Back to IndieWire

Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ Set to Close SXSW, Plus Festival Announces Inaugural Independent Episodics Lineup

Plus, the Texas festival unveils its always-thrilling Midnighters section, including at least one of the year's buzziest genre titles.

"Isle of Dogs"

“Isle of Dogs”

This year’s South by Southwest Conference and Festivals has announced the remainder of its film festival program, including the full run of their Midnighters, Shorts, Virtual Cinema, Music Video, Title Sequence, and the brand-new Independent Episodic lineup, along with a number of additions to their Features slate. Additionally, the festival has announced that the North American premiere of Wes Anderson’s highly anticipated new stop-motion feature, “Isle of Dogs,” will serve as the event’s Closing Night Film, following the film’s world premiere at Berlin. The festival has also added a number of Sundance favorites, including “Sorry to Bother You,” “Blindspotting,” and “Science Fair.”

This year’s Midnighter’s section — a long-time favorite of the genre-loving SXSW audiences — features 10 genre films, including six world premieres, with offerings that span dark comedies, thrillers, sci-fi, mystery, and slasher horror from a mix of established and first-time filmmakers.

Highlights include Ari Aster’s “Hereditary,” which recently terrified Sundance audiences and will be released later this year by A24, along with an untitled Blumhouse offering from Stephen Susco and the “Unfriended” team which again uses a computer screen as the primary setting for its chills and Leigh Whannell’s latest, recently titled “Upgrade.”

“It is the highlight of my year to get to dive into the yearly pool of genre film submission and see what wild and devilish ideas these filmmakers have brought to life,” said Jarod Neece, SXSW Senior Film Programmer, in an official statement. “This year’s Midnighters, made both by veteran filmmakers and many first-timers, are sure to delight and terrify lucky SXSW audiences.”

This year’s SXSW will also play home to their first-ever Independent Episodic section, which joins the Episodic lineup as part of the festival’s expanded push into the kind of content more often associated with television.

“After five years of breaking ground in our Episodic section, we’re thrilled to incorporate the exceptional work happening in the Independent Episodics space and welcome more of those creators into our community this year,” said Claudette Godfrey, Senior Film Programmer, in an official statement. “Year after year, I get fired up and inspired by the sense of discovery and boundary pushing in our shorts program, and we’re especially proud that over half of the films across our Shorts Programs, Music Videos, and Independent Episodics are directed by women.”

Check out the full lineup, with all information provided by SXSW, below. This year’s festival runs March 9 – 18 in Austin, Texas. Check out the previous lineup announcement for the fest right here.


Scary, funny, sexy, controversial – ten provocative after-dark features for night owls and the terminally curious.

“Ajin: Demi-Human”
Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro, Screenwriter: Kouji Seko
Endless battle between human being and immortal demi-human “Ajin.” A stunning, strikingly original action masterpiece! Cast: Takeru Satoh, Go Ayano, Tetsuji Tamayama, Yu Shirota, Yudai Chiba, Rina Kawaei, Minami Hamabe (North American Premiere)

“Blood Fest”
Director/Screenwriter: Owen Egerton
In “Blood Fest,” fans flock to a festival celebrating the most iconic horror movies, only to discover that the charismatic showman behind the event has a diabolical agenda. Cast: Robbie Kay, Jacob Batalon, Seychelle Gabriel, Tate Donovan, Barbara Dunkelman, Nick Rutherford, Zachary Levi (World Premiere)

hereditary a24



Untitled Blumhouse-Bazelevs Film
Director/Screenwriter: Stephen Susco
A 20-something finds a cache of hidden files on his new laptop and is thrust into the deep waters of the dark web. From the makers of Unfriended, this thriller unravels in real-time, entirely on a computer screen. A warning for the digital age. Cast: Colin Woodell, Betty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Andrew Lees, Conor del Rio, Stephanie Nogueras, Savira Windyani (World Premiere)

“Field Guide to Evil” (Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Poland, Turkey, U.S.)
Directors: Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Peter Strickland, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Katrin Gebbe, Can Evrenol, Calvin Reeder, Ashim Ahluwalia, Yannis Veslemes
They are known as dark folklore. Created to give logic to mankind’s darkest fears, these stories and others laid the foundation for what we now call the horror genre. (World Premiere)

“Ghost Stories” (United Kingdom)
Directors/Screenwriters: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman
An arch skeptic debunker of the supernatural embarks upon a terror filled quest when he stumbles across a long lost file containing details of three cases of inexplicable ‘hauntings’. Adapted from the Olivier Award Winning hit stage play. Cast: Martin Freeman, Alex Lawther, Jill Halfpenny, Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse (North American Premiere)

Director/Screenwriter: Ari Aster
When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. Cast: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro

“A Prayer Before Dawn” (United States, France)
Director: Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, Screenwriters: Jonathan Hirschbein, Nick Saltrese
Based on the international best-seller, “A Prayer Before Dawn” is the true story of Billy Moore, a troubled young British boxer sent to one of Thailand’s most notorious jails. Cast: Joe Cole, Vithaya Pansringar, Panya Yimmumphai, Nicolas Shake (North American Premiere)

