After unveiling its first lineup of feature film offerings last month, the SXSW Film Festival is rolling out more additions to its 2020 program. The annual Texas festival has already announced its features and episodic premieres, and now those picks are joined by Midnighters, Festival Favorites, Shorts, and Special Events, plus late-addition features and the full list of Episodic Pilot Competition shows.
This year’s program has 135 Feature Films, including 99 world premieres, nine North American premieres, five U.S. Premieres, 75 films from first-time filmmakers, and 119 short films. The lineup also features music videos, episodic premieres, pilots, special events, and VR projects.
Today’s announcement sees additions to nearly every section of the feature film lineup, including the popular Midnighters section. Standouts include there Shana Feste’s “Run Sweetheart Run” and Natalie Erick James’ “Relic,” both of which premiered at Sundance in January, along with the U.S. premiere of Keith Thomas’ Orthodox Jewish horror effort “The Vigil,” which first screened in Toronto last fall. World premieres include new films from John Berardo, Steven Kostanski, and Robin Pront.
The Festival Favorites section includes several buzzy Sundance premieres, including Grand Jury Prize winner “Boys State,” Angel Manuel Soto’s “Charm City Kings,” Channing Godfrey Peoples’ “Miss Juneteenth,” Alex Fischer and Eleanor Wilson’s “Save Yourselves!,” Edson Oda’s “Nine Days,” Kim A. Synder’s “Us Kids,” and Shalini Kantayya’s “Coded Bias.” Michael Angelo Covino’s “The Climb” will also screen in the section, completing an impressive festival run that spans Cannes, Telluride, TIFF, and Sundance.
And, finally, tucked away in the festival’s Special Events section is perhaps the most “SXSW” offering in recent memory: a 4K restoration of Hal Needham’s seminal motocross cult classic, “RAD!”
Check out the latest additions to the SXSW Film Festival lineup below, with synopses provided by the festival.
The 27th edition of the festival runs March 13 – 22 in Austin, Texas.
Scary, funny, sexy, controversial – ten provocative after-dark features for night owls and the terminally curious.
Director: John Berardo, Screenwriters: John Berardo, Lindsay LaVanchy, Brian Frager
Ellery Scott’s world unravels when her star athlete brother is murdered on campus amidst a brewing scandal, kicking off a spree of social-media-linked slayings that leave her racing alongside the police to uncover the university’s hidden secrets. Cast: Jon Huertas, Isabella Gomez, Lindsay LaVanchy, Froy Gutierrez, Gattlin Griffith, Patrick Walker, Bart Johnson, Shireen Lai, with Yancy Butler, and Lochlyn Munro (World Premiere)
Director: Natasha Kermani, Screenwriter: Brea Grant
Lucky follows May, a self-help book author with all the answers, who suddenly finds herself stalked by a threatening but elusive masked man, and caught in a struggle to get help from the people around her and maintain control over her own life. Cast: Brea Grant, Hunter C Smith, Kausar Mohammed, Kristina Klebe, Leith M. Burke, Dhruv Uday Singh, Yasmine Al-Bustami (World Premiere)
“PG (Psycho Goreman)” (Canada)
Director/Screenwriter: Steven Kostanski
Siblings Mimi and Luke unwittingly resurrect an ancient alien overlord. Using a magical amulet, they force the monster to obey their childish whims, and accidentally attract a rogues’ gallery of intergalactic assassins to small-town suburbia. Cast: Nita-Josée Hanna, Owen Myre, Adam Brooks, Alexis Hancey, Matthew Ninaber, Steven Vlahos, Kristen MacCulloch, Anna Tierney, Kenneth Welsh (World Premiere)
Director: Natalie Erika James, Screenwriters: Natalie Erika James, Christian White
When Edna, the elderly and widowed matriarch of the family, goes missing, her daughter Kay and granddaughter Sam travel to their remote family home to find her. Soon after her return, they start to discover a sinister presence haunting the house and taking control of Edna. Cast: Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, Bella Heathcote
“Run Sweetheart Run”
Director/Screenwriter: Shana Feste
In Run Sweetheart Run, a blind date turns violent and the woman has to get home on foot through Los Angeles as she’s pursued by her date. Cast: Ella Balinska, Pilou Asbaek, Clark Gregg, Aml Ameen, Dayo Okeniyi, Betsy Brandt, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Director: Robin Pront, Screenwriter: Micah Ranum
A reformed hunter living in isolation on a wildlife sanctuary becomes involved in a deadly game of cat and mouse when he and the local Sheriff set out to track a vicious killer who may have kidnapped his daughter years ago. Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Annabelle Wallis, Hero FIennes Tiffin, Melanie Scrofano, Shaun Smyth, Zahn McClarnon (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Michael Nader
