SXSW 2011 Film Reviews

Convento

Documentary Feature
D: Jarred Alterman

Death becomes Dutch artist Christiaan Zwanikken. Or rather, it becomes considerably more lively in his hands. Working out of a 400-year-old Franciscan monastery in the hills of Portugal that he shares with his mother, Geraldine, and his brother, Louis, Zwanikken animates the skeletal or mummified remains of local fauna. It's not magic, although it could be argued that what Zwanikken is creating – via servo motors, spot welds, and tiny terrestrial deaths – exists on a glorious borderland between art, religion, and the mechanics of life itself. Aesthetically, it recalls both the shuddersome stop-motion of the Quay Brothers and the jittery mechanical cacophonies of Mark Pauline's Survival Research Laboratories, but with a lighter, gentler, and altogether more human touch. There's something deeply profound about both Zwanikken and his art. Surrounded by (living) animals – geese, a 25-year-old horse he calls "my best friend," his artist mother – Zwanikken's world is that rare collision of the surreal and the entirely natural. Both Darwin and Dada would be ecstatic.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
SXSW Film Releases Full Feature Lineup
SXSW Film Releases Full Feature Lineup
Slate includes everyone from Wes Anderson to the Zellners

Monica Riese, Jan. 30, 2014

Mindy Kaling Comes to SXSW
Mindy Kaling Comes to SXSW
The comedian and showrunner will speak March 9

Monica Riese, Jan. 21, 2014

More by Marc Savlov
Black Mother
A hypnotic and all-encompassing glimpse into Jamaican life

April 12, 2019

The Best of Enemies
Unlikely alliances grow as conversation finds common ground in this historical true-life drama

April 5, 2019

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle