It’s got premieres of rom-coms, raunch-coms, fem-coms, a few regular ol’ coms, a WTF movie starring a rum-soaked Matthew McDonaughey and the single most anticipated second film since Pulp Fiction. You like music docs? How about a whole sidebar of ’em, including ones on Lil Peep, Johnny Cash, boy-band impresario Lou Pearlman, CREEM Magazine, a legendary rock photographer and a guitarist who’s devoted his life to playing like Jimmy Page? Follow-up question: How does the idea of walking out of an early preview of a Hollywood blockbuster-to-be, the kind that features A-list stars, and then walking a few blocks to see a movie that was filmed on a phone and cost about as much as a weekend bar tab?
This is what you’ll get when you go to the 2019 edition of SXSW, the Austin, Texas-based film festival that began as an offshoot of the multi-tentacled music/tech/interactive/etc. event and has, over the years, transformed itself into the sort of destination fest you plan vacations around. There’s still a lot of lower-than-lo-fi Amerindies and the sort of midnight schlock-and-awe psychotronica that’s been the main bread and butter of the film fest, now in its 26th year. But over the last decade, bigger names have begun to realize that the festival is the perfect place to unveil certain types of projects (SXSW audiences are particularly friendly to comedy and horror). Up-and-coming filmmakers who’ve been nurtured here have come back with bigger, bolder works or provided keynote addresses. The chance for discoveries beyond the rough, raw $500,000-and-under character studies that characterized a lot of the early programming has risen exponentially. It’s grown into something that’s the best(-ish) of many worlds now.
And this year’s festival, which runs from March 8th to the 17th, is no different. Below are 25 movies we’re looking forward to seeing, or have seen and can’t wait to share, at SXSW 2019. It’s going to be a very good year.