The 2022 SXSW Film Festival is about to start and I’m thrilled to be back in Austin. This year’s festival is hybrid and while I will be doing some of my coverage from the virtual space I’ll also be on site sharing my thoughts on my experiences and all the wonderful films I get to watch from this year’s slate.
Here are the films I’m most excited to check out this year!
Facing Nolan — dir. Bradley Jackson
This sports documentary explores former baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan’s extraordinary, yet overlooked career. As a kid I was a big Ryan fan so this is a must-see for me.
Clean— dir. Lachlan McLeod
Trauma cleaning is both difficult and important job. This documentary explores the business with a particular focus on one cleaner as she approaches both her work and her search for her birth mother.
Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets — dir. Drea Cooper and Zackary Caneperi
Reddit users threw the stock market for a loop when they single-handedly made both AMC and GameStop surge. This documentary focuses on GameStop and how Reddit users tried to “democratize trading”.
Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story — dir. Frank Marshall and Ryan Suffern
SXSW always offers up some great music documentaries. I’m most interested in this one which features performances, interviews as well as archival footage of this iconic music festival.
Feature Film Highlights
The Cow — dir. Eli Horowitz
This thriller follows a couple to a remote cabin where they discover the place has been double booked and another couple is already staying there. They all agree to stay together for one night until two of them mysteriously disappear. Stars Winona Ryder and Dermot Mulroney.
Raquel 1:1 — dir. Mariana Bastos
I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to watch a film about another Raquel! This Brazilian drama follows a religious teenager who believes she’s received a mission from God.
Still Working 9 to 5 — dir. Camille Hardman and Gary Lane
The iconic workplace comedy 9 to 5 (1980) shed light on how women are treated in the workplace. Four decades later the film still resonates. This documentary revisits the film as well as workplace culture and includes interviews with Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Rita Moreno.
The Last Movie Stars— dir. Ethan Hawke
The first chapter of this six chapter film will be premiering at SXSW and will have a future release on CNN+ and HBO Max. It follows the story of the beloved movie star couple Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. I can’t wait for this one!
Linoleum — dir. Colin West
This sci-fi drama starring Jim Gaffigan, Rhea Seehorn, Michael Ian Black, Tony Shalhoub follows the story of middle-aged father who tries to transform a satellite into a rocket ship after it fell and hit their home.
Bodies Bodies Bodies —dir. Halina Reijn
This horror film follows a group of wealthy 20-somethings who throw a hurricane party that ultimately turns deadly. Stars Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson, Rachel Sennott, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders and Lee Pace.
Sissy— dir. Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes
This horror film follows two best friends who have grown apart. After being reunited, things take a turn for the worst when they become isolated in a remote cabin. Stars Aisha Dee and Hannah Barlow.
What I missed from Sundance
Fire of Love — dir. Sara Dosa
I’ve been hearing nothing but rave reviews about this documentary. It follows the love story of French scientists Katia and Maurice Krafft whose fascination with volcanoes led to their untimely demise.
Cha Cha Real Smooth — dir. Cooper Raiff
Another hit from Sundance that had everyone buzzing, Cha Cha Real Smooth stars Cooper Raiff as a 20 something college grad trying to find his way in life. Also in the cast are Dakota Johnson and Leslie Mann.
The first slate of Gala Presentations and Special Presentations for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival were announced yesterday. I’m thrilled to be going back to TIFF this year as press. I’ll be covering the festival on this site as well as with DVD Netflix, Cine Suffragette, on my social media and beyond.
I learned so much from the last TIFF and I know better how to navigate this next festival. My focus this year will be on female directed and female focused films, Spanish-language films (and foreign cinema in general), LGBTQ themed films and a few big releases thrown in for good measure. The Gala Presentations will be in high demand and thus the most difficult to get access to. I’ll be very selective when it comes to those. The full list of TIFF films will be announced on August 20th and from there I’ll curate my final list.
In the meantime, here are my top 10 picks from the first slate of announced films. It was difficult to narrow it down to 10 so I can’t even imagine what it will be like to come up with some semblance of a schedule when all the films are announced. This is an impressive line-up!
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – World Premiere
dir. Marielle Heller and starring Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers.
I was perfectly content with Morgan Neville’s doc Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and didn’t necessarily think I needed a Mister Rogers biopic. But Hollywood loves a good biopic! Mister Rogers was and still remains a very powerful figure in my life and I’m incredibly curious what story it has to tell and how he’ll be portrayed. I think his story is in very capable hands with director Marielle Heller whose film Can You Ever Forgive Me? was one of my favorites from last year’s TIFF.