When a young woman and her rideshare driver break down on a dark forest road, each sees the other as a threat. But as strange phenomena begin occurring around them, they gradually realize they’ve become trapped in the world of a terrifying supernatural being: The Toll Man. Cast: Jordan Hayes, Max Topplin, James McGowan, Rosemary Dunsmore (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Keith Thomas
A man providing overnight watch to a deceased member of his former Orthodox Jewish community finds himself opposite a malevolent entity, in writer-director Keith Thomas’ electrifying feature debut. Cast: Dave Davis, Menashe Lustig, Malky Goldman, Lynn Cohen, Fred Melamed ( U.S. Premiere)
Director: Elle Callahan
A woman in the United States helps two young witches seek asylum in Mexico to avoid persecution by American authorities. Cast: Gideon Adlon, Elizabeth Mitchell, Abigail Cowen, The Crovetti Twins, Christian Camargo (World Premiere)
Director: Lars Damoiseaux, Screenwriters: Eveline Hagenbeek, Lars Damoiseaux
Yummy is an orgy of blood, violence and fun in which a young couple travels to a shabby Eastern European hospital for cheap plastic surgery, but they get stuck in the middle of a zombie outbreak. Cast: Maaike Neuville, Bart Hollanders, Clara Cleymans, Benjamin Ramon, Tom Audenaert (North American Premiere)
Acclaimed standouts and selected premieres from festivals around the world.
Director: Bao Nguyen
Be Water is a layered and intimate portrait of an underdog who was able to transcend racism, colonialism, and xenophobia to become one of the most influential cultural figures of our time. Cast: Linda Lee Cadwell, Shannon Lee, Robert Lee, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dan Inosanto, Andre Morgan
Director/Screenwriter: Danny Madden
Set in a southern town, three youth deal with new and old issues of growing up, swirling with trauma, petty crimes, new love and gun violence. Cast: Shirley Chen, Will Madden, Jose Angeles, Courtney Dietz, Daniel Rashid, Kron Moore
Directors: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss
A political coming-of-age story, Boys State examines the health of American democracy through an unusual experiment in which a thousand 17-year-old boys from across Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up. Cast: Steven Garza, Rene Otero, Ben Feinstein, Robert Macdougall
Director: Annie Silverstein, Screenwriters: Annie Silverstein, Johnny McAllister
On the outskirts of Houston, a teen reeling from her mom’s incarceration and an aging bullfighter struggling to keep a foothold in the rodeo circuit, form an unlikely bond and attempt to right their own paths. Cast: Rob Morgan, Amber Havard, Yolonda Ross, Keeli Wheeler, Keira Bennett, Sara Allbright, Troy Hogan, Steven Boyd, Reece McClure, Tadarius Billy Miles
“Charm City Kings”
Director: Angel Manuel Soto, Screenwriters: Sherman Payne, Chris Boyd, Kirk Sullivan, and Barry Jenkins
A young boy joins a dirt bike gang in Baltimore. Feature film adaptation of the documentary 12 O’Clock Boys. Cast: Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Meek Mill, Will Catlett, Donielle Tremaine Hansley, Kezii Curtis, Chino, Lakeyria “Wheelie Queen” Doughty, Chandler DuPont, Tyquan Ford, Teyonah Parris
Director: Michael Angelo Covino, Screenwriter: Michael Angelo Covino, Kyle Marvin
Kyle and Mike are best friends who share a close bond — until Mike sleeps with Kyle’s fiancée. The Climb is about a tumultuous but enduring relationship between two men across many years of laughter, heartbreak and rage. Cast: Kyle Marvin, Michael Angelo Covino, Gayle Rankin, Talia Balsam, George Wendt, Judith Godrèche
Director: Shalini Kantayya
Coded Bias follows MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery that most facial recognition does not accurately see dark-skinned faces and her transformation from scientist to tireless advocate to push for first-ever legislation. Cast: Joy Buolamwini, Cathy O’Neil, Zeynep Tufecki
“Feels Good Man”
Director: Arthur Jones
When indie comic character Pepe the Frog becomes an unwitting icon of hate, his creator fights to bring Pepe back from the darkness.
“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”
Director: Karen Bernstein
Fellini meets Motown in I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, one man’s search for self-acceptance, a journey that included tabloid celebrity, Tupperware parties, and two coming outs – first as a straight woman, then as the gay man he was meant to be.
Director/Screenwriter: Channing Godfrey Peoples
A former beauty queen turned hardworking single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the Miss Juneteenth pageant, hoping to keep her from repeating the same mistakes in life that she made. Cast: Nicole Beharie, Kendrick Sampson, Alexis Chikaeze, Akron Watson, Lori Hayes, Marcus M. Mauldin
“Mucho Mucho Amor”
Directors: Cristina Costantini, Kareem Tabsch
Mucho Mucho Amor follows the iconic, gender non-conforming astrologer Walter Mercado, who mesmerized Latino viewers with his extravagance and positivity for decades. Then, one day, he vanished from the public eye.
Director/Screenwriter: Edson Oda
In a house distant from the reality we know, a reclusive man interviews prospective candidates — personifications of human souls — for the privilege that he once had: to be born. Cast: Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Bill Skarsgard, Benedict Wong, Tony Hale, David Rysdahl, Arianna Ortiz
“The Reason I Jump” (United Kingdom)
Director: Jerry Rothwell
Based on the book by Naoki Higashida this immersive film explores the experiences of nonspeaking autistic people around the world.
Directors/Screenwriters: Alex Fischer, Eleanor Wilson
A young Brooklyn couple head upstate to disconnect from their phones and reconnect with themselves. Cut off from their devices, they miss the news that the planet is under attack. Cast: John Reynolds, Sunita Mani, Ben Sinclair, John Early, Johanna Day, Gary Clark, Jo Firestone, Zenobia Shroff, Amy Sedaris
“A Thousand Cuts”
Director: Ramona S. Diaz
A film about the role of journalism and disinformation’s accelerating effect in the erosion of democracy under the authoritarian regime of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as told through the story of embattled journalist Maria Ressa.
Director: Kim A. Snyder
Determined to turn unfathomable tragedy into action, the teenage survivors of Parkland, Florida catalyze a powerful, unprecedented youth movement that spreads with lightning speed across the country, as a generation of youth take back democracy.
Live soundtracks, cult re-issues and much more. Our Special Events section offers unusual, unexpected and unique one-off film events.
“Bait” (United Kingdom)
Director: Mark Jenkin
Bait (2019) is a brilliantly original and visually daring feature film, written, directed and hand-crafted by Cornish filmmaker Mark Jenkin. For this special presentation, Gwenno Saunders’ new score, performed live with Georgia Ellery (who also plays Kate in the film), blends synth loops, long forgotten Cornish folk records, violin drone and live vocals. Expect the unexpected with this new take on the atmospheric world of Bait! Cast: Edward Rowe, Simon Shepherd, Mary Woodvine, Giles King, Chloe Endean, Georgia Ellery, Isaac Woodvine, Jowan Jacobs (North American Premiere)
“Doug Benson and Master Pancake vs Leprechaun Returns”
Director: Steven Kostanski
Doug Benson (Super High Me, Doug Loves Movies) and Master Pancake (Film-Talkers at Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse) continue their St. Patrick’s Day tradition of interrupting every film in the Leprechaun franchise. This year they tackle Leprechaun Returns.
“Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics”
Director/Screenwriter: Donick Cary
Have A Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics tells the epic story of psychedelics through the surprising and often hilarious drug trips of celebrity storytellers. (World Premiere)
“Out of the Blue” (1980) 4K Restoration (2019) (Canada, U.S.)
Director: Dennis Hopper, Screenwriters: Leonard Yakir, Brenda Nielson
New 4K digital restoration of Dennis Hopper’s 1980 critically acclaimed (but seldom seen) return to the director’s chair after his disastrously received The Last Movie (1971), his follow-up to the world-shaking success of Easy Rider (1969). Cast: Linda Manz, Dennis Hopper, Sharon Farrell, Don Gordon, Raymond Burr
“RAD!” (1986) 4K Restoration (2019)
Director: Hal Needham, Screenwriters: Sam Bernard, Geoffrey Edwards
A bicycle-motocrosser tries to enter a corrupt promoter’s nationally televised cash-prize race. Cast: Bill Allen, Lori Loughlin, Talia Shire, Ray Walston
Episodic Pilot Competition
A pilot showcase introducing fresh work from bright new talent, many with an eye towards finding production, completion funds, or a release platform. Presented in two curated programs.
Directors: Vasilisa Kuzmina, Ivan Petukhov, Screenwriters: Yuliya Gulyan, Ivan Petukhov, Vasilisa Kuzmina
Alisa is an advanced voice assistant for taxi drivers. In each episode of this screenlife show, where everything is perceived from the AI’s POV, Alisa encounters freaky, frightening or funny passengers that question her sense of humour and humanity. (World Premiere)
Director: Rachel Anderson, Screenwriters: Rachel Anderson, Mary Duong
A curious and playful look at growing up between two cultures in Queensland – the Sunshine State – with particular focus on food and family, presented by two Australian-born Asian friends who are awkward, honest, and warm in equal parts. (North American Premiere)
Director: Nic Collins, Screenwriters: Nic Collins, Sean Godsey
Beached follows The Wail, a creature from the deep who has come to Earth to take away humanity’s pain. (World Premiere)
“Bored” (United Kingdom)
Director: Georgia Oakley, Screenwriters: Coral Amiga, Nicole Hartley
Jamie and Eve are best friends who’ve always shared everything… and after drowning their post-Brexit, January sorrows at a party, they really do end up sharing everything. In the sober light of day will things ever be the same again? (North American Premiere)
“Chemo Brain” (Denmark)
Director: Kristian Håskjold, Screenwriters: Johan Wang, Kristian Håskjold
When Oliver is diagnosed with testicular cancer his life is turned upside down. This drama series depicts the derailment of a young man that is doing everything he can to not lose his friends, his girlfriend, himself and ultimately his life.
Director: Alfredo De Villa, Screenwriters: Nick Morton, David Conolly
When Cooper Marino’s career falls apart, he takes refuge in the backyard tiki bar he has painstakingly constructed over 15 years and there finds an unlikely path to his own resurgence. (World Premiere)
Director: Ron Najor, Screenwriters: Trevor Fernando, Ron Najor
The Dream follows Daryl, a broke aspiring film director who’s just moved to Los Angeles, taking his first job as a Production Assistant, and the ragtag gang of PAs that school him on how to survive in this insane and unpredictable work environment. (World Premiere)
Director: Jessica Sanders, Screenwriters: Kathreen Khavari, Chuck Neal
Against the backdrop of Oakland California, Iranian-American medical student Kat tries to save her family by taking on the surprising side hustle of professional cuddling.
Director: Lauren Ludwig, Screenwriter: Kelsey Ledgin
Everyone Together is a comedy series that follows two dysfunctional families from different cultural backgrounds as they clash and bond over a new major family milestone each season. (World Premiere)
“Heart To Heart” (United Kingdom)
Director: Lilah Vandenburgh, Screenwriter: Islay Bell-Webb
A surreal buddy-comedy about the relationship between a terminally ill 21- year-old, Liddy, and her failing heart, Lump, who’s determined to get her a girlfriend – before they both die. (World Premiere)
“Homecoming: The Journey of Cardboard” (Japan)
Directors: Yuko Shiomaki, Anna Thorson Mayer
Fuyuki Shimazu is an artist and cardboard lover who travels around the world to pick up cardboard he likes. His charming up-cycling art activities are depicted in the feature film From All Corners in 2018 and now his new chapter of journey starts. (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Kati Skelton
A love and fantasy-obsessed maid named Kasha begins working at Lusty Crest, a love hotel perched on top of a treacherous mountain. She soon learns that the hotel is plagued by not only human lechers, but supernatural ones as well. (World Premiere)
Directors: Sara Newens, Mina T. Son
Racial tensions are reignited as a historically Black neighborhood in Palm Springs continues the decades-long fight for the removal of a wall of trees that many believe were originally planted as a totem of segregation. (World Premiere)
“This Isn’t Me”
Director: Adrian Rojas Elliot, Screenwriter: Ben Kawaller
An earnest West Hollywood homosexual with a skewed sense of decorum chases meaning and intimacy, routinely humiliating himself and occasionally stumbling into moments of grace.
Additional Features added to the lineup in previously announced sections:
High profile narrative features receiving their World, North American or U.S. premieres at SXSW.
Director/Screenwriter: Robert F. Kennedy III
The true story of outlaw journalist/counter-culture icon Hunter S. Thompson’s unlikely campaign for Sheriff of Aspen, CO, in 1970. Cast: Jay Bulger, Cheryl Hines, Amaryllis Fox, Laird Mackintosh, Maxwell Loeb (World Premiere)
“One of These Days” (Germany)
Director/Screenwriter: Bastian Günther
In a small U.S. southern town, the annual ‘Hands On’ endurance contest offers the chance of a lifetime to win a brand new pickup truck. Each contestant has their own reasons for entering, but the true cost of the competition is higher than it appears. Cast: Carrie Preston, Joe Cole, Callie Hernandez, Bill Callahan ( World Premiere)
Shining a light on new documentary features receiving their World, North American or U.S. premieres at SXSW.
