8 Message Movies Worth Watching at SXSW

Sure, South by Southwest is famous for music, but this year’s festival boasts an impressive number of socially relevant films.

Aaron Swartz. (Photo: 'The Internet's Own Boy')

Mar 7, 2014· 2 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

From creative free spirits to tech industry bigwigs, South by Southwest draws quite the fun-loving crowd. Beyond obvious attractions (music, grub, networking galore) is a core belief in exchanging exciting, innovative ideas. This year’s film lineup doesn’t disappoint, with offerings that provoke and entertain. We’ve cherry-picked a list of socially relevant flicks to keep your eye on.

The Internet’s Own Boy

Aaron Swartz coded and hacked his way into Internet legend but died by suicide at 26. As a teenager he helped develop the RSS feed, wrote code for Creative Commons, and cofounded social news site Reddit. After downloading millions of academic papers through MIT’s network, the tech industry hero faced a federal indictment that tormented his final years.

(Photo: 'Ukraine Is Not a Brothel')

Ukraine Is Not a Brothel

The feminists of Femen, a loose coalition protesting Ukraine’s rampant sex trafficking problem, express their outrage by baring their breasts. Critics say the group’s topless protests are misguided; this documentary reveals that a nefarious male mastermind may be running the show.

Evaporating Borders

Yugoslavian-born filmmaker Iva Radivojevic investigates the immigrant experience in Cyprus, weaving a five-part visual essay that focuses on migrants dying at sea, neo-Nazi extremists, and the antifascist activists fighting them.

Seeds of Time

Cary Fowler built what is referred to as the Doomsday Vault. The first global seed bank, it houses the world’s largest collection of seeds in hopes of ensuring the biodiversity critical to our survival. With climate change endangering crop resources, the documentary travels from Fowler’s vault in Norway to Peru’s “Potato Park,” where indigenous farmers toil to preserve some 1,500 native varieties of potatoes.

The Great Invisible

The 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Award-winning filmmaker Margaret Brown examines the emotional and financial aftermath of the disaster, revealing the deep roots of the oil industry in the American Southeast.

The Case Against 8

Attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies duked it out during the Bush versus Gore recount battle of 2000. Almost a decade later, the unlikely pair victoriously overturned California’s ban on same-sex marriage. This documentary takes a close look at the historic five-year trial, the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Print the Legend

From pizza to human body parts to guns, the 3-D printing market has generated major buzz over the past couple of years. And for a gung-ho group of 3-D printers, the race is on. In Print the Legend, the producers of Freakonomics explore the world of the young and competitive entrepreneurs who are working to bring the innovative technology to home users.

Obey the Artist

From graffiti artist to national icon: Shepard Fairey has created a Led Zeppelin album cover, helped elect a president, and even had a museum retrospective. Obey the Artist follows Fairey in Los Angeles as he renders a photograph into a 12-foot mural commemorating Native American history.

Editor's Note: The Internet’s Own Boy and The Great Invisible are affiliated with TakePart’s parent company Participant Media.