Review: Devotion and deceit go hand in hand in Liz Fania Werner and Carlos Montaner’s ‘WAKING KARMA’

WAKING KARMA

High school senior Karma and her mother Sunny are on the run from her father, an infamous cult leader. Trapped inside a remote wooded compound, her already complicated reality is about to crumble.

The film begins with intriguing flashbacks of a cult murder, newspaper clippings, and a hauntingly saccharine song. The setup immediately captured my attention. A sudden shift in style and time reveals Karma and Sunny living in fear and relying on the kindness of former cult members for protection. Small crumbs of cult life are just enough to keep you invested in Karma’s fate.

Michael Madsen is vile. His iconic voice serves him well as Paul, giving him an effortless presence. He could have been made more menacing with a few tighter shots overall. Kimberly Alexander plays Sunny with extraordinary nuance. This roller coaster ride of a role spans every emotion; adoration, cruelty, and unadulterated honesty. Alexander goes for it.

As Karma, Hannah Christine Shetler is the definition of wide-eyed vulnerability. She navigates chaos and confusion with equal parts innocence and fearlessness. Waking Karma is a terrific vehicle for her talents. 

It takes a solid 25 mins to get to any action, but then it is pretty much maniacal from there on out. The plot gets more sick and twisted as we roll along, both physically and psychologically. WAKING KARMA shines brightest in the scenes between mother and daughter. The shockingly devastating dialogue by director Liz Fania Werner with co-director Carlos Montaner‘s DP work almost demands an in-depth prequel. I have so many questions, and I’d love to see more about the beginnings of this cult. That’s the story we need now.


WAKING KARMA is now available on VOD

 

Sundance 2023 capsule review: Anna Hints’ profound documentary ‘SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD’ is a collective sigh of womanhood.

SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD

The ancient Estonian ritual of sauna building is a physical and spiritual cleansing. Women gather to share everything from funny childhood stories to earthly, almost guttural chants to intimate confessions with unfiltered honesty. Anna Hints‘ Sundance 2023 documentary Smoke Sauna Sisterhood is a visceral and profoundly deep film.

Mesmerizing closeups of body parts beading with sweat captured with static and handheld camerawork beautifully complement the conversations and place the audience inside the room. Haunting vocals during transition moments captivate the audience. Images of south Estonian matriarchs are projected on the sauna smoke as their voices recall tales from their lives. It is another stunning addition to an already visually sumptuous film.

Topics like cancer, women’s rights, body shaming, unresolved trauma, sex, and sexuality swirl freely. It is a safe space I envy. Smoke Sauna Sisterhood brings a contagious joy. There is a raw elegance I think Sundance 2023 audiences, specifically female viewers, will welcome. This film is a celebration of our complexities, highlighting the tender care we take with one another. It is revelatory to rediscover the interconnectedness of women and our shared experiences, good and bad. It is an astonishingly rewarding emotional catharsis.


Screening Times
In Person
PREMIERE
AddFAVORITE
Jan. 22 6:00PM MST
Prospector Square Theatre

PARK CITY

SECOND SCREENING
AddFAVORITE
Jan. 23 8:30PM MST
Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway 6

SALT LAKE CITY

SECOND SCREENING
AddFAVORITE
Jan. 25 11:45AM MST
Egyptian Theatre

PARK CITY

SECOND SCREENING
AddFAVORITE
Jan. 26 4:00PM MST
Redstone Cinemas – 2

PARK CITY

SECOND SCREENING
AddFAVORITE
Jan. 27 12:00PM MST
Screening Room

SUNDANCE MOUNTAIN RESORT

Online
SECOND SCREENING
AddFAVORITE
Jan. 24 8:00AM MST
Available Until Jan. 29 11:55PM MST


Anna Hints is an Estonian film director with a background in contemporary art and experimental folk music. Having deep roots in the distinct culture of South Estonia, Hints’ second home is in India. As an active dumpster diver, Hints’ short documentary For Tomorrow Paradise Arrives initiated public discussion and growth of new grassroot movements against food waste in Estonia.


 

Sundance 2023 capsule review: ‘BAD PRESS’ is a striking microcosm of tribal oppression and corruption.

BAD PRESS

Imagine a scenario, if you will, where the federal government controlled the entirety of the media. Ask North Korea and China’s citizens how well that works for them. Native American tribes are sovereign nations. They do not have freedom of the press. In the Sundance 2023 documentary from Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Joe Peeler, BAD PRESS exposes the crushing actions of tribe leaders to remain in power. MVSKOKE MEDIA journalists are under attack while the Chief manipulates the Muscogee community with misinformation. Who will protect the truth?

Bad Press describes the hierarchy of tribal media. Money and politics rule, making a constitutional Free Press amendment vital to every nation. The film follows the journey to change, from new candidates for a new chief to election fraud allegations, and boy does it mirror national shenanigans. MVSKOKE MEDIA journalist Angel Ellis and her colleagues report everything in real-time, fighting against fear, false claims, threats, and connected politicians who wish to silence them.

The biggest question becomes, “What do you have to hide?” BAD PRESS is the perfect Sundance 2023 companion to watch with Fantastic Machine. It’s a heart-pounding, sweaty palm viewing experience. The emotional gravity of this story is shocking. BAD PRESS is a microcosm of tribal oppression and global journalistic reality. Those in the film are brave as hell for speaking out. National news, take note. Transparency is key.


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE

    Jan. 22 8:40PM MST

    The Ray Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 24 3:30PM MST

    Redstone Cinemas – 1

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 25 12:00PM MST

    Screening Room

    SUNDANCE MOUNTAIN RESORT

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 26 12:40PM MST

    Holiday Village Cinemas – 2

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 27 9:45PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 3

    SALT LAKE CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 24 8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST


Sundance 2023 documentary review: ‘FANTASTIC MACHINE’ is a gasp-worthy watch.

FANTASTIC MACHINE

Memory preservation, emotional resonance, exploration, and exposure of truth, FANTASTIC MACHINE explores the history of capturing the first image to the deliberate curation of media content through the ages.

