After canceling its 2020 event, the SXSW Film Festival announced earlier this month that it would join forces with Amazon Prime Video to provide a free streaming home for selected offerings from this year’s event. The “Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection” has set a launch date of April 27, and will include 39 titles. The virtual lineup includes a number of short films, both narrative and documentary, plus a handful of narrative and documentary features. It also includes three of the Episodics section’s more buzzy titles, including Amazon’s own newly launched sci-fi series “Tales from the Loop.”
“SXSW has always championed creators forging their own paths to success, often with just the right mix of passion, vision and radical experimentation to make their dreams happen,” said Janet Pierson, Director of Film, SXSW, in an official statement. “There is no one-size-fits-all, especially in these uncertain times, and we knew this opportunity would be of interest to those filmmakers who wanted to be in front of a large audience now. We believe people will be captivated by this selection of intriguing work that would have been shown at our 2020 event.”
Filmmakers who had films selected for the official 2020 SXSW Film Festival lineup were invited to opt in to take part in the online film festival, which will play exclusively on Prime Video in the U.S. for 10 days, from April 27 until May 6. The one-time event will be free to all U.S. audiences with or without an Amazon Prime membership, though all are required to have a free Amazon account.
In addition to online panels and Q&As produced by SXSW to round out the programming, filmmaker Alma Har’el’s Free the Work is collaborating with Prime Video to promote and raise awareness for this program, organizing hosted panels featuring films and filmmakers from the lineup. Free the Work is a nonprofit initiative “dedicated to identifying systemic inequalities in film, television, advertising, and media, and finding actionable solutions to expand access for underrepresented creators.”
A number of SXSW’s robust short films are already available for online viewing. And, until the lineup launches on April 27, feel free to spend some time diving into IndieWire’s remote coverage of the festival, including reviews, interviews, and much more.
Check out the full list of titles streaming on Prime Video from April 27 through May 6 below, including official synopses from SXSW. All titles will be streaming right here.
“Cat in the Wall” / Bulgaria, UK, France (Directors, screenwriters and producers: Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova) — This terriﬁc comedy-drama is set on a southeast London council estate, which is riven by social and economic divisions and threatened by the all-consuming force of gentriﬁcation. Irina, a Bulgarian woman lives there with her small son and her brother. The lift serves as a toilet, the multi-cultural residents exchange shouts rather than pleasantries, and an expensive refurbishment is undesired but must be paid for. And in the midst of this: an apparently ownerless cat which has had enough of the heated atmosphere barricades itself ‘in the wall’, requiring the residents to collaborate. “Cat in the Wall” is an arresting critique of society, a whirlpool of emotions from despair to joie de vivre conveyed by strongly delineated characters. This heart-warming tale, shot in a documentary style, is this year’s equivalent of director Ken Loach’s “I, Daniel Blake.” Cast: Irina Atanosova, Angel Genov, Gilda Waugh
“Gunpowder Heart” / Guatemala (Director and screenwriter: Camila Urrutia, Producer: Inés Nofuentes) — Claudia and Maria have fallen in love. They live in the city of Guatemala, a city full of stories related to abuse, unforgiving police officers, and charming secret corners. Everything changes one night when they are attacked by three men. They manage to escape but they now have to choose if they want revenge. Cast: Andrea Henry, Vanessa Hernández
“Le Choc du Futur” / France (Director and screenwriter: Marc Collin, Co-Writer: Elina Gakou-Gomba, Producers: Marc Collin, Nicolas Jourdier, Gaelle Ruffier) — In the Paris of 1978, old formulas do not charm listeners anymore and new music must arise. In a male-dominated industry, Ana uses her electronic gadgets to make herself heard, creating a new sound that will mark the decades to come: the music of the future. Cast: Alma Jodorowsky, Philippe Rebbot, Clara Luciani
“Selfie” / France (Directors: Tristan Aurouet, Thomas Bidegain, Marc Fitoussi, Cyril Gelblat, Vianney Lebasque, Screenwriters: Giulio Callegari, Noé Debré, Hélène Lombard, Julien Sibony, Bertrand Soulier, Producers: Mandoline Films, Chez Georges Productions) — Algorithms, Technophobics, Dating App addicts, Vloggers, cloud security breach… each one of us can relate to the wired madness happening on screen. In five subversive and hilarious Black Mirror-like tales, Selfie takes on our digital shortcomings and shows how the new 2.0 era is driving all of us nuts! Cast: Blanche Gardin, Manu Payet, Elsa Zylberstein
“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” / U.S. (Director and Producer: Karen Bernstein, Co-Producer: Nevie Owens) — Fellini meets Motown in “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” the tragi-comedic tale of 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 born to be. Cast: Brian Belovitch aka “Tish,” Gloria Walker, Michael Musto
“My Darling Vivian” / U.S. (Director: Matt Riddlehoover, Producers: Dustin Tittle, Matt Riddlehoover) — The story of Vivian Liberto, Johnny Cash’s first wife and the mother of his four daughters. Includes never-before-seen footage and photographs of Johnny Cash and Rosanne Cash, as well as footage featuring Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Tim Robbins, Whoopi Goldberg, John C. Reilly and many more.
“TFW NO GF” / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Alex Lee Moyer, Producers: Adam Bhala Lough, Cody Wilson, Ariel Pink, Alex Lee Moyer, Michael Reich, John Eisenman, Matt Ornstein, Claire Bargout, Deagan White, Barrett Avner) — Born from the internet, the phrase “TFW NO GF” was originally used online to describe a lack of romantic companionship. Since then, it has evolved to symbolize a greater state of existence defined by isolation, rejection and alienation. The meme’s protagonist, “WOJAK,” has become the mascot to a vast online community consisting of self-described “hyper-anonymous twenty somethings” and “guys who slipped between the cracks.” “TFW NO GF” asks: How has the zeitgeist come to bear down on a generation alienated by the ‘real world’? Meet the lost boys who came of age on the internet in places like 4chan and Twitter, where they find camaraderie in despair.
“A Period Piece” / U.S., France (Director and screenwriter: Shuchi Talati, Producer: Esra Saydam, Co-Producer: Claire Chassagne) — Geetha, a control and order loving Indian-American woman, finally has sex with Vehd one afternoon but things quickly turn messy, causing a fight to erupt mid-coitus. Cast: Sonal Aggarwal, Nardeep Khurmi
“Basic” / U.S. (Director, screenwriter and producer: Chelsea Devantez, Co-Producer: Kevin Walsh) — Basic is a very, very, very short film about a dumb lil’ ho doing lil’ ho things. Starring Nelson Franklin, Georgia Mischak, and Chelsea Devantez, who also wrote and directed. It’s a darkish comedy exploring the insecure lil’ ho in all of us.
“Blocks” / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Bridget Moloney, Producers: Kate Chamuris, Kristin Slaysman, Valerie Steinberg) — An existential comedy about the mother of two young children who begins to spontaneously vomit toy blocks. Cast: Claire Coffee, Mark Webber, Ruha Taslimi
“Broken Bird” / U.S. (Director, screenwriter and producer: Rachel Harrison Gordon) — Birdie, a biracial girl raised by her Jewish mom in a New Jersey suburb, spends a rare day with her father while preparing for her Bat Mitzvah. She overcomes her doubts, and decides to risk inviting him back into her life. Birdie confronts what independence means as she steps into adulthood on her own terms. Cast: Indigo Hubbard-Salk, Chad L. Coleman
“Daddio” / U.S. (Director, screenwriter producer: Casey Wilson, Co-Writer: Laura Kindred, Co-Producers: Ursula Camack, Laura Kindred, Adam Silver) — “Daddio” is a comedy about death. A year after the sudden passing of their beloved wife and mother, a dad and daughter grapple with life after loss. Grief looks very different on both of them. Paul, played by Michael McKean, is manic. He gets a perm and begs neighbors to hot tub with him. Abby, played by Casey Wilson is depressed. She sleeps in her closet and uses a shopping cart for a laundry basket. At its heart, Daddio is a love story between a father and daughter after the unimaginable has happened. Based on real death events. Cast: Michael McKean, Casey Wilson, June Diane Raphael, Adam Pally
“Dirty” / U.S. (Director: Matthew Puccini, Producers: Cecilia Delgado, Jeremy Truong, Matthew Puccini) — Marco cuts class to spend the afternoon with his boyfriend. Things do not go as planned. Cast: Morgan Sullivan, Manny Dunn
“Face to Face Time” / U.S. (Director, screenwriter and producer: Izzy Shill) — Claire takes the bold step of initiating a FaceTime call, only to discover Danny’s flaccid enthusiasm for her. Cast: Izzy Shill, Sean Patrick McGowan
“Father of the Bride” / U.K. (Director and screenwriter: Rhys Marc Jones, Producer: Alex Polunin) — The best man attempts to keep face and deliver his speech at his brother’s wedding, following an advance in the hotel bathroom by the father of the bride. Cast: Jay Lycurgo, Dominic Mafham, Marcus Rutherford, Isabelle Connolly
“Figurant” / France, Czech Republic (Director and screenwriter: Jan Vejnar, Producers: Origine Films / Silk Films) — A man follows a group of workers coming for daywork in an industrial area. Soon, he’s stripped from his clothes and identity, dressed in a military uniform and armed. His determination not to fall behind the others is then tested by a series of unsettling events. Cast: Denis Lavant
“Reminiscences of the Green Revolution” / Phillipines, U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Dean Colin Marcial, Producer: Armi Rae Cacanindin) — A ghost story about love and eco-terrorism in the Philippines. Cast: Annicka Dolonius, Sid Lucero, Abner Delina Jr.
