“As lazy as a summer day in the Great Smoky Mountains, Ben Wagner’s “Southbounders” explores characters on a long-distance hike on the Appalachia Trail by a filmmaker who knows hiking himself. The near-docu quality of pic’s storytelling and loose approach to minimal drama casts a nice spell and gives non-hikers a taste of what it’s like to trudge in the woods…”
Robert Koehler – VARIETY (read more)
“I immediately went home and loaded up my screener copy of Southbounders and prepared to be wowed. Thankfully, my expectations were met; Wagner’s film is a peaceful, romantic little drama about a girl who decides to hike the Appalachian Trail, and it offers what one expects must be the same transcendent feeling of communing with nature that hikers experience while taking the route themselves.
Wagner described the difficult but rewarding experience of walking the Trail, which he traveled himself prior to working on the movie, and offered more than a few hints about the intensely personal statement he attempted to make by telling this story. What’s great about the film is that it reflects the true essence of independent cinema, which is to generate a distinctive, creative vision and bring that to life.
While so many of his competitors, even some of those included in the ranks of the festival’s entries, function as a fulcrum for filmmakers to get their foot in the door of the industry, it’s reassuring to see that writers and directors do still exist that believe in creativity over commercialism. And all pretense aside, it’s not just a film that makes you feel good, but makes you feel better.”
Todd Gilchrist – FILM STEW (read more)
“Super low budget “Southbounders” has modest goals but hits them admirably. Wagner is doing his best to allow the viewer to feel what it is like to be a Southbounder and succeeds through quiet moments such as showing the hikers out on the trail wishing they had their favorite food or relaxing in a youth hostel singing songs. A relationship between Olivia and Rollin develops but it feels more natural than most Hollywood films and has a subtle realistic charm. “Southbounders” is never that complex of a film but this seems to be Wagner’s focus, wanting authenticity over melodrama.”
Greg Bellavia – FILM THREAT (read more)
“If you’ve ever quested for something, been in a relationship (or tried to) with someone who seems to be an endless wanderer … and you love hiking, this movie is for you.
Kurt Turchan – TRAILPEAK (read more)
“This movie is ideal for anyone who has ever wondered what backpacking is like. After it was over I wanted to watch it again…
I see Southbounders as a great intro to “life on the trail” from a thru hiker’s perspective. The ending brought me back, and put a smile on my face…
Wagner not only completed his film, but he made one with a fine story, and very good acting. I have no doubt that Southbounders might inspire those who see it to make the same journey…
Ashley, Billy, & Keith – PureBound (read more)
“Southbounders boasts solid acting, excellent cinematography and a superb soundtrack that seamlessly complements the plot.
Bottom line: If you’ve never even considered hiking in your life, you will be searching for the nearest woods to take a stroll after watching Southbounders. And who knows, maybe one day you will find yourself at the base of Mount Katahdin or Springer Mountain—ready to take the plunge! As Lao Tzu once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step . . .”
Alternative Reel (read more)