The swiftness of the manipulation of images shocked me. From the beginning, the film is ruthless in its takedown of perceived truth. It is what we don’t see changes everything. Fantastic Machine has outtakes from a 2017 ISIS propaganda video, Eurovision’s use of the green screen in their scoring reports, how-to YouTube videos, and viral video reactions. At one point, I exclaimed, “What The Fuck,” louder than I intended. 

The power of curated messaging in politics is something we know well. The film features a breathtaking 1993 interview with a filmmaker that changed the face of WW2 and modern-day filmmakers. In 1934, The Nazi Party hired Leni Reifenstahl to show the movement as powerful and attractive. She speaks about the entertainment factor, how a two-hour speech must be compressed to five minutes with a beginning, middle, and thrilling middle, despite the subject. As I witnessed the pride in her technical work, my mouth was agape. Juxtapose those images with the Sidney Bernstein footage from the final day of the war in 1945. Charged with proving the atrocities of war ever existed, Bernstein brings humanity, suffering, and truth. In the end, it is a product. In most cases, it is void of morality.

Maximilien Van Aertryck narrates with a profound statement: “A lack of perspective can distort what the world looks like.” There is such a fine line between propaganda and truth. We are all too familiar with this tactic. The results of media manipulation are monumentally dangerous but immensely lucrative. Instagram is rewiring young brains in a similar manner fashion magazines impacted our self-esteem in the 90s. It, quite literally, changes brain chemistry. The editing from Mikel Cee Karlsson and writer-directors Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck is award-worthy. As the saying goes, they understood the assignment.

FANTASTIC MACHINE is ceaselessly fascinating and undeniably disturbing to experience. As a commentary on entertainment, it is both a celebration and a condemnation. Sundance 2023 audiences are in for something absolutely brilliant. 


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE

    Jan. 23 3:00PM MST

    Prospector Square Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 24 6:55PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 3

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 25 2:45PM MST

    Egyptian Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 26 3:00PM MST

    Park Avenue Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 27 9:30AM MST

    Redstone Cinemas – 1

    PARK CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 24 8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST


Slamdance 2023 review: ‘A Perfect Day for Caribou’ is a captivating character study.

A PERFECT DAY FOR CARIBOU

We find Herman with a tape recorder in hand, giving estranged son Nate life tips and recalling snippets of random stories from his past. When his phone rings, he finds Nat on the other end, requesting a visit. Nate arrives with his six-year-old son Ralph in tow. Three generations in the same place for the first time, Herman and Nate swap stories as they play catch-up with one another as Ralph explores the cemetery with his soccer ball. Midway through the film, Ralph goes missing. Father and son search the surrounding area far and wide, with Nate explaining this is a habit of Ralph’s. Their talk continues along the way, Herman toting a mysterious box with them and Nate chainsmoking as a coping mechanism. A Perfect Day for Caribou catches Slamdance 2023 audiences off-guard with honesty and reflection.

The film opens with Jeb Berrier and a glorious 10-plus minute monologue of stories and advice. His delivery lands somewhere between stoic and hypnotizing. It is an extraordinary turn. Charlie Plummer never ceases to amaze me with his grounded portrayals. It’s like watching a documentary. Plummer settles into Nate without missing a beat. His calming demeanor, similar to Berrier’s, grabs you instantly. Rutherford’s script allows Plummer to break free as the story progresses, and again, he nails it. There is a purity to the performance.

Cinematographer Alfonso Herrera Salcedo‘s work is beautiful. The combination of black-and-white and thoughtful framing captures your attention immediately. I adored the stationary swings. Long takes allow the audience to focus on the dialogue, heightening the emotional investment. The location is a cemetery and the surrounding open plains. Something about this choice speaks volumes on a metaphoric level. Short intercut scenes surprise and delight.

The film is a perfect fit for Slamdance 2023. Writer-director Jeff Rutherford offers an intimate portrait of attempted redemption and connection. Complete with full-circle moments, A Perfect Day for Caribou is a mesmerizing character study brimming with complexity.


A Perfect Day for Caribou – Festival Trailer from Jeff Rutherford on Vimeo.

A PERFECT DAY FOR CARIBOU, starring Charlie Plummer (Lean on Pete; Looking for Alaska) and Jeb Berrier (First Cow; Shrill), premieres at Slamdance Film Festival on Saturday, January 21. 

And from January 23-29, watch from anywhere with the Slamdance Channel.

A PERFECT DAY FOR CARIBOU follows an estranged father and son who spend the day ambling, wandering, searching, and stumbling through disharmony and heartache. This heartfelt yet unconventional narrative is filmed in the nostalgic 4:3 aspect ratio and evocative black and white by cinematographer Alfonso Herrera Salcedo.


 

Slamdance 2023 review: The weird and wonderful world of ‘Who’s Annie?’

Slamdance 2023 Premiere of

WHO’S ANNIE?

After jail-time, 12-step programs and five marriages, Annie begins her acting career in her mid-fifties with the help of a young director she met at a Burger King. In this show within a show, Annie tackles both her gigs as an actor and the role of herself in her own life story.


A farcical meta delight, Slamdance 2023 episodic WHO’S ANNIE skewers the absurdity of Hollywood, but that’s only the beginning. Annie Pisapia plays herself and doesn’t. Yup. You read that correctly. This “series within a series” is wildly entertaining and wholly bizarre. 

Writer-director Sophia Peer plays “herself,” a television director with awkward and quirky energy. Peer bears a striking resemblance to Rhea Pearlman. It’s a head-scratching role, and I could not look away. Sofia Dobrushin plays the “series” version of Peers. Wide-eyed and perfectly cast, Dobrushin appears both afraid and at home in coordinated chaos. I adored her. Annie Pisapia owns the screen, as her comic timing is something to behold. Her rough exterior feels part false flag, part true identity. She is so convincing it is genuinely tough to discern between Annie’s real life and the script. That is the entire point of the series, and Peer has succeeded with flying colors. Adding in Peer’s manic confidence and Dobrushin’s “yes, and” attitude, these three women exquisitely complement one another.

