DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES TO OPEN SXSW 2023!

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST ANNOUNCES OPENING NIGHT FILM, COMPETITIONS, AND SELECT FILM & TV PROGRAM TITLESDUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES TO OPEN FEST



Austin, Texas, – South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference and Festivals (March 10-19, 2023) announced the Opening Night film, Feature and Short Competitions, Midnighters, select titles from other categories, and XR Experience for the 30th edition of the SXSW Film & TV Festival. The rest of the lineup will be announced in early February. SXSW Film & TV will open with Paramount Pictures and eOne’s Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, directed and co-written by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. In the film a charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers embark on an epic quest to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people. The movie brings the rich world and playful spirit of the legendary roleplaying game to the big screen in a hilarious and action-packed adventure starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head, and Hugh Grant.

“We are thrilled to announce the first wave of our incredible lineup for SXSW 2023,” said Claudette Godfrey, VP Film & TV. “It’s an amazing collection of films, TV series and XR experiences that promise to inspire, entertain and challenge our audiences. We’re also proud to open with Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, a raucous and engaging fantasy adventure, and look forward to welcoming everyone to Austin in March for what promises to be an unforgettable event.”

SXSW draws thousands of fans, film and television creators, press, and industry leaders to immerse themselves in the smartest, most innovative and entertaining new films, TV and XR projects of the year, as well as giving access to hundreds of Conference Sessions, Music and Comedy Showcases, Creative Industry Exhibitions, Mentoring, Meetups and Special Events that define the cross-industry event. The 2023 Film & TV Festival will be in-person only.

Feature films in the SXSW 2023 lineup screen in the following categories: Headliners; Narrative Feature Competition presented by Panavision; Documentary Feature Competition; Narrative Spotlight; Documentary Spotlight; Visions; Midnighters; Global presented by MUBI; 24 Beats Per Second; Festival Favorites, and Special Screenings. The TV program consists of TV Premieres, TV Spotlight, and the Independent TV Pilot Competition. The SXSW 2023 Shorts Film Program presented by IMDbPro will present seven competitive sections. XR Experience Competition, XR Spotlight and XR Special Events programming round out the Film & TV Festival program. All Categories with the exception of Special Screenings and TV Spotlight will be eligible for section-specific Audience Awards.

Global, Visions, 24 Beats, Festival Favorites and additional titles across all other sections will be announced in early February.


HEADLINERS
Big names, big talent: Headliners bring star power to SXSW, featuring red carpet premieres and gala film events with major and rising names in cinema.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Directors: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Producers: Jeremy Latcham, Brian Goldner, Nick Meyer, Screenwriters: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Michael Gilio
A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people. Cast List: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head and Hugh Grant (Opening Night World Premiere)

Evil Dead Rise
Director/Screenwriter: Lee Cronin, Producer: Rob Tapert
Evil Dead Rise tells a twisted tale of two estranged sisters, played by Sutherland and Sullivan, whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable. Executive Producers include Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Cast List: Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, Nell Fisher

Problemista
Director/Screenwriter: Julio Torres, Producers: Emma Stone, Dave McCary, Ali Herting
Alejandro (Torres) is an aspiring toy designer from El Salvador, struggling to bring his unusual ideas to life in New York City. As time on his work visa runs out, a job assisting an erratic art-world outcast (Swinton) becomes his only hope to stay in the country and realize his dream. From writer/director Julio Torres comes a surreal adventure through the equally treacherous worlds of New York City and the U.S. Immigration system. Cast List: Julio Torres, Tilda Swinton, RZA (World Premiere)

Flamin’ Hot
Director: Eva Longoria, Producer: DeVon Franklin, Screenwriters: Linda Yvette Chávez, Lewis Colick
Flamin’ Hot is the story of Richard Montañez, the Frito Lay janitor who channeled his Mexican American heritage and upbringing to turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a snack that disrupted the food industry and became a global phenomenon. Cast List: Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, Dennis Haysbert, Emilio Rivera, Tony Shalhoub, Matt Walsh, Pepe Serna, Bobby Soto, Jimmy Gonzales, Brice Gonzalez (World Premiere)


NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION Presented by Panavision
Panavision, the global provider of optics, cameras, and end-to-end services that power the creative vision of filmmakers, is sponsoring the Narrative Feature Competition. Eight world premieres, and eight unique ways to celebrate the art of storytelling.

I Used To Be Funny (Canada)
Director/Screenwriter: Ally Pankiw, Producers: James Weyman, Jason Aita, Breann Smordin
Sam, a stand-up comedian struggling with PTSD, weighs whether or not to join the search for Brooke, a missing teenage girl she used to nanny. Cast List: Rachel Sennott, Olga Petsa, Jason Jones, Sabrina Jalees, Caleb Hearon, Ennis Esmer, Dani Kind (World Premiere)

Late Bloomers
Director: Lisa Steen, Producers: Alexandra Barreto, Taylor Feltner, Sam Bisbee, Screenwriter: Anna Greenfield
An aimless 28-year-old Brooklynite lands in the hospital after drunkenly breaking her hip being stupid. An encounter with a cranky elderly Polish woman who speaks no English leads to a job caring for her. Neither likes it, but it’s time to grow up. Cast List: Karen Gillan, Margaret Sophie Stein, Jermaine Fowler, Kevin Nealon, Talia Balsam (World Premiere)

Mustache
Director/Screenwriter: Imran J. Khan, Producers: Christina Won, Jessica Sittig, Christopher Storer, Tyson Bidner
It’s the mid-90s and 13-year-old Pakistani-American Ilyas is forced out of his cushy Islamic private school and thrown into public school with non-Muslim kids, all while suffering daily through life with his inescapable pre-pubescent Mustache. Cast List: Atharva Verma, Rizwan Manji, Alicia Silverstone, Hasan Minhaj, Meesha Shafi, Ayana Manji (World Premiere)

Parachute
Director: Brittany Snow, Producers: Jordan Yale Levine, Jordan Beckerman, Brittany Snow, Lizzie Shapiro, Screenwriters: Brittany Snow, Becca Gleason
Riley is determined to recover from her addictions to food and body image when she soon falls for another addiction, Ethan. Cast List: Courtney Eaton, Thomas Mann, Francesca Reale, Gina Rodriguez, Joel McHale, Scott Mescudi, Dave Bautista, Jennifer Westfeldt, Kathryn Gallagher, Chrissie Fit, Kelley Jakle (World Premiere)

Pure O
Director/Screenwriter: Dillon Tucker, Producers: Ricky Fosheim, Dillon Tucker, Ray Lee
A young screenwriter/musician grapples with Pure O, a lesser-known form of OCD, while juggling his recent engagement and his day job at a high end Malibu drug rehab. Inspired by the filmmaker’s own personal true story. Cast List: Daniel Dorr, Hope Lauren, Landry Bender, Jeff Baker, Candice Renee, Breon Gorman, Tim Landfield, Isaac Nippert, Devon Martinez, Clint James (World Premiere)

Raging Grace (United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Paris Zarcilla, Producer: Chi Thai
A bold coming-of-rage story where Joy, a Filipino immigrant, and her daughter Grace encounter a darkness that threatens all they have worked for. Cast List: Maxine Eigenman, Leanne Best, David Hayman (World Premiere)

Scrambled
Director/Screenwriter: Leah McKendrick, Producers: Gillian Bohrer, Jonathan Levine, Brett Haley, Amanda Mortimer
A broke, single millennial unleashes an existential shitstorm when she freezes her eggs. Cast List: Leah McKendrick, Ego Nwodim, Andrew Santino, Clancy Brown, Laura Ceron, Yvonne Strahovski, June Diane Raphael, Adam Rodriguez, Brett Dier, Sterling Sulieman (World Premiere)

Story Ave
Director: Aristotle Torres, Producers: Lizzie Shapiro, Datari Turner, Jamie Foxx, Aristotle Torres, Screenwriters: Bonsu Thompson, Aristotle Torres
After running away from home, a teenage graffiti artist holds up an unsuspecting MTA worker in a robbery gone right that changes their lives forever. Cast List: Asante Blackk, Luis Guzmán, Alex Hibbert, Melvin Gregg, Coral Peña, Cassandra Freeman, Hassan Johnson (World Premiere)




DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Eight world premieres: Eight non-fiction stories that demonstrate integrity, energy and unique voices.

Angel Applicant
Director/Screenwriter: Ken August Meyer, Producers: Ken A. Meyer, Jason Roark
A sick man discovers empathetic wisdom on how to cope with his deadly autoimmune disease within the colorful expressive works of the late Swiss-German modern artist, Paul Klee. (World Premiere)

Another Body (United Kingdom, U.S.)
Directors: Sophie Compton, Reuben Hamlyn, Producers: Elizabeth Woodward, Sophie Compton, Reuben Hamlyn, Screenwriters: Sophie Compton, Reuben Hamlyn, Isabel Freeman
Another Body follows a college student after she discovers deepfakes of herself circulating online. (World Premiere)

Geoff McFetridge: Drawing a Life
Director/Producer: Dan Covert, Screenwriters: Erik Auli, Dan Covert, Amy Dempsey, Tara Rose Stromberg
What defines a life? The iconic work of artist Geoff McFetridge is everywhere. But this film is more than a primer on his career—it’s about the choices we confront in trying to lead meaningful lives, and how we use our most precious resource: time. (World Premiere)

Join or Die
Directors/Producers/Screenwriters: Rebecca Davis, Pete Davis
A film about why you should join a club—and why the fate of America may depend on it. Follow the story of America’s civic unraveling through the work of Robert Putnam, whose legendary Bowling Alone findings light a path out of our democracy’s crisis. (World Premiere)

Pay Or Die
Directors: Rachael Dyer, Scott Ruderman, Producers: Rachael Dyer, Scott Ruderman, Yael Melamede
3 American families are on the receiving end of a ransom note. Their journeys reflect how lives are being threatened and taken by the soaring price of insulin, and reveal the harrowing reality of life with illness in the richest country in the world. (World Premiere)

Queendom (France, U.S.)
Director: Agniia Galdanova, Producers: Igor Myakotin, Agniia Galdanova
Gena, a queer artist from a small town in Russia, dresses in otherworldly costumes and protests the government on the streets of Moscow. She stages radical performances in public, which becomes a new form of art and activism – and puts her life in danger. (World Premiere)

Riders on the Storm (Austria)
Directors/Producers: Jason Motlagh, Mark Oltmanns
A young horseman battling to make his name and keep a family tradition alive in the ancient sport of buzkashi learns that fame is a gift and a curse as the Taliban take control of Afghanistan and threaten his life. (World Premiere)

You Were My First Boyfriend
Directors: Cecilia Aldarondo, Sarah Enid Hagey, Producer: Ines Hofmann Kanna
In this high school reunion movie turned inside out, filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo relives her tortured adolescence, wondering if she remembered it all wrong. (World Premiere)



NARRATIVE SPOTLIGHT
High profile narrative features receiving their World, International, North American, or U.S. premieres at SXSW.

Bloody Hell (Canada)
Director/Screenwriter: Molly McGlynn, Producers: Jennifer Weiss, Liane Cunje
A teenage girl gets diagnosed with a reproductive condition that upends her plans to have sex and propels her into exploring unusual methods to have a sex life, challenging her relationships with everyone in her life, but most importantly, herself. Cast List: Maddie Ziegler, Emily Hampshire, Djouliet Amara, Ki Griffin, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai (World Premiere)

Deadland
Director: Lance Larson, Producers: Elizabeth Avellan, Bob Bastarache, Jas Shelton, Lance Larson, Tara Pirnia, Chris Wilks, Screenwriters: Lance Larson, Jas Shelton
A U.S. Border Patrol Agent tries to apprehend the ghost of his father, a grave decision that will haunt him forever. Cast List: Roberto Urbina, McCaul Lombardi, Julieth Restrepo, Kendall Rae, Luis Chavez, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Manuel Uriza, Chris Mulkey (World Premiere)

Down Low
Director: Rightor Doyle, Producers: Ashley Fox, Lucas Wiesendanger, Ross Katz, Screenwriters: Phoebe Fisher, Lukas Gage
Down Low is an outrageous comedy about one wild night, a deeply repressed man, the twink who gives him a happy ending, and all the lives they ruin along the way. Cast List: Zachary Quinto, Lukas Gage, Simon Rex, Sebastian Arroyo, Christopher Reed Brown, Audra McDonald, Judith Light (World Premiere)

Frybread Face and Me
Director/Screenwriter: Billy Luther, Producer: Chad Burris
An 11-year-old city boy is sent to his grandmother’s ranch on the Navajo reservation against his will. He is introduced to a new way of life, and an unexpected guest teaches him the importance of family, tradition, and what it means to be a man. Cast List: Kier Tallman, Charly Hogan, Martin Seinsmeir, Kahara Hodges, Ryan Begay, Sarah Natani (World Premiere)

If You Were the Last
Director: Kristian Mercado, Producers: Andrew Miano, Dan Balgoyen, Britta Rowings, Dennis Masel, Gabrielle Nadig, Jessamine Burgum, Kara Durrett, Jon Levin, Sean Woods, Screenwriter: Angela Bourassa
Adrift in their broken-down space shuttle with little hope of rescue, a male and female astronaut argue over whether they’re better off spending their remaining days as friends or something more. Cast List: Anthony Mackie, Zoë Chao, Natalie Morales, Geoff Stults (World Premiere)

Self Reliance
Director/Screenwriter: Jake Johnson, Producers: Jake Johnson, Ali Bell, Joe Hardesty
Given the opportunity to participate in a life or death reality game show, one man discovers there’s a lot to live for. Cast List: Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Andy Samberg, Natalie Morales, Christopher Lloyd, Wayne Brady, GaTa, Emily Hampshire, Mary Holland, Boban Marjanović (World Premiere)

Upon Entry (Spain)
Directors/Screenwriters: Alejandro Rojas, Juan Sebastián Vásquez, Producers: Carles Torras, Carlos Juárez, Xosé Zapata, Sergio Adrià, Alba Sotorra
Upon their arrival at Newark’s airport with their approved residence visas, Diego and Elena are unexpectedly held and subjected to an interrogation by border agents who attempt to discover whether the couple may have something to hide. Cast List: Alberto Ammann, Bruna Cusí, Ben Temple, Laura Gómez (North American Premiere)



DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHT
Shining a light on new documentary features receiving their World, International, North American or U.S. premieres at SXSW.

A Disturbance in the Force
Directors: Jeremy Coon, Steve Kozak, Producers: Jeremy Coon, Steve Kozak, Kyle Newman
Travel back to a galaxy far, far away—the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. Dive into the mystery of how it happened and why 45 years later it has become, much to the chagrin of George Lucas, the ultimate cult classic among Star Wars fans. (World Premiere)

The Arc of Oblivion
Director: Ian Cheney, Producers: Meredith Desalazar, Manette Pottle, Rebecca Taylor
The Arc of Oblivion illuminates the strange world of archives, record-keeping, and memory through a filmmaker’s quixotic quest to build an ark in Maine. (World Premiere)

Being Mary Tyler Moore
Director: James Adolphus, Producers: Lena Waithe, Debra Martin Chase, Ben Selkow, Rishi Rajani, Andrew C. Coles, Laura Gardner
Being Mary Tyler Moore explores Mary’s vanguard career, who, as an actor, performer, and advocate, revolutionized the portrayal of women in media, redefined their roles in show business, and inspired generations to dream big and make it on their own. (World Premiere)

Confessions of a Good Samaritan
Director: Penny Lane, Producer: Gabriel Sedgwick
Director Penny Lane’s decision to become a “Good Samaritan” by giving one of her kidneys to a stranger turns into a funny and moving personal quest to understand the nature of altruism. (World Premiere)

Great Photo, Lovely Life
Directors: Amanda Mustard, Rachel Beth Anderson, Producers: Amanda Mustard, Rachel Beth Anderson, Luke Malone, Screenwriters: Amanda Mustard, Rachel Beth Anderson, Tyler H. Walk, Josef Beeby
A photojournalist turns her lens on the decades of sexual abuse her family and community experienced at the hands of her grandfather in this unflinching portrait of intergenerational trauma, family secrets, and redemption. (World Premiere)

The Herricanes
Director: Olivia Kuan, Producers: James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte, Lisa France, James Short, Olivia Kuan, Justin Baldoni, Andrew Calof
The Houston Herricanes were a women’s full-tackle football team from the 1970’s whose fight to play the game continues to resonate with female athletes today. (World Premiere)

The Lady Bird Diaries
Director: Dawn Porter, Producers: Kim Reynolds, Dawn Porter
From award-winning filmmaker Dawn Porter comes The Lady Bird Diaries, a groundbreaking documentary film that uses Lady Bird’s audio diaries to tell the story of one of the most influential and least understood First Ladies in history. (World Premiere)

Last Stop Larrimah
Director: Thomas Tancred, Producers: Sean Bradley, Rebecca Saunders
Nestled deep in the Australian Outback is the town of Larrimah and its 11 eccentric residents. When one of them mysteriously disappears into thin air, the remaining residents become suspects and a long history of infighting is unveiled. (World Premiere)

The New Americans: Gaming a Revolution
Director/Screenwriter: Ondi Timoner, Producers: Ondi Timoner, David Turner
The New Americans is a visceral, meme-driven journey at the intersection of finance, media, and extremism, which uncovers the connection between the Gamestop squeeze and the Jan 6th Insurrection and reveals explosive possibilities of our digital future. (World Premiere)

Periodical
Director: Lina Lyte Plioplyte, Producer: Pegah Farrahmand
Periodical is an eye-opening documentary that examines science, politics, and mystery of the menstrual cycle, through the experiences of doctors, athletes, movie stars, journalists, activists, and everyday people. (World Premiere)

Who I Am Not (Romania)
Director/Screenwriter: Tünde Skovrán, Producers: Andrei Zinca
There is male, there is female, and then there is I. Born male and female within one single body, a beauty queen and a male-presenting activist break the intersex taboo through a personal and intimate exploration of truth, faith, and belonging. (North American Premiere)



MIDNIGHTERS
Scary, funny, sexy, controversial – eight provocative after-dark features for night owls and the terminally curious.

Aberrance (Mongolia)
Director: Baatar Batsukh, Producers: Trevor Doye, Alexa Khan, Angarag Meguun, Screenwriters: Baatar Batsukh, Byambasuren Ganbat
An estranged couple takes a retreat in the woods. Foreboding neighbors, frivolous friends, and dark unseen forces lead to a shocking conclusion. Cast List: Erkhembayar Ganbat, Selenge Chadraabal, Yalalt Namsrai, Oyundary Jamsranjav, Sukhee Ariunbyamba, Bayarsanaa Batchuluun, Badamtsetseg Batmunkh (North American Premiere)

Brooklyn 45
Director/Screenwriter: Ted Geoghegan, Producers: Seth Caplan, Michael Paszt, Pasha Patriki, Sarah Sharp
In the months following World War II, five old military friends are talked into an impromptu séance, which brings to troubling light each of their haunted pasts. Cast List: Anne Ramsay, Ron E. Rains, Jeremy Holm, Larry Fessenden, Ezra Buzzington, Kristina Klebe (World Premiere)

It Lives Inside
Director: Bishal Dutta, Producers: Raymond Mansfield, Sean McKittrick, Screenwriters: Bishal Dutta, Ashish Mehta
An Indian-American teenager struggling with her cultural identity has a falling out with her former best friend and, in the process, unwittingly releases a demonic entity that grows stronger by feeding on her loneliness. Cast List: Megan Suri, Neeru Bajwa, Mohana Krishnan, Betty Gabriel, Vik Sahay (World Premiere)

Late Night With the Devil (Australia, United Arab Emirates)
Directors/Screenwriters: Colin Cairnes, Cameron Cairnes, Producers: Derek Dauchy, Steven Schneider, Roy Lee, Adam White, Mat Govoni
A live television broadcast of a popular late night talk show in 1977 goes horribly wrong during a demonstration of demonic possession, unleashing evil into the nation’s living rooms. Cast List: David Dastmalchian (World Premiere)

Monolith (Australia)
Director: Matt Vesely, Producer: Bettina Hamilton, Screenwriter: Lucy Campbell
All you have to do is listen. A disgraced journalist turns to podcasting to try and rebuild her career – but her rush to generate headlines soon uncovers a strange artifact, an alien conspiracy, and the lies at the heart of her own story. Cast List: Lily Sullivan (International Premiere)

Talk To Me (Australia)
Directors: Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou, Producers: Samantha Jennings, Kristina Ceyton, Screenwriters: Danny Philippou, Bill Hinzman
Lonely teenager Mia gets hooked on the thrills of conjuring spirits through a ceramic hand, but when she is confronted by a soul claiming to be her dead mother, she unleashes a plague of supernatural forces. Cast List: Sophie Wilde, Miranda Otto, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Otis Dhanji, Zoe Terakes, Chris Alosio (Texas Premiere)

The Wrath of Becky
Directors/Screenwriters: Matthew Angel, Suzanne Coote, Producers: Raphael Margules, JD Lifshitz, Tracy Rosenblum, Russell Posternak, Chadd Harbold
After living off the grid for two years, Becky finds herself going toe to toe against Darryl, the leader of a fascist organization, on the eve of an organized attack. Cast List: Lulu Wilson, Seann William Scott, Matt Angel, Courtney Gains, Aaron Della Villa, Michael Sirow, Denise Burse-Fernandez, Jill Larson, Kate Siegel (World Premiere)




TV PROGRAM

TV PREMIERES
Presenting world premieres of prestige serials slated for release.

I’m A Virgo
Showrunner/Director/Screenwriter: Boots Riley, Producers: Boots Riley, Michael Ellenberg, Lindsey Springer, Tze Chun, Jharrel Jerome
This is a fantastical coming-of-age joyride about a 13ft-tall young Black man who lives in Oakland, CA. It’s called I’m A Virgo. The series stars Jharrel Jerome, Brett Gray, Kara Young, Allius Barnes, Olivia Washington, Walton Goggins, Mike Epps, and Carmen Ejogo.
(World Premiere)

Mrs. Davis
Showrunner: Tara Hernandez, Directors: Owen Harris, Alethea Jones, Screenwriters/Producers: Tara Hernandez, Damon Lindelof
Mrs. Davis is the world’s most powerful Artificial Intelligence. Simone is the nun devoted to destroying Her. Who ya got? Cast List: Betty Gilpin, Jake McDorman, Andy McQueen (World Premiere)

Slip
Showrunner/Director/Screenwriter: Zoe Lister-Jones, Producers: Zoe Lister-Jones, Ro Donnelly, Dakota Johnson, Katie O’Connell-Marsh, David Fortier, Ivan Schneeberg
Restless inside a marriage that totally works, Slip follows Mae through a fantastical journey of parallel universes as she enters new relationships, trying to find her way back to her partner, and ultimately, herself. Cast List: Zoe Lister-Jones, Tymika Tafari, Whitmer Thomas, Amar Chadha-Patel, Emily Hampshire (World Premiere)



TV SPOTLIGHT
Presenting world premieres of new seasons of prestige series.

Blindspotting Season 2 Premiere
Showrunner/Director: Rafael Casal, Producers: Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs, Jess Wu Calder, Keith Calder, Emily Gerson Saines, Ken Lee, Tim Palen
Ashley was nipping at the heels of a middle-class life in Oakland until Miles, her partner and father of their son, was suddenly incarcerated, forcing her to move in with his mother and sister as she attempts to navigate the chaos of her life while trying to be a fun mom for her son…with mixed results. Cast List: Jasmine Cephas Jones, Helen Hunt, Benjamin Earl Turner, Atticus Woodward, Jaylen Barron, Candace Nicholas-Lippman, Rafael Casal, Margo Hall, April Absynth, Lance Holloway (World Premiere)



INDEPENDENT TV PILOT COMPETITION
A pilot showcase introducing fresh work from bright new talent, many with an eye towards finding production, completion funds, or a release platform.

A Guide To Not Dying Completely Alone
Showrunner/Screenwriter: Kevin Yee, Director: Yen Tan, Producer: Bekah Sturm
After a near death experience, a queer Asian writer decides to change his life for the better and chronicles his journey in a book. Cast List: Kevin Yee, Brittani Nichols, Alex MacNicoll, Betsy Struxness, Paul Wong (World Premiere)

Chuchi & Adaliz
Showrunner: Ashley Soto Paniagua, Directors: Dani Adaliz, Lance Cameron Holloway, Screenwriters: Ashley Soto Paniagua, Dani Adaliz, Jocelli Paniagua, Producers: Jocelli Paniagua, Heidi Williamson
After losing her job for insider trading, Adaliz moves in with her childhood bestie Chuchi who teaches her how to be poor. Cast List: Ashley Soto Paniagua, Dani Adaliz, Andrea Bashe, Kathryn Peters, Jocelli Paniagua, Selorm Kploanyi, Dariany Santana, Jeremy Habig, Jullian Farris (World Premiere)

Grown
Showrunner/Director/Screenwriter: Jocko Sims, Producers: Jocko Sims, Christophers Santiago, Chaz Hazlitt, Andrew Zolot
After sneaking into a strip club, 14 year old Rogelio, learns a few hard lessons about being man — all thanks to the aid of his older sister Chelly. Cast List: Josiah Gabriel, Giovanni Cristoff, Tristan-Lee Edwards, Angela Mejia-Loggia, Eliza Ramos, Kevin Rodriguez, Nixon Cesar (World Premiere)

Harbor Island
Showrunner/Director/Screenwriter: Calvin Lee Reeder, Producers: Carlos A.F. Lopez, Megan Leonard
A dad joke comic wanders the industrial zone at night. Cast List: Josh Fadem, Sidney Jayne Hunt, Matt Olsen (World Premiere)

Marvin? (Netherlands)
Showrunners/Screenwriters: Anton van der Linden, George Gottl, Director: Anton van der Linden, Producers: Anton van der Linden, Daan Geuke
Two young friends struggling to get ahead in life stumble onto a magical fridge that literally makes their dreams come true and soon learn that their shiny materialistic world is not what they expected. Cast List: Cameron Tharma, Sarah Rose, Sven Ironside, Jay Reaper, Cendy Barlag (World Premiere)

Metal Man
Showrunner: Tomas Pais, Directors: Laurel Parmet, Tomas Pais, Screenwriters: John Patton Ford, Tomas Pais, Laurel Parmet, Producer: Kaelan Housewright
A heavy metal handyman gets called to fix a tub but gets pulled into the drama/life of his customer and must handle more than he signed up for. Cast List: Tomas Pais, Lily Du, Andrew Walke, Da’Vone McDonald, David Massil (World Premiere)

Notarize Me
Director: Erika Rankin, Screenwriters/Producers: Erika Rankin, Brigitte Valdez
BFFs and mobile notary publics, Jackie and Louise, find themselves in intimate situations with wacky strangers as important legal documents get signed. Cast List: Brigitte Valdez, Erika Rankin, Sarah Cornell, Harley Tarlitz (Texas Premiere)



SHORTS PROGRAM Presented by IMDbPro

IMDbPro, the essential resource for entertainment industry professionals, is sponsoring the lineup of short films across six competitive sections. The SXSW 2023 Shorts Film Program presented by IMDbPro will include a selection of original, well-crafted films that take advantage of the short form and exemplify distinctive and genuine storytelling. The membership-based IMDbPro service empowers entertainment professionals with information and tools designed to help them achieve success throughout their career and is a service of IMDb, the world’s most popular and authoritative source for information on movies, TV shows and celebrities.


NARRATIVE SHORTS COMPETITION
A selection of original, well-crafted films that take advantage of the short form and exemplify distinctive and genuine storytelling.

Breaking Fast with a Coca Cola
Director/Screenwriter: Amy Omar, Producers: Karine Benzaria, Jordan Hart, Amy Omar
After growing up in the secular households of their Turkish immigrant parents in the Midwest, Özlem and Ada are desperate to celebrate a tradition of their own. For the first time, they embark on a day of fasting and a night of feasting for Ramadan. (World Premiere)

The Breakthrough
Director/Screenwriter: Daniel Sinclair, Producers: Kate Chamuris, Valerie Steinberg
Jane and Teddy are on the brink of divorce – but when their marital problems come to a sticking point, they have an unexpected breakthrough. (World Premiere)

Closing Dynasty
Director/Screenwriter: Lloyd Lee Choi, Producers: Jon Hsu, Lloyd Lee Choi
On a school day, a 7 year-old hustles strangers for money on the streets of New York City. (North American Premiere)

Deliver Me
Director/Screenwriter: Joecar Hanna-Zhang, Producers: Noam Argov, Jorge Sistos, Joecar Hanna-Zhang
A billionaire’s long-awaited delivery threatens to upend his already tense relationship with his identical husband, who is having an identity crisis of his own. (World Premiere)

Endless Sea
Director/Screenwriter: Sam Shainberg, Producer: Rachel Walden
Carol begins a normal day only to find out that her heart medication has doubled in price. Afraid, but not without hope, she sets out to find a solution, but her journey doesn’t lead to salvation, only a desperate act of revolution. (Texas Premiere)

The Family Circus
Director/Screenwriter: Andrew Fitzgerald, Producer: Josh Cohen
A Vietnamese-American family’s plan to cover up a drunk driving accident begins to unravel as their emotional baggage spills out in front of the police. (Texas Premiere)

Flores del Otro Patio (Colombia, Switzerland)
Director: Jorge Cadena, Screenwriters: Jorge Cadena, Li Aparicio Candama, Producers: Yan Decoppet, Gabriela Bussmann
In north Colombia, a group of queer activists use extravagant performative actions to denounce the disastrous exploitation by the country’s largest coal mine. (International Premiere)

Fuck Me, Richard (Australia, U.S.)
Directors: Lucy McKendrick, Charles Polinger, Screenwriter: Lucy McKendrick, Producers: Jenna Grossano, Lucy McKendrick, Charlie Polinger
Recovering from a broken leg, a romance-obsessed loner finds herself swept up in a passionate long-distance love affair. Richard is perfect in every way, except that he may be a scammer. (World Premiere)

Graveyard of Horses (China)
Director/Screenwriter: Xiaoxuan Jiang, Producer: Zhulin Mo
A frigid winter on the Mongolian steppe, an untimely snowstorm led a pregnant herder and her 8-year-old daughter to places they’ve never been. (North American Premiere)

I Probably Shouldn’t Be Telling You This
Director/Screenwriter: Emma Weinswig, Producers: Emma Weinswig, Will Noyce
When an oversharing, compulsive-lying e-girl is caught in the web of her own lies on her (secretly) favorite podcast, she must finally get off her bullshit. (World Premiere)

It Turns Blue (Iran)
Director/Screenwriter: Shadi Karamroudi, Producers: Shadi Karamroudi, Mehran Noori, Mina Dreki, Theodora Valentis
Pari covers up domestic violence when her brother beats up his 3-year-old daughter. (World Premiere)

The Key (Belgium, France, Palestine, State of)
Director/Screenwriter: Rakan Mayasi, Producers: Frank Barat, Rakan Mayasi, François de Villers, Laura Jumel, Nadine Naous, Patrizia Roletti
An Israeli family’s equilibrium gradually disintegrates as a mysterious sound is heard every evening at the door of their apartment. (North American Premiere)

Leonetty
Director/Screenwriter: Logan Jackson, Producer: Dante Sims
No longer able to live with his mother, young Leonetty is sent to live with his aging grandmother. (World Premiere)

Les Battues (The Fading) (Canada)
Director/Screenwriter: Rafaël Beauchamp, Producer: Léonie Hurtubise
In a small Quebec village, three hunters take possession of the tragedy of a young mother to put their own verdict on it. (World Premiere)

Never Fuggedaboutit
Director/Screenwriter: Dustin Waldman, Producers: Dustin Waldman, Nicholas Nazmi, Sariel Hana Friedman
Amid the high anxiety of post-9/11 NYC, a struggling post-production house is hired to remove a shot of the Twin Towers from the intro to a hit TV show. (World Premiere)

Rest Stop
Director/Screenwriter: Crystal Kayiza, Producers: Jalena Keane-Lee, Brit Fryer
On a bus ride from New York to Oklahoma, Meyi, a young Ugandan-American girl, realizes her place in the world through her mother’s ambitious effort to reunite their family. (Texas Premiere)

Scotty’s Vag
Director/Screenwriter: Chaconne Martin-Berkowicz, Producers: Cailin Lobb-Rabe, Chaconne Martin-Berkowicz, Gia Rigoli, Vero Kompalic
The night of a sorority hazing event, a college freshman learns just how far she’s willing to go to impress an older girl. (World Premiere)

Sisters of the Rotation (Lebanon)
Directors: Michel Zarazir, Gaby Zarazir, Screenwriters: The Zarazir Brothers, Producer: Madame Le Tapis
At the Sisters of the Rotation’s convent, the Earth doesn’t spin by itself. (North American Premiere)

Slick Talk
Directors: Courtney Loo, David Karp, Screenwriter: Courtney Loo, Producer: Katie Mykrantz
Feeling the pressure of an important meeting with a potential music manager, Kiki struggles with her identity as an outsider in the Chinese-American community, a culture vulture in the hip-hop world, and a potential sellout for mainstream success. (World Premiere)

Take Me Home
Director/Screenwriter: Liz Sargent, Producer: Minos Papas
After their mother’s death, an intellectually disabled woman and her estranged sister must learn to communicate in order to move forward. (Texas Premiere)



DOCUMENTARY SHORTS COMPETITION
Slices of life from across the documentary spectrum.

Ball People
Director: Scott Lazer, Producer: Tripp Kramer, Talia Cohen
Behind the scenes of the US Open Ball Crew tryouts. (World Premiere)

Birdsong (United Kingdom)
Directors: Omi Zola Gupta, Sparsh Ahuja, Producers: Sparsh Ahuja, Omi Zola Gupta, Dorn Bouttasing
Birdsong is an intimate portrait of the dying whistled language of the Hmong people in northern Laos. (International Premiere)

The Bus (Spain)
Director: Sandra Reina, Screenwriters: Sandra Reina, Fran Menchón, Producer: Valérie Delpierre
This is a round-trip bus ride, which takes passengers on Friday mornings towards the weekend, and picks them up on Sunday afternoons to take them back to the place where they came from. (World Premiere)

The Dads
Director/Screenwriter: Luchina Fisher, Producers: Shan Shan Tam, Luchina Fisher
When five fathers of trans kids join Dennis Shepard, the father of slain gay college student Matthew Shepard, for a weekend fishing trip in rural Oklahoma, they find common purpose across races, generations, and experiences. (World Premiere)

El Bastón (Colombia, U.S.)
Director: Nemo Allen, Producers: Nemo Allen, Aditi Natasha Kini, Hanna Wallis, Juan Blanco García
Two filmmakers, one mother and one son, find answers and strength as they document the struggles of Colombia’s Indigenous Nasa, decades apart. (Texas Premiere)

Margie Soudek’s Salt and Pepper Shakers
Director: Meredith Moore, Producer: Jonna McKone
An artist and VFX instructor connects with her aging grandmother, Margie, in a documentary short on collecting, artmaking, and obsessiveness as a way to enhance our realities. (Texas Premiere)

Mother of the Dawn
Director: Janell Shirtcliff, Screenwriters: Angie Simms, Tommy Savas, Producer: Tommy Savas
In the early 1950s in a remote corner of Brazil, a female truck driver named Tia Neiva started having visions of extraterrestrial spirits; shortly after, she began to gain a following called Vale do Amanhecer (Valley of the Dawn). (World Premiere)

Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó (Grandma & Grandma)
Director: Sean Wang, Producers: Sean Wang, Sam Davis
Nǎi Nai (奶奶) is my grandma. Wài Pó (外婆) is also my grandma. Together, they are my grandmas. Meet my grandmas. (World Premiere)

Puffling (United Kingdom)
Director: Jessica Bishopp, Producers: Alice Hughes, Gannesh Rajah, Ada Benjamínsdóttir
On a remote Icelandic island, teenagers Birta and Selma take it upon themselves to counteract society’s harmful impact on nature, exchanging night-time parties for nocturnal puffin rescues in a coming-of-age story for young adults and puffins alike. (World Premiere)

Roger J. Carter: Rebel Revolutionary
Director: Justin Fairweather, Producers: Zachary Kingham-Seagle, Johnny Starke
Roger J. Carter: Rebel Revolutionary follows the Chicago portrait artist as he creates staggering images of black revolutionaries using hundreds of toy soldiers, representing the wars the marginalized face as they dismantle an established system. (World Premiere)

Suddenly TV (Qatar)
Director/Producer: Roopa Gogineni
A group of young Sudanese create an imaginary television station at a besieged sit-in. Interviewing protestors from around the country, they confront the violence of the regime and conjure a new Sudan. (North American Premiere)

Where the Sun Always Shines (United Kingdom)
Director: Rosie Baldwin, Producer: Lucy Draper
The residents of a quintessential but neglected British seaside town grapple with research suggesting that their home could disappear within their lifetimes due to the climate crisis. (World Premiere)



ANIMATED SHORTS COMPETITION
An assortment of stories told using traditional animation, computer-generated effects, stop-motion, and everything in between.

A Tiny Man (France)
Directors: Aude David, Mikaël Gaudin, Screenwriters: Mikaël Gaudin, Aude David, Producer: Jérôme Blesson
With a delicately penciled animation style, A Tiny Man tells a moral tale of nefarious schemes gone awry. As a husband faces the consequences of his actions, he perhaps begins to realize that maybe size does in fact matter. (Texas Premiere)

Ashkasha (Argentina, Spain)
Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Lara Maltz
Ashkasha is a living being guided by curiosity. This causes her to lose her head and get trapped in the depths, where she is submerged on a discovery journey. (US Premiere)

Beyond The Fringe (Spain)
Directors: Han Tang, Costanza Baj, Screenwriter/Producer: Han Tang
A story about a little paper figure’s journey of finding the strength to leave its home, the notebook where it was born, to explore the great world beyond. (World Premiere)

Christopher at Sea (France, United Kingdom, U.S.)
Director: Tom CJ Brown, Screenwriters: Tom CJ Brown, Laure Desmazières, Producers: Emmanuel-Alain Raynal, Pierre Baussaron, Amanda Miller, Hanna Stolarski, Nick Read, Emily-Jane Brown
Christopher goes to sea. (Texas Premiere)

The Debutante (United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Elizabeth Hobbs, Producer: Abigail Addison
A spirited young woman persuades a hyena from London Zoo to take her place at a dinner dance being held in her honour. (Texas Premiere)

Ice Merchants (Portugal)
Director/Screenwriter: João Gonzalez, Producers: Bruno Caetano, Michaël Proença
Every day, a father and his son jump with a parachute from their vertiginous cold house, attached to a cliff, to go to the village on the ground far away where they sell the ice they produce daily. (Texas Premiere)

Remove Hind Legs Before Consumption (Switzerland)
Directors: Lukas Wind, Finn Meisner, Leslie Herzig, Producer: Gerd Gockell
In an insect food farm, one lucky cricket survives its certain death. (International Premiere)

Sandwich Cat (Spain)
Director/Screenwriter: David Fidalgo, Producers: Daniel Rodriguez, Laura Doval
David lives alone with his kitty, Sandwich Cat. It seemed like an ordinary day, but an unexpected visit will lead him to a crucial reflection to humanity. (International Premiere)

Spring Roll Dream (United Kingdom)
Director: Mai Vu, Screenwriter: Chloe White, Producer: Thijme Grol
Linh is a Vietnamese single mother who’s successfully forged a life for herself and her son in America. But she is confronted with the past and culture she left behind and the question of where it belongs in her family’s new life. (Texas Premiere)

Sprout
Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Zora Kovac
After an agoraphobic scientist accidentally creates a baby-like plant creature, their connection threatens to upend his reclusive way of life. (World Premiere)



MIDNIGHT SHORTS COMPETITION
Bite-sized bits for all of your sex, gore, and hilarity cravings.

Dead Enders
Directors: Fidel Ruiz-Healy, Tyler Walker, Screenwriters: Fidel Ruiz-Healy, Tyler Walker, Jordan Michael Blake, Conor Murphy, Producers: Raven Jenson, Amanda Crown, Gregory Barnes, Conor Murphy, Nico Alvo, Jordan Michael Blake, Eduardo Ruiz-Healy
A disaffected gas station clerk finds out why they call it the “graveyard shift” after oil drillers set loose an ancient race of mind-controlling parasites.(World Premiere)

Every House is Haunted
Director/Screenwriter: Bryce McGuire, Producer: Isaiah Smallman
A struggling couple moves into a haunted house… on purpose. (World Premiere)

The Flute (Ireland, U.S.)
Director: Nick Roney, Screenwriters: Nick Roney, Ed Leer, Producers: Brendan Garrett, Ryland Burns
Fleeing a long-term relationship, a young man seeks refuge with his best friends. After discovering their strange instruments, he’ll learn the bachelor lifestyle is not as sweet as it sounds. (World Premiere)

Kodama
Director/Screenwriter: Brian M Tang, Producers: Penny Lin, Brendan Bennett, Norrie Palmer, Brian M Tang
Arthur, a member of an elite SWAT Samurai team, embarks on a rescue mission into the spirit world in order to recover his father from vengeful Japanese Yokai spirits. (World Premiere)

The Mundanes
Directors/Screenwriters: Nicole Daddona, Adam Wilder, Producers: Eric Hendricks, Nicole Daddona, Adam Wilder
Get to know the Mundanes, a faceless suburban family with an unusual appetite. (World Premiere)

Pennies from Heaven
Director: Sandy Honig, Screenwriters: Sandy Honig, Annabel Meschke, Sabina Meschke, Producer: Jake Honig
Pennies from Heaven is a short comedy about two eccentric twin sisters who stumble upon a pickup truck full of pennies and follow the adventure wherever it takes them. (World Premiere)

Pussy Love (Germany)
Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Linda Krauss
Hey Puss! Still playing hard to get? Let me be your pussycat. (World Premiere)

Run
Director/Screenwriter: Alex Prager, Producers: Vincent Landay, Alex Prager, Lisa Lou Ziven
Run celebrates the absurdity of being alive today.

Vibrator Girl
Director: Kara Strait, Screenwriters: Morgane Ciot, Zoe Mintz, Producers: Morgane Ciot, Zoe Mintz
A young woman suffers the eerie consequences of her compulsive vibrator use. (World Premiere)

We Forgot About The Zombies
Director/Screenwriter: Chris McInroy, Producers: Kris Phipps, Jarrod Yerkes, Stacey Bell
Two dudes think they found the cure for zombie bites. (Texas Premiere)

You’re Not Home (Ireland)
Director/Screenwriter: Derek Ugochukwu, Producer: Gregory Burrowes
When an ominous mould appears in their room, two African brothers seeking asylum are faced with a dark entity lurking within their direct provision centre. (Texas Premiere)



TEXAS SHORTS COMPETITION
An offshoot of our regular shorts program, composed of work shot in, about, or somehow relating to the Lone Star state.

Breaking Silence
Directors: Amy Bench, Annie Silverstein, Producers: Monique Walton, Amy Bench
A portrait of a Deaf activist and his formerly incarcerated daughter who build new bonds through their experiences in the criminal justice system. (Texas Premiere)

Call Me Mommy
Directors: Haley Alea Erickson, Taylor Washington, Screenwriter: Haley Alea Erickson, Producers: Brittany Reeber, David Tenczar
A pedantic mother-to-be hires a stranger to role-play as her unborn daughter. (World Premiere)

Dressed
Director/Screenwriter: Bethiael Alemayoh, Producer: Noam Argov
A former bride-to-be attempts to sell her wedding dress. (World Premiere)

Exit 238
Director/Producer: Henry Davis
In the fall in Austin, TX, the extraordinary roosting display of the Purple Martin attracts people of many walks of life to the Capital Plaza shopping center. (Texas Premiere)

Eyestring (Argentina, U.S.)
Director: Javier Devitt, Screenwriters: Javier Devitt, Alena Chinault, Producer: Alena Chinault
With a mysterious string growing from her eye and questionable advice from a hotline service, Veronica is led on a strange quest for answers. (World Premiere)

Funny Face
Director: Jude Hope Harris, Screenwriters: Krista Fatka, Jude Hope Harris, Producers: Genevieve Jones, Nick Vitale
When country singer Randy travels to take care of his sister Sophie as she recovers from facial feminization surgery, he meets her girlfriend, Morgan, for the first time. The three bond over family history, love, and an extremely chaotic home nurse. (World Premiere)

La Cosecha
Director: Samuel Díaz Fernández, Screenwriters: Ái Vuong, Samuel Díaz Fernández, Producer: Ái Vuong
As one of many residents who lack access to fresh food in Austin, Nolvia Castillo takes the driver’s seat and distributes vegetables to her neighbors. When filmmaker Ai Vuong rides along, they speak the language of immigrants: memories of food. (World Premiere)

