SXSW: Charli XCX, Tom Petty Docs Set as Headliners for Virtual Fest

Charli XCX Tom Petty
Theo Wargo/Getty Images; Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

They join the world premiere of the Demi Lovato docuseries 'Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil,' which will open the pared-down fest.

The film lineup for the virtual 2021 SXSW festival includes 75 features and 57 world premieres, with the fest's headliner screenings consisting of all nonfiction titles focusing on musicians.

Acting as the centerpiece screening will be Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free from director Mary Wharton, who drew from a newly discovered archive of 16mm film showing the late singer at work on his 1994 record Wildflowers. The fest's closing night film will be Alone Together, which follows Charli XCX as the popstar embarks on a whirlwind creative and romantic journey while making an album in 40 days in quarantine.

They both join the previously announced opening night film, the world premiere of the Demi Lovato docuseries Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil.

SXSW, which will run March 16-20, will launch seven films at a time in two-hour increments, with most of the films launching during the first three days of the event.

“We feel privileged to have been able to pivot to SXSW Online and present a fantastic treasure trove of programming, including a pared-down and wonderful selection of films that we know will delight, entertain and move our attendees," said Janet Pierson, SXSW director of film. "While we won’t have the wonderful in-person SXSW that we know and love, we can gather together to be inspired by the work.”

The festival's competitions titles include the Jenna Ortega- and Maddie Ziegler-starring The Fall Out, documentary about Selma Blair and her living with Multiple Sclerosis

The competition and spotlight programs for narrative and documentary titles can be found below, and the rest of the 2021 lineup can be found here.

NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION

Here Before (United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Stacey Gregg, Producer: Sophie Vickers
After new neighbours move in next door, a bereaved mother begins to question her reality in this unsettling psychological thriller. Cast List: Andrea Riseborough, Martin McCann, Jonjo O’Neill, Eileen O’Higgins (World Premiere)

I'm Fine (Thanks For Asking)
Directors: Kelley Kali, Angelique Molina, Screenwriters: Kelley Kali, Angelique Molina, Roma Kong, Producers: Roma Kong, Angelique Molina, Kelley Kali, Capella Fahoome
When a recently widowed mother becomes houseless, she convinces her 8-year-old daughter that they are only camping for fun while working to get them off the streets. Cast List: Kelley Kali, Wesley Moss, Deon Cole, Brooklynn Marie, Steven Ira Scipio, Andrew Galvan, Lamar Usher, Brian Brooks II, Jacolyn Holmes, Xing-Mai Deng (World Premiere)

Islands (Canada)
Director/Screenwriter: Martin Edralin, Producer: Martin Edralin, Priscilla Galvez
Joshua, a shy Filipino immigrant on the cusp of 50, has lived in the comfort of his parents’ home his entire life. With his parents now in old age, he pleads with God for a companion, terrified of being alone after they pass. Cast List: Rogelio Balagtas, Sheila Lotuaco, Esteban Comilang, Vangie Alcasid, Pablo Quiogue, Isys Szuky, Maximus Szuky (World Premiere)

Our Father
Director/Screenwriter: Bradley Grant Smith, Producers: Alex Thompson, Ian Keiser, Steven Callas
In a last-ditch attempt to foster a meaningful bond, estranged sisters Beta and Zelda go in search of their mysterious Uncle Jerry. Cast List: Baize Buzan, Allison Torem, Austin Pendleton, Corey Hendrix, Tim Hopper, Ann Whitney, Keith Kupferer, Guy Massey, Lance Baker, D'Wayne Taylor (World Premiere)

Potato Dreams of America
Director/Screenwriter: Wes Hurley, Producers: Mischa Jakupcak, Wes Hurley
A true story about a gay boy growing up in the collapsing USSR, his courageous mail-order bride mother, and their adventurous escape to Seattle in the 90s. Cast List: Marya Sea Kaminski, Dan Lauria, Tyler Bocock, Lea DeLaria, Sera Barbieri, Hersh Powers, Jonathan Bennett, Sophia Mitri Schloss, Cynthia Lauren Tewes, James Grixoni (World Premiere)

The End of Us
Directors/Screenwriters: Henry Loevner, Steven Kanter, Producers: Claudia Restrepo, Henry Loevner, Steven Kanter, Lovell Holder
After a savage breakup, two exes must continue living together when California issues its stay-at-home order for COVID-19. Now they’ll try to move on without moving out. Cast List: Ben Coleman, Ali Vingiano, Derrick DeBlasis, Gadiel Del Orbe, Kate Peterman, Colin Weatherby, Caroline Kwan, Will Neff, Jesse Benjamin, Claudia Restrepo (World Premiere)