“The Ranger”
Director: Jenn Wexler, Screenwriters: Jenn Wexler, Giaco Furino
Teen punks, on the run from the cops and hiding out in the woods, come up against the local authority—an unhinged park ranger with an axe to grind. Cast: Chloë Levine, Granit Lahu, Jeremy Pope, Bubba Weiler, Amanda Grace Benitez, Jeremy Holm, Larry Fessenden (World Premiere)

Director/Screenwriter: Leigh Whannell
In a utopian near-future when technology controls everything, a technophobe avenges his wife’s murder and his own paralysis-causing injury with the help of an experimental computer chip implant – STEM – that turns out to have a mind of its own. Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel, Harrison Gilbertson, Benedict Hardie (World Premiere)

“What Keeps You Alive (Canada)”
Director: Colin Minihan, Screenwriters: Colin Minihan, Brittany Allen
Majestic mountains, a still lake and venomous betrayals engulf a female married couple attempting to celebrate their one-year anniversary. Cast: Hannah Emily Anderson, Brittany Allen, Martha Macisaac, Joey Klein, Charlotte Lindsay Marron (World Premiere)


Innovative and new independent web series, pilots and docs aimed squarely at the small screen.

Director/Screenwriter: Ben Strang
When his father mysteriously goes missing at sea, a teenager rallies the help of his small fishing-island town to find him and figure out once and for all why people keep disappearing on Smith Island. (World Premiere)

Directors/Screenwriters: Flora Birnbaum, Sarah Scarlett Downing
A jaded Los Angeles thirty-something goes on a magical juice cleanse to fix her life. (World Premiere)

“Everything is Okay: Robot”
Director: Adam Sacks, Screenwriter: Cirocco Dunlap
A better you is just a click away.

“What Keeps You Alive”

“First World Problems”
Director/Screenwriter: X. Dean Lim
Harold, an Asian-American, comes to realizes his family are apathetic douchebags. But when a mysterious crisis starts a ticking clock, he alienates them all to prove they’re more than Amazon, Audi and Autopay. The question is: can he be wrong? (World Premiere)

“Hold To Your Best Self”
Director/Screenwriter: Emily Hagins
Over the course of a prom night, young adults tackle big questions concerning identity, relationships, self-esteem, and the future – their adolescent ideas and expectations are fundamentally challenged by high school coming to an end. (World Premiere)

“My Dead Ex”
Directors: Joe Lynch, Zoe Cassavetes, Screenwriter: Drew Hancock
A little thing like death can’t stop these two teens from falling in love. Or maybe it can. (World Premiere)

“Night Owl” (Canada)
Directors: R. Miskin, Gillian Muller, Screenwriter: R. Miskin
One Girl’s quest to face her fears, step outside her comfort zone and make some real friends!… in the middle of the night at a 24-hour grocery store. Well?… What do you do when you can’t sleep? (World Premiere)

“One Eye Small”
Director/Screenwriter: Jane Stiles
Two female strangers become affectionate friends over the course of a frenetic evening in NYC. (World Premiere)

Director/Screenwriter: Alexander Etseyatse
A young calm, mentally unstable man attempts to convince his new buddy that they don’t belong at a Psych ward by inciting an uprising while trying to win back the affection of his ex-fiancée and daughter. (World Premiere)

“Polar” (Denmark, Greenland)
Directors: Natalia Anna Ciepiel, Alexander Ohrt, Screenwriter: Morten Mortensen
Terrorized by an unbearable sound a group of teenagers commit suicide in the habour of Nuuk. After being declared dead, Ivik, awakes again. As the phenomenon returns to haunt the young population of Nuuk, Ivik sets out to find the nature of the sound. (World Premiere)

“She’s the Ticket”
Director: Nadia Hallgren
Five different women from around the country see Donald Trump get elected to the presidency on November 8th, 2016 and decide to do something about it. Run for office.

“Hearts Beat Loud”

Gunpowder & Sky

Director: Milena Govich, Screenwriter: David Cornue
A young woman in a desperate situation averts authorities by claiming to be a girl who disappeared years ago as a child. But when the missing girl’s family welcomes the impostor home, she’s forced to keep the deception alive or face the consequences. (World Premiere)


Big names, big talent: Headliners bring star power to SXSW, featuring red carpet premieres and gala film events with major and rising names in cinema.

“Isle of Dogs” (United States, United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Wes Anderson
Set in Japan, “Isle of Dogs” follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his dog. Cast: 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, Courtney B. Vance (North American Premiere)


High profile narrative features receiving their World, North American or U.S. premieres at SXSW.

