11 SXSW Movies Filmmakers Should Get Excited About
Mar 1, 2022
For the first time in over two years, the SXSW Film Festival is back in action with a full, in-person experience. And for those of us aspiring filmmakers, video professionals, and cinephiles, this is big news in terms of what it means for the industry overall.
It’s also just great to see that avenues are re-opening for all of the bright up-and-coming filmmakers from across the world to really get their films, their new ideas, and exciting creative visions back out there.
And as a long-time SXSW journalist and attendee can tell you, the SXSW Film experience is truly one of the best ways to cover the latest film trends, emerging video technologies, and insights into how the industry is shaping for a post-Covid future.
So, looking specifically at the films from the SXSW 2022 lineup, let’s highlight some of this year’s best and most exciting titles, as well as try to glean some inside information into how these films can help inspire your next films and video projects.
Director/screenwriter: Richard Linklater.
Synopsis: A coming-of-age story set in the suburbs of Houston, Texas in the summer of 1969, centered around the historic Apollo 11 moon landing (World Premiere).
Cast list: Jack Black, Zachary Levi, Glen Powell, Josh Wiggins, Milo Coy, Lee Eddy, Bill Wise, Natalie L’Amoreaux, Jessica Brynn Cohen, Sam Chipman, Danielle Guilbot.
Why filmmakers should watch: Richard Linklater has long been a “filmmakers' filmmaker'' known for his wide and far-reaching variety of project scopes. His latest endeavor, an animated feature film for Netflix, further proves that if you’re comfortable with the language of film, then no matter the genre or format, there can be a great story to tell.
Directors/Screenwriters: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheiner.
Synopsis: Everything Everywhere All At Once is a hilarious and big-hearted sci-fi action adventure about an exhausted Chinese American woman (Michelle Yeoh) who can’t seem to finish her taxes. (World Premiere) (Opening Night)
Cast list: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum JR., James Hong, Jamie Lee Curits.
Why filmmakers should watch: As their first combined follow-up after their festival favorite yet controversial debut feature Swiss Army Man, the director duo of Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheiner) look to back in top form combining their odd sense of humor with their precise concepting and execution with their highly ambitious next film.
Starring veteran actress and stuntwoman Michelle Yeoh, the two Daniels’ journey through their own creative multi-verse will certainly make waves for other aspiring filmmakers and creatives in general.
Director: Tom Gormican.
Synopsis: In this delirious action-comedy, Nicolas Cage plays…Nic Cage. Caught between a dangerous superfan (Pedro Pascal) and a CIA operative (Tiffany Haddish), Cage must reflect upon the legacy of his career to save himself and his loved ones (World Premiere).
Cast list: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Lily Sheen, Neil Patrick Harris, Tiffany Haddish.
Why filmmakers should watch: One of the biggest star-studded vehicles at this year’s SXSW (that isn’t a secret screening at least), The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent might be the best film of Nicolas Cage’s career — if at least because it’s all about him.
Cast as a version of himself, Nic Cage is certainly in his element as he helms what should be another successful SXSW star-studded film which might have a bit more to say than your usual Nic Cage film.
Director: Nyla Innuksuk.
Synopsis: In a remote Arctic community, a group of Inuit girls fight off an alien invasion, all while trying to make it to the coolest party in town (World Premiere).
Cast list: Tasiana Shirley, Alexis Wolfe, Chelsea Prusky, Frankie Vincent-Wolfe, Nalajoss Ellsworth.
Why filmmakers should watch: Competing in this year’s Narrative Feature Competition presented by Panavision, Slash/Black tells the story of a group of 14-year-old Inuit girls and is the first feature film ever shot in Pangnirtung, Nuvanut.
Writer, director, and producer Nyla Innuksuk should be an inspirational voice to watch as a multi-hyphenated creator who runs a virtual reality company and creates characters for Marvel comics while making her debut feature film.
Director: Daresha Kyi.
Synopsis: Mama Bears is an intimate exploration of two “mama bears” — conservative, Christian mothers who have become fierce advocates for LGBTQ+ people — and a young lesbian whose struggle for self-acceptance exemplifies why the mama bears are so important. (World Premiere).
Why filmmakers should watch: Highlighting one of the films from this year’s Documentary Feature Competition, Mama Bears promises to keep up SXSW’s reputation as a great festival not just for headliners and narrative features, but for strong and insightful documentary projects as well.