When You Left Me On That Boulevard
Director/Screenwriter: Kayla Abuda Galang, Producers: Alifya Ali, Kayla Abuda Galang, David Oconer, Udoy Rahim, Samantha Skinner
Teenager Ly and her cousins get high before a boisterous family Thanksgiving at their auntie’s house in southeast San Diego in 2006. (Texas Premiere)

Wüm
Director/Screenwriter: Anna Margaret Hollyman, Producers: David Hartstein, Seana Flanagan, Shelby Hadden
Bennett, a nonbinary new parent, joins a Mommy Group called Wüm. What is supposed to be a supportive space turns into a Hipster-Stepford-Wife nightmare with Bennett being smothered in the middle of white lady “wokeness.” (World Premiere)



MUSIC VIDEO COMPETITION
A range of classic, innovative, and stylish work showcasing the scope of music video culture.

alt-J – ‘The Actor’ (United Kingdom) / Director: Saskia Dixie

Amanda Sum – ‘Different Than Before’ (Canada) / Director/Screenwriter: Mayumi Yoshida

Arlo McKinley – ‘Stealing Dark from the Night Sky’ / Director: Matt Reynolds

Ben Abraham – ‘If I Didn’t Love You’ / Director: Jillian Bell

Diplo feat Miguel – ‘Don’t Forget My Love’ / Director: Kinopravda, Screenwriters: Viktor Horvath, Zoltan Aprily

Doechii – ‘Crazy’ / Director: C Prinz

Drew Ashby – ‘Her’ / Directors: Chris Scholar, Bevin Brown

Kuba Kawalec – ‘I Died’ (Poland) / Director/Screenwriter: Zuzanna Plisz

Little Simz – ‘Point and Kill’ (United Kingdom) / Director: Ebeneza Blanche

Mac Miller – ‘Colors and Shapes’ / Director: Sam Mason

Michael Kiwanuka – ‘ Beautiful Life’ / Director: Phillip Youmans

Mick Jenkins – ‘Truffles ‘ (United Kingdom, U.S.) / Director: Andre Muir

Mothermary – ‘Coming for You Remix’ / Directors/Screenwriters: Larena Danielle Winn, Elyse Winn

Number One Popstar – ‘Dance Away the Pain’ / Director/Screenwriter: Kate Hollowell

Pearl Derringer – ‘Little Baby (feat. Margo Price)’ / Director: Kimberly Stuckwisch, Screenwriters: Pearl Derringer, Kimberly Stuckwisch

Pranav Bhasin, Rohini Maiti – ‘Screaming on the Fly’ (India) / Director/Screenwriter: Pranav Bhasin

Residente – ‘This is Not America ft. Ibeyi’ / Director: Gregory Ohrel

S+C+A+R+R – ‘Never Give Up’ (France) / Director: Jack Antoine Charlot

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Wolf’ / Director: Allie Avital

Zolita – ‘Somebody I F*cked Once’ / Director/Screenwriter: Zolita



XR EXPERIENCE

The immersive arts are redefining how we experience the world around us. The projects presented in our XR Experience Competition, XR Experience Spotlight, and XR Experience Special Event sections emphasize storytelling, ingenuity, and also showcase how artists of all types are embracing this new medium.

XR Experience Competition
World Premieres of exciting immersive work.

Aespa VR Concert at Kwangya (Republic of Korea, U.S.)
Director: Soo-man Lee, Producer: Junyoung Park
“Aespa’s first concert at Kwangya, the artists’ virtual existence coexisting with the future.” – SM Culture Universe. (World Premiere)

Body of Mine VR
Director/Producer/Screenwriter: Cameron Kostopoulos
Experience gender dysphoria and trans identity with Body of Mine VR, an intimate experience that takes you inside the body of another gender. (World Premiere)

Consensus Gentium (United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Karen Palmer, Producers: Tom Millen, Thalia Mavros, Jackson Lapsley Scott, Tuyet Huynh
Consensus Gentium is an emotionally responsive film app designed to be experienced on a mobile phone. Set in a near future of surveillance and bias AI that watches you back. (World Premiere)

The District VR (Germany)
Directors: Dennis Lisk, Ioulia Isserlis, Max Sacker, Producers: Dennis Lisk, Fabian Vogelsteller, Ioulia Isserlis
Welcome to The District VR, a music-driven 3D world full of vibrant games and virtual live entertainment. Put on a VR headset and dive into a virtual twin of Berlin. Be the DJ, use provided equipment, and mix music live in front of a virtual crowd. (World Premiere)

El Beat (Colombia)
Directors: Irene Lema, Sergio Bromberg, Producers: Rafael Ospino, Irene Lema, Screenwriter: Irene Lema
El Beat is a cross-platform experience (interactive film and VR), telling the story of Benkos Biohó, enslaved African and founder of the first free town in the Americas. It is a tribute to the African diaspora and the Black Power of Latin America. (World Premiere)

Find WiiLii – Ep.1 The Gate-Crasher (Republic of Korea)
Directors: Mina Hyeon, Sooyoung Choe, Producer: Sohee Kim, Screenwriters: Sooyoung Choe, Mina Hyeon
On the first day as a newcomer at the Teleportation Service Company IIOIIG, the ordinary mission flows unexpectedly, meeting a stranger. (World Premiere)

Forager: Immersive Multi-sensory Experience (Canada, U.S.)
Directors: Winslow Porter, Elie Zananiri, Producers: Winslow Porter, Casta Zhu, Screenwriters: Winslow Porter, Elie Zananiri, Adam Lerman, Daniel Perlin
In this immersive, multi-sensory experience guests will experience the complete life-cycle of mushrooms. Starting as a spore floating to the forest floor, you become an integral part of this essential, live-giving process. (World Premiere)

Fresh Memories: The Look (Czechia, Ukraine)
Directors/Screenwriters: Ondřej Moravec, Volodymyr Kolbasa, Producers: Ondřej Moravec, Robin Pultera
Look into the eyes of Ukrainian people whose home has been taken away by war. (World Premiere)

The Invited (United Kingdom)
Directors: Davy McGuire, Kristin McGuire, Producers: Davy McGuire, Nesta Nelson, Dan Tucker, Screenwriters: Ben Steiger-Levine, Richard Hurford
The Invited reimagines the gothic story of Dracula in a solitary séance in which a handcrafted fine art pop-up book comes to life with vivid augmented reality animations to serve as a conduit for Dracula’s curse to re-enter the modern world. (World Premiere)

Jailbirds- The Eye of the Artist (Belgium, France)
Director/Screenwriter: Thomas Villepoux, Producers: Griselda Gonzalez Gentile, Francois Klein
Jailbirds takes place in a modern hell prison ruled by a vicious Chief Warden. But in this living nightmare, one guy, Felix, is always happy. It enrages the Chief Warden who will do everything he can to discover Felix’s secret. (World Premiere)

JFK Memento (France, U.S.)
Director: Chloé Rochereuil, Producer: Victor Agulhon
JFK Memento is a VR documentary chronicling JFK’s assassination. Narrated by the last living witnesses of the events, it explores the defining moments of the investigation as archive photos and films remastered in 3D come to life in the historic sites. (World Premiere)

Once a Glacier
Director/Screenwriter: Jiabao Li
Once a Glacier is a VR film about a girl and her relationship with a glacier. As the girl grows older, the piece of ice is threatened. The viewer is taken on a journey through her seemingly futile efforts to protect what was once an entire glacier. (World Premiere)

Rockets, by Pillow (Brazil)
Director/Producer/Screenwriter: Lucas Rizzotto
The world’s first VR narrative designed for lying down in bed. Control a brave little rocket named Crimson through a number of mind-bending puzzles as you attempt to save the Universe from a terrible evil you set free. (World Premiere)

Stay Alive, My Son (Chapters 1 & 2) (Greece, U.S.)
Director/Producer/Screenwriter: Victoria Bousis
Stay Alive, My Son takes players on a fantastical, interactive, and powerful journey through the mind and heart of Pin Yathay as he relives a tragic past and loss of his son during the Cambodian genocide, but eventually finds his salvation and heals. (World Premiere)

Whipped Cream “The Dark” (Canada)
Directors: Caroline Cecil (aka Whipped Cream), Will Selviz, Producer: Brenda Medina Carmona, Screenwriter: Caroline Cecil
The Dark, featuring Monstercat artists Whipped Cream, Jasiah, and Crimson Child, presents a VR experience that blends EDM and opera music with photorealistic holographic performances in an emotion-oriented story about a toxic relationship. (World Premiere)



XR Experience Spotlight
Shining a spotlight on acclaimed immersive projects.

Behind The Dish (France, U.S.)
Director: Chloé Rochereuil, Producers: Victor Agulhon, Jonathan Gleit
Behind the Dish is a virtual reality docu-series that dives into the world of gastronomy. Through three 10-minute episodes in 360° film, meet extraordinary women chefs revolutionizing the food industry and watch their cuisine in super-sized macro 3D.

Eggscape (Argentina)
Director: German Heller, Producers: German Heller, Lucila Trobbiani, Screenwriters: German Heller, Federico Heller, Jorge Tereso
An MR experience about terrified little eggs struggling to stay alive in a world full of enemies. Play in an unprecedented way with the physical world, and build your own adventure with friends mixing the digital with the real. (North American Premiere)

The Eye and I Vol. I (Taiwan)
Directors: Hsin-Chien Huang, Jean-Michel Jarre, Producer: Hsiao-Yue Tsao, Screenwriter: Hsin-Chien Huang
The Eye and I is a VR experience that illuminates the surveillance crisis with music from legendary electronic musician Jean-Michel Jarre and visuals from award-winning VR director Hsin-Chien Huang. (International Premiere)

Figural Bodies (United Kingdom)
Directors: Clarice Hilton, Neal Coghlan, Producers: Susanna Dye, Kat Hawkins
Figural Bodies challenges and reimagines the normative and ableist ways the body is understood and represented through immersive technology. This dance mocap performance explores fantastical interaction and embodiment beyond the humanoid avatar form (World Premiere)

In Pursuit Of Repetitive Beats (United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Darren Emerson, Producers: Ashley Cowan, Dan Tucker
A multi-sensory joyride into the heart of a revolution in dance. Grab your friends and plug into a virtual reality adventure that transports you into the early days of the Acid House movement. Share in an experience that shaped a generation. (North American Premiere)

Lou (Canada)
Directors: Martine Asselin, Annick Daigneault, Producers: John Hamilton, Sebastien Gros, Screenwriters: Annick Daigneault, Martine Asselin, Louis-François Archambault-Therrien
Experience the world with the sensitivity of a person with autism. (U.S. Premiere)

Mrs Benz (United Kingdom)
Director: Eloise Singer, Producer: Siobhan McDonnell, Screenwriters: Eloise Singer, Jedidjah Noomen
Travel back in time to 1886 with Bertha Benz and discover how her journey changed the course of history. (North American Premiere)

Shib the Metaverse
Directors: Marcie Jastrow, Sherri Cuono, Producer: Brandie Konopasek
The Metaverse is the culmination of our history as a community, virtually displayed, in a layer of beautiful visuals that showcase our innovation and unity with a place to truly call home. (World Premiere)

Spring Odyssey (France)
Director: Elise Morin, Producer: Lucid Realities, Screenwriter: Sabrina Calvo
Tangible, material sculptures await the digital in the exhibition space. The display invites a reversal of our apprehension of the relationship between reality and the digital by completing the gaps of one and the other. (International Premiere)

Temporal World: A Haptisonic Virtual Reality Memory World (Germany)
Director/Producer: Chloé Lee
Temporal World is a haptisonic VR experience inspired by the artist’s memories in a place where she has no personal history. Visitors explore and shape a landscape that is as fragmented and fickle as memory itself while wearing a custom haptic coat. (International Premiere)

UnEarthed (United Kingdom)
Director: Jamie Davies, Producer: Jennifer Mortimer, Screenwriters: Jamie Davies, Phil Porter
UnEarthed is a spectacular interactive adventure into the natural world, inspiring people to respect, protect, and restore our planet’s biodiversity, through impactful learning and entertainment. (North American Premiere)

You Destroy. We Create. (Germany)
Directors/Producers: Felix Gaedtke, Gayatri Parameswaran
Witness how Ukrainian art and culture have become targets of the ongoing war, and meet the inspiring people on the frontlines protecting it.

Yuki MR (Brazil)
Director: Kako, Producer: Lia Pinheiro, Screenwriters: Kako, Flavio Mattos, Lia Pinheiro, Marcelo Nery
Yuki MR is an upbeat mix of bullet-hell in Mixed Reality! Take your favorite toy in your hand to defeat evil creatures in a multidimensional universe. (Texas Premiere)



XR Experience Special Events

Neo-Wulin: The Era of Black Ark (China)
Director/Screenwriter: Guanyu, Producers: Chenchenchen, Bingbing Wang
Neo-Wulin is the first virtual performance series IP in China created by the OXYZ3 team.
Each musician will have a unique music world that combines performance, exhibition, and social interaction, and can be constantly extended. (International Premiere)



COMPETITION AWARDS
The Narrative Feature Competition, the Documentary Feature Competition, Poster Design, and Special Awards will be announced on Tuesday, March 14 along with all the Short Film Program winners, which are eligible for Jury Awards within their respective screening categories. All film categories, except Special Screenings and TV Spotlight, will be eligible for category-specific Audience Awards, which will be certified by the accounting firm of Maxwell Locke & Ritter and announced via sxsw.com the following week.

SXSW is proud to be an official qualifying festival for the Academy Awards® Short Film competition. Winners of our Best Animated, Best Narrative and Best Documentary Short Film categories become eligible for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards (Oscars). Any British Short Film or British Short Animation that screens at SXSW is eligible for BAFTA nomination. Films are also eligible for the Independent Spirit Awards, more information on eligibility here.

In addition to film festival screenings, registrants also have access to the full range of content available during SXSW including Conference Keynotes, Featured Speakers, Mentor Sessions, Networking Meet Ups, Music Showcases, Comedy Festival Showcases, Exhibitions and Professional Development. For more information on everything SXSW Online has to offer, please visit sxsw.com.

About SXSW Film Festival
Now in its 30th year, SXSW Film & TV Festival brings together creatives of all stripes over nine days to experience a diverse lineup and access to the SXSW Music and Comedy Festivals plus SXSW Conference sessions with visionaries from all corners of the entertainment, media, and technology industries.

About SXSW
SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of tech, film, music, education, and culture. An essential destination for global professionals, the annual March event features sessions, music and comedy showcases, film screenings, exhibitions, professional development and a variety of networking opportunities. SXSW proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together. SXSW 2023 will take place March 10 – 19, 2023. For more information, please visit sxsw.com. To register for the event, please visit sxsw.com/attend.

SXSW 2023 is sponsored by White Claw, Volkswagen, Itaú, and The Austin Chronicle


Review: Blake Jenner shines alongside Bruce Willis in ‘Paradise City’

PARADISE CITY

SYNOPSIS:

Movie icons and Pulp Fiction costars Bruce Willis and John Travolta face off in this action-packed thriller. When bounty hunter Ian Swan (Willis) is shot and presumed dead after disappearing in Maui waters, Swan’s son, Ryan (Blake Jenner), his ex-partner (Stephen Dorff), and a local detective (Praya Lundberg) set out to find his killers. After being threatened by a ruthless power broker (Travolta), it appears Ryan and his team are out of options — until an excursion to the closely guarded island community of Paradise City unites them with an unforeseen ally.

John Travolta plays island crime boss Buckley. His eccentricity is evident through costume choices and dialogue. Thank goodness he is who he is because the character leans heavily into caricature territory. He is at his best in high-stakes action sequences.

Stephen Dorff is Ian Swan’s former bounty-hunting partner. He has a bit of an ambulance-chaser energy to him. He vibes well with Jenner, and his chemistry with Willis is chef’s kiss.

Bruce Willis plays Ian Swan with that legendary, effortless swagger we love. He is funny, charismatic, and a total badass. He is everything you want him to be.

I’ve been a fan of Blake Jenner since his turn on GLEE. He stands out from the crowd in every role. In PARADISE CITY, he plays Willis’s son, Ryan Swan. He possesses a natural fearlessness. No matter who is his opposite onscreen, your eyes stay on Jenner. He deserves more leading roles. Frankly, he has the charm of a young Bruce Willis. It was spectacular casting. He is magnificent.

Somehow, PARADISE CITY makes Jenner’s character impervious to automatic rifle bullets and, somehow, possesses the ability to survive a 10th-floor header into a shallow koi pond. It is unbelievable. No, literally, even for an action film, it is far-fetched. And this pains me to say that every female performance is downright atrocious, except for Mary Ann Perreira as Auntie Kona. She is a treasure. The dialogue from director Chuck Russell and co-writers Corey Large, and Edward John Drake, is mostly eye-roll-inducing. The already sped-through, convoluted plot also jumps in time, but not enough. It is messy.

Here is what works. The fight choreography is undeniably entertaining. (Extra points for having Savannah kick off her heels for brawling.) Overall, the tightest scenes occur when Savannah and Ryan arrive in Paradise City proper. There is genuine yet surprising humor and a grounded backstory. That’s all I’ll say to avoid spoilers. I could see this story maybe working better in serial form. But that’s a big maybe. Jenner is the only one that sustains authenticity. He deserves better, and so does Bruce Willis’s legacy.

**Stick around for the credits**


In Theaters, on Digital, and On Demand November 11, 2022

DIRECTED BY:

Chuck Russell

WRITTEN BY:

Corey Large, Edward Drake and Chuck Russell

STARRING:

John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Blake Jenner, Praya Lundberg, with Stephen Dorff

RATING:

R for violence and language

RUN TIME:

94 minutes

GENRE:

Action


 

Netflix review: Rian Johnson’s ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ is an immensely satisfying sequel.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

The biggest mystery facing the Glass Onion is not the true identity of a murderer. You don’t have to peel the layers of this proverbial onion to know there’s a far broader question being asked: would Netflix somehow screw this sequel up? I’m delighted to report that Rian Johnson’s follow-up to Knives Out will make the transition to streaming without so much as a scratch. The central mystery remains gripping, the pacing taut, and the cast suitably stellar. This whodunnit is fresh, smart, and most importantly fun.

Daniel Craig returns as Benoit Blanc, the debonair southern detective. This time around, Blanc is invited to an isolated Greek island by billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton, giving Elon Musk post-burning man vibes.) Bron has invited several of his closest friends for a weekend getaway that just happens so happens to include a murder-mystery game. Things go wrong faster than you can say “bad idea.”

I was worried that Glass Onion would suffer from an overreliance on Craig’s detective. Knives Out benefited immensely from a core focus on Ana de Armas’ fish-out-of-water character. The film smartly employs him as a foil for its many new cast members. The new faces are stellar across the board. Janelle Monae shows incredible versatility. Leslie Odom Jr. and Kathryn Hahn have the tough job of playing the respective sticks in the mud while the rest of the cast gets to have fun. Kate Hudson and Dave Bautista really let it rip. We’re used to this from Bautista, but it is a particularly welcome departure for Hudson. As I reflect back on the past years of the pandemic, her character provides particular hilarious relief. There are also several delightful cameos. I won’t spoil them for you, but suffice it to say it seems like nearly everybody wanted in on this thing.

Whodunit films seem to be light work for Rian Johnson. His 2005 debut, Brick, was an exceptionally hard-boiled film noir that just happened to be set in a high school. Despite their common director, Brick and Glass Onion could not be more different. Where Brick was pitch black noir down to its very bones (even down to the dialogue), Glass Onion is a sun-drenched delight inspired by holiday mysteries such as Evil Under the Sun and The Last of Sheila. It provides necessary effervescent support as we head into the cold winter months. I can’t wait for the next chapter!


Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Theatrical: The film released in select US theaters on November 23rd, 2022

Film releasing on Netflix (US) on December 23rd, 2022 at 3:00 AM EST


 

Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘BRUTAL SEASON’ brings unresolved trauma and mystery in this theatrically immersive film.

BRUTAL SEASON

It’s the summer of 1948 in Redhook, Brooklyn, and the Trouth family exists in quiet peace until Louis Jr. appears after years away. Old wounds have festered, and now he’s back for revenge. Guilt is his weapon. Well, that and a unique knife with a Turkish inscription belonging to younger brother Charles. BRUTAL SEASON is like an immersive theater experience on film. This slow-burn thriller is not what I expected, in all the right ways.

Performances across the board are stellar. One is particularly inescapable. The subtle manipulation Houston Settle brings into the fray, you know he’s up to no good. Jr.’s bitterness is palpable. His passive-aggressive nature turns vicious. 

The lighting is extraordinary. The sound editing, filled with waterway traffic, barking dogs, and seagulls, serves as a constant din in the background. It’s impeccable. Andrew Burke‘s oboe and trumpet-heavy score bring a tense noir feeling.

There’s no denying that BRUTALSEASON has a similar energy to Death Of A Salesman. The narration harkens back to Our Town. Writer-director Gavin Fields brings an ambiguity that strings you along until the end. I’d love to see this performed live and feel the vibration from these actors pouring off the stage. BRUTAL SEASON is a welcome addition to this year’s Fantastic Fest 2022. It’s a standout for theatre lovers. 


You can still catch BRUTAL SEASON at FF@Home!


Fantaspoa 2022 review: ‘SUBJECT’ is a uniquely mesmerizing fantasy.

SUBJECT

A famous novelist moves into a house near an isolated, strange village in an attempt to break his writers block. Soon, ideas emerge – as do strange sightings and mysterious pages, seemingly written by the former resident of the house


Attempting to ward off writer’s block, Max’s agent rents him a house in a small, isolated village. When Max finds his words in an old notebook inside the writing desk, it’s the beginning of pure chaos. Mystery compounds as the enigmatic yet cheerful townspeople come into contact with Max. Everyone in this town is slightly off-kilter. Writer-director Leo Falcão has done a splendid job keeping you on your toes, playing with language and magical realism. 

Is Max experiencing madness like Jack Torrance in The Shining? Something strange haunts this town, and Max is the only one out of the loop. Performances across the board are wonderful. I felt as if I were attending a ping pong match as I watched these fully fleshed-out characters coexist with Max. I needed to solve the complexities of the story. Falcão understands how to hold the viewer in the palm of his hand.

