‘National Anthem’ Director Luke Gilford & Cast On Finding A “Microcosm Of Empathy And Kindness” – SXSW Studio


Section: Narrative Spotlight

Directors: Luke Gilford

Screenwriter: David Largman Murray, Kevin Best and Luke Gilford

Logline: Dylan lives an isolated life of routine in rural New Mexico, working odd construction jobs to help support his little brother and alcoholic mother. He accepts a gig working at the House of Splendor, a homestead built by a community of queer rodeo performers and ranchers, and soon the indefinable magic of an untamed America unfolds before him. Finding space to explore and discover himself, he becomes entwined in the life of Sky, a talented barrel racer and free spirit. While working together in the breathtaking expanse of the Southwest, they contend with the undeniable forces of nature, family, and love.

Sales Agent: CAA

Panelists: Luke Gilford, Charlie Plummer, Eve Lindley, Mason Alexander Park

Premiered: March 10, 2023

Key Quote: Gilford: “In this time that’s so scary for so many people, I think it’s important to have stories like this out there, to give us hope and show that there’s another way and that it is possible… We’ve all seen these queer tragedies. Every rural queer story we’ve seen has been a tragedy, so it was a real mission of all of ours to peel away those cliches to show something that was true, but also something that we haven’t seen before.”

Park: “It creates a safety in this kind of weird microcosm of empathy and kindness, and I think that’s what the movie accomplishes as well… it continues to reinforce the idea in me that you just need to give people time and a chance and empathy and energy, and often you’ll receive the same kindness back if they’re willing to work on it.”

The Deadline Studio at SXSW runs March 10-13, where the cast and creatives behind the best and buzziest titles in this year’s lineup sit down with Deadline’s festival team to discuss their movies and the paths they took to get to Austin, Texas.

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