As all good documentaries aim to do, Mama Bears looks to be a unique story, with unique characters, and filmed in a unique way.
Director: Halina Reijn.
Synopsis: When a group of rich 20-somethings plan a hurricane party at a remote family mansion, a party game turns deadly in this fresh and funny look at backstabbing, fake friends, and one party gone very, very wrong (World Premiere).
Cast list: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson, Rachel Sennott, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Lee Pace.
Why filmmakers should watch: Making its world premiere as a Headliner film at this year's SXSW, Bodies Bodies Bodies promises to be one of the most talked-about films from this year’s festival.
Making her feature film debut, director Halina Reijn has pulled together a very intriguing mix-and-match cast including the likes of Pete Davidson, Lee Pace, and Amandla Stenberg.
Director/Screenwriter: Reggie Yates.
Synopsis: Pirates is an exuberant comedy about three friends driving from North to South London on New Year’s Eve 1999 in search of tickets to the hottest party in town, and set to a soundtrack of the biggest UK Garage hits of the 90s (International Premiere).
Cast list: Elliot Edusah, Jordan Peters, Reda Elazouar, Kassius Nelson, Youssef Kerkour, Rebekkah Murrell, Shiloh Coke, Tosin Cole, Aaron Shosanya.
Why filmmakers should watch: Part of this year’s Narrative Spotlight section at SXSW, the UK-produced comedy drama Pirates might end up being one of this year’s breakout hits. Armed with a smart script, punchy, accented dialogue, and a killer soundtrack, up-and-coming writer, director, and creator Reggie Yates looks to build a brand with a strong feature film debut.
Director/Screenwriter: Ti West.
Synopsis: In 1979, a group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in rural Texas, but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives (World Premiere).
Cast list: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure, Scott Mescudi.
Why filmmakers should watch: One of the most anticipated films from this year’s SXSW, the ominously titled X has already been picked up by A24 and is slated for release in March.
However, as the festival circuit has been a bit bare over the past year and a half, SXSW might be the best shot for any A24 horror fans to check out Ti West’s latest horror-comedy hybrid to glimpse into what will most certainly be another cultural phenomenon.
Director: Dean Fleischer-Camp.
Synopsis: Marcel, a one-inch-tall shell, lives a miniature life with his grandma Connie and their pet lint, Alan. When the trio goes viral, they get millions of fans and new hope for finding their long-lost family, in this big-hearted big-screen adventure (Texas Premiere).
Cast list: Jenny Slate, Isabella Rossellini, Dean Fleischer-Camp.
Why filmmakers should watch: Since making its debut as a stop-motion animated short film back in 2010, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On has become a viral sensation that was featured as an official selection in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Back now as a feature film, original creator Dean Fleischer-Camp re-teams up with actress and comedian Jenny Slate to take their little shell friend on a new adventure into the post-viral world of narrative cinema.
Director/Screenwriter: Teemu Nikki.
Synopsis: An intense movie, shot from a blind man’s perspective. An atypical action/thriller film about a man who has to go through hell to reach his loved one (North American Premiere).
Cast list: Petri Poikolainen, Marjaana Maijala, Samuli Jaskio, Rami Rusinen, Hannamaija Nikander, Matti Onnismaa.
Why filmmakers should watch: As part of the Visions section of SXSW which focuses on the audacious and risk-taking artists in new cinema, The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic truly blends raw innovation and creativity between documentary and narrative filmmaking.
Written and directed by Finnish filmmaker Teemu Nikki, this atypical thriller should be another inspiring new film voice at this year’s festival.
Director/Screenwriter: Mariana Bastos.
Synopsis: During her first days in a small town, Raquel, a religious teenager, has a mysterious experience that leads her to take on a challenging and controversial mission related to the Bible (World Premiere).
Cast list: Valentina Herszage, Emilio de Mello, Priscila Bittencourt, Eduarda Samara, Ravel Andrade.
Why filmmakers should watch: Finally, as part of SXSW’s Global presented by MUBI section which highlights film selections from across the world, Mariana Bastos’s Raquel 1:1 looks to be an intense, and possibly controversial, take on a religious upbringing in Brazil.
Known for its penchant for coming-of-age stories, SXSW’s favorite sub-genre should get another strong contender for one of the best films to check out.
Be sure to follow along with Soundstripe for more film festival coverage as well as your usual blend of filmmaking advice, tips, and tricks from the blog: