SWSX 2023 has something for everyone, from franchise horror expansion to the hotly anticipated premiere of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. But we’re here to share some of the films on our radar this year.
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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)
Speaking as someone existing in a neurodivergent family unit, this one will hit hard for anyone battling invisible disabilities.
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)
Femme-centric horror from Paris Zarcilla explores assimilation, trauma, and horror.
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)
As if women didn’t have enough to fear, AI porn enters the arena. This mind-bending and infuriating doc shocks over and over.
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)
Hold on, I know that art! This charming and insightful doc will introduce you to Geoff McFetridge, an artist we all know, but don’t know we know. Ya know?
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, Kendal Rae, Luis Chavez, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Manuel Uriza, Chris Mulkey (World Premiere)
Get ready for chills and politics to collide. You’re not ready.
Director: Rosemary Rodriguez, Producer: Karina Miller, Screenwriter: Knate Lee
A young Belizean girl, Maria, finds herself mysteriously pregnant and trying to cross the US/MEX border while outrunning a deadly virus, the Cartels, Border Patrol, and the right-hand man of the Devil. This genre-bending retelling of the Mary and Joseph story begs the question – who are the real monsters? Cast: Natalia del Riego, Benny Emmanuel, and Jack Huston with Angela Sarafyan (World Premiere)
As a former Catholic school kid and a lover of genre-defying fare, Hail Mary is 100% on my list. The meer idea that this will work brings my eyeballs to the screen.
Only The Good Survive
Director/Screenwriter: Dutch Southern, Producers: Thomas Mahoney, Justin X Duprie
While unwittingly doing crimes in Texas, Brea Dunlee stumbles upon a QAnon-like cabal that preys on the poor and the powerless. Through a series of interrogations led by a gaslighting sheriff named Cole Mack, we discover not everything is as it seems.
Cast: Sidney Flanigan, Frederick Weller, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Will Ropp, Darius Fraser, Lachlan Watson, Jon Gries, Patrick Grover (World Premiere)
Quirky, colorful, and confusing, this ping-pong, time-hopping delight is pure delightful mayhem.
Directors: Henry Loevner, Steven Kanter, Producers: Lovell Holder, Patrick Ward, Henry Loevner, Steven Kanter, Screenwriter: Henry Loevner
An emotionally adrift young woman forges an unexpected friendship with a wilderness guide when she and her fiancé take a summer trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Cast: Claudia Restrepo, Derrick DeBlasis, Ben Coleman, Fred Melamed, Stephanie Courtney, Will Neff, Caroline Kwan, Ron Hanks, Gadiel Del Orbe, Natasha Dewhurst (World Premiere)
Look out for this authentic, easy breezy dramedy that is like an emotional warm hug.
Art for Everybody
Director: Miranda Yousef, Producers: Morgan Neville, Tim Rummel
Thomas Kinkade’s pastoral landscapes made him the most collected and despised painter of all time. After his shocking death, his family discovers a vault of unseen paintings that reveal a complex artist whose life and work embody our divided America. (World Premiere)
You could not escape his art in the late 90s. His “lit from the inside” painting of countryside cottages and mass marketable art held America captive. I almost bought one in a mall gallery at 20 years old. They were that enchanting.
Satan Wants You
Directors/Screenwriters: Sean Horlor, Steve J. Adams, Producers: Michael Grand, Melissa James
The shocking story of how a young woman and her psychiatrist ignited the global Satanic Panic with their bestselling memoir Michelle Remembers. (World Premiere)
One book twisted the narrative of a nation. It would start an avalanche of conspiracy theories that continues to run rampant in crazy circles today.
Who I Am Not (Romania, Canada)
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)
Timely and important. That’s all you need to know.
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)
Just because I know Ted Geoghegan to be one of the kindest and coolest gents in the biz doesn’t mean I have to mention his newest and perhaps most personal project yet. His work and the company he keeps (he is also producing Molli and Max screening at the fest this year), speak for themselves. I mean, how cool does this still look?! Shudder was smart enough to snap this up ages ago.
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)
The history of deceptive podcasting has changed the lives of suspects and the far right in recent years. This one deserves your full attention.