Because the show jumps in style, so does the cinematography. It is eye candy that never gets boring. It is pure silliness, and I’m dying for more. It’s Comedy Central meets Mad TV. There is a lot of meat on the bone for series development. Everyone has enough (or a lot) of backstory to expand upon and plenty of weirdness to start. WHO’S ANNIE is unique in this Slamdance 2023 episodic lineup.


WHO’S ANNIE? – 30 Minute Scripted Comedy Series – Trailer from sophia peer on Vimeo.


2 Screenings at Treasure Mountain Inn: 255 Main St, Park City, UT 84060
Sunday 1/22: 9:45pm- Ballroom 
Thursday, 1/26: 11:30am- Crescent Room
Ticket Link Here

 

CREDITS:

Creator/Director: Sophia Peer

Written by Sophia Peer & Annie Sicherman

EPs: Ryan Cunningham, Troy Thompson

Co-Executive Producer: Randy Stulberg

Produced by: Manon Carrié

Cinematographer: Adam Uhl

Production Designer: Erica Magrey

Editor: Matt Posey

Starring: Annie Pisapia, Sofia Dobrushin, Sophia Peer


BIOS:

Creator and Director: Sophia Peer (she/her) was born and raised in Flushing, Queens, where she began her career as filmmaker, directing her parents in scripted/doc hybrids before she knew that was even a thing. She was awarded the NY Foundation for the Arts ‘Made In NY’ grant, a finalist for the ScreenCraft Film Fund, accepted into The Gotham’s Episodic Lab, and invited to Gotham Week, for WHO’S ANNIE?, a series she’s creating, co-writing and directing. Sophia is currently pitching a doc/scripted hybrid series created in collaboration with Jigsaw Productions. After years of working on series for Nike, Super Deluxe, Nylon, Genius, and Pitchfork, Sophia is now also directing a surreal cooking show, DANNY’S FOOD CORNER, starring queer comedian Lily Marotta (Celebrity Book Club). Sophia’s work has been screened at the Whitney Museum of Art, Hauser & Wirth, Abrons Art Center, the Giphy Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, Contemporary Arts Center, The Queens Museum, Indie Memphis Film Festival, and MoMA. She has directed music videos for artists such as Paramore, Julien Baker, Paramore, The National, Interpol, Yeasayer, and Junior Boys. 

Co-Writer: Annie Sicherman (she/her) is an award-winning queer screenwriter from Queens, NY.  She is the co-writer of WHO’S ANNIE?, a pilot that was awarded the NYFA “Made in NY” Grant, accepted into The Gotham’s Episodic Lab, and a finalist in the ScreenCraft Film Fund. Recently, Annie’s comedy pilot DOCTOR BABIES advanced in the Austin Film Festival.

Executive Producer: Ryan Cunningham (she/her) is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning producer who launched the development company Running Woman, with projects set up at FX, Party Over Here, and Swimsuit Edition. She has 20 years experience producing 25 different comedy TV series. TV producer credits include BROAD CITY, INSIDE AMY SCHUMER, SEARCH PARTY, THE LAST O.G., and stand-up specials for Comedy Central, Showtime, Amazon, Netflix, and HBO. Ryan was also the Director/EP on specials for Ilana Glazer, Alan Cumming, and the docuseries EXPECTING AMY.

Executive Producer: Troy Thompson (he/him) started Running Man in 2009 with his business partner Ryan Cunningham as a place to inspire creativity, and over the last 14 years has seen it turn into one of New York’s premiere post houses. He has been working in television and film for 25 years now as both an editor and colorist with an unending attention to detail. Credits include PATRIOT ACT with Hasan Minhaj, ZIWE, FLATBUSH MISDEMEANORS, AT HOME WITH AMY SEDARIS, BROAD CITY, IINSIDE AMY SCHUMER, SEARCH PARTY, THE DETOUR, and THE CHARACTERS. He has worked on stand-up specials for Chris Rock, Hasan Minhaj, Amy Schumer, Mike Birbiglia, Roy Wood Jr., Atsuko Okatsuka, Aida Rodriguez, Yvonne Orji, and music specials for Apple Live for Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige. His work in feature films include the HBO documentary THE TRANS LIST; co-productions of 3RD STREET BLACKOUT, CLAIRE IN MOTION, KEEP THE CHANGE, winner of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival; and BECKS, winner of the US Fiction Prize at the LA Film Festival. Troy’s most recent goal is to be a part of content that will someday inspire his 11-year-old daughter. 

Co-Executive Producer: Randy Stulberg (she/her) is an award winning creative EP/ showrunner from New York. Most recently she has been working on episodic development for various clients in TV and digital including Jigsaw Productions, The New York Times,  Refinery29, Vice, Apple/ JV8inc. and VOX/New York Magazine. She was the showrunner for Viceland TV’s highest rated show Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, helping reimagine the series from its original digital format for an international TV audience and executive produced 2022 Sports Emmy nominated series “Golden” featuring Olympic gold medalist Sunisa Lee for LeBron James’ SpringHill Company and Peacock streaming. 

Producer: Manon Carrié (she/her) is a French/Filipina-American writer and producer with a multitude of innovative work in docustyle branded content, television and narrative film for award-winning companies such as Vice, Hearst, Condé Nast, HBO Max, Freeform, Jigsaw, Hulu and The New York Times. Her projects playfully experiment with unexpected hybrids of form and genre, and aim to probe the peculiar nuances of characters, cultures and structural conflicts, which can be glimpsed in her 2020 mockumentary webseries ABROAD and bilingual dream-doc short OISEAUX DES ÎLES. She currently has three narrative scripts and several docu-projects in development, one of which plans to take place in her mother’s birth-village in the Philippines. She splits her time between Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Paris.

Cinematographer: Adam Uhl (he/him) is a cinematographer based out of New York. His first film MALA MALA, was produced by Christine Vachon and Killer Films and received an Audience Award at the 2014 TriBeCa Film Festival. In 2017, his second film, DINA, produced by Dan Cogan, Impact Partners, and Killer Films, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it received the Grand Jury Prize. He has also lensed several series including UNTOLD and LOSERS, THE FIX, and PANIC for Netflix and HBO. 