“Brother’s Nest” (Australia)
Director: Clayton Jacobson, Screenwriter: Jaime Browne
With their Mother dying of cancer, intent on changing her will to benefit her “new” husband before she dies, two brothers go to extreme and deadly lengths to protect their inheritance from being signed away before it’s too late. Cast: Shane Jacobson, Clayton Jacobson, Lynette Curran, Kim Gyngell, Sarah Snook (World Premiere)

Director/Screenwriter: Melanie Laurent
After surviving a setup by his criminal boss, a hitman rescues a young prostitute and flees with her to Galveston, Texas, where the two find strength in each other as dangerous pursuers and the shadows of their pasts follow close behind. Cast: Ben Foster, Elle Fanning, Beau Bridges, Adepero Aduye, Robert Aramayo, Lili Reinhart, Maria Valverde (World Premiere)

“Most Likely To Murder”
Director: Dan Gregor, Screenwriters: Dan Gregor, Doug Mand
Billy, the coolest kid in high school, comes back to his hometown 15 years later to find he’s no longer cool and the girl he still has feelings for now dates the former town outcast. Billy becomes obsessed with proving the outcast is a murderer. Cast: Adam Pally, Rachel Bloom, Vincent Kartheiser, John Reynolds, Didi Conn, Ethan Phillips, Doug Mand, Hasan Minhaj, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Julia Goldani Telles (World Premiere)


Shining a light on new documentary features receiving their World, North American or U.S. premieres at SXSW. 

“They Live Here, Now”
Director/Screenwriter: Jason Outenreath
Austin based refugee house, Casa Marianella, is one of the most prominent refugee houses in the United States, providing life saving services for thousands of immigrants each year. Meet the people who live here now. (World Premiere)


Showcasing the sounds, culture and influence of music and musicians, with an emphasis on documentary.

“Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story” (United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Steve Sullivan
The hilarious and bizarre story of Frank Sidebottom, the cult British comedian in a papier mâché head, and the secretive life of Chris Sievey, the artist trapped inside. (World Premiere)

“Jeanette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc”

“Hearts Beat Loud”
Director: Brett Haley, Screenwriters: Brett Haley, Marc Basch
A father and daughter become an unlikely song writing duo before she leaves for college. Cast: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Toni Collette, Blythe Danner, Sasha Lane


A diverse selection of international filmmaking talent, featuring innovative narratives, artful documentaries, premieres, festival favorites and more.

“Jeannette, The Childhood of Joan of Arc” (France)
Director/Screenwriter: Bruno Dumont
France, 1425. In the midst of the Hundred Years’ War, the young Jeannette, at the still tender age of 8, looks after her sheep in the small village of Domremy. Cast: Lise Leplat Prudhomme, Jeanne Voisin, Lucile Gauthier, Victoria Lefebvre, Aline Charles


Acclaimed standouts and selected previous premieres from festivals around the world.

Director: Carlos Lopez Estrada, Screenwriters: Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs
Lifelong friends Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal co-wrote and star in this timely and wildly entertaining story about the intersection of race and class set against the backdrop of a rapidly gentrifying Oakland. Cast: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casa, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones

“Science Fair”
Directors: Cristina Costantini, Darren Foster, Screenwriters: Jeffrey Plunkett, Darren Foster, Cristina Costantini
Nine high school students from around the globe navigate rivalries, setbacks, and of course, hormones, on their journey to compete at the international science fair. Facing off against 1,700 of the smartest, quirkiest teens from 78 different countries, only one will be named Best in Fair.

Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson appear in <i>Sorry to Bother You</i> by Boots Riley, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Doug Emmett. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson in “Sorry to Bother You”

Courtesy of Sundance Institute, photo by Doug Emmett

“Sorry To Bother You”
Director/Screenwriter: Boots Riley
In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a macabre universe. Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer, Terry Crews, Steven Yeun, Omari Hardwick, Jermaine Fowler, and Danny Glover


Live soundtracks, cult re-issues and much more. Our Special Events section offers unusual, unexpected and unique one-off film events.

“Cartoon Network Screening at SXSW”
For the third year in a row, Cartoon Network presents a fun-filled family event open to all fans. Be among the first to watch upcoming adventure series, Craig of the Creek plus catch brand new episodes of favorite shows Ben 10 and Unikitty! And fans are in for a special treat with a never-before-seen look at Teen Titans Go! to the Movies, coming to theaters this summer.

“Doug Benson Master Pancake and Doug Loves Movies Podcast”
Doug Benson returns in the continuing tradition of our annual St. Patrick’s Day screening of the Leprechaun series. On March 17 we present Leprechaun 5: In The Hood, directed by Rob Spera.

For the first time ever, 20th Century Fox welcomes SXSW Platinum and Film badge holders to Iron City, the movie set where “Alita: Battle Angel” was filmed. SXSW Platinum and Film badge holders are invited to join the cast and filmmakers at Robert Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios for the 2018 SXSW Opening Night Party in celebration of the upcoming “Alita: Battle Angel.” Attendees will be picked up in front of the Hilton Hotel on 5th Street in Downtown Austin by “Alita: Battle Angel” branded shuttles and will be transported to the futuristic Iron City movie set.

The full shorts, music videos, and Virtual Cinema lineup is available right here.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox