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The Breakout Movies at SXSW You’ll Want to Know About

“Villains,” directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, put a fun twist on the home-invasion genre, with Bill Skarsgard and Maika Monroe as criminals on the lam. When their car runs out of gas, they pick the wrong home to break into, that of a couple (Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick) with a few skeletons in their closet and another secret in their basement. And in keeping with the Boys/Boyz festival motif, there was “Boyz in the Wood,” a hallucinogenic comedy-survival tale from the music video director Ninian Doff about teenagers in the Scottish Highlands who become more hunted than hunters. The site Film School Rejects described it as “‘Hot Fuzz’ meets ‘Attack the Block.’” The movie was the subject of so much chatter that SXSW added an extra screening.

The festival wasn’t entirely lighthearted. Its two major jury awards went to much more serious-minded films. “Alice,” Josephine Mackerras’s drama about a woman (Emilie Piponnier) who becomes a prostitute to support her child, won the narrative feature prize. And “For Sama,” which focuses on a young female Syrian filmmaker, Waad al-Kateab, who cataloged harrowing aspects of her life in Aleppo for five years, took the documentary feature award.

But the festival’s biggest and funniest standouts show its programming strengths, and reinforce the value of the theatrical experience, the opportunity to laugh, and sometimes cringe, with a large, responsive audience.

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