The costumes are like eye candy. With colors that pop, they have a strategic effect akin to Beetlejuice. The cinematic framing draws you into the already engaging narrative. The camera leads you to clues placing you inside the mystery like a passerby on the street. It’s immersive and ceaselessly intriguing. With an ending I did not see coming, Fantaspoa 2022 audiences will find themselves scratching their heads but unable to take their eyes off the screen. SUBJECT completely enchanted me. 


SUBJECT screened as part of Fantaspoa 2022.

For more information on the festival, please visit www.fantaspoa.com.


Review: Malin Akerman and Lorenza Izzo star in the taut thriller ‘THE AVIARY.’

THE AVIARY

SYNOPSIS: Malin Akerman and Chris Messina star in the twisted journey of two women’s desperate flee to escape the clutches of Skylight, an insidious cult. Lured in by the promise of “freedom” in the isolated desert campus called “The Aviary”, Jillian (Akerman) and Blair (Lorenzo Izzo) join forces to escape in hopes of real freedom. Consumed by fear and paranoia, they can’t shake the feeling that they are being followed by the cult’s leader, Seth (Messina), a man as seductive as he is controlling. The more distance the pair gains from the cult, the more Seth holds control of their minds. With supplies dwindling and their senses failing, Jillian and Blair are faced with a horrifying question: how do you run from an enemy who lives inside your head?


Two women attempt to escape a cult by hiking through the desert. When plans go awry, deception, confusion, and brainwashing pit them against one another. 

While we only see Chris Messina as cult leader Seth in brief moments, they are undoubtedly impactful. With his calm yet persuasive demeanor, it is easy to see why these characters fell under his spell from the very beginning. Lorenza Izzo plays Blair with unbridled, vibrating energy that is captivating. You clock every single beat in her eyes. Malin Akerman‘s confidence as Jillian makes her a perfect foil for Izzo. Akerman walks a fine line between vulnerable and secretive. She’s frighteningly good. 

The screenplay’s wordplay, score, and scene blocking heightened every moment. There was never a dull moment. The endless mindfuckery rubbed my nerves raw. I found I had left fingernail impressions on my palms without realizing it. The paranoia and tension in the dialogue had my head spinning. Are these women gaslighting one another, is one of them a villain and is this even real? These are some of the questions I had while sorting through the madness that is The Aviary

You cannot ignore the comparisons with Scientology and Rajneeshees. The final 20 minutes had me on the edge of my seat. If you think you know where this story is going, think again. The Aviary is a whirlwind of manipulative tactics. It’s fantastic. 


In Theaters, on Digital, and On Demand April 29, 2022


WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY: Chris Cullari & Jennifer Raite

STARRING: Malin Akerman, Lorenza Izzo, Chris Messina, Sandrine Holt

RUN TIME: 96 minutes

RATING: Rated R for language and some violent content.

GENRE: Thriller


OPENING THEATERS INCLUDE:

NEW YORK CITY – Cinema Village

LOS ANGELES – Lumiere Cinema

 

ATLANTA – Studio Movie Grill Marietta

CLEVELAND – Atlas Diamond Center

DETROIT – Emagine Royal Oak

HOUSTON – Studio Movie Grill Pearland

MINNEAPOLIS – Emagine Eagan

ORLANDO – Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk

PHILADELPHIA – Westown Movies

TAMPA – Studio Movie Grill Seminole


Review: ‘MEASURE OF REVENGE’ is a genre-bending thriller with theatrical roots.

MEASURE OF REVENGE

“Measure of Revenge” is a taut throwback revenge thriller. This film is equal parts Shakespearian tragedy, family melodrama, and neo-noir mystery. Despite being set in modern-day New York, the themes of the film root it alongside the pulpy classics of the 70s. Through this lens, the city remains dark and dangerous even in the daylight.

Melissa Leo stars as Lillian Cooper, a veteran stage actress who happens to be the mother of a rock star. When her son, Curtis (“Animal Kingdom”’s Jake Weary), and his fiancé are found dead during Lillian’s final on-stage performance, she immediately suspects foul play. Despite the death being ruled an accidental overdose, she sets off to get her own answers. This journey draws her to the mysterious Taz (Bella Thorne), who happens to conveniently be both Curtis’ ex-lover as well as his drug dealer (don’t you hate it when that happens?). Lillian also increasingly relies on ghostly apparitions of her own previous Shakespearian roles. These visions (or are they merely hallucinations?) inspire and propel her forward in her quest for clarity and vengeance.

I appreciated the way the film leaned into its theater roots without becoming too highbrow. There’s clearly a linkage between Lilian’s decisions and her performances of Hamlet and Lady Macbeth, but you also don’t leave the film feeling like you need to get a Ph.D. in Shakespeare. Leo does justice to Lillian’s trauma and sorrow, but she also imbues her with a winking charm. This film features one of the best-planned alibis I’ve seen in a thriller, and some of the methods Lillian employs for revenge were positively refreshing in today’s age of shoot-em-up thrillers. When a gun goes off in this film, it means something.

Thorne is a welcome presence as Taz, but I wish she had been a little more utilized. She has good chemistry with Leo, but so much of this film hinges on her previous relationship with Curtis. I would have loved a flashback of their interaction, even if it provided the audience with more questions than answers.

Leo and Thorne are backed by an excellent supporting cast. Weary sure looks the part of a rock star, but I couldn’t get over how obviously dubbed his singing was during musical scenes. He and Leo have a beautiful soft dynamic together. I could watch Adrian Martinez in anything, and he provides a necessary bit of levity as the body count rises. I especially appreciated the way that Michael Potts’ Detective Eaton evolved over the course of the film. His final exchange with Leo sends the film off on a high note.

Shakespeare wrote in Merchant of Venice: “Truth will come to sight; murder cannot be hid long.” A simple statement, but it has generated countless stories over the years. Maybe “Measure of Revenge” is just another one of these stories, but Shakespeare would be happy to see they gave him his share of the credit.


In Theaters, on Digital and On Demand March 18th, 2022


DIRECTED BY: Peyfa

STARRING: Melissa Leo, Bella Thorne, Jake Weary

RUN TIME: 92 minutes

RATING: NR

GENRE: Thriller


 

SXSW 2022 review: Winona Ryder stars in ‘THE COW,’ a twisted thriller you won’t see coming.

THE COW

Upon arriving at a remote cabin in the redwoods, Kath and her boyfriend find a mysterious younger couple already there — the rental has apparently been double-booked. With nowhere else to go, they decide to share the cabin with these strangers until the next morning. When her boyfriend disappears with the young woman, Kath becomes obsessed with finding an explanation for their sudden breakup— but the truth is far stranger than she could have imagined.


A twisted moral mystery, Winona Ryder stars in SXSW22 narrative feature THE COW. Continuing Ed teacher Kath is dating one of her students. He is younger and on a different wavelength. Max suggests a surprise weekend away. When they arrive at a remote cabin, there’s another couple already there. After agreeing to share the space for the night, Max disappears with the other young woman; Kath is now left in the lurch. As she seeks closure, it turns out there’s more to the story. Where did Max go? Who is this mysterious woman? Welcome to the unreal journey that is THE COW.

John Gallagher Jr is charming and a fresh foil for a more level-headed Ryder. Brianne Tju plays Greta with a sharp edge that makes you want to punch her. When you watch, you’ll understand that this is a compliment. Owen Teague‘s performance is more nuanced than at first glance. His emo nature has a grounded backstory. Dermot Mulroney brings a rugged charm that is irresistible. His chemistry with Ryder feels pitch-perfect. 

Winona Ryder‘s journey feels just right. Blindsided at every turn, she keeps her cool for the most part. The way the script is structured we know more than Kath. This keeps Ryder relatable throughout. I know you’ll agree with me even as the screen goes black. Her final moments are pretty glorious. Fans of Ryder’s work, anything from Beetlejuice to Stranger Things, will love seeing her back on the big screen. We’ll take her wide-eyed wonder in any form.

THE COW is sure to intrigue any audience, thanks to director Eli Horowitz, who co-writes the screenplay with Matthew Derby. A great score from David Baldwin and solid editing back up this phenomenal script. HBO should tap these two for literally any upcoming series pitch. They are a hell of a team. A slow-burn plot holds you with tidbits of information in the form of flashbacks. Twist after twist glues you to your seat and the final 30 minutes had me yelling over and over, “What?!”


Director:

Eli Horowitz

Producer:

Raphael Margules, JD Lifshitz, Shaun Sanghani, Russ Posternak

Screenwriter:

Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby

Cinematographer:

David Bolen

Editor:

Arndt-Wulf Peemöller

Production Designer:

Susannah Honey

Music:

David Baldwin

Principal Cast:

Winona Ryder, Dermot Mulroney, John Gallagher Jr, Owen Teague, Brianne Tju


To learn more about SXSW22 click here!


SXSW 2022 is coming. Here are some films to add to your watch list in this year’s hybrid festival.

It’s here and boy is it happening. This year’s hybrid edition of SXSW 2022 has it all. Here are a handful of films we’re excited about this year.


Linoleum

When a satellite falls from orbit and crashes into the home of a dysfunctional family in suburban Ohio, the father seizes the opportunity to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut by re-creating the machine as his own rocket ship. While his wife and daughter believe he is experiencing a midlife crisis, surreal events begin to unfold around him, forcing him to reconsider how interconnected their lives truly are…

We’ve been living through hell these past few years and could all use a bit of whimsy. Linoleum provides us the opportunity to reconnect with our inner child while simultaneously dissecting the family dynamics. Plus, I think a lot of people forget how incredibly talented Jim Gaffigan is as an actor. Look out for this one.


The Cellar

A woman must confront an ancient and powerful entity after her daughter mysteriously vanishes in the cellar of their new home.

Shudder has already picked this title up before its SXSW22 premiere. Becoming the best streaming platform for all things genre-related, when they see potential in a film they snap it up ASAP. An old mansion, a new family, a disappearance, The Cellar has my attention.


DIAMOND HANDS: THE LEGEND OF WALLSTREETBETS

It was the perfect storm. A global pandemic. An app aspiring to democratize trading. A group of Reddit users stuck at home with stimulus dollars to burn. And a video game company on its last legs. DIAMOND HANDS is the incredible true story of how an army of retail traders rallied around GameStop to rock our financial system. This is the legend of r/WallStreetBets.

Everyone watched in awe and confusion as GameStop stock began to skyrocket. The fallout was disastrous, but the idea that a bunch of dudes on Reddit were able to completely disrupt the market is pretty much my favorite (anti)capitalist giggle from 2020.

MSNBC Films and NBC News Studios will premiere “Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets,” on MSNBC Sunday, April 10 at 10:00 p.m. ET, following the global premiere at SXSW on March 13. “Diamond Hands” is produced by NBC News Studios and ZCDC Films. The film is set to stream later this Spring on Peacock. 


Hypochondriac

A young potter’s life devolves into chaos as he loses function of his body while being haunted by the physical manifestation of his childhood trauma.

If you’re looking for some kick-ass casting, look no further than Zach Villa in Hypochondriac. Unrecognizable from his American Horror Story seasons, Villa plays the writer-director Addison Heimann‘s words with care. The film is based on Heiman’s own experience with mental health.


The Cow

Synopsis: Upon arriving at a remote cabin in the redwoods, Kath and her boyfriend find a mysterious younger couple already there — the rental has apparently been double-booked. With nowhere else to go, they decide to share the cabin with these strangers until the next morning. When her boyfriend disappears with the young woman, Kath becomes obsessed with finding an explanation for their sudden breakup— but the truth is far stranger than she could have imagined.

If you go to IMDB the plot for the film is still under wraps, so SXSW22 fans are in for a treat. I’ve always been a Winona Ryder fan and with Stranger Things revamping her genre status, I cannot wait to see what is in store in this mysterious-sounding plot.


Mickey: The Story of a Mouse

Mickey Mouse is one of the most enduring symbols in our history. Those three simple circles take on meaning for virtually everyone on the planet. So ubiquitous in our lives that he can seem invisible, Mickey is something we all share, with unique memories and feelings. Over the course of his nearly century-long history, Mickey functions like a mirror, reflecting our personal and cultural values back at us. “Mickey: The Story of a Mouse” explores Mickey’s significance, getting to the core of what Mickey’s cultural impact says about each of us and about our world.

When I was 19 years old, I moved to California on a whim in hopes of working at Disneyland. During my amazing time performing there (those details are top secret via the stack of NDA’s you sign as a cast member), I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting a special individual. When Walt Disney opened Disneyland he presented the world with Mickey Mouse, live and in person. I met that man backstage and had my photo taken with him. The impact Mickey Mouse has had on generations of children and adults is unfathomable. Mickey: The Story of a Mouse will undoubtedly touch a massive audience. As I share Mickey with my own small children now, I can still picture my first meeting with a character so magical I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement. He never gets old, pun most definitely intended.


The Prank

Synopsis: Ben is your typical high-school overachiever. He’s organized, careful, goal-oriented and extremely dedicated to school. His best friend, Tanner, couldn’t be more opposite. She is a lackadaisical, messy, slacker, who lives in the moment. They aren’t popular, but they don’t seem to care that much because they have each other. Ben has a stern, mean and cruel physics teacher, Mrs. Wheeler. She has been teaching at the school for decades and has a reputation for being the hardest, coldest, strictest faculty member. She fails Ben’s entire class unless a student who cheated comes forward. When no one does, Tanner and Ben hatch a plan to ruin he life and frame her for murder on social media.

Social media is such a catalyst for action, terror, and weirdness these days that anything is possible when it is involved. But, it’s this cast that caught my eye. Rita Moreno, Connor Kalopsis, Ramona Young, Keith David, Kate Flannery, and Meredith Salenger will get my butt in a seat. Also, who didn’t have a teacher in high school everyone loathed?


The Unknown Country

An unexpected invitation launches a grieving young woman on a solitary road trip through the American Midwest as she struggles to reconcile the losses of her past with the dreams of her future.

I was first introduced to Lily Gladstone in Certain Women. Her ability to captivate with but a glance is something that is rare. The Unknown Country tackles a beautiful mix of anxiety, grief, and identity, all in a unique road trip movie. It’s a film we’ll be talking about all year.


Sissy

**WORLD PREMIERE**

WRITERS/DIRECTORS: Hannah Barlow, Kane Senes
STARRING: Aisha Dee, Hannah Barlow, Emily De Margheriti, Daniel Monks, Yerin Ha, Lucy Barrett, Shaun Martindale, Amelia Lule, April Blasdall, Camille Cumpston

Synopsis: Cecilia and Emma were tween-age BFFs who were going to grow old together and never let anything come between them, until Alex arrived on the scene. Twelve years later, Cecilia is a successful social media influencer living the dream of an independent, modern millennial woman… until she runs into Emma for the first time in over a decade. Emma invites Cecilia away on her bachelorette weekend at a remote cabin in the mountains, where Alex proceeds to make Cecilia’s weekend a living hell. #triggered

Listen, girls are mean. We hold grudges and we play dirty, those are just the facts. When friendships are disrupted, those scars last a lifetime. With social media affecting the way we lead our daily lives, SISSY sounds like a perfect storm for great horror.


SOFT & QUIET

Playing out in real time, Soft and Quiet is a runaway train that follows a single afternoon in the life of a female white supremacist as she indoctrinates a group of alt-right women, and together they set out to harass two mixed-raced sisters.

Any film that has the audacity to play out in real time has my attention. I am hardwired to loathe these main characters so I am hoping that some horrible fate befalls them. The plot is socially relevant even if I wish it weren’t. I’ll be paying close attention to how writer-director Beth de Araújo brings her first feature-length film to life.


Radical Honesty

At the tail end of a great date, Jack and Rachel bond over a shared interest in deconstructing traditional relationship structures. When Jack reveals the reality of his “radical” open relationship, things take a turn for the absurd in this short film about the co-option of the language of liberation for means of manipulation and control.

At 41, I cannot imagine navigating a new relationship at this precise moment in time. I remember when Match.com first became a thing and how weird I thought it sounded. Then I recall attending four weddings in the years that followed, each couple had met through Match. RADICAL HONESTY, a 7-minute short film, tackles the complexities that Gen Z and Millenials face day-to-day. I’ll be watching with popcorn in hand knowing that it’s one hell I don’t have to keep in check these days. (*knock on wood) Check out the teaser trailer for the film’s aesthetic.

Radical Honesty Teaser from Bianca Poletti on Vimeo.


Slash/Back

Synopsis: Pangnirtung, Nunavut: A sleepy hamlet nestled in the majestic mountains of Baffin Island in the Arctic Ocean, wakes up to a typical summer day. No School, no cool boys (well… except one), and 24-hour sunlight. But for Maika and her ragtag friends, the usual summer is suddenly not in the cards when they discover an alien invasion threatening Pang. But these teenagers have been underestimated their whole lives, and using makeshift weapons and their horror movie knowledge, they show the aliens you don’t fuck with the girls from Pang.

Slash/Back is an unexpected coming-of-age film. With some Stranger Things vibes, it tackles tradition, boredom, boys, and aliens. Wait until you see this young cast kicking ass and taking names.


Pirates

New Year’s Eve 1999. Three life long friends drive through London in their tiny Peugeot 205, pumping a UK Garage set from the stereo and arguing about their Avirex jackets and Naf Naf imports. As the eighteen-year olds step into adulthood, they know their lives and friendships are on the brink of change. Determined to end the century on a bang, they drive from place to place in a desperate search for tickets for the best millennium party EVER. In their efforts to end up somewhere, they end up closer together.

I know I’m aging myself but I was 19 on New Year’s Eve 1999. I lived this chaos and hopefulness. Anything was possible during the course of one evening. I’m here for the nostalgia and some solid shenanigans.


Jethica

Hiding out in New Mexico after a freak accident, Elena runs into Jessica, an old friend from high school. When Jessica’s stalker suddenly shows up at their door, they must seek help from beyond the grave to get rid of him, for good.

Wild and collaborative filmmaker, Pete Ohs brings an exciting edge to the indie scene with Jethica. Shot during the pandemic in 2021 and edited live on Twitch, SXSW22 audiences are surely in for some unexpected twists and turns.


The Voice Actress

Kingyo, a veteran voice actress working in Tokyo, possesses a unique ability to see the soul in all things, living and inanimate. The voice acting world is changing and she must find a way to reconcile her way of living with the modern industry. As Kingyo prepares for an upcoming audition, she seeks inspiration from the world around her and from her pet goldfish, Asatte. In the face of professional and personal adversity, Kingyo looks decidedly inward for strength through empathy and kindness.

A peek inside the recording booth and inside the mind of a working voice actress. Urara Takano puts a face to the performers we don’t talk enough about. Written, directed, and edited by Anna J. Takayama, we are invited into the world of a veteran voice actress and how she copes with forces beyond her control.


For more information on this year’s SXSW Film Festival click here!

Stayed tuned for Reel News Daily coverage as well as guest posts from Steve Kopian at Unseen Films. We’re making our schedules and doing all we can to bring you everything we’ve got. Stayed tuned!


TOPIC series review: Nordic Noir miniseries ‘PIECE OF MY HEART’ grabs you from the very beginning.

PIECE OF MY HEART

(Pala sydämestäni)

In Helsinki, child protection agents, Rita and Laura, work tirelessly to protect children from recurrent trauma. A case becomes personal when it forces Rita to face her own disturbing childhood while Laura struggles to find work-life balance


Episodes 1 -3

Piece Of My Heart boasts a slick story structure. Laura is the newbie in Child Welfare Services and Rita is the old pro with serious baggage. Under a new director and with cases piling up, these two women must immediately pick up each other’s emotional slack to help the children and families under their care. As the plot progresses, clues as to what went wrong in Rita’s last case slowly reveal themselves to the audience. The nuance of performances, especially by women, in this series keeps you glued to your seat. We watch gaslighting, power struggles, intimacy issues, and the navigating of home life. You fully invested in each of them. Director Hanna Maylett and writing team Anna and Aino Lappalainen, masterfully plant the seeds of complexities. You’re kept on your toes in anticipation of something going awry. Leads Lotta Lehtikari and Niina Koponen are striking foils for one another, in every sense. Piece Of My Heart is a genre-bending series of mystery and drama. You’ll be sucked into the show from the very first episode.


***Golden Nymph Jury Special Prize Winner – 2021 Monte-Carlo TV Festival***
***Golden Nymph Television Nomination – 2021 Monte-Carlo TV Festival***

Streaming Exclusively on Topic Beginning February 17th
*Episodes 1-3 available on 2/17 followed by individual episodes each week*


 Directed by: Hanna Maylett (Sisters Apart, Suburban Virgin)
Produced by: Anita Kurvinen (Kotikatu, Tahdon asia)
Written by: Aino Lappalainen (Mersusta seuraava, Evä), Anna Lappalainen (The Spark, Tokio Baby)
Starring: Lotta Lehtikari (Seitsemän, On the Road to Emmaus), Niina Koponen (Urban Family, Rat King), Martin Bahne (The Border, Korso), Saimi Kahri (Täydellinen joulu, Pahan väri), Vilma Sippola (Flowers of Evil, Aktivistit), Manoel Pinto (Armi Aavikko – siinä välissä olin elossa)


About TOPIC
Topic is the boundary-pushing streaming service from First Look Entertainment for thrillers, mysteries, dramas, and documentaries from around the world, serving viewers who crave entertainment beyond the mainstream. Whether it’s a Nordic-noir crime thriller (The Killing), a back-stabbing, an Italian political drama (The Miracle), or a mind-blowing supernatural mystery from Russia (Dead Mountain), Topic expands your view of the world.

Featuring North American premieres, exclusive TV series and film, and programming from more than 40 countries, Topic showcases an unparalleled collection of creators, perspectives, and experiences. Complemented by our Topic Originals, we prioritize bold storytelling and champion underrepresented voices. Topic Originals and exclusives include Oscar® nominee The Letter Room (starring Oscar Isaac), Lambs of God (starring Ann Dowd), BAFTA® nominee The Virtues (starring Stephen Graham), Emmy® nominee The Accidental Wolf (starring Kelli O’Hara), Dark Woods, Gotham Award winning Philly D.A., and Soul City (directed by Chike & Coodie).

Topic is available to US and Canadian audiences on topic.com, AppleTV & iOS, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android & Android TV, Apple TV Channels, Roku Premium Channels, Bell Fibe, and Amazon Prime Video Channels. Topic is part of First Look Entertainment which also includes Topic Studios the award-winning entertainment studio which develops, finances, and produces content for all platforms.