Filmmakers in Focus - Break Point, Hannibal Buress Live in Chicago! and May the Best Man Win

Written by Jim Kolmar | March 7, 2014

(L-R) Filmmakers Jay Karas, Marcus Raboy, Andrew O'Connor

Three films with a decidedly comedic bent feature in this edition of Filmmakers in Focus.

Jay Karas' Break Point is the hilarious tale of two tennis-playing brothers at loggerhead as they reluctantly team up for one last crack at the doubles championship. Part of Narrative Spotlights, the film is also part of the SXsports programming track.

Hannibal Buress is a rising standup sensation, and the subject of Hannibal Buress Live from Chicago directed by Marcus Raboy. Taped in Buress' home town, this special is premiering at SXSW Film before it airs on Comedy Central.

Andrew O'Connor's May the Best Man Win, is a bawdy, scatalogical, funny as hell story of two daredevil buddies who find their prankster lifestyle - and their friendship - challenged by the arrival of a beautiful addition to their close-knit team.

Check out the rest of the Filmmakers in Focus on this page, and browse the film schedule here.

Jay Karas on Break Point

Jeremy Sisto and David Walton in Break Point. Image courtesy Michael Nolan

Tell us a little about your film.

I've always preferred films about damaged characters where both comedic and heartfelt moments coexist effortlessly. That is very much Break Point. It's a story about two estranged brothers who reconcile their differences to make a run at a Grand Slam tournament in doubles tennis. But the film is not at all about tennis--it's about the complexity of being brothers. They realize that in order to be in sync on the court, they need to be in sync off the court as well, on a human level. The grounded performances by both Jeremy Sisto and David Walton as the brothers are absolutely incredible. And Joshua Rush rounds out the triumvirate as 11-year-old Barry, their ball boy/mascot who ends up playing a big part in the brothers' journey of repair and reconciliation.

Why did you start making films?

One of my favorite things to do has always been seeing films in the theatre. I became fascinated with cinema at a very young age, and after the childhood career dreams of being a professional soccer player and an astronaut gave way to thinking in real terms, I knew I wanted to make films. In high school I was surrounded by friends whose parents were miserable not just with their jobs, but also in many cases their chosen careers. Additionally, my English teacher in my senior year of high school had us read Bernard Malamud's novel "The Natural." We then watched the film straight through. Then, we watched the film again, stopping before, during, and after each scene to dissect how it was translated visually. My teacher pointed out how the backlight during the slow motion shot of Robert Redford swinging the bat gave him a heroic, angelic quality, and it was this series of classes that illuminated the true power of film for me, and the ability to tell a story visually and make countless decisions that factor into the viewer's experience. From that point forward I abandoned all of the "safe" avenues championed by many in my family and officially set my sights on a career in film. Now, after a circuitous route through twenty years of working in television, I am beyond thrilled to have just completed my first feature-length film.

Have you been to SXSW before? What are you most looking forward to?

This is my first trip to SXSW, and I'm incredibly excited not only for my own film's premiere, but also to see as many films as I possibly can, including Jon Favreau's Chef and the documentary Mateo. And I'm really excited about the addition of the Episodic Television part of the festival (I've spent the bulk of my last several years directing half hour episodic tv) and checking out Mike Judge's Silicon Valley and Troy Miller's Deadbeat. And of course the food and live music. Harvest Records has several of their artists performing on the 11th and I will definitely be checking that out too.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

I live in Los Angeles with my wife Monica, our son Leo, and our dog Rosie. We spend a lot of our time laughing and cracking jokes, but also expressing our growing concern that Europe's increasing anti-semitism is incredibly reminiscent of what occurred in the 1920s and 1930s, and that the world we are leaving for our son may not be entirely safe for him to live in. Our tendency to talk about both humor and the darker realities of our world make for a dichotomous existence and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Marcus Raboy on Hannibal Buress: Live from Chicago!

Hannibal Buress, courtesy Comedy Central

Tell us a little about your film.

Hannibal Buress is back on Comedy Central with his brand new hour standup special Hannibal Buress: Live From Chicago! Taped at The Vic Theater in his hometown of Chicago, IL, Hannibal’s latest offering features more of the signature dry wit and cool delivery we’ve come to love. This time around, the Comedy Central and Broad City favorite rolls out new material about his own second line parade in New Orleans, fist fights in London, and many memorable late nights on the road.

Why did you start making films?

I was a photographer from a really young age and when I eventually picked up a film camera and worked with moving images something really clicked for me. I love visual storytelling, cinematography, sound and music, and all the elements that go into making films.

Have you been to SXSW before? What are you most looking forward to?

This is my first year going to SXSW. I am excited for some live music shows, especially artists I haven't seen before.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

When I was 12 years old I scalped tickets to the King Tut exhibit in NY to buy my first Nikon camera. I used that camera to shoot NY Knick games court side, getting advice from the press photographers who were happy to share tips with a 13 year old.

Andrew O'Connor on May The Best Man Win

May The Best Man Win, courtesy What If It Barks Films

Tell us a little about your film.

It's a love triangle comedy that combines a narrative with hidden camera hits on members of the public. The actors in the film are also sometimes the 'butt' of the joke and didn't always know, day to day, what was going to happen on set. It's a hard R rated comedy - not at all for the faint hearted!

Why did you start making films?

I started out as a performer - kid actor, teenage magician 20 - 30 year old comedian. Then I became a writer/producer/director in TV in the U.K. but I've always had a love affair with feature films as an audience member and I kept jumping career tracks to try and get to the point where I could go and make movies.

Have you been to SXSW before? What are you most looking forward to?

No - really want to see as many (hopefully funny) films as I can.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

I am one of the co-creators of the tv show Peep Show.

I work on all Derren Brown's tv and stage shows (if you don't know his work, google him now - you won't regret it)

I have 4 kids aged between 21 and 10 (all with the same wife - who knew that could happen?)

I can walk the high wire ('cause I once played Barnum in the musical Barnum)