South By Southwest, the celebration of film, TV, and music, returns to Austin, TX. March 10–19th, 2023
After a few years of pandemic disruptions and shifts to online, last year saw SXSW return to the streets of Austin. While a little dialed back as we eased back into things, the festival delivered the quality and boldness of filmmaking you come to expect, perhaps never more so than the rapturous opening night experience of Everything Everywhere All at Once. 2023 marks a full embrace of the in-person which, while raising questions about festival accessibility to those that need it most, does indicate a more jam-packed, lively affair. You can check out the full lineup for this year’s festival, but below we gathered some of the “most anticipated” features from our team attending this year. Follow @CinapseNews for full coverage as the fest unfolds!
1) Furies — A prequel to international star Veronica Ngo’s Furie, this time directed by Ngo herself?! This action cinema fanatic will be first in line to enjoy this carnage from one of the greatest action cinema talents working today anywhere on the globe.
2) Polite Society — Having seen the trailer for this film, I couldn’t be more excited about the premise of more familial, coming of age, martial arts epics in the vein of Everything Everywhere All At Once, Ms. Marvel, or The Princess. Action is for everyone, and it’s time for the young, female, and non-white stars to lead us to the future. I can’t wait.
3) The Wrath Of Becky — Look, Becky was a bit of bloody Home Alone-esque fun and it tickles me that a sequel has been attempted. As long as the testicles of fascists are harmed on screen, I should be a pretty happy viewer.
4) Evil Dead Rise — While these days I am not as deep into horror as I have been in my life, the Evil Dead franchise has been a part of my fandom for as long as I’ve been a film fan and I tend to love most any entry in this franchise. This one looks absolutely gnarly and I have high hopes.
5) Hypnotic — I run hot and cold on Austin institution Robert Rodriguez’ films, but growing up when I did, the man’s work had a massive influence on me and I’m not sure I’d live in Austin today if it weren’t for him. So sure, I’m stoked to check out a new Ben Affleck thriller directed by Rodriquez and shot right here in town.
6) Tetris — My mom isn’t healthy enough these days to play video games or watch movies, but she was an absolute Tetris phenom in her day and I know she would have been interested in checking this one out. So I’ll be checking it out for the family to see if I recommend it to everyone who remembers her skills.
7) Join Or Die — As someone who has spent most of my life and career building community, the premise of this documentary (that humans must join clubs and be social in order for society to survive) is fascinating to me and I hope to glean a lot of insight from it.
8) Satan Wants You — I can’t help but be fascinated by the Satanic Panic and tend to be interested in soaking up what I can when it comes to this bizarre time in history that seems to have reverberations and resurgences all the time.
9) Monolith — I know almost nothing about this except that SXSW programmer Peter Hall has gone out of his way to suggest this one can’t be missed, and I’m going to listen and see what he’s on about.
10) Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie — I grew up with Michael J. Fox as many of my generation did. I love that he’s gotten the opportunity to tell his own story and relish the opportunity to hear from him what his life has been like living with Parkinson’s Disease.
There is a wide range of things that are “must sees” for me coming out of this year. Possibly topping that list is If You Were the Last, a sci-fi rom-com starring Anthony Mackie and Zoe Chao that is the feature debut of director Kristian Mercado, about two people stranded on a doomed space station, considering if they should become more than simply friends in their final days. I am also very curious to see You Sing Loud, I Sing Louder, a family drama about a daughter recovering from an opioid overdose and her road trip to recovery with her father, himself an addict. An added bonus? The parts are played by real life daughter and father, Clara and Ewan McGregor.
On the documentary side of the festival, a lot of interesting subject matters to explore. Perhaps the most fascinating for me is The Herricanes, telling the story of a Houston team that played in the forgotten full tackle women’s football league in the 1970s. And in the “something I didn’t think would sound so fascinating” category, Art For Everybody promises an intimate portrait of Thomas Kinkade, the infamous artist behind many a soft focused landscape, who embraced conservative audiences and rejected the artistic establishment, but struggled with personal demons that eventually led to his overdose death in 2012. Kinkade is figure I never considered worth much but scorn, but curious to see how this documentary recontextualizes his work and life.
Ok, let’s get the big hitter out of the way. Evil Dead Rise. There’s nothing quite like seeing a hotly anticipated horror film premiere with a late night festival crowd, and this one looks like it’ll up match the gnarly fun of it’s predecessors, and with the aid of a cheese grater, possibly top them.
After her breakout (and MVP) performances in Shiva Baby and Bodies Bodies Bodies, Rachel Sennott is one to watch, and at SXSW 2023 you can see her twice. First, embracing her comedic side with Bottoms, where, along with fellow rising star Ayo Edebiri, they play two high schoolers who start up a fight club as a means to impress and score with cheerleaders. Sennott also looks to tilt towards more dramatic fare with PTSD/abduction drama I Used To Be Funny.
Being an honorary Texan, it’s always interesting to see the Lone star state depicted on screen, and Only The Good Survive offers up a heist film that takes a detour into a QAnon-like cult in small-town Texas. Curious to see how this timely fare is handled, and excited to see Sidney Flanigan back in a lead role after her performance in Never Rarely Sometimes Always has lingered in my mind since its release back in 2020. Finally, there’s just something so disarmingly affable about Jake Johnson (The New Girl, Jurassic World, Spider man: Into the Spider-verse), and I’m keen to see how much of that gets infused into his directorial debut Self Reliance. A paranoia infused, dystopic affair that looks to take aim at high stakes games shows and reality TV, with a man (Johnson himself) being hunted down, with only his personal contacts offering any hope of survival.