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SXSW 2014: The Best of the Fest’s Music Movies

From André 3000 as Jimi Hendrix to docs on everyone from Lennon to A$AP Rocky, we highlight the cream of SXSW’s sounds + vision offerings

It was a music festival first, kicking off its inaugural edition in Austin, Texas, in 1987 and bringing bands from all over the States (and eventually, the world) to the boho capital of the Lone Star State. Once the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival added an interactive component and a film festival in 1994, however, it started to establish itself as free-for-all media hotspot, one that prided itself on bridging the gaps between movies, technology and the rock/punk/rap/anything-goes sounds of the bands they'd book.

SXSW 2014: 25 Must-See Acts

Not surprisingly, the connection between film and music at SXSW has always been especially strong: The film fest has an entire section devoted to the "sounds, culture and influence of music and musicians"—the "24 Beats Per Second" sidebar—and you can always find music-related and/or inflected movies in the Narrative and Documentary sections. Here's 12 films playing at this year's SXSW that turn the lens on some  real (and some semi-fictional) musicians, from guitar heroes and country-and-western legends to next-gen hip-hop superstars. By David Fear 

Isaac Sterling

‘Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton’

From the Notes-From-the-Underground dept.: Way back in the day, a DJ named Peanut Butter Wolf decided  to start a label devoted to the below-the-radar hip-hop his friends and fellow artists were making. He called it Stone's Throw, and the imprint introduced the world to such lysergic lyrical crackpots as MF Doom and Madlib. See how a young man with a dream and a shitload of records managed to turn a sub-subset of the rap game into a modest musical empire.

Courtesy Jon Lefkovitz

‘Rubber Soul’

Everyone remembers the legendary December 1970 Rolling Stone interviews between Jann S. Wenner and John Lennon, as well as the interview that Lennon and Yoko Ono gave to Playboy while they were recording Double Fantasy. Jon Lefkovitz's doc juxtaposes the two interviews via archival footage and audio tape, creating a near-seamless portrait of an artist wrestling with his work, life and legacy.

Courtesy Spandau Ballet

‘Soul Boys of the Western World’

We know this much is true: Spandau Ballet is a band that people tend to write off as a one-hit wonder, just pretty London boys who provided the soundtrack to your prom. In fact, they were musicians who were capable of being funky when they wanted to be (listen to "Chant No. 1") and prior to becoming lounge-lizard crooners, they demonstrated some serious New Romantic chops. This archival doc brings you right back to that moment when guys with great bangs could impress Chris Blackwell, sing about cutting long stories short, play Live-Aid and have a top ten hit.

Jake Burghart

‘SVDDXNLY’

From mixtape hero to the future of hip-hop to gloebtrotting superstar: This no-holds-barred look at A$AP Rocky and his crew — A$AP Mob — goes behind-the-scenes as the Harlem rapper deals with the perks and pitfalls of success. 

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