Doubly thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the SXSW Film Festival is making a major return to form this year — featuring premium studio productions from Sandra Bullock and Pete Davidson, notable indies and docs, and a closing night premiere from the new season of Donald Glover’s “ Atlanta.”
In 2020, the Austin- led conference was the first major event to fall to the fleetly- escalating the first wave of coronavirus and was similarly forced to go virtual in 2021 thanks to the delta variant. Now preparing for an in-person program beginning on March 11, Hollywood and indie hopefuls are coming out in force.
Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum’s “ The Lost City.”
Pete Davidson and Amandla Stenberg’s secret A24 slasher film “ Bodies, Bodies, Bodies,” Richard Linklater and Jack Black’s coming-of-age story “ Apollo101/2 A Space Age Childhood” and Nicolas Cage’s “ The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” will all colonize the headliners’ section. In the episodic section, Glover’s long-awaited third chapter of “ Atlanta” will close the festival with the first episode of its new Europe- set adventure. The full program joins the previously- announced opening night film “ Everything Everywhere All at Once,” starring Michelle Yeoh.
“The last two years have been complicated, and full of uncharted new waters for all of us. While there’s been innovation in building community in isolation and figuring out how to pivot, we’ve intensely missed being able to gather together,” said Janet Pierson, SXSW VP and director of fIlm. “We are thrilled to share a bounty of creative work to experience together, in-person, with some virtual possibilities, as well.”
Notables in the narrative competition include “ Spin Me Round,” directed by Jeff Baena with-writer and star Alison Brie; “ The Cow” starring Winona Ryder and Dermot Mulroney; “ To Leslie” with Andrea Riseborough, Allison Janney, and Marc Maron; and A’Keyah Dasia Williams’“ Me Little Me.”
The piled documentary section — which counts the top number of flicks at the festival, per Pierson — includes Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s “ Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down,” “ Kids in the Hall Comedy Punks,” “ More Than Robots” from Gillian Jacobs, and the anticipated “ Still Working 9 to 5,” about workplace inequity and the history of the classic film “ 9 to 5.”
Surely a sign of the streaming times, the festival’s episodic section is full of heavyweights. They include first looks at “ WeCrashed,” Apple’s WeWork saga starring Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto; “ Swimming With Sharks,” a take on the cult terrible boss film starring Kiernan Shipka, Diane Kruger, and Donald Sutherland; the “ texting suicide” scandal drama “ The Girl From Plainville” led by Elle Fanning; Alex Kurtzman’s “ The Man Who Fell to Earth” with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Naomie Harris and Rob Delaney; and “ The Last Movie Stars,” Ethan Hawke’s intimate look at the careers and partnership of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
This year’s program includes 99 featurhttps://noisefromthepit.com/excited-for-a-breathtaking-132-film-features-announced-for-sxsw/es, 76 of which will see their world premieres in Austin. 111 short films and 24 music vids will be screened, as well as 29 XR titles.