Joker– North American Premiere
dir. Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix
I wasn’t even remotely interested in a new Joker movie UNTIL I saw that trailer. Damn. I love that the film takes a deep dive into the character’s origin story and the psychology behind why he became the Joker. I enjoy Todd Phillips’ work and Joaquin Phoenix is an excellent actor and I’ll watch anything he’s in. I predict this film will be a hot ticket at TIFF. I’ll have to be realistic about my chances of getting in.
Other Gala Presentations
Abominable – dir. Jill Culton – World Premiere
American Woman – dir Semi Chellas – Canadian Premiere
Blackbird – dir. Roger Michelle – World Premiere
Clemency – dir. Chinonye Chukwu – International Premiere
Ford v. Ferrari – dir. James Mangold – Canadian Premiere
The Goldfinch – dir. John Crowley – World Premiere
Harriet – dir. Kasi Lemmons – World Premiere
Hustlers – dir. Lorene Scafaria – World Premiere
Just Mercy – dir. Destin Daniel Cretton – World Premiere
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band – dir. Daniel Roher – World Premiere (Opening Night)
Ordinary Love – dir. Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn – World Premiere
Radioactive – dir. Marjane Satrapi – World Premiere (Closing Night)
The Sky is Pink – dir. Shonali Bose – World Premiere
The Song of Names – dir. Francois Girard – World Premiere
True History of the Kelly Gang – dir. Justin Kurzel – World Premiere
Western Stars – dir. Thom Zimny, Bruce Springsteen – World Premiere
Ema – North American Premiere
dir Pablo Larrain and starring Mariana Di Girolamo and Gael García Bernal
There’s very little information about this film besides a basic description of the plot. However, I’m already excited about the potential for this film. This Chilean film follows Ema (Mariana Di Girolamo) as she “sets out on a risky quest to reset her life” after a terrible accident.
Greed – World Premiere
dir. Michael Winterbottom and starring Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher
I adore Michael Winterbottom and had such a fun time attending the premiere of The Wedding Guest at last year’s TIFF. Greed stars Steve Coogan as a fast-fashion mogul who throws a lavish party that is overthrown by nearby refugees. There’s a lot of potential here for both absurdity and serious social commentary.
A Herdade – North American Premiere
dir. Tiago Guedes
You may be surprised to discover that this is my #1 pick for TIFF. I’ll clear my schedule just to get into a screening. Portuguese films are rare and getting access to them is very difficult. I’m half Portuguese, fluent in the language and fascinated by Portugal’s cultural history. This film follows a wealthy family in mid-20th century Portugal and according to the description offers a look at the political, economic and social history of the country. SOLD!
Judy – Canadian Premiere
dir. Rupert Goold and starring Renee Zellweger
I’ll be covering Judy for my classic film blog Out of the Past. I’m not as big a Judy Garland fan as some of my fellow classic film buffs are and not as precious about how she’s portrayed. There’s been some backlash from the community about this film but I’d like to see it before jumping to conclusions. I’m just hoping Judy offers an honest portrayal of a complicated woman rather than just another salacious biopic.
Knives Out – World Premiere
dir. Rian Johnson and starring Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, etc.
You really can’t go wrong with a star-studded murder mystery. It pretty much sells itself. Craig plays the lead detective and Plummer is the murder victim. I’m expecting a whip smart mystery with an eccentric cast of characters. Just watch the trailer and tell me you’re not immediately hooked.
The Personal History of David Copperfield – World Premiere
dir. Armando Iannucci and starring Dev Patel, Ben Whishaw, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, etc.
A new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel has Dev Patel playing David Copperfield and I am here for this. I love period pieces and classic novel adaptations and while I have a love-hate relationship with Dickens I’m eager to see what this new spin with a POC protagonist has to offer.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire – Canadian Premiere
dir. Celine Sciamma and starring Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami
Set in 18th century Brittany, this French film tells the story of an artist who is hired to paint a portrait of a would-be-bride and the two women develop a romantic relationship. This ticks off a lot of boxes for me. Female-focused, female-directed, foreign and LGBTQ! I just hope it doesn’t break my heart.
While at War – World Premiere
dir. Alejandro Amenabar and starring Karra Elejalde, Eduard Fernández, Santi Prego
This Argentine-Spanish film is set in the early days of the Spanish Civil War as dictator Francisco Franco comes into power. The story focuses on writer Miguel de Unamuno and his rebellion against El Generalisimo. I was impressed with the trailer I’m particularly interested in stories about political persecution, rebellion and repression so this is right up my alley.
