By Sean Boelman
On February 10, 2021, the SXSW Film Festival announced the remainder of the lineup for its 2021 online edition. Last month, highlights from the program were announced including opening night headliner Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil and other exciting selections including Violet and Jakob’s Wife.
The Headliners section this year is focused entirely on music documentaries. In addition to the aforementioned Demi Lovato documentary, the festival will also feature Alone Together, a documentary about popstar Charli XCX, and Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free, about the legendary rocker.
The eight films in the narrative feature competition include Here Before, I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking), Islands, Our Father, Potato Dreams of America, The End of Us, The Fallout, and Women is Losers. Of the bunch, Stacey Gregg’s psychological thriller Here Before sounds most intriguing and stars Andrea Riseborough.
The documentary feature competition includes Introducing, Selma Blair, Kid Candidate, Lily Topples the World, Not Going Quietly, The Oxy Kingpins, The Return: Life After ISIS, Subjects of Desire, and United States vs. Reality Winner. The Kelly Marie Tran-produced Lily Topples the World sounds like an uplifting treat.
In the Narrative Spotlight section are The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson, The Fabulous Filipino Brothers, Language Lessons, Ludi, Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break, Recovery (previously announced), See You Then, and Swan Song. Written by and starring Mark Duplass, Language Lessons will be one of the hotter tickets of this year’s festival, and the Udo Kier vehicle Swan Song sounds absolutely wonderful.
The Documentary Spotlight section features Alien on Stage, Fruits of Labor, The Hunt for Planet B (previously announced), Hysterical (previously announced), The Lost Sons, Mau, Spring Valley, WeWork: or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn, When Claude Got Shot, and Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America. We find ourselves most intrigued by Alien on Stage.
The Midnighters section includes Broadcast Signal Intrusion, The Feast, Gaia, Jakob’s Wife (previously announced), Offseason, Sound of Violence, The Spine of Night, and Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror. Although asking us to pick a most anticipated of this section is hard, we’re very excited for the star-studded adult animated film The Spine of Night.
This year’s Festival Favorites selections are Dear Mr. Brody, How It Ends, In the Same Breath, Ma Belle, Ma Beauty, R#J, and Violation. We’ve seen Violation, How It Ends, and In the Same Breath, and highly recommend the third, although the first two will also find their audience at the festival.
In the Visions section are Ayar, Delia Derbyshire - The Myths and the Legendary Tapes, Inbetween Girl, Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of the San Jose, and Twyla Moves. Music movie section 24 Beats Per Second will screen Disintegration Loops, I Went to the Dance, Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché (previously announced), Soy Cubana, and Under the Volcano. Global selections include Bantú Mama, Fucking with Nobody, Luchadoras (previously announced), Ninjababy, and Trapped. Although we know less about these films, Disintegration Loops and Ninjababy sound intriguing.
And featuring some of the films that were supposed to screen in the cancelled 2020 edition, the 2020 Spotlight includes Best Summer Ever, Chad, Clerk, Executive Order, Violet (previously announced), We Are as Gods, We Are the Thousand, Witch Hunt, and Without Getting Killed or Caught. Best Summer Ever and Clerk both screened for press last year and get a recommendation from us.
Also announced were the episodic premieres and competition, special events, and short programs. Although this year’s festival is going to look different under the circumstances, it is still going to be a wonderful celebration of film, and we can’t wait to see some of this year’s offerings.
The 2021 edition of SXSW runs online from March 16-20, 2021.
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The Snake Hole
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