Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs announced as SXSW closing feature as full program revealed

As we approach the 2018 addition SXSW Film Festival over in Austin, Texas the full program for the festivals’ 25th anniversary is still taking shape. We already gave you a nice look at some of the highlights of the program in its initial stages, but that list may need a big update sometime soon because Wes Anderson’s hugely anticipated Isle of Dogs has just been added to the lineup.

In addition to the remainder of the program, which spans midnighters, shorts, virtual cinema, music videos, title sequences, independent episodic lineup, and other additional features, Isle of Dogs has been locked in and will undoubtedly one of the biggest drawcards for the momentous film festival. As the Closing Night Film, this screening will be Isle of Dogs‘ North American premiere.

Isle of Dogs tells the story of Atari Kobayashi, a 12-year-old ward to corrupt Mayor Kobayashi. When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage dump, Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies to Trash Island in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture. Already positioned as one of the year’s most highly anticipated releases, the film includes a head-spinning all-star cast including Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Kunichi Nomura, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Akira Ito, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono, Tilda Swinton, Ken Watanabe, Mari Natsuki, Fisher Stevens, Nijiro Murakami, Liev Schreiber, and Courtney B. Vance.

You might want to read that list again.

As for the rest of the program announced today, here’s a look at what you can expect:


A total of 10 genre films will be screened as part of the “SXSW Midnighters” section of the program, which has been a consistent favourite across the film festival in previous years and looks to continue that acclaim with 6 of those being World Premieres spanning dark comedies, thrillers, Sc-Fi, mystery and slasher horror from a mix of established and first-time filmmakers.

Part of that Midnighter program is Upgrade (previously known as STEM), which has been added to the pool of 132 total features now part of the festival. The new film from writer and director Leigh Whannell (best known as co-creator of the Saw and Insidious franchises) will slot into a special midnight screening and tell a story set in a utopian future where technology controls everything – a setting in which technophobe Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) avenges his wife’s murder and his own paralysis-causing injury with the help of an experimental computer chip implant that turns out to have a mind of its own. The film also stars Betty Gabriel (Get Out), Benedict Hardie (Hacksaw Ridge), and Harrison Gilbertson (Picnic at Hanging Rock).

Other “Midnighter” additions include Own Egerton’s Blood Fest; Ari Aster’s much talked about Hereditary; Field Guide to Evil, a film with nine different directors across multiple countries; and Jenn Wexler’s The Ranger.

Short Film Program

188 short films, independent episodics, and music videos have been selected from 5,410 submissions, providing a comprehensive range for this year’s Short Film Program which will screen as part of 12 curated shorts programs.

The shorts program is diverse both on and off the screen. Over half of the films selected across the numerous programs are directed by women and there are various countries and perspectives represented. As Senior Film Programmer Claudette Godfrey put it: “I get fired up and inspired by the sense of discovery and boundary pushing in our shorts program”.

This includes “Narrative Shorts” like Allen Anders – Live at the Comedy Castle by Laura Moss; “Documentary Shorts” like Garret Bradley’s The Earth is Humming, exploring earthquake preparedness as a way of life in Japan; “Animated Shorts” like Réka Bucsi’s Solar Walk; “Midnight Shorts” like House of Air by the infinitely talented Brendan Maclean; shorts from Texas high-schoolers; music videos from the likes of JAY-Z, The Shins and Amanda Palmer; and so much more.

Keynotes, Keynotes, Keynotes

In addition to other elements such as an expanded “Virtual Cinema” program, SXSW Film Festival will also be hosting a large array of keynotes, features speakers and sessions across entertainment influencers and the film and TV industry. Everyone from Barry Jenkins and Darren Aranofsky to Spike Lee and Richard Linklater. Fans of Westworld should be flocking straight to a sessions with the HBO show’s entire principal cast, while This Is Us fans will want to get up nice and close to the cast. Other figures set to participate throughout the festival include Common, Lena Waithe, Lena Dunham, Ethan Hawke, Tatiana Maslany, and Rian Johnson. For more on all of that you head on over to sxsw.com/conference

For more information on all of the above and SXSW in general head on over the official website HERE.


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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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