“Runon” / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Daniel Newell Kaufman, Producer: Lizzie Shaprio) — All Luke and his mom have are two garbage bags full of clothes, and two tickets out of town on the midnight Greyhound. Like he’s assembling a puzzle, Luke has to figure out the why of it — all before the person they’re running from puts together the pieces. Cast: Erin Markey, Luke Visiage, Mike Alonzo
“Single” / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Ashley Eakin, Producer: Connie Jo Sechrist) — A girl born with one arm goes on a blind date with a guy who has one hand…and she is pissed! Cast: Delaney Feener, Jordan Wiseley
“SOFT” / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Daniel Antebi, Producers: Casey Bader, Reid Hannaford, Nicole Quintero Ochoa) — Sam — 16, queer, and falling in love — struggles to untangle himself from his abusive martial arts coach. Cast: Josh Lerner, Benicio Franqui, Alex Kramer
“Still Wylde” / U.S., Canada (Director and screenwriter: Ingrid Haas, Producers: Devin Lawrence and Katie White) — Gertie and her sometimes boyfriend, Sam, are faced with a major life decision only to realize that even when they know what they want, life has other plans. Cast: Ingrid Haas, Barry Rothbart, Sabrina Jalees
“Summer Hit” / Germany (Director and screenwriter: Berthold Wahjudi, Producers: Melissa Byrne, Philipp Link) — Laia from Spain and Emil from Iceland are Erasmus students in Munich. After having sex for a couple of times, Emil professes his love to Laia — but she panics and runs away. Now the two have to figure out whether they are more than just a summer fling. Cast: Martina Roura, Atli Benedikt, Katrin Filzen
“The Voice in Your Head” / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Graham Parkes, Producer: Brendan Garrett) — A surreal comedy about an office worker who has resigned himself to spending every waking hour tortured by the negative voice in head, until a concerned co-worker decides to take action. Cast: Lewis Pullman, Mat Wright, Trian Longsmith
“Vert” / U.K. (Director and screenwriter: Kate Cox, Producers: Nick Rowell, Sophie Reynolds, Gabriele Lo Giudice) — Emelia (BAFTA Nominee Nikki Amuka-Bird) and Jeff (Nick Frost) are an open-minded couple celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary by venturing into the Virtual world of “Vert” together. Vert presents them with a character that is their ‘ideal self’ and what is supposed to be re-awakening for them as a couple becomes the unearthing of Jeff’s secret. Cast: Nikki Amuka-Bird, Nick Frost, Olivia Vinall
“Waffle” / U.S. (Director: Carlyn Hudson, Screenwriters and producers: Katie Marovitch & Kerry Barker, Co-Producers: Pamela Robison, Bridgett Greenberg) — Kerry is at a sleepover with the socially awkward, mysteriously orphaned heiress Katie. Friendship — in a society that grows ever isolating — is explored as Kerry learns the hard way that Katie always gets what she wants. Cast: Katie Marovitch, Kerry Barker, Raphael Chestang
“Affurmative Action” / U.S. (Director: Travis Wood) — An exploration of workplace diversity through “meet the team” pages.
“Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business” / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Christine Turner, Producer: Erin Wright) — At 93, there’s no stopping when it comes to the legendary artist Betye Saar.
“Broken Orchestra” / U.S., Canada (Director: Charlie Tyrell, Screenwriter: Josef Beeby, Producer: Julie Baldassi) — A documentary short about the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, which collected hundreds of broken instruments from the Philadelphia public school system, fixed them and then returned them into the hands of students.
“Call Center Blues” / U.S. (Director: Geeta Gandbhir, Producer: Jessica Devaney) — “Call Center Blues” is a lyrical portrait of an unlikely community of US deportees and their loved ones struggling to rebuild their lives in Tijuana, Mexico.
