The 2021 SXSW Film Festival has revealed its full line up for its 28th edition for SXSW Online, running March 16th-20th, 2021. The previously announced Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, a hard-hitting documentary covering the personal and professional life of the pop star, including her fatal near-overdose, will serve as the festival’s opener, whilst fellow musician Charli XCX will premiere her doco Alone Together, which focuses on her process of making an album during quarantine, as the Closing Night film.
Diving into the 2021 Film Festival program by the numbers, SXSW audiences will be able to experience 75 features including 57 World Premieres, 3 International Premieres, 4 North American Premieres, 1 U.S. Premiere, 8 Texas Premieres, and 53 films from first-time filmmakers. Plus, 84 Short Films including Music Videos, 5 Episodic Premieres, 6 Episodic Pilots, 20 Virtual Cinema projects, 14 Title Design entries, and 30 Special Events – an estimated 80 bags worth of popcorn or 20 bowls of queso.
“It’s been a year unlike any we’ve experienced, first marked by the cancellation of SXSW 2020,” said Janet Pierson, Director of Film. “We feel privileged to have been able to pivot to SXSW Online and present a fantastic treasure trove of programming, including a pared down and wonderful selection of films that we know will delight, entertain, and move our attendees. SXSW Online will bring attendees a multifaceted event that speaks to so many areas of creativity in one five-day experience that everyone can access on their laptops, phones, and TVs. While we won’t have the wonderful in-person SXSW that we know and love, we can gather together to be inspired by the work.”
Other high-profile features premiering throughout the festival include Here Before, a psychological thriller starring Andrea Riseborough that details a bereaved mother and her questioning of her own unsettling reality; The End of Us, a COVID-19-set film about two exes who have to move on from one another without being able to move out from their quarantined abode; Introducing Selma Blair, a deeply intimate and raw portrait of the actress after she is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and makes a valiant, risky effort to try to slow the progression of her disease; The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson, an Australian thriller that reimagines Leah Purcell’s acclaimed play and Henry Lawson’s classic short story; and Swan Song, an Udo Kier-led road movie about an ageing hairdresser escaping his nursing home and embarking on an odyssey across his small town to style a dead woman’s hair for her funeral.
Two other Australian productions are earning their spotlight throughout the festival too, with the documentary Under The Volcano and the horror short The Moogai featuring, respectively, in the 24 Beats Per Second and Midnight Shorts programs. Under The Volcano, the story of George Martin’s AIR Studios Montserrat and the island that changed music forever, is one of the world premieres in its category showcasing the sounds, culture and influence of music and musicians. The Moogai, from director/screenwriter Jon Bell (TV’s Redfern Now), is an Aboriginal psychological thriller, detailing the story of a family terrorized by a child-stealing spirit, and will be making its international premiere alongside other bite-sized, gore-fuelled servings, including the drug-induced adventures of a trio of marionettes in A Puff Before Dying and the taxidermy musical Stuffed.
From episodic premieres to the controversial Midnighters – a curated program of dark-skewered projects often sexual and controversial in nature – the full SXSW Film Festival line-up will take place across several platforms – web, mobile, and premium viewing from your TV – for a dynamic viewing experience.
For more information about this year’s festival, head to sxsw.com.