Production Designer: Erica Magrey (she/her) is a Brooklyn-based production designer, prop stylist, and interdisciplinary artist with a particular interest in examining female tropes, high/low-brow culture blends, and the future of the past. Working with commercial and editorial clients on scripted series, music videos, and still life photography, she creates work that examines the performance of identity. Erica has had screenings, performances and exhibitions at art spaces such as Socrates Sculpture Park, The Sculpture Center, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Kaskadenkondensator (Basel), The Kitchen, 106 Green, Klaus von Nichtssagend, Magic Pictures, Freight + Volume, and Storefront for Art and Architecture. 

Editor: Matt Posey (he/him) is an editor based in NY and LA. In addition to features, shorts, and award-winning commercials, he has edited music videos for Depeche Mode, Metallica, Rob Thomas, and many others.

The Star and inspiration for the series: Annie Pisapia (she/her) is an award winning actor born and raised in Queens. She can be spotted in many of the big series you’ve seen for the past six years playing roles such as Inmate, Police Officer, Drug Addict, Bartender and Janitor. Annie was the recurring character “Smoking Woman” in HIGH FIDELITY, scene partners with Bobby Cannavale in THE WATCHER, and held the role of “Agitated Woman” on NEW AMSTERDAM. Other shows include INVENTING ANNA, BETTY, MANIFEST, BILLIONS, BLUE BLOODS, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, CRASHING and THE OA. Annie’s swagger, charm, and New York attitude make her very hard to miss, even when she’s playing a background role. There are more than ten projects that are about to premiere in which Annie plays a major role including “Senior Biker Chic” in AWKWAFINA IS NORA FROM QUEENS, “Sister Joseph” in Jennifer Esposito’s directorial debut FRESH KILLS, and “Cathy” in the Netflix A24 comedy series SURVIVAL OF THE THICKEST.

Co-Star: Sofia Dobrushin (she/they) is Bicoastal, Biracial and Bisexual. They love to be at the intersection of many things and we see that reflected in their craft as an actor, director, comedian and musician. Acting credits include HIGH MAINTENANCE, César Alvarez’ ELEMENTARY SPACETIME SHOW, and On the Rock’s EDELWEISS at Ars Nova. Sofia was recently in Apple TV’s WECRASHED where she yelled at Anne Hathaway and got to wear fake glasses.


 

Sundance 2023 doc review: ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’ is an unexpectedly badass victory cry

IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?

In search of someone else with the same physical condition, Ella Glendining takes us on a thoughtful journey in Sundance 2023 documentary IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?

The editing combined with the score creates a charming and deeply affecting quality. Confessional diary logs place us in Ella’s headspace. She uses home videos and sit-down chats with her Mum and Dad about what it was like to raise her. Seeking specialists and families with the same disability offers Ella more questions than answers. We follow Ella through an unexpected pregnancy. Her gorgeous son River and the Covid 19 pandemic change how she views potential surgery options. As she speaks to others via Zoom, she contemplates the appreciation of her body.

The discussion of ableism is paramount to understanding Ella’s life and any family with a differently abled member. I am the mother of a seven-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I suspect that with his off-the-charts cognitive abilities, the more precise diagnosis is Aspergers. I appreciated Ella and her best friend Naomi’s honest discussions about her autism and the challenges of an invisible disability. Each admits they cannot fully understand the inner workings of one another’s feelings and worry they have inadvertently said horrible things to one another. Understanding the staring, judgment, and how it pierces the heart cannot be ignored. That is also why the conversations with Ella’s parents resonated with me. Like Ella seeking someone to connect to, her Mum and Dad were touchstones for me.

IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE? tackles outdated stereotypes and deep-seated trauma, but also optimism. I hope Ella Glendining understands the gravity of her film. I have to thank her for sharing her life, and I look forward to sharing her story with my son when he is a bit older. IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE? celebrates individualism and isn’t that the ultimate goal?


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE
    Jan. 22 3:00PM MST

    Prospector Square Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 3:00PM MST

    Park Avenue Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 25 12:00PM MST

    Park Avenue Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 26 5:30PM MST

    Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway 6

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 27 2:30PM MST

    Holiday Village Cinemas – 1

    PARK CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST


     

Sundance 2023 review: ‘TALK TO ME’ is visually horrifying and ready for a franchise .

TALK TO ME

When an unusual object allows a group of teens to not only speak with the dead but allow them to enter their bodies, things get violent and personal when Mia’s mother reaches out from beyond the grave. The veil has lifted, and secrets will spill over the threshold, whether Mia and her friends like it or not. Directors Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou bring Sundance 2023 audiences TALK TO ME.

The thrill of taking the otherworldly hand becomes like a drug to the group. This shockingly dangerous behavior throws me back to my teen years, forcing this horror fan to wonder if I would suffer the same fate. A goody two shoes concerning drugs and alcohol does not negate my risky excursions in the New England woods in the pitch black of summer nights. As Mia and her friends battle the typical parental control and need to fit in, their heightened chase of danger spells nothing but doom. Writers Bill Hinzman and Daley Pearson, with concept by Danny Philippou, give us all the background we need to get sucked into this wild scenario, leaving just enough mystery to keep us salivating.

The practical fx are solid. The film’s special effects makeup team does a remarkable job of creeping the audience the fuck out. The work becomes more elaborate as the story progresses. It is spectacular.

This ensemble of young actors wowed with the complex task of playing “multiple roles” (without spoiling the action.) Sophia Wilde as Mia astounded me. The specificity of this performance rocked my world.

TALK TO ME almost demands a franchise. I have so many questions. I’d love a sequel and a prequel! TALK TO ME serves up Sundance 2023 audiences enough to chew on while filmmakers dig deeper into the film’s canon.


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE
    Jan. 21 11:55PM MST

    Egyptian Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 22 9:45PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 3

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 25 9:45PM MST

    Library Center Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 27 9:00PM MST

    Park Avenue Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 28 10:00PM MST

    Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway 8/9

    SALT LAKE CITY

Online

THIS FILM IS NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE.


