The clash of film, music and tech each year at Austin’s South by South West often results in some culture-shifting work. As a breeding ground for the indie set, the movies that come hurtling out of Texas’s cultural capital are usually some of the best moviegoers will see all year. These 10 are the films we’re looking forward to seeing most.
Support the Girls (above)
Andrew Bujalski’s 2002 film Funny Ha Ha kicked off the mumblecore movement before Oscar-nominated players like Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig gave it the image and legitimacy it has today. His newest film is a hard pivot: Regina Hall leads the girl group of your wildest dreams (Junglepussy, AJ Michalka, and Xanthippe from Kimmy Schmidt to name a few) as they try to make it through one day at a Hooters-esque sports bar called Double Whammies.
More Human Than Human
Sophia the Robot may be a media darling with her gif-able reaction faces, but the general threat posed by A.I.—and not the cute Haley Joel Osment variety—is explored in More Human Than Human. Directors Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting meet the world’s robotic pioneers and A.I. experts to uncover the good, the bad, and the ugly about what our tech-obsessed society will soon be faced with.
Hannah Marks—who carved out a cult fanbase with a role on BBC America’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency—is making her writing and directing debut with Shotgun. In what sounds like a kind of Fault in Our Stars for the Beavis and Butthead generation, Elliott (Jeremy Allen White) and Mia (Maika Monroe) rush to put a ring on it with a shotgun wedding when one of them gets diagnosed with cancer. Co-directed by Joey Power, it’s looking to be a worthy frontrunner in the SXSW comedy race.
Call me “Daddy.” At least, that’s what a young Anna is forced to call her mysterious minder in Fritz Bohm’s Wildling. The creepiest thriller to hit the big screen since Let the Right One In, Anna (Bel Powley) spends her childhood locked in an attic. Daddy (Brad Dourif) tells her stories of a child-eating creature in the woods called the Wildling to keep her from venturing outside. When she’s rescued by a local sheriff (Liv Tyler) at age 16, Anna is finally allowed to lead a normal life—that is, until the nightmares of a fucked-up past return to haunt her.
Meow Wolf: Origin Story
Popular Santa Fe art collective Meow Wolf laughs in the face of minimalism, dousing everything in neon-colored extravaganza. Their brand of no-holds-barred excess has landed them wild success and a loyal following. This documentary traces the events leading up to their trippy interactive exhibit The House of Eternal Return and shows how Game of Thrones mastermind George R. R. Martin became their number one fan.
Weed the People
Cannabis is good for more than just a good high. This documentary, produced by Cry-Baby’s Ricki Lake, examines the herb’s medicinal properties and dives into the lives of parents who are forced to go underground in search of the drug just for a chance of saving their children from cancer. Their stories beg the question: why is the government so determined to keep the drug out of the hands of the people who need it the most?
The Gospel of Eureka
Glamorous drag. Christ’s crucifixion. You may think these two things are at odds with one another but you’d be wrong, as seen in Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher’s eclectic documentary dipping into Eureka Springs, Arkansas—a small Southern town that hosts an annual gospel drag show about Christ’s last days. The film is narrated by genreless artist Mx Justin Vivian Bond and guaranteed to bring about the Second Coming.
A Quiet Place
Two children, John Krasinski, and a 9 months pregnant Emily Blunt must stay absolutely silent in this post-apocalyptic thriller. If they make any sound, the Last Family faces being hunted by the mysterious creatures that populate this new world and linger just outside the frame of the film’s spooky trailer. A Quiet Place marks Krasinski’s third time in the director’s chair for a feature film but his first attempt at horror.
Nijla Mu’min is a name you’re about to be hearing a lot more of. Her film Jinn tells the story of Summer, a black 17-year-old Instagram celebrity who has to grapple with faith and sexuality when her mom (Luke Cage’s Simone Missick) converts to Islam and she meets an attractive Muslim classmate (It Comes at Night’s Kevin Harrison Jr.). It’s your classic coming-of-age story told from a rarely seen but vital perspective.
The New Romantic
For Blake Conway, played by Jessica Barden, the end of college is synonymous with The End of the F***ing World. Before graduation, the senior gives herself over to adventure, becoming a sugar baby and documenting the process in hopes of landing a lucrative journalism award. Riffing on student debt and Seeking Arrangements, The New Romantic is truly a comedy-drama of our time.