SXSW21: What we’re excited to dive into at this year’s virtual fest.

SXSW21 is virtual, allowing it to reach a wider audience. Screenings begin Tuesday and we’re already salivating at the lineup. Here are just a few films we’re excited to watch.


NARRATIVE:

RECOVERY

Directors: Mallory Everton, Stephen Meek, Screenwriters: Whitney Call, Mallory Everton, Producers: Scott Christopherson, Stephen Meek, Abi Nielson Hunsaker
Two directionless sisters brave a cross-country road trip to rescue their grandmother from a COVID outbreak at her nursing home. Cast List: Whitney Call, Mallory Everton, Anne Sward Hansen, Julia Jolley, Baylee Thornock, Jessica Drolet, Stephen Meek, Tyler Andrew Jones, Noah Kershisnik, Justin Call (World Premiere)

It’s officially been a year since we locked ourselves in our homes. If anyone can make pandemic humor relatable, it’s Whitney Call and Mallory Everton with their improv and sketch comedy background. Also, the fact that they’ve known each other forever, I’m guessing that will only help make this the most believable chemistry between co-stars. 

WITCH HUNT

Director/Screenwriter: Elle Callahan, Producers: Eric B. Fleischman, Maurice Fadida
In a modern America where witches are real and witchcraft is illegal, a sheltered teenager must face her own demons and prejudices as she helps two young witches avoid law enforcement and cross the southern border to asylum in Mexico. Cast List: Gideon Adlon, Elizabeth Mitchell, Abigail Cowen, Nicholas and Cameron Crovetti, Christian Camargo (World Premiere)

I know women who practice witchcraft. To think their wellbeing could ever be put in jeopardy is a terrifying thought. Originally slated to screen at SXSW2020, it’s time to share this film with the masses. The synopsis alone gets the gears turning on possible political parallels from the past few years.

PAUL DOOD’s DEADLY LUNCH BREAK

Director: Nick Gillespie, Screenwriters: Brook Driver, Matt White, Nick Gillespie, Producer: Finn Bruce
When Paul’s chances of winning a national talent contest are ruined and his dreams of fame are slashed, he plans a deathly revenge rampage!! 1 lunch break, 5 spectacular murders! Each wrongdoer dispatched in a fitting manner by the sparkly suited Paul! Cast List: Tom Meeten, Katherine Parkinson, Kris Marshall, Alice Lowe, Mandeep Dhillon, Johnny Vegas, Steve Oram, Craig Parkinson, Kevin Bishop, Pippa Haywood (World Premiere)

Here is another cast list that grabbed my attention right away. Plus sequins and murder aren’t usually synonymous. British humor gets me every single time.

JAKOB’S WIFE

Director: Travis Stevens, Screenwriters: Travis Stevens, Kathy Charles, Mark Steensland, Producers: Barbara Crampton, Bob Portal, Travis Stevens, Inderpal Singh
The disappearance of a young woman threatens to change the beige and banal lives of Anne Fedder (Barbara Crampton) and her pastor husband Jakob Fedder (Larry Fessenden) forever. Cast List: Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, Bonnie Aarons, Mark Kelly, Sarah Lind, Robert Rusler, Nyisha Bell, Phil Brooks (World Premiere)

Travis Stevens gave me one of the most gagworthy practical FX-filled films in 2019 with GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR. Starring genre queen (and Timelord in my own mind) Barbara Crampton and the legendary Larry Fessenden, the buzz around this newest work is electric. Crampton’s uncanny ability to own the screen with a glance will undoubtedly captivate audiences, yet again. Also, knowing that Stevens is a huge horror fan himself (his producer credits give him away as does his totally down-to-earth Twitter feed) gives me the warm and fuzzies knowing that he’ll take care of audiences in all the ways we need.


DOCUMENTARY:

LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD

Director: Jeremy Workman, Producers: Jeremy Workman, Robert J. Lyons
Lily Topples The World follows 20-year-old Lily Hevesh — the world’s most acclaimed domino toppler and the only woman in her field — in a coming-of-age story of artistry, passion, and unlikely triumph. Executive produced by Kelly Marie Tran. (World Premiere)

My kids (and I) have become obsessed with toppling videos on YouTube. Once you go down that rabbit hole, you’re not coming out. The sheer patience it must take to build these feats is something I cannot even fathom. Knowing that this entire doc centers on a young woman at the top of her game encourages me to watch with my kids. I have a feeling SXSW audiences may do the same.

THE LOST SONS

Director: Ursula Macfarlane, Producer: Gagan Rehill
1960s Chicago, a baby is kidnapped from a hospital. Fifteen months later, a toddler is abandoned. Could he be the same baby? In a tale of breathtaking twists and turns, two mysteries begin to unravel and dark family secrets are revealed. (World Premiere)

This is a story I was slightly familiar with from its 20/20 broadcast. Since we’re all true crime junkies now, The Lost Sons should garner a sold-out audience.


SHORT FILMS:

THE THING THAT ATE THE BIRDS

Directors/Screenwriters: Sophie Mair, Dan Gitsham
On the North Yorkshire Moors, Abel, Head Gamekeeper, discovers the thing that is eating his grouse. (North American Premiere)

Gunpowder & Sky’s horror brand, ALTER will be premiering the horror short film by writer and director duo Sophie Mair (Ella, And the Baby Screamed) and Dan Gitsham (Ella, And the Baby Screamed), The Thing That  Ate The Birds. They had me at the title. Since horror is my jam, and the name alone instills a sense of fear and anxiety, I have to know what “The Thing” is!