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: Matt 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 Dalla Villa, Michael Sirow, Denise Burse, Jill Larson, Kate Siegel (World Premiere)
Firstly, Lulu Wilson is a phenom in my book. A follow-up to the 2020 film BECKY, I cannot wait to see this girl kick ass and not give a shit about names.
The Artifice Girl
Director/Screenwriter: Franklin Ritch, Producers: Aaron B. Koontz, Ashleigh Snead
Three special agents develop a bold new computer program to catch online predators, but its rapid advancement poses unexpected challenges.
Cast: Tatum Matthews, Sinda Nichols, David Girard, Franklin Ritch, Lance Henriksen (U.S. Premiere)
We could not escape the buzz that this film has been generating on the festival scene. It’s about time we join the crowd.
Molli And Max In The Future
Director/Screenwriter: Michael Lukk Litwak, Producers: Candice Kuwahara, Ben J. Murphy, Mallory Schwartz, Kate Geller, Michael Lukk Litwak
Molli and Max In The Future is a Sci-Fi Romantic Comedy about a man and woman whose orbits repeatedly collide over the course of 12 years, 4 planets, 3 dimensions, and one space-cult.
Cast: Zosia Mamet, Aristotle Athari, Danny Burstein, Arturo Castro, Okieriete Onaodowan, Erin Darke, Grace Kuhlenschmidt, Michael Chernus, Aparna Nancherla, Matteo Lane (World Premiere)
After following the cast and crew of this film along the way, Molli and Max feels like a festival darling from the start.
With Love and a Major Organ
Director: Kim Albright, Producer: Madeleine Davis, Screenwriter: Julia Lederer
In an alternate world where hearts are made of objects and suppressing emotions is self-care, a lonely woman rips out her own heart for the man she loves, only to discover that he has run away with it.
Cast: Anna Maguire, Hamza Haq, Veena Sood, Donna Benedicto, Lynda Boyd, Arghavan Jenati, Enid-Raye Adams, Ryan Beil, Laara Sadiq (World Premiere)
The concept alone makes me want to run to the theater.
My Drywall Cocoon
Director/Screenwriter: Caroline Fioratti, Producers: Rui Pires, André Montenegro
Virginia’s death during her 17th birthday shakes up a luxurious building complex. For most residents, it’s a passing tragedy. For her mother and her friends, it is the beginning of a transformation: the crack in their drywall cocoon.
Cast: Maria Luisa Mendonça, Bella Piero, Michel Joelsas, Mari Oliveira, Daniel Botelho, Caco Ciocler (World Premiere)
The only Brazillian film in the fest this year, this intricately written film will surprise again and again.
Is There Anybody Out There?
Director: Ella Glendining, Producer: Janine Marmot
Inhabiting a bizarrely unusual body (the body I love), and navigating daily discrimination, I search the world for another like me. Is there anybody out there? (Texas Premiere)
Check out our previous coverage of Ella Glendining’s unfiltered look at self-acceptance and judgment. It will live in my family’s heart forever.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster
Director/Screenwriter: Bomani J. Story, Producers: Jack Davis, Darren Brandl, Bomani J. Story
Death is ever present in Vicaria’s world – violence, police brutality, substance abuse – and after watching her mother and brother succumb, she’s had enough. Vicaria is going to put an end to all this death… by bringing the dead back to life.
Cast: Laya DeLeon Hayes, Denzel Whitaker, Chad Coleman, Reilly Brooke Stith, Keith Sean Holliday, Amani Summer Boyles, Edem Atsu-Swanzy (World Premiere)
Writer-director Bomani J. Story takes on the complexities of survival and oppression with a femme-centric modern take on Frankenstein. Yes, please, and thank you.
Fuck Me, Richard (Australia, U.S.)
Directors: Lucy McKendrick, Charlie 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)
As someone who “survived” a 5+ year long distance relationship, this one is a yes.
Directors: Fidel Ruiz-Healy, Tyler Walker, Screenwriters: Fidel Ruiz-Healy, Tyler Walker, Jordan Michael Blake, Conor Murphy, Producers: Raven Jensen, 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)
Horror shorts for the win, ladies, and germs. Give me a new badass final girl every day of the week.