SXSW has quickly become one of my favorite Festivals to attend as a GIFF programmer. I am always blown away by SXSW’s commitment to taking risks on the films they program. Their films showcase innovative stories that break from convention in an artistic and unique way. I also appreciate SXSW for discovering emerging talent; so many of their first-time filmmakers go on to have booming careers in the entertainment industry. My plan of attack at SXSW is usually to go after narrative features, specifically comedies and thrillers. Many of these SXSW genre films end up being fan favorites and I am excited to see what I am able to bring back to GIFF. I also will of course be on the lookout for social impact films that highlight issues that I think would be important for our audience to gain exposure to. Films directed by women will also be high on my radar in hoping to make our program over half female directed this year.
Below are my top five most anticipated films at SXSW, be sure to follow my journey on GIFF social media.
GALVESTON directed by Melanie Laurent
After surviving a setup by his criminal boss, a hitman (Ben Foster) rescues a young prostitute (Elle Fanning) and flees with her to Galveston, Texas, where the two find strength in each other as dangerous pursuers and the shadows of their pasts follow close behind.
WILDLING directed by Fritz Bohm
Anna (BEL POWLEY) spends her entire childhood under the care of a mysterious man she only knows as Daddy (BRAD DOURIF). He keeps her locked in an attic making her fear the Wildling, a child-eating monster that roams the outside. At age 16, Anna is freed by small-town sheriff Ellen Cooper (LIV TYLER) who helps her start a new life as a normal teenager. But as Anna’s body begins to blossom, her childhood nightmares return with a vengeance, leading to the conclusion of a dark secret…
A VIGILANTE directed by Sarah Daggar Nickson
A once abused woman, Sadie (Olivia Wilde), devotes herself to ridding victims of their domestic abusers while hunting down the husband she must kill to truly be free. A Vigilante is a thriller inspired by the strength and bravery of real domestic abuse survivors and the incredible obstacles to safety they face.
THE UNICORN directed by Robert Schwartzman
When an engaged couple, Caleb and Malory are forced to go to Palm Springs for a weekend to celebrate Malory’s parents’ 25th wedding vow renewal, they discover the secret to their happy marriage—threesomes. Horrified but intrigued, and determined to properly celebrate their own ‘re-engagement,’ they set out on a wild night in search of a threesome of their own.
PROFILE directed by Timur Behmambetov
Looking to investigate the recruitment techniques used by ISIS to lure women into Syria as Jihadi brides, Amy Whittaker, a freelance journalist, creates a fake Facebook profile of a Muslim convert. When an ISIS recruiter contacts her online character, Amy comes across an opportunity to experience the process first hand. But with every passing call, the border dissolves between her real and online lives. While the Facebook character plays a love game, real Amy begins to experience Stockholm Syndrome, putting herself in danger. Based on the best-selling memoir, In the Skin of the Jihadist, by French journalist Anna Erelle, the action unfolds entirely within the bounds of Amy’s computer screen.