The Fallout
Director/Screenwriter: Megan Park, Producers: David Brown, Rebecca Miller, Cara Shine, Joannie Burstein, Shaun Sanghani
High schooler Vada navigates the emotional fallout she experiences in the wake of a school tragedy. Relationships with her family, friends and view of the world are forever altered. Cast List: Jenna Ortega, Maddie Ziegler, Niles Fitch, Will Ropp, Lumi Pollack, John Ortiz, Julie Bowen, Shailene Woodley (World Premiere)

Women is Losers
Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Lissette Feliciano
In 1960s San Francisco, a once-promising catholic school girl, Celina Guerrera (Lorenza Izzo), sets out to rise above the oppression of poverty and invest in a future for herself and her son that sets new precedents for the time. Cast List: Lorenza Izzo, Bryan Craig, Chrissie Fit, Simu Liu, Steven Bauer, Liza Weil, Cranston Johnson, Alejandra Miranda, Shalim Ortiz, Lincoln Bonilla (World Premiere)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

Introducing, Selma Blair
Director: Rachel Fleit, Producers: Mickey Liddell, Pete Shilaimon, Troy Nankin
In a quest to take control of her personal health, actor Selma Blair adapts to new ways of living while pursuing an experimental medical procedure, after revealing her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 2018. (World Premiere)

Kid Candidate
Director: Jasmine Stodel, Producers: Jasmine Stodel, Chevis LaBelle, William Dorrien-Smith
Kid Candidate tells the story of Hayden Pedigo, an 24-year old experimental musician and his unlikely run for Amarillo city council after his Harmony Korine inspired spoof campaign video went viral. (World Premiere)

Lily Topples The World
Director: Jeremy Workman, Producers: Jeremy Workman, Robert J. Lyons
Lily Topples The World follows 20-year-old Lily Hevesh — the world’s most acclaimed domino toppler and the only woman in her field — in a coming-of-age story of artistry, passion, and unlikely triumph. Executive produced by Kelly Marie Tran. (World Premiere)

Not Going Quietly
Director: Nicholas Bruckman, Screenwriters: Nicholas Bruckman, Amanda Roddy, Producer:  Amanda Roddy
When a young father chances to meet a powerful senator on an airplane, their exchange goes viral, sparking one of the most unlikely political movements in a generation. (World Premiere)

The Oxy Kingpins
Director: Brendan FitzGerald, Producers: Drea Bernardi, Brendan FitzGerald, Nick August-Perna
The Oxy Kingpins covers the untold story of how a network of pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, and retailers worked together to orchestrate and perpetuate the opioid crisis that has killed over half a million people in America. (World Premiere)

The Return: Life After ISIS (Spain, United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Alba Sotorra Clua, Producers: Alba Sotorra Clua, Vesna Cudic
Shamima Begum (UK) and Hoda Muthana (US) made it into worldwide headlines when they left their countries as teenagers to join ISIS. Now they want to return but their countries don’t want them back. (World Premiere)

Subjects of Desire (Canada)
Director/Screenwriter: Jennifer Holness, Producers: Jennifer Holness, Sudz Sutherland
Subjects of Desire is a thought provoking film that examines the cultural shift in beauty standards towards embracing (or appropriating) Black aesthetics and features, deconstructing what we understand about race and the power behind beauty. (World Premiere)

United States vs. Reality Winner
Director: Sonia Kennebeck, Producer: Ines Hofmann Kanna
A state of secrets and a ruthless hunt for whistleblowers – this is the story of 25-year-old Reality Winner who disclosed a document about Russian election interference to the media and became the number one leak target of the Trump administration. (World Premiere)

NARRATIVE SPOTLIGHT

The Drover’s Wife: the Legend of Molly Johnson (Australia)
Director/Screenwriter: Leah Purcell, Producers: Bain Stewart, David Jowsey, Angela Littlejohn, Greer Simpkin, Leah Purcell
The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson is a reimagining of Leah Purcell’s acclaimed play and Henry Lawson’s classic short story. A searing Australian western thriller asking the question: how far do you go to protect your loved ones? Cast List: Leah Purcell, Rob Collins, Sam Reid, Jessica De Gouw, Malachi Dower-Roberts (World Premiere)

The Fabulous Filipino Brothers (Philippines, United States)
Director: Dante Basco, Screenwriters: Dante Basco, Darion Basco, Dionysio Basco, Arianna Basco, Producers: Joan Banaga, Rawn Erickson II, Dante Basco, Rome Reyes, Sienna Olazo, Belay A Santillan, Guido Zaballero
From Northern California to The Philippines, four brothers confront their issues with love, family, and culture, surrounding a highly controversial Filipino wedding. Told in four vignettes with cockfights, adultery, romance, food, and family. Cast List: Dante Basco, Derek Basco, Dionysio Basco, Darion Basco, Solenn Heussaff, Liza Lapira, Tirso Cruz III, Cheryl Tsai, Arriana Basco, Joe Jitsukawa (World Premiere)