 

Sundance 2023 review: ‘MAMACRUZ’ is a bold reclamation of sensuality.

MAMACRUZ

In Patricia Ortega‘s Sundance 2023 film MAMACRUZ, devout seamstress Mari Cruz spends her days dutifully attending to the needs of her church community and caring for her grandchild while her daughter tours with a dance troupe. But, quite by accident, we discover her longing for touch. What begins as an accidental discovery of internet pornography and then unexpected sexual fantasies of a statue of Jesus lead her down a path of exploration.

After her husband shuns her advances, Mari Cruz is undeterred. Nor does the righteous gossip at church stop her. Pushing aside shame, with her sewing skills and newfound knowledge, she heals herself and those around her.

The film looks beautiful. Fran Fernández Pardo‘s cinematography highlights the rich colors in fabrics and paint and captures extraordinary angles in fantasy sequences. The commentary on religious oppression and desire is unmissable. The performances are outstanding. Kiti Mánve breathes vulnerability and quiet ferocity into the role of Mari Cruz. It is a stunning, award-worthy turn.

The film drips with visual innuendo and lust. The audience must leave judgment at the door. MAMACRUZ permits the audience to embrace intimacy, pleasure, and the complexities of womanhood. Life is short. Choose fearless happiness.


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE
    Jan. 20 9:15PM MST

    Library Center Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 21 12:00PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 6

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 22 12:30PM MST

    Redstone Cinemas – 1

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 8:30AM MST

    Egyptian Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 27 8:30AM MST

    Holiday Village Cinemas – 1

    PARK CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST


     

Sundance 2023 review: ‘PIANOFORTE’ earns a standing ovation for director Jakub Piatek.

PIANOFORTE

Four stages. 21 straight days. Since 1927, The Chopin Competition has been held in Warsaw. Featuring the most elite piano players in the world, Sundance’s 2023 documentary film PIANOFORTE follows a small group of contestants vying for the illustrious title.

The competition does not occur annually, making it all the more exclusive. Here is how it works: Stage One: 87 participants, Stage Two: 46, Stage Three: 23, Stage Four: 12. The film bounces from the competition to our pianists’ hometowns before competing. A peek beyond the bench, we witness rehearsals, family life, and personal confessions.

Eva (17) is an unsure but internationally acclaimed phenom. She is a sponge for the technical perfection demanded by her instructor. Marcin goes from a confident swagger to an anxious mess as the rounds progress. It is devastating. Alex utilizes yoga and meditation to focus, and his calm demeanor catches you off-guard. He has a surprising swagger as the ladies flock to him throughout the film. Hao (17) is quiet and intensely focused. In Stage Three, one moment of forgetfulness could be his last. Michelle is a delight, confessing her dog is her biggest fan. She also openly talks about the fear of competition and the reality of pursuing anything but piano. Leonora is a spitfire. She beams with each breath.

An undeniably shocking level of emotional investment comes with experiencing PIANOFORTE. The amount of pressure is unimaginable. The film’s final edit is a masterpiece. Undoubtedly, the audience may suddenly find themselves unexpected piano enthusiasts.


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE
    Jan. 20 2:30PM MST

    Egyptian Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 21 2:55PM MST

    Screening Room

    SUNDANCE MOUNTAIN RESORT

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 22 3:45PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 3

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 12:00PM MST

    Redstone Cinemas – 7

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 26 6:00PM MST

    Park Avenue Theatre

    PARK CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST


    In 2021, Jakub Piatek’s feature fiction debut Prime Time premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. (Now available on Netflix in all regions.)


 

Sundance 2023 short film review: ‘AirHostess- 737’ is a delicious descent into chaos.

AIRHOSTESS-737

In AirHostess- 737, we meet Vanina, a 39-year-old flight attendant trying to hold it together. Self-conscious over her new braces, her anxiety rises as the film progresses, exacerbated by a passenger, the pilots, and strong turbulence. But there is far more on Vanina’s mind than her newfound hardware.

The choreography of the scenes is spectacular. The audience serves as pov, and Vanina speaks just over the shoulder of the camera lens the entire film. It takes your average walk-and-talk to another level as she juggles casual conversation with her duties down the aisle. Writer-director Thanasis Neofotistos and co-writer Grigoris Skarakis implement a subtle and perfectly placed visual gag in Vanina’s makeup. It is a physical manifestation of her turmoil.

As a frequent flyer, I instantly grinned at actress Lena Papaligoura‘s deadpan demonstration of safety protocols. Her performance hits every note. She is funny, manic, dedicated, and pitch-perfect.

AirHostess- 737 is a descent into the depths of unresolved trauma hidden inside a sharp comedy. I laughed, gasped, and marveled at this short film’s ability to surprise me in fifteen minutes. It is undeniably impressive work from everyone involved. Sundance 2023 audiences will love it.


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE
    Jan. 20  9:00AM MST

    Prospector Square Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 21  3:45PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 3

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 22  9:30PM MST

    Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway 8/9

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 25  12:00PM MST

    Redstone Cinemas – 7

    PARK CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24  8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST




Synopsis:
AIRHOSTESS-737 completes Filmmaker Thanasis Neofotistos’s award-winning short film trilogy
(Patision Avenue, Route-3, AirHostess-737) about a road, a journey, a route – traveling this time in a
Boeing-737 with 39-year-old flight attendant, Vanina, accompanying her mother back to her hometown
while seeking, as one does, a reconciliation which her mother appears least able to provide.


 

Sundance 2023 short film review: ‘TROY’ is a New York rite of passage with a twist.

TROY

Living in New York has its ups and downs. No matter how expensive your apartments are, the walls are always paper thin. You come to know your neighbors for better or for worse. Director Mike Donahue and writer Jen Silverman give Sundance 2023 audiences so much in their 15-minute short film TROY.

Thea and Charlie share a wall with Troy. He has very loud sex 24/7. When the moans turn to arguments and tears, Thea and Charlie’s emotional investment in their mysterious neighbor’s life takes on a life of its own.

Adina Verson, Michael Braun, and Florian Klein dazzle. Klein’s physicality speaks volumes. It could have easily wandered into a goofy territory but remained wholeheartedly sincere. Verson and Braun have a grounded chemistry that I bought instantly. I found myself in their delightful shenanigans again and again. The film also includes recognizable faces from television.

There is a visual gag with bleach that is perfection. Turning up the music and elevator run-ins become an all too familiar activity. Couples’ internet snooping is also an indulgent pastime. It’s funny because it is so relatable. In this city of over 8 million, most of us never meet. But we still protect our own with small gestures of kindness every once in a while. TROY is one of those stories you tell your friends back home during the holidays and a stellar proof of concept for an entire series of building-wide encounters.


TROY is screening in person at Sundance on January 20th, 21st, 23rd, and 25th.

Writer/director Mike Donahue is a graduate of Harvard University and the Yale School of Drama. Prior to making this, his debut film, he’s worked extensively as a theatre director in New York and Los Angeles. Just some of his extensive credits include the world premieres of Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride (MCC, The Geffen and Denver Center, Joe A. Callaway Award, Outer Critics Circle Nomination, Ovation Award Nomination); Jen Silverman’s Collective Rage (MCC, Woolly Mammoth, Drama League Nomination); The Moors (Playwrights Realm – NYC premiere; Phoebe in Winter (Clubbed Thumb); Ana Nogueira’s Which Way To The Stage (MCC); Ethan Lipton’s Red-Handed Otter (Playwrights Realm); the LA premiere of Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance (Geffen Playhouse); and Little Shop of Horrors with MJ Rodriguez, George Salazar, and Amber Riley (Pasadina Playhouse).

Starring Adina Verson and Michael Braun as Thea and Charlie, the stellar cast also features Emmy Award winner Dana Delaney (Desperate Housewives, China Beach), Emmy Award nominee Dylan Baker (The Good Wife), Billy Carter (Apple + The Crowded Room, HBO’s The Plot Against America), Kristin Villanueva (Gossip Girl), Max Jenkins (High Maintenance + Special) and Samantha Sherman (Showtime’s Billions).



Review: ‘ALICE, DARLING’ finds Anna Kendrick in a role that vibrates.

ALICE, DARLING

Anna Kendrick plays Alice, a woman at the end of her emotional and physical rope. Her toxic relationship comes to the forefront when she lies to attend a week-long vacation with her best friends. As her personality becomes increasingly manic, her secretive behaviors and stories of Simon raise red flags for those closest to her.

Simon’s psychological manipulation appears in many forms. The constant beratement, the gaslighting, the incessant need to control Alice’s appearance, her whereabouts, what she eats, and when she communicates with him.

Simultaneously frightening and punchable, Charlie Carrick plays Simon with loathsome energy. Kaniehttio Horn, as Tess, brings tough cookie energy. It’s a wonderful balance for Wunmi Mosaku playing Sophie. She arrives with a genuine mother-hen vibe. As tensions rise, Mosaku serves as a mediator and mender. These three women complement each other perfectly. It was a joy to watch such grounded performances.

Anna Kendrick is captivating as Alice. Writer Alanna Francis hands Kendrick a gift by giving the character the hair-pulling disorder, Trichotillomania. She is the physical embodiment of anxiety. Her naturally petite frame and stature lend themselves to heightened physical frailty. But it is Kendrick’s idiosyncracies that place you inside the mind of a woman consumed by terror.

The script’s structure occurs in three distinct acts. The subplot of a local missing woman presents the viewer with a myriad of emotional and narrative possibilities. The gravity of female friendship and the innate protective instincts we carry loom large. The fear women face on a day-to-day basis feels weighty in the narrative. ALICE, DARLING is a keen reclamation of power through the love and support of their fellow sisters.


 

 ALICE, DARLING will be exclusively in AMC Theatres Nationwide January 20, 2023. 
 
 
DIRECTOR: Mary Nighy
WRITER: Alanna Francis
CAST: Anna Kendrick, Kaniehtiio Horn, Charlie Carrick and Wunmi Mosaku 
SYNOPSIS:  In the taut thriller ALICE, DARLING, Oscar® nominee Anna Kendrick (Best Supporting Actress, Up in the Air, 2009) stars as a woman pushed to the breaking point by her psychologically abusive boyfriend, Simon.  While on vacation with two close girlfriends, Alice rediscovers the essence of herself and gains some much-needed perspective. Slowly, she starts to fray the cords of codependency that bind her. But Simon’s vengeance is as inevitable as it is shattering – and, once unleashed, it tests Alice’s strength, her courage, and the bonds of her deep-rooted friendships.
RATING: R
GENRE: Thriller 
RUN TIME: 90 minutes
DISTRIBUTOR: Lionsgate

Review: Ric Maddox’s directorial debut ‘THE STALKING FIELDS’ arrives on VOD today.

A group of civilians runs for their freedom when they find themselves caught in the middle of a Black Ops program designed to cure PTSD.


First-time director Ric Maddox, alongside writers Sean Crampton and Jordan Wisely, brings the story of an elite ex-Navy seal with PTSD placed in a top-secret government rehabilitation program. Using criminal civilians as bait, can our soldier in question be saved? A twist on The Most Dangerous Game (1931) meets Universal Soldier (1992), THE STALKING FIELDS is an action-packed entry into a potential new franchise.

The dialogue has a uniquely poetic perspective at times but quickly becomes contrasted by innumerable F-bombs. I say this as a person who has a sailor’s mouth, and this felt excessive. The quick-take editing has all the horror genre elements. From the lighting to the angles, it is visually intriguing. I must applaud the creativity in location design. Besides the woods, the military behind the scenes could easily take place in a cleverly lit warehouse walled off entirely with plastic sheeting. That budget must have been astronomical. I have to hand it to the CG team for some legit graphics on each monitor. They had my eyes darting from screen to screen. Bravo for the detail.

