Annie Silverstein Discusses Her Feature Debut Bull – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus

The 2020 SXSW Film Festival is just a couple of short weeks away! Before you make your way down to Austin, TX, take a look at the films in our lineup a little bit better with our Filmmaker In Focus series.

Check out our Q&A with director Annie Silverstein as she tells us about his film Bull, which will screen in Festival Favorites.

“The spirit of SXSW resonates deeply with us as filmmakers and Bull is a Texas born and bred film. Can’t think of a better TX homecoming.” – Annie Silverstein

In your own words, what does this film mean to you?

Annie Silverstein: One of the central themes is connection, and finding your family or your community outside your blood family. Kris is a teenager whose mom is incarcerated and she’s very much trying to navigate things on her own. Abe, in his late 40s, is having a kind of “coming of age” too — a door is closing on what he’s done all his life and he has to reinvent himself.

There’s a quote I’ve heard attributed to both Paul Eluard and W.B. Yeats, but it goes, “There’s another world and it’s in this one.” It’s this connection between Abe and Kris that allows them to see into another world for themselves, outside of the only world that they’ve known, and this slight opening they offer each other, is what gives us hope they will survive. In short, hope, connection, and survival.

What motivated you to tell this story?

AS: My starting point is very much rooted in the social work I was doing before attending film school. The teenagers I worked with were from rural and underrepresented communities, poverty was a big issue, and several had parents that were incarcerated. Then I moved to Texas in 2010 to attend the graduate film program at UT, and I met a man from a black rodeo family while location scouting for my thesis. I knew nothing about the history of black cowboys, so often left out of American history and cinematic depictions of the West. I started attending backyard rodeos, and interviewing bull fighters who have spent their lives on the rodeo circuit and the story began to emerge.

What do you want the audience to take away?

AS: I hope the movie expands our sense of what we think of as a “Western” and who’s included.

What made you choose SXSW to showcase your film to the world?

AS: The spirit of SXSW resonates deeply with us as filmmakers and Bull is a Texas born and bred film. Can’t think of a better TX homecoming.

Do you have a past experience at SXSW that impacted your decision to come back?

AS: I’ve had two shorts play at SX, and have also attended when I haven’t had any work in the festival. I think the excitement and devotion of SX audiences is wonderful and re-energizing.

Add Bull to your SXSW Schedule. Stay tuned as we share more interviews with our SXSW 2020 filmmakers!

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Bull – Photo courtesy of film

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