Director of Film,
On March 6 of last year, the City of Austin canceled SXSW 2020 as a precautionary measure against the potential community spread of the Coronavirus. At that time, there were no reported cases of COVID-19 in Travis County, but with 400,000 people expected to attend SXSW, city and county leaders had no choice but to cancel the event after declaring a local disaster due to the pandemic threat. SXSW took a huge financial hit, resulting in immediate and significant staff layoffs. SXSW was not also the first Austin-based festival to be canceled due to the pandemic but also one of the first to go virtual thanks to April’s Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection, which featured a total of 39 narrative and documentary features, short films, and episodic titles. This time last year, there were questions about if and how SXSW would return in 2021. But SXSW must go on. So the festival as a whole has gone virtual this year while the ongoing pandemic prevents live events. SXSW Online—featuring film, music, comedy, and conference events—runs March 16-20. Attendees will have access to all content, with the film festival offering 75 feature films, 84 shorts, five episodic premieres, 20 virtual cinema projects, and 30 special events. SXSW Online features three music documentaries as headliners: the opening night film Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, the centerpiece film Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free, and the Charli XCX closing night film Alone Together. The film festival also features its traditional programs: Narrative Feature Competition, Documentary Feature Competition, Narrative Spotlight, Documentary Spotlight, Midnighters, Festival Favorites, Global, Visions, 24 Beats a Minute, Episodic Premieres and Pilots, Virtual Cinema, and Shorts. The Narrative Feature Competition features The End of Us, The Fallout, Here Before, I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking), Islands, Our Father, Potato Dreams of America, and Women is Losers.The Documentary Feature Competition features Introducing, Selma Blair, Kid Candidate, Lily Tops the World, Not Going Quietly, The Oxy Kingpins, The Return: Life After ISIS, Subjects of Desire, and United States vs. Reality Winner. The Narrative Spotlight program features The Drover’s Wife: the Legend of Molly Johnson, The Fabulous Filipino Brothers, Language Lessons, Ludi, Paul Dood's Deadly Lunch Break, Recovery, See You Then, andSwan Song. The Documentary Spotlight program features Alien On Stage, Fruits of Labor, The Hunt for Planet B, Hysterical, The Lost Sons, Mau, Spring Valley, WeWork: or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn, When Claude Got Shot, andWho We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America. The Midnighters program featuresBroadcast Signal Intrusion, The Feast, Gaia, Jakob's Wife, Offseason, Sound of Violence, The Spine of Night, and Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror. The Festival Favorites program features Dear Mr. Brody, How It Ends, In the Same Breath, Ma Belle My Beauty, R#J, and Violation. The Visions program features Ayar, Delia Derbyshire—The Myths and the Legendary Tapes, Inbetween Girl, Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of the San Jose, and Twyla Moves.The 24 Beats a Minute program features the music documentaries Disintegration Loops, Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché, Soy Cubana, Under the Volcano, and the restoration of Les Blank’s I Went To The Dance. The Global program features Bantú Mama, Fucking With Nobody, Luchadoras, Ninjababy, and Trapped. The Episodic Premieres program features Confronting A Serial Killer, Cruel Summer, The Girlfriend Experience, Made for Love, Sasquatch, and Them. The 2020 Spotlight program features the following selections from last year’s SXSW Film Festival that remain unreleased: Best Summer Ever, Chad, Clerk, Executive Order, Violet, We Are as Gods, We are the Thousand, Witch Hunt, and Without Getting Killed or Caught. Films by Austin filmmakers or with local ties include Dear. Mr. Brody, Inbetween Girl, Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of the San Jose, and Without Getting Killed or Caught. Special events include an opening night Q&A with Demi Lovato, a closing night live Q&A and a pre-recorded DJ set with Charli XCX, a showing of work-in-progress scenes from director Frank Marshall’s documentary Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story, panels devoted to such TV shows as Blindspotting, Confronting a Serial Killer, Cruel Summer, Made for Love, and Sasquatch, and conversations with Kevin Smith, How it Ends writers/directors Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones, Language Lessons star/director/co-writer Natalie Morales and costar/cowriter Mark Duplass, and Violet writer/producer Justine Bateman.
Aired: March 4, 2021.