My review & pictures of Matthew McConaughey, Jeff Nichols “Mud” Q&A at 2013 SXSW Film Festival

On Sunday, March 10, 2013 I attended a gala screening of Mud at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. This special event took place in the historic 1200-seat Paramount Theatre. The film was a selection in the Festival Favorites section.

Mud is writer/director Jeff Nichols' highly-anticipated followup to 2011's modern classic Take Shelter. That movie made my Toronto International Film Festival Top 11 (see my Q&A pics) and earned a spot on my Top 10 of 2011. It still stands as one of my cinematic highlights of the past five years.

Mud competed for the Palme d'Or at Cannes last year and had its U.S. Premiere at the just-concluded Sundance Film Festival. While I was there in Park City, this was one of a handful of "must-see" titles I was not able to fit into my schedule. As soon as it was announced that Mud would be coming to SXSW I made sure nothing would stand in my way. I'm glad I did. Granted, it's still March, but I saw close to 70 films at Sundance and SXSW and Mud takes its place near the top.

Two Arkansas boys on the cusp of manhood come across a mysterious island in the Mississippi River on which an enigmatic drifter has taken up residence. This peculiar man -- Mud, portrayed with frightening brilliance by Matthew McConaughey -- is everything a young teen imagines would be lurking in the shadows of forbidden places. He's scary, he's a puzzle, and, most of all, he's a magnet. Tye Sheridan (14 at the time), who played Steve in Terrence Malick's Oscar-nominated The Tree of Life, portrays young Ellis with such charming authenticity that there's little doubt he's destined for stardom. Now 16, his performance was a standout of the festival. Ellis' partner in crime is Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), who provides much of the wisecracking comic relief in an otherwise dark and, dare I say, creepy narrative that's filled with noir tension from start to finish. The adult cast is filled with accomplished veterans including Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon, Sam Shepard, Paul Sparks, Joe Don Baker, and Take Shelter's Michael Shannon. All are up to the task. But this is a coming-of-age story first and foremost, and it's the pas de trois between McConaughey, Sheridan, and Lofland that is the heart and soul of this magnificent film.

Stand by Me meets Killer Joe in this wonderful, original tale of two boys growing up in rural America, featuring stunning cinematography from Adam Stone (who also shot Take Shelter), masterful editing by Julie Monroe, and a haunting score by David Gordon Green's composer David Wingo, who scored Take Shelter as well.

Mud was produced by Sarah Green for Brace Cove Productions, Aaron Ryder for FilmNation Entertainment, and Lisa Maria Falcone for Everest Entertainment. Gareth Smith and Tom Heller served as Executive Producers for Everest. Following its triumphant debut in competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, Roadside Attractions and parent company Lionsgate acquired the picture for domestic theatrical distribution.

For giving us the decade's benchmark in the coming-of-age genre, I gave Jeff Nichols' Mud five stars and a place on my 2013 SXSW Film Festival Top 8 Narratives.

Writer/director Jeff Nichols was brought onstage by SXSW Film Festival Producer Janet Pierson to introduce the screening. After the film, Nichols returned to the stage along with producer Sarah Green and star Matthew McConaughey for an insightful and hilarious Q&A session.

Here are some pictures I shot during the intro and Q&A:

INTRO AND Q&A GALLERY (62 photos on 4 pages)


Mud - SXSW 2013 Accepted Film from SXSW on Vimeo.


Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at

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  • Author: Larry Richman
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