“After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News”
Director: Andrew Rossi
After Truth captures the human toll of false news and conspiracies with unprecedented access to figures in the Pizzagate, Seth Rich, Jade Helm and Alabama special election cases. (World Premiere)
“Good ol Girl”
Director: Sarah Brennan Kolb
Good ol Girl is a documentary western following three modern day cowgirls as they hustle for land, cattle, and respect across Texas. Cast: Sara Lemoine Knox, Mandy Dauses, Martha Santos, Joyce Gibson Roach (World Premiere)
“A Most Beautiful Thing”
Director/Screenwriter: Mary Mazzio
A Most Beautiful Thing chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in this country, made up of young men in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago, all literally coming together to row in the same boat. (World Premiere)
Director: Kevin Ford
Two women of color run for public office and fight against decades of institutional racism, redefining what it means to be a Texan. (World Premiere)
Director: Pat Kondelis
The true story of basketball insider Christian Dawkins, who hustled the FBI in a scandal that threatened to take down the NCAA. (World Premiere)
Visions filmmakers are audacious, risk-taking artists in the new cinema landscape who demonstrate raw innovation and creativity in documentary and narrative filmmaking.
Director/Screenwriter: Boaz Yakin
Aviva is a unique exploration of gender within the self, told through the lens of a modern romantic relationship. Cast: Zina Zinchenko, Bobbi Jene Smith, Tyler Phillips, Or Schraiber (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Caleb Michael Johnson
Alice has been blacking out and craving things she dare not name. When her girlfriends’ dog goes missing, Alice wonders if it could be inside her. Cast: Lindsay Burdge, Tallie Medel, Frank Mosley (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Jeremy Hersh
Jess is thrilled to be the surrogate for her best friend and his husband, but when a prenatal test comes back, it creates a moral dilemma that threatens their friendship. Cast: Jasmine Batchelor, Chris Perfetti, Sullivan Jones, Brooke Bloom, Tonya Pinkins, Eboni Booth, Brandon Micheal Hall, Leon Lewis, Tiffany Villarin (World Premiere)
Presenting world premieres of prestige serials slated for release and accompanied by show-runners, directors and cast members featuring extended Q&As.
Director: Peter LoGreco
From creators Stephen Warren and Johnnie Ingram, this six-part unscripted series recruits small-town residents across America to participate in a one-night-only drag show. Renowned drag queens Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela Laquifa Wadley will inspire and teach their own “drag daughters” to step outside their comfort zone for a night of no-holds-barred, full-on drag. Cast: Caldwell Tidicue (Bob the Drag Queen), David Huggard (Eureka O’Hara), D.J. Pierce (Shangela) (World Premiere)
24 Beats Per Minute
Showcasing the sounds, culture and influence of music and musicians, with an emphasis on documentary.
“Dark City Beneath The Beat”
Director: TT The Artist
Dark City Beneath the Beat is a musical documentary reimagining the narrative of Baltimore, a city rising above social and economic turmoil to develop a vibrant and close-knit community for the arts through its homegrown sound, Baltimore club music. (World Premiere)
“Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time”
Director: Alison Ellwood
Laurel Canyon pulls back the curtain on a mythical world and provides an up-close look at the lives of the musicians who inhabited it. It paints an intimate portrait of the artists who created a music revolution that would change popular culture. (World Premiere)
“Jose Feliciano: Behind This Guitar”
Directors/Screenwriters: Frank Licari, Helen Murphy
The Official Biographical Documentary of the eight time Grammy Winner and international music icon, Jose Feliciano. From being blind at birth in the slums of Puerto Rico to Grammy winner, Jose Feliciano carved a path that few achieved before or since. (U.S. Premiere)
“Sisters with Transistors” (United Kingdom)
Director: Lisa Rovner
Sisters with Transistors is the remarkable untold story of electronic music’s female pioneers, composers who embraced machines and their liberating technologies to utterly transform how we produce and listen to music today. (World Premiere)
A diverse selection of international filmmaking talent, featuring innovative narratives, artful documentaries, premieres, festival favorites and more.
“The Mystery of the Pink Flamingo” (Spain, U.S.)
Director: Javier Polo, Screenwriters: Javier Polo, Sixto Xavier García
A square sound engineer employs unusual research efforts to reveal the secrets behind the quintessential icon of kitsch, the Pink Flamingo. His bizarre adventure will unexpectedly turn into a creative journey to self-discovery. Cast: Rigo Pex, John Waters, Eduardo Casanova, Allee Willis, Kero Kero Bonito, Antonyo Marest, Kitten Kay Sera (World Premiere)