Performances are solid as hell. Angela Nordang, Adam J. Harrington, and Rachel Markarian all impress. Jake Davidson plays an eager young soldier, Jason Rawlings Jr. He brings a firey spirit, and I wanted to see more. Michael King nails the role of Price. He is naturally alpha but has ceaselessly charming energy to his delivery. He is a true standout. I think Sean Crampton needed more dialogue. I’d love to see more of his backstory in a second film. Taylor Kalupa‘s delivery is solid, as well. I invite Crampton and Wisely to explore more of her past, as well. These two need a weightier redemption. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention William Gabriel Grier’s performance. I could not take my eyes off him. There is another story worth exploring in flashbacks or a spinoff. The final moments of the script have a classic franchise set up as there is not one twist but two. Overall, THE STALKING FIELDS has all the elements you look for in an action thriller; intrigue, fight sequences, guts, and glory.


Gravitas Ventures will release THE STALKING FIELDS on digital platforms on January 17, 2023.

 

The film has a running time of 90:27 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA.

THE STALKING FIELDS was written by Sean Crampton and Jordan Wiseley and directed by first-time filmmaker and Army veteran Ric Maddox. The film stars Crampton in a breakthrough performance, as well as Taylor Kalupa, Adam J. Harrington, Rachael Markarian, Jordan Wiseley, and Richard O. Ryan.

Drawing from personal experience, both Crampton and Wisely grew up in military families and felt it was important to make a film about the ramifications of PTSD.


 

NYJFF 2023 capsule review: ‘SHTTL’ is already one of the year’s best films.

SHTTL

Written and directed by Ady Walter, SHTTL takes place in a secluded imaginary Yiddish Ukrainian village on June 21st, 1941. The audience thinks they are watching a film about small-town politics. In actuality, SHTTL highlights a real moment in history. New York Jewish Film Festival 2023 is lucky to have such an extraordinary piece of cinema to share with audiences.

Cinematographer Vladimir Ivanov captures the film in one single take. A technical wonder, SHTTL pulls a visual bait and switch made famous in The Wizard of Oz. In this instance, the use of color distinguishes the past and present. This device is emotionally consuming and undeniably dazzling.

This enormous cast gives us some of the most gut-wrenching performances of the year. Keep in my the film is entirely in Yiddish. Do not let this scare you aware! Star Moshe Lobel starred in the critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway Yiddish version of “Fiddler On The Roof.” As Mendele, Lobel carries you in his pocket in this captivating tale of religious ideology, family, love, and loss. Boasting an ending that will have your heart in your throat, SHTTL is a gem. It is a film that deserves a viewing on the loftiest screen available. This film left me breathless.


SHTTL
Ady Walter
Ukraine/France, 2022, 114 min.
Yiddish and Ukrainian with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere

Monday, January 16, 5:30pm
Tuesday, January 17, 1pm


NYJFF 2023

THE 32nd ANNUAL 
NEW YORK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL,
 PRESENTED 
JANUARY 12-23, 2023


 

ID original series review: ‘THE PRICE OF GLEE’ – Crew and friends talk behind-the-scenes drama and tragedies surrounding one of the most iconic shows in television history

 

THE PRICE OF GLEE

GLEE premiered the week of my 30th birthday. I was a musical theatre nerd in high school who graduated from a Manhattan conservatory that has churned out Tony winners and Oscar nominees. Watching GLEE made me feel seen for the first time through the storylines of these young adults. The attachment was real, and the show became a cultural turning point for millions. Because of that emotional investment, the drama surrounding the show still affects so many. Nothing is off the table in the salacious ID (Investigation Discovery) docuseries THE PRICE OF GLEE.

As a self-professed Gleek, the series contains so much information I didn’t know. Safety issues, money, and around-the-clock nonstop work, from the mouths of friends, crew members, and entertainment reporters, The Price of Glee pulls the curtain back on all the behind-the-scenes drama and addresses the all too familiar internet rumor that the show may be cursed. Episode one concludes with Cory Monteith’s death and ends on a cliffhanger. Episode two picks right back up where we left off, focusing mainly on the aftermath of Monteith’s passing. Delving into Mark Salling’s child pornography conviction and subsequent suicide, this episode melds into the third with Naya Rivera‘s father speaking about her tragic death.

Transitions between conversations feature video clips and cast photos. My main gripe with episodes two and three is the repetition of said images. A show that spanned six seasons deserved fresh photos. It was a glaring amateur mistake. Is THE PRICE OF GLEE a touch like an E! True Hollywood Story? Very much so, but as a fan, I was endlessly intrigued, hoping for any new information. While the cast has come forward to say they were not involved, hearing crew members that genuinely cared for them and with (mostly) kind words, their insight is vital to understanding the immense pressure this phenomenon created.

courtesy of ID


All three parts of THE PRICE OF GLEE premiere back-to-back Monday, January 16 starting at 9/8c on ID and will be available to stream the same day on discovery+


Synopsis: The cultural phenomenon and hit musical series, “Glee,” catapulted a cast of relative unknowns into international superstardom and literally rocked pop culture. But, the show that sparked a new era of acceptance was also saddled with extreme devastation on the inside. Endless scandals, tabloid gossip, and fatal tragedies plagued the rising stars on what was supposed to be the most joyful show on television. Now, ID pulls back the curtain on “Glee” to explore the harsh reality of fame with the three-part limited series, THE PRICE OF GLEE.

 

Review: ‘BEAUTIFUL BEINGS,’ Iceland’s submission for THE 95TH ACADEMY AWARDS®, opens TODAY in New York and Los Angeles next week from Altered Innocence

BEAUTIFUL BEINGS 

A perpetually bullied young teen named Balli gets invited into a circle of aggressive classmates by Addi, a boy whose mother is a clairvoyant. BEAUTIFUL BEINGS is an enigma befitting The Academy’s attention. Initially, the film tackles familial dysfunction and violence. Midway, the narrative adds the supernatural element in earnest, changing the film in ways that gave me goosebumps.

