)
“The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man.” Tommy Avallone looks at noted performance artist/comedy legend Bill Murray and his whole showing-up-and-being-weird thing. It’s billed as “one man’s journey to find meaning in Bill Murray’s many unexpected adventures with everyday people, rare and never-before seen footage of the comedic icon participating in stories previously presumed to be urban legend.” (9:15 p.m, March 10, Alamo Lamar D; 4 p.m. March 12, Vimeo Theater; 6:30 p.m. March 15, Stateside Theatre)
“The Potential of Noise - Conny Plank.” Recording and mixing and making magic from his farmhouse studio complex, Conny Plank was a legitimately legendary German record producer who worked with everyone from Kraftwerk to Neu!, from Can to Whodini, from Brian Eno to the Eurythmics. He died when his son Stephen Plank was just 13. With co-director Reto Caduff, Stephen explores his father’s legacy via the artists the elder Plank worked with. (7 p.m. March 10, Alamo Lamar A; 1:45 p.m. March 13, Rollins Theatre at the Long Center; 1:30 p.m. March 16, Alamo Lamar B)
“Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.” Dana Adam Shapiro (“Murderball”) examines the never-before-told story of Suzanne Mitchell, den mother of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. All sorts of Texas in this one. (1:45 p.m. March 11, Zach Theatre; 9:45 p.m. March 12, Rollins Theatre at the Long Center; Noon March 17, Alamo Lamar C)
“From All Corners.” Shimadzu Fuyuki travels around the world, collecting thrown away (or recycled) cardboard and turns it in to wallets. His wallets travel around the world to advocate the concept of “upcycling” which is “the mind beyond recycling or re-use.” (2:30 p.m. March 10, Alamo Lamar C; 6 p.m. March 12, Alamo Lamar C; 2 p.m. March 14, Alamo Ritz 1)
“¡Las Sandinistas!” Jenny Murray’s feature debut looks at the untold stories of women who ignored barriers to lead combat units and social reform during Nicaragua’s 1979 Sandinista Revolution and the ensuing U.S.-backed Contra War, and who continue their activism today. Now, 35 years after those wars ended, as the country fills with brutal gender violence, these same women lead the popular movements for equality and democracy. (1:45 p.m. March 12, Alamo Ritz 1; 4:15 p.m. March 13, Alamo Lamar A; 2:45 p.m. March 15, Alamo Lamar A)
“People’s Republic of Desire.” Hao Wu’s new one takes the viewer on a journey into the lives of two live streamers (aka camgirls, camboys, campeople, etc.) who’ve risen from obscurity to fame and fortune in China. The vérité picture examines live streaming showrooms, which have become virtual gathering places for hundreds of millions of people, rich and poor, as the lines between virtual relationships and “real” ones become increasingly blurry. (4:15 p.m. March 10, Alamo Ritz 1; 4:15 p.m. March 11, Alamo Lamar A; 5:30 p.m. March 14, Alamo Lamar A)
“The Live Here, Now.” A portrait of the Austin refugee house Casa Marianella that is both a celebration of immigrants and an exploration of the ways in which spaces in the US are optimized for incoming residents worldwide. (4:30 p.m. March 11, Alamo Lamar D; 5:45 p.m. March 12, AFS Cinema; 1:30 p.m. March 14, Rollins Theatre at The Long Center)
“Transmilitary.” Roughly 15,500 transgender people serve in the U.S. military, where they must conceal their gender identity because military policies ban their service. This film looks at the lives of four of the troops who are defending their country’s freedom while fighting for their own.The ban was lifted in 2016, but with President Trump now trying to reinstate it, their futures hang in the balance again. (1:45 p.m. March 10, Alamo Ritz 1; 11 a.m. March 11, Alamo Lamar A; noon March 14, Alamo Lamar A)
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (“Twenty Feet From Stardom”) examines the life and work of Fred Rogers, one of 20th century America most beloved entertainers and educators. As one review’s headline put it, “Mister Rogers Was Too Good For Us, and This Documentary Proves It.” (4:45 p.m. March 12, Alamo Ritz 2; 1:45 p.m. March 13, Zach Theatre)