Other Special Presentations
Bad Education – dir Cory Finley – World Premiere
Coming Home – dir. Wayne Wang – World Premiere
Dolemite Is My Name – dir Craig Brewer – World Premiere
Endings, Beginnings – dir. Drake Doremus – World Premiere
Frankie – dir. Ira Sachs – North American Premiere
The Friend – dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite – World Premiere
Guest of Honor – dir. Atom Egoyan – North American Premiere
Heroic Losers– dir. Sebastien Borensztein – International Premiere
Honey Boy – dir. Alma Har’el – International Premiere
Hope Gap – dir. William Nicholson – World Premiere
How to Build a Girl – dir. Coky Giedroyc – World Premiere
I Am Woman – dir. Unjoo Moon – World Premiere
Jojo Rabbit – dir. Taika Waititi – World Premiere
La Belle Epoque – dir. Nicolas Bedos – North American Premiere
The Laundromat – dir. Steven Soderbergh – North American Premiere
The Lighthouse – dir. Robert Eggers – North American Premiere
Marriage – dir. Noah Baumbach – Canadian Premiere
Military Wives – dir. Peter Cattaneo – World Premiere
Motherless Brooklyn – dir. Edward Norton – International Premiere
No. 7 Cherry Lane – dir. Yonfan – North American Premiere
The Other Lamb – dir. Malgorzata Szumowska – World Premiere
Pain and Glory – dir. Pedro Almodovar – Canadian Premiere
The Painted Bird – dir. Vaclav Marhoul – North American Premiere
Parasite – dir. Bong Joon-ho – Canadian Premiere
Pelican Blood – dir. Katrin Gebbe – North American Premiere
The Report – dir. Scott Z. Burns – International Premiere
Saturday Fiction – dir. Lou Ye – North American Premiere
The Two Popes – dir. Fernando Meirelles – Canadian Premiere
Uncut Gems – dir. Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie – International Premiere
Weathering With You – dir. Makoto Shinkai – North American Premiere
Check out the full list of offerings on the TIFF website.
The 2019 SXSW Film Festival starts next week and I’m thrilled to be attending this year for the very first time. Many thanks to SXSW and Rotten Tomatoes for this amazing opportunity. I’m furiously building my itinerary with plenty of great films, panels, interviews and new experiences. Follow me here and on my social media for all the details.
I would have to clone myself a dozen times to experience a significant chunk of SXSW has to offer. But alas there is only one of me. I did my best to curate a list of films that piqued my interest. I’m focusing primarily on documentaries, movies directed by women, Spanish-language cinema and indie films in general. 60 % of the films screening at SXSW are directed by women which is a fantastic feat. Here is how my current slate of films breaks down:
Films Directed by Women: 9 (out of 15)
Now on to my SXSW picks!
Sunset Over Mulholland Drive
Directed by Uli Gaulke
SXSW Documentary Spotlight
If you know me it’ll come to no surprise that this new documentary about residents of the Motion Picture & Television Fund home is my #1 pick. I’m a big champion for elderly and the residents of MPTF all have amazing stories to share about their contributions to the entertainment industry. I had the honor of visiting my friend Lillian Michelson at MPTF last year. Gaulke’s documentary follows a group of MPTF residents as they collaborate on new projects. I’ll be reviewing this one over at my classic film blog Out of the Past.
Directed by Amy C. Elliott
SXSW Documentary Spotlight
Elliott’s new documentary explores the open landfill of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada and the group of townspeople who salvage items from it. Yellowknife dump is one of the only open dumps in North America and regulations to control it pose a threat to the local community. I’m very curious to see what this film has to offer in terms of insights into what the objects we throw away have to say about us as a society. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Stay tuned as I’ll have an interview with the director as well as a review!
What drives someone to the breaking point? Paul Solet’s new documentary Tread takes a look at Marvin Heemeyer, the Colorado man who in 2004 ran a fortified bulldozer through his hometown, systematically destroying homes and businesses. This bizarre case has always intrigued me and Solet’s film offers various perspectives in an attempt to answer the biggest question: why?
The Beach Bum
Directed by Harmony Korine
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Stefania Lavie Owen, Jimmy Buffett, Zac Efron, Martin Lawrence
There will be big competition for the Headliners at the festival and while I’m happy to watch those at a later date, I can’t pass up the opportunity to see a Harmony Korine film at SXSW! I love Korine’s Spring Breakers and Mister Lonely and am excited for his latest movie. The Beach Bum stars Matthew McConaughey as Moondog, a free spirit who marches to the beat of his own drum. It features a stellar cast! I’m ready for another quirky yet subversive story, Korine-style.
