10 Films to Look Forward to at SXSW

Bait

Spanning film, interactive media, tech conferences and musical performances, there is a lot to take in at South by Southwest, probably the most important festival to come out of Austin, Texas. As we are a TV and Film website, we are most interested in the films, which will play between March 13th and 22nd.  It’s a good festival to have on your radar, with critical hits in 2019 including Booksmart, The Beach Bum, Mickey and the Bear and For Sama, the last of which was nominated for an Oscar this year. If you are attending the festival or simply interested in keeping an eye out on what will play there, read our list of ten essential films for you to keep on your radar.  From festival favourites that have already played in Berlin and Sundance to World Premieres, this collection of ten films are the ones we believe will make the biggest impact and help set the tone for the rest of the year to come. Think we missed anything important? Please let us know your suggestions in the comments below!

Bait

Section: Special Events

The proud recipient of best debut film at the BAFTAs, Mark Jenkins’ Bait is the little film that could. Shot on 16mm, hand-processed film, this black-and-white British movie is a moving exploration of gentrification in a small fishing village in Cornwall that doubles up as one of the best films to come out of the United Kingdom in recent years. Already a modest financial success in the UK, it will be making its North American debut here.

One of These Days

Section: Narrative Spotlight

After playing at the Berlinale (which we have previewed here) Bastian Günther’s One Of These Days — a German director’s take on the absurdity of American life — will be coming home to Texas, where the film is set. Semi-based on true events, it tells the story of a competition whereby the contestant who can lay their hand on a truck the longest wins, promising to be an interesting exploration of the difficulty of achieving the American dream.

The Outpost

Section: Narrative Spotlight

An adaptation of CNN’s Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper’s The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, The Outpost tells the true story of a group of 53 U.S. soldiers attacked at an outpost by nearly 400 Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan. With Rod Lurie, known for Line of Fire, Straw Dogs and Nothing but the Truth directing, The Outpost stars Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones and Orlando Bloom. We’re getting real Black Hawk Down-vibes off this one.

The Quarry

Section: Narrative Spotlight

Michael Shannon, missing from the conversation last year, is back as a hardened local police chief in The Quarry. Based on the novel by Damon Galgut, he clashes with a minister (played by Shea Wigham) who sets up a new congregation at a ruined church in rural Texas. With his motives shrouded in mystery, deadly things are likely to happen once the truth comes to light.

Uncorked

Section: Narrative Spotlight

Prentice Penny, a writer, producer and director on the hit HBO show Insecure, helms Uncorked, a story of a young Memphis man with dreams of becoming a sommelier. This is much to the consternation of his father, who had dreams of his son taking over the family business. Considering the quiet profundity of many Insecure episodes, which keenly tackle modern-day African-American issues, Uncorked is previewing to high hopes.

The Climb

Section: Festival Favorites

Already billed as one of the best films of 2020 thanks to a rapturous reception at Sundance, The Climb is a story of two friends who fall out when one of them sleeps with the other’s fiancé. With critics praising both the observational comedy of the screenplay as well as the camerawork and blocking, it seems to be that rare comedy that can be both aesthetically pleasing and emotionally moving. A good reception at SXSW could make it into a bonafide hit.

The Boy Who Sold the World

Section: Documentary Feature Competition

This is a unique documentary detailing the story of a young fifteen year old who upon creating a viral game app in Australia, gathers enough money to build a new tech startup. This film tells his side of the legend as he moves to New York by himself to realise his dream, only to be plagued with scandals. The film promises to be an illuminating look at the tech industry as seen through the perspective of one of its youngest innovators, asking key questions about the ethics of that world in the process.

We Don’t Deserve Dogs

Section: Documentary Feature Competition

Is mankind actually worthy of the love dogs give them? This is the key question asked in the wide-spanning documentary We Don’t Deserve Dogs, which seems to be just a series of dog portraits from Uganda to Scotland to Istanbul. Sometimes the simplest of concepts can make for the strongest of documentaries, so here’s hoping We Don’t Deserve Dogs does something magical with its premise.

Miss Juneteenth

Section: Festival Favourites

Another breakout hit at Sundance, Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth has been praised for the way it captures the way life flows in a small Texas town. Nicole Beharie plays Turquoise Jones, a former winner of the Miss Juneteenth prize — which is named after a commemoration of the day slaves were freed in Texas — determined to make sure her daughter also wins the prize, thus ensuring she doesn’t end up living the same life she did after she became unexpectedly pregnant.

Nine Days

Section: Festival Favorites

Winston Duke had a great supporting role in last year’s Us. Here’s hoping he can break out even further in science-fiction film Nine Days, in which he plays a man in charge of deciding which souls can be reincarnated on earth. An interesting American take on films such as Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s After Life, critics have responded to it rapturously since its Sundance premiere, calling it as emotionally moving as it is slyly profound. 


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