Beautiful Beings

As we witness Balli’s emotional torture and beatings, Addi grows a conscience by entering Balli’s debris-ridden home. The boys have more in common than at first glance. Siggi and Konni complete this group of boys known for starting fights. Addi’s narration adds depth as he explains each boy’s tumultuous home life. The cyclical nature of violence is front and center. BEAUTIFUL BEINGS is often intense and grueling to watch. But the performances captivate so thoroughly the audience pushes on. Once Addi begins to feel the power his mother passed onto him, the story takes another visually stunning turn.

The exploration of toxic masculinity is countered with the study of male friendships. The emotional highs and lows swing wildly during the two-hour runtime. The film appears to take place in the early aughts. I assume this is key in including the term “retarded,” which echoes nearly a dozen times. As a mother of a child on the spectrum, I cringed each time I heard it. That is my only complaint with BEAUTIFUL BEINGS. As a whole, this film is unique, fearless, and crucial viewing.


Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson’s Crushing and Surreal, Multi-Award-Winning Coming-Of-Age Drama — Opens 1/13 at Quad Cinema in NYC & 1/20 at Laemmle Glendale in L.A.

Original title: Berdreymi
Starring: Birgir Dagur Bjarkason, Áskell Einar Pálmason, Viktor Benóný Benediktsson, Snorri Rafn Frímannsson, Aníta Briem, Ísgerður Gunnarsdóttir, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson
Written and Directed by: Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson
Produced by: Anton Máni Svansson
Specs: 2022 / 123 Minutes / In Icelandic w/English Subtitles / DCP / 1.85:1


World Premiere: Berlin International Film Festival – Panorama 2022 — Europa Cinemas Label Winner 
Off Camera International Festival of Independent Cinema — FIPRESCI Jury Award Winner
Taipei Film Festival — International New Talent Competition – Special Jury Prize Winner
Thessaloniki Film Festival — Open Horizons Audience Award Winner 
Stockholm Film Festival — Best Screenplay Winner


ABOUT ALTERED INNOCENCE
 
Altered Innocence was founded in 2015 with a focus on bringing international and cutting-edge LGBTQ and Coming-of-Age cinema to North American audiences. Notable releases have included the Cannes Competition film KNIFE+HEART and the U.S. premiere of Spain’s previously unreleased cult title ARREBATO (RAPTURE).


 

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: Steve Balderson’s ‘Alchemy of the Spirit’ is a crossroads of grief and art

Artist Oliver Black (Xander Berkeley) wakes to discover his wife Evelyn (Sarah Clarke) has died in their bed overnight. Brimming with magical realism, we enter a world in which the misconceptions of our belief in a solid reality are revealed. Space and time bend in a way to challenge the audience with what is real, what is illusion, and what is beyond…
This peaceful and hypnotic quiet is interrupted by the outside world and the threat of everyday, common reality, thanks to Oliver’s art dealer (Mink Stole).

Steve Balderson‘s films are rather distinctive. Their lush visual impact sticks in your brain. His newest film, Alchemy of the Spirit, is no exception. Possessing a dreamy, even otherworldly look, Balderson makes the mundane glow. The quiet becomes claustrophobic. As the film begins, the sound editing alongside the score creates an unsettling feeling. The audience resides inside the manic mind of a grieving man. At 23 mins and 10 seconds into the film, we get a shot that elicits every emotion tied to this film. The symmetry, artistic and of two souls as one, is breathtaking. You will not miss it. There is a Picasso-esque madness to it. Balderson thought about its impact as it is the current key art for the film. Very smart. That sense of panic eases once introduced to a languid score of Debussy, Bach, and other classical beauty. While the darkness lies just under the surface, the screenplay’s nuances extend beyond what I expected from the first third of the film.

Sarah Clarke, as Evelyn, is chilling and beautiful. Her voice, combined with soul-piercing imagery, is haunting. The grounded chemistry between Clarke and Xander Berkeley plays with a familiarity of real-life lovers, which makes sense as the two actors have been married since 2002. Berkeley, who I recently lauded in The Dark and The Wicked, is similarly spectacular here. He’s an actor that can capture emotion with a glance. Balderson’s screenplay allows him to live in grief in an extraordinarily imaginative way. It’s a stunning performance. Not only that, but the actual art in the film is Berkeley’s. It will wow you.

The idea of “the proper way to grieve” is front and center. How do we honor the dead? How do we mark the life we have? Oliver creates a literal death mask both as a means to stop time and keep Evelyn’s spirit alive. We get to explore the meaning of life through memory. The film easily could have been a stage play. It is dripping with theatricality. Alchemy of the Spirit is a genre-bending ode to art and romance. It’s a visual love poem.


Steve Balderson’s Gothic Love Story Alchemy of the Spirit

Streaming Now on Amazon Prime Video

Soon to Debut on All Major VOD Platforms

 
Alchemy of the Spirit: 91 minutes / United States / English

Review: One of the year’s best docs, Amazon Original ‘GOOD NIGHT OPPY’ is for every dreamer.

GOOD NIGHT OPPY

There is never a dull moment in the film. We barrel ahead with construction, testing, crunching numbers, and racing the clock because the planets literally have to align for the mission to succeed. The NASA scientists and engineers that built Spirit and Oppy speak about the emotional investment, comparing it to creating a human child. Years of work, passion, and inspiration were essentially alive in the form of two identical robots. Their survival depends on the weather, human ingenuity, and sheer luck.

The 6-month journey from Earth to Mars captured the most intense solar flares ever experienced in all space exploration, forcing the team to reboot both rovers. Angela Bassett’s voice gently narrates Spirit and Opportunity’s actions. The CGI simulations of Spirit and Opportunity are breathtaking. I’ve never seen anything like them. The footage from inside the labs and control room, combined with the tense sci-fi-inspired score, keep you on the edge of your seat. You find yourself cheering, holding your breath, tearing up, and singing along to the mission-curated soundtrack.

If the mystery of space intrigues you, if you’ve ever looked up at the night sky and wondered if we were alone in the universe, GOOD NIGHT OPPY is a film tailor-made for your imagination. It’s a shame The Academy overlooked such a crowd-pleaser. If there ever was a more appropriate “To infinity and beyond” moment in documentary filmmaking, I sure as hell can’t think of one.


GOOD NIGHT OPPY is now streaming on Prime Video