NUEVO RICO

Director: Kristian Mercado, Screenwriters: Kristian Mercado, Juan Arroyo
A brother and sister stumble upon a celestial secret that changes their lives forever and propels them into Reggaetón stardom, but they soon discover that their newfound fame comes at a deep price. (World Premiere)

Animation with edgy social commentary will catch my attention every time. Filmmaker Kristian Mercado Figueroa is known for this skill. With the voice talents of Orange Is The New Black alum Jackie Cruz, this one caught my eye from its press still alone.

STUFFED

Director: Theo Rhys, Screenwriters: Theo Rhys, Joss Holden-Rea
Stuffed is a short musical about a taxidermist who dreams of stuffing a human and the man she meets online, so afraid of aging he volunteers to be her specimen. An unexpected romantic spark between them complicates their plans. (North American Premiere)

You had me at the categories Horror and Musical. Since Sweeney Todd, Repo: The Genetic Opera, and Anna and the Apocalypse, I’ve been dying for more genre musical goodness. STUFFED may just fill that void even in short form.

MARVIN’S NEVER HAD COFFEE BEFORE

Director: Andrew Carter, Screenwriters: Andrew Carter, Kahlil Maskati
Marvin Wexler tries coffee for the first time and desperately tries to talk about it with anyone who will listen.

I grew up a tea drinker. I loathed just the idea of coffee until I was in my 30’s. Now I have 10 bags in different flavors and roasts and an obnoxious coffee maker in my apartment. I remember the joy of discovering this drink that fuels my days and some of my nights as a writer and a Mom.


You can find the full lineup of events and grab yourself tickets at

SXSW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RED NOSE DAY USA is today! Live on NBC tonight at 8/7c

Red Nose Day, the U.K.’s #1 television fundraising event, is coming to America in a spectacular live star-studded special Thursday, May 21 (8-11 p.m. ET) on NBC.

redNoseDay_marketingBand_learnMore_1080x350Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Julia Roberts, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jodie Foster and more, are coming together to have fun, raise money and change lives in an incredible “fun-raising” special. Featuring great comedy, videos produced by Funny Or Die, incredible music performances and Hollywood’s favorite stars, the benefit event will help 12 charity organizations lift children and young people out of poverty, in the U.S. and throughout the world.

RND_Tonight_350x467_v1Julianne Moore, Jack Black, Coldplay and Neil Patrick Harris will also appear, along with John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Michelle Rodriguez, Gwyneth Paltrow and music sensations John Legend and “Voice” coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera and Pharrell Williams. Sienna Miller, Paul Rudd, Olivia Wilde, Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Leslie Mann, January Jones and Simon Cowell will also be joining the fun, as well as Matt Lauer, Carson Daly, Nick Offerman, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Pine, Jeff Goldblum, Billy Eichner, Martin Short, Laura Linney, Anna Kendrick, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, John Michael Higgins, Bill and Melinda Gates, Stephen Merchant, Naomi Campbell, Anna Camp, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Yvette Nicole Brown, Retta, Natalie Morales, Danny Pudi and Rob Huebel.

In addition, the star-studded event for charity will feature “Game of Thrones” cast members Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage, Iwan Rheon, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Mark Addy, John Bradley, Rose Leslie, Alfie Allen and Charlotte Hope.  “Orange is the New Black” cast Dascha Polanco, Samira Wiley, Yael Stone, Selenis Leyva, Lea DeLaria, Adrienne C. Moore and Jackie Cruz will also be part of the charity special.

Nick CanonDancathonNick Cannon will kick off the festivities for NBC’s broadcast of “Red Nose Day” with “Red Nose Day Danceathon with Nick Cannon,” streaming live on NBC.com beginning Wednesday, May 20. “America’s Got Talent” host Nick Cannon will attempt to dance non-stop for 24 hours in honor of the inaugural Red Nose Day celebration in the United States, leading into the “Red Nose Day” telecast on Thursday, May 21. Streamed live from the NBC Experience Store at Rockefeller Center in New York City, the day of dance will be filled with guest DJs and musicians, celebrity drop-ins, and a variety of dance acts and troupes. Viewers can support Cannon’s endeavor through sponsorship and donation.

DonateThe money raised during Red Nose Day will be used to fund programs that address the immediate needs of children and young people living in poverty in the U.S. and internationally in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The money will be split between domestic and international poverty issues. The pre-selected charity partners are Boys & Girls Clubs of America; charity: water; Children’s Health Fund; Feeding America; Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund; LIFT; National Council of La Raza; National Urban League; Oxfam America; Save the Children and United Way.

In the U.K., Red Nose Day has been a tradition for 30 years and is an inspiring cultural phenomenon that unites people from all walks of life in the interest of saving and changing lives across the globe. With superstar presenters and comedians, original sketch comedy, hilarious film parodies and amazing musical performances, Red Nose Day has been one of the BBC’s highest-rated Friday night shows for many years and raised more than $1 billion in donations so far for organizations addressing poverty.

Created in 1985 by Oscar nominee and Emmy Award-winning writer-director-producer Richard Curtis (“Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Bridget Jones Diary,” “Notting Hill”), Red Nose Day was built upon the foundation that mass media and celebrities can help raise money and increase awareness of poverty in order to save and change millions of lives.

Curtis is an executive producer for the NBC telecast (a Universal Television production), along with Hamish Hamilton and Ian Stewart of Done + Dusted Productions. Henrietta Conrad and Lily Sobhani will also serve as executive producers, as will Mike Farah, Anna Wenger and Joe Farrell from Funny Or Die. Hamilton is set to direct.