“Dieorama” / U.S. (Director: Kevin Staake, Producer: Ryen Bartlett) — Abigail Goldman spends her work days as an investigator for a public defender’s office in Washington state, helping people who are seriously in trouble—which can mean hours of staring at grisly pictures of crime scenes, visiting morgues, even observing autopsies. By night, she dreams up gruesome events, which she then turns into tiny, precise dioramas. Rife with scenes of imminent death and brutal dismemberment, the fruits of Goldman’s painstaking labor would be adorable … if they weren’t so disturbing. In this new documentary short, we follow along as Goldman brings her miniature worlds of murder and mayhem to life with tweezers, paint, and resin, and meet the people who just can’t get enough of her twisted visions—where the final touch is always, in the artist’s words, “two or three brushstrokes of red paint.”
“Hiplet: Because We Can” / U.S. (Director and producer: Addison Wright) — Created with the intention to inspire young Black women, this film brings the Hiplet™ [hip-lay] ballerinas to center stage. With elements of a Short Film, Music Video, and Documentary, this artistic work showcases not only the talent of the Hiplet ballerinas, it also gives them a platform to discuss the challenges they have faced with giving traditional ballet a hip new twist. Cast: Homer Hans Bryant, Jayda Perry, Nia Parker
“Lions in the Corner” / U.S. (Director: Paul Hairston, Producer: Jake Ewald) — In Virginia, Scarface started Streetbeefs in his backyard to combat gun and knife violence in the area. Soon it turned into something much more for the men involved. Cast: Chris Wilmore
“Mizuko (Water Child)” / U.S. (Directors: Katelyn Rebelo, Kira Dane, Writer: Kira Dane, Producers: Amy Hobby for Tribeca Film Institute) — In Japan, there is a special way to grieve after having an abortion. This Buddhist ritual, called the water children memorial, allows people to metaphorically return their lost children to the sea. Told through the Japanese American filmmaker’s personal story of abortion in the US, “Mizuko (Water Child)” is a partially animated, intimate reckoning with the impact of this cultural context.
“Modern Whore” / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Nicole Bazuin, Producer: Lisa Baylin) — Former escort Andrea Werhun shares the ins and outs of escort review board culture, exposing the complexities of sexual power and social stigma in a post-#MeToo world. Cast: Andrea Werhun, Chester Brown, Michael Cuddy
“No Crying at the Dinner Table” / Canada (Director: Carol Nguyen, Producers: Carol Nguyen, Aziz Zoromba) — Filmmaker Carol Nguyen interviews her own family to craft an emotionally complex and meticulously composed portrait of intergenerational trauma, grief, and secrets in this cathartic documentary about things left unsaid.
“Quilt Fever” / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Olivia Loomis Merrion) — Every year, thousands of quilters descend upon Paducah, Kentucky for its annual quilt competition, doubling the town’s population. “The Academy Awards of quilting” is a weeklong spectacle in which quilters from all over the world vie for the coveted Best of Show award. Beyond the competition, the film weaves through stories of individual quilters to reveal deeper motivations behind the art.
“Cursed Films” / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Jay Cheel, Producers: Andrew Nicholas McCann Smith, Laura Perlmutter, Brian Robertson, Jay Cheel) — “Cursed Films” is a five-part documentary series from Shudder exploring the myths and legends behind some of Hollywood’s notoriously “cursed” horror film productions. From plane accidents and bombings during the making of The Omen, to the rumoured use of human skeletons on the set of Poltergeist, these stories are legendary amongst film fans and filmmakers alike. But where does the truth lie?
“Motherland: Fort Salem” / U.S. (Creator: Eliot Laurence) — Set in an alternate America where witches ended their persecution by cutting a deal with the government to fight for the country, “Motherland: Fort Salem” follows three young women from training to deployment, as they fight terrorist threats with supernatural tactics.
“Tales from the Loop” / U.S., Canada (Creator/Writer: Nathaniel Halpern, Director: Mark Romanek, Executive Producers: Nathaniel Halpern, Matt Reeves, Mark Romanek, Adam Kassan, Rafi Crohn, Mattias Montero, Samanthan Taylor Pickett, Adam Berg and Simon Stålenhag) – Based on the acclaimed art of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, Tales from the Loop explores the town and people who live above “The Loop,” a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe. In this fantastical, mysterious town poignant human tales are told that bare universal emotional experiences while drawing on the intrigue of genre storytelling. Cast: Rebecca Hall, Paul Schneider, Daniel Zolghadri, Duncan Joiner, Jonathan Pryce