SXSW Goes Wild For Ben Affleck’s Michael Jordan Biopic – Variety

Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Viola Davis and Chris Tucker scored a standing ovation at South by Southwest on Saturday night with their closing film. “Air” was an immediate MVP, even without the presence of his 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 has kicked off another big crowd pleaser.

“Air,” directed by Affleck and written by Alex Convery, received not only rapturous applause during the credits, but also sustained applause throughout the inspiring film – especially in scenes involving Davis as Deloris Jordan, a trader with Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) of Nike. for the valor of his son.

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 staging strategy is to find brilliant people and say, ‘Do it!'” Affleck said during the post-screening Q&A, playing off Nike’s famous catchphrase. “I’m not kidding. I feel like I just witnessed all that performance and that energy and their own fatherhood that they brought.

“I am fortunate to be part of the telling of this story which resonates about value and value and things far beyond what I can pass for the author, in the deepest parts of this country and how we view ourselves and each other,” he continued.

Viola Davis – whom Affleck called “the best actor in the world” during his opening speech – said it was an honor to have played Deloris.

“I think she was doing what us mothers do. We believe in our children more than anything else,” she said. “My mother was born in 1943. Deloris was born in 1940. She was born into a generation of people whose dreams were their children. This is the height of Jim Crow. It’s the height of black people being told that their dreams didn’t matter. So for her to have this great vision for her son and believe in it with all her heart is so miraculous.

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 during SXSW Conference & Festivals 2023 at the Paramount Theater on March 18, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for SXSW)
Getty Images for SXSW

“I showed up every day and had five to seven pages to deal with actors like Thissaid Damon, who also served as a producer on “Air.” “It was ridiculous. From the moment we read Alex’s script to the final edit we did, it was just an absolute joy. It was the best experience of my life. When you go to work with Viola Davis on a five-day stage, and at 10:30 p.m., you’re done, and it’s the best thing you’ve done in your career, you’re like, ‘Well, I guess 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 made it a rock show,” added Jason Bateman, who played Nike marketing director Rob Strasser. “And that may have been enhanced in some way by what Michael Jordan means to all of us. I’ll never think of Michael Jordan the same way again.

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