SXSW Goes Wild for Ben Affleck’s Michael Jordan Movie – Variety

Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Viola Davis and Chris Tucker received a standing ovation at South by Southwest on Saturday night for their closing film. “Air” was an instant MVP, even without the presence of its subject, basketball legend Michael Jordan.

A year after “Everything Everywhere All at Once” debuted at SXSW en route to seven Oscar wins, the Austin festival launched another big crowd pleaser.

Directed by Affleck and written by Alex Convery, “Air” received not only rapturous applause as its credits rolled, but also sustained cheers throughout the inspiring film — especially during scenes in which Davis played Deloris Jordan, negotiating with Nike’s Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon). because of his son’s rank.

The film follows the origin story of Nike’s Air Jordan shoe line, which began with Vaccaro’s strong belief in Michael Jordan (Damian Young) when he was just a rookie. In addition to directing, Affleck starred in the film as Nike co-founder Phil Knight, and he credited his co-stars for the pride he felt in the finished product.

“My whole directing strategy is to find great people and say, ‘Just do it!'” Affleck said in a post-screening Q&A, playing off Nike’s famous slogan. “I’m serious. I feel like I just have to witness all this performance and energy and their own factor that they brought.”

“I’m lucky enough to be a part of telling this story, which has reverberations of value and worth and things beyond what I can attribute to the deeper parts of this country and how we relate to ourselves and to each other,” he continued.

Viola Davis – whom Affleck called “the best actress in the world” in his opening remarks – said it was an honor to play Delor.

“I think she did what we mothers do. We believe in our children more than anything else,” she said. n height. Black people were told that their dreams didn’t matter. So it’s so amazing that he has that big vision for a boy and believes in it with all his heart.”

AUSTIN, TEXAS – March 18: (L-R) Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Alex Convery, Chris Tucker, Viola Davis, Julius Tennon, Chris Messina, Jason Bateman attend the ‘AIR’ World Premiere at the 2023 SXSW Conference and – during the festival at the Paramount Theater on March 18, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for SXSW)
Getty Images for SXSW

“I was there every day and had five to seven pages to do opposite actors This,” said Damon, who also served as Air’s producer. “It was ridiculous. From the moment we read Alex’s script to our final cut, it was just absolute joy. This has been the best experience of my life. When you go to work Viola Davis in a five-day scene and at 10:30 you’re done, and it’s the best thing you’ve done in your career, you’re like, ‘Well, we should keep working. What else can we do today?”

“What Ben and Matt were able to do with this story, which is an American business story — they turned it into a rock show,” added Jason Bateman, who played Nike marketing chief Rob Strasser. “And that could somehow be improved by what Michael Jordan means to all of us. I’ll never think of Michael Jordan the same way.”

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