Docs about 20th Century entertainers are my jam and I’m hoping to get a chance to see this one about legendary comedian Richard Pryor. I’m especially curious to see how this film explores his life and career in the context of the era.
Starring Anna Margaret Hollyman, Michael Mosley, Andrea Suarez Paz, Julie White, Amy Hargreaves, Macon Blair, Lee Eddy, Blake Delong, John Merriman, Nathan Zellner
SXSW Festival Favorites
Inspired by the story of 1920s evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, Sister Aimee looks like a fun twist on a bit of obscure 20th century history. I reviewed The Miracle Woman (1931) over on my site Out of the Past which stars Barbara Stanwyck and is also inspired by McPherson. Would love to examine how these two films compare with each other and what Sister Aimee has to offer to a contemporary audience.
Directed by Patricia Ortega
Starring Lucia Bedoya, Belkis Avilladares, María Elena Duque
Director Patricia Ortega’s drama explores the intersection between religion and gender. The story centers around a young religious dressmaker who discovers she was born intersex. Her parents kept her corrective surgery a secret and raised her as a girl. I love South American films and the exploration of identity and gender definitely piqued my interest. Would love to see how this compares with Lucia Puenzo’s film XXY (2007).
La Mala Noche
Directed by Gabriele Calvache
Starring Nöelle Schönwald, Cristian Mercado, Jaime Tamariz, Ariana Freire, Diego Mignone, Gonzalo Gonzalo, Christian Cabrera, Javier Ordóñez
SXSW Global – World Premiere
This Ecuadorian/Mexican thriller is about a prostitute trying to escape the seedy underworld run by her mob boss. La Mala Noche is perhaps the darkest film in my line-up and I’m excited to see what director Calvache has to offer!
Principal Cast: Laura Tobón, David Escallón, Carlos Fonnegra, Christian Tappan, Julián Giraldo, Natalia Castaño, Margarita Restrepo
Another South-American film directed by a woman! My fingers crossed that I can fit this one into my schedule. The story follows two friends, graffiti artists, who plan to paint a mural of a whale to cover up a threatening message. I’ve been hungry for more Colombian cinema ever since I watched Karen Cries on the Bus (2011) last year.
Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy
Directed by Elizabeth Carroll
SXSW Documentary Feature Competition
Nonagenarian Diana Kennedy has spent the better part of her life researching and documenting the history of food and cuisine in Mexico. This new documentary explores her life’s work which includes nine Mexican cookbooks and her unique lifestyle (she’s lived off the grid since the 1970s!).
Directed by Ben Asamoah
I’m fascinated by internet scams and those spam e-mails we all get in our inboxes trying to extort us out of our life savings. This new documentary follows the story of three Ghanaians who are turning to the internet fraud as a source of livelihood. I’m hoping this film touches upon the ramifications of this sort of “career” and how it’s judged, or not judged, in another culture.
Directed by Jenna Ricker
SXSW Documentary Spotlight
I love sports documentaries especially when the subject is a woman! Director Jenna Ricker’s new film for ESPN explores the career of Janet Guthrie, the first female race car driver to qualify for the Daytona 500 and Indy 500.
Directed by Hilary Brougher
Starring Talia Balsam, Scott Cohen, Andrus Nichols, Michael Oberholtzer, Naian González Norvind , Midori Francis, Macaulee Rusnak Cassaday, Isis Masoud, Violet Rea, Guthrie Mass
SXSW Narrative Feature Competition
Set in the Catskills, this drama tells the story of a family coming apart at the seams. The film’s star Talia Balsam is a big draw for me but I also love that this film is written and directed by a female filmmaker.
Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall
Directed by Alfred George Bailey
SXSW 24 Beats Per Second/Documentaries
Jim Marshall photographed some of the biggest names in the history of music: Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, etc. This new documentary offers a look at the man behind the camera. I love stories about people behind-the-scenes. Pair that with some pop culture history and I’m sold!
Directed by Brandon Vedder
SXSW 24 Beats Per Second/Documentaries
As someone who walked away from a strict, conservative Christian upbringing, I’m fascinated by stories of others who have done the same. Vedder’s new documentary paints a portrait of David Bazan, a former evangelical Christian and member of the band Pedro the Lion.