Language Lessons
Director: Natalie Morales, Screenwriters: Mark Duplass, Natalie Morales, Producer: Mel Eslyn
A Spanish teacher and her student develop an unexpected friendship. Cast List: Natalie Morales, Mark Duplass, Desean Terry, Christine Quesada (North American)

Ludi
Director: Edson Jean, Screenwriters: Edson Jean, Joshua Jean-Baptiste, Producers: Fabiola Rodriguez, Mark Pulaski
Ludi, a hardworking and exhausted nurse, battles coworkers, clients and one impatient bus driver to learn her self worth as she chases the American Dream in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood. Cast List: Shein Mompremier, Alan Myles Heyman, Madelin Marchant, Success St. Fleur Jr., Kerline Alce, Plus Pierre, Patrice DeGraff Arenas, Farah Larrieux (Texas Premiere)

Paul Dood's Deadly Lunch Break (United Kingdom)
Director: Nick Gillespie, Screenwriters: Brook Driver, Matt White, Nick Gillespie, Producer: Finn Bruce
When Paul’s chances of winning a national talent contest are ruined and his dreams of fame are slashed, he plans a deathly revenge rampage!! 1 lunch break, 5 spectacular murders! Each wrongdoer dispatched in a fitting manner by the sparkly suited Paul! Cast List: Tom Meeten, Katherine Parkinson, Kris Marshall, Alice Lowe, Mandeep Dhillon, Johnny Vegas, Steve Oram, Craig Parkinson, Kevin Bishop, Pippa Haywood (World Premiere)

Recovery
Directors: Mallory Everton, Stephen Meek, Screenwriters: Whitney Call, Mallory Everton, Producers: Scott Christopherson, Stephen Meek, Abi Nielson Hunsaker
Two directionless sisters brave a cross-country road trip to rescue their grandmother from a COVID outbreak at her nursing home. Cast List: Whitney Call, Mallory Everton, Anne Sward Hansen, Julia Jolley, Baylee Thornock, Jessica Drolet, Stephen Meek, Tyler Andrew Jones, Noah Kershisnik, Justin Call (World Premiere)

See You Then
Director: Mari Walker, Screenwriters: Kristen Uno, Mari Walker, Producers: Mia Schulman, Kristen Uno, Mari Walker
A decade after abruptly breaking up with Naomi, Kris invites her to dinner to catch-up on their complicated lives, relationships, and Kris' transition. Cast List: Pooya Mohseni, Lynn Chen, Nican Robinson, Danny Jacobs, Nikohl Boosheri (U.S. Premiere)

Swan Song
Director/Screenwriter: Todd Stephens, Producers: Todd Stephens, Eric Eisenbrey, Tim Kaltenecker, Stephen Israel
An aging hairdresser (Udo Kier) escapes his nursing home and embarks on an odyssey across his small town to style a dead woman's hair for her funeral, rediscovering his sparkle along the way. Cast List: Udo Kier, Jennifer Coolidge, Linda Evans, Michael Urie, Ira Hawkins, Stephanie McVay (World Premiere)

DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHT
Shining a light on new documentary features receiving their World, International, North American or U.S. premieres at SXSW.

Alien On Stage (United Kingdom)
Directors/Producers: Danielle Kummer, Lucy Harvey
British Bus driver's amateur stage show of Ridley Scott's Alien, accidentally makes it to a famous London theatre! With awkward acting and special effects requiring more luck than judgement, will their homemade homage be alright on the night? (International Premiere)

Fruits of Labor
Director: Emily Cohen Ibañez, Screenwriters: Ashley Solis Pavon, Emily Cohen Ibañez Producer: Emily Cohen Ibañez
A Mexican-American teenage farmworker dreams of graduating high school, when ICE raids in her community threaten to separate her family and force her to become her family's breadwinner. (World Premiere)

The Hunt for Planet B
Director: Nathaniel Kahn, Producers: Bonnie Hlinomaz, Nathaniel Kahn
Taking us behind the scenes with NASA’s high-stakes James Webb Space Telescope, The Hunt for Planet B follows a pioneering group of scientists—many of them women—on their quest to find another Earth among the stars. (World Premiere)

Hysterical
Director: Andrea Nevins, Producers: Ross Dinerstein, Rebecca Evans, Carolina Groppa
Hysterical is an honest and hilarious backstage pass into the lives of some of stand-up comedy’s most boundary-breaking women, exploring the hard-fought journey to become the voices of their generation and their gender. Featuring Margaret Cho, Fortune Feimster, Rachel Feinstein, Marina Franklin, Nikki Glaser, Judy Gold, Kathy Griffin, Jessica Kirson, Sherri Shepherd, Iliza Shlesinger and more. Available on FX in 2021. (World Premiere)

The Lost Sons
Director: Ursula Macfarlane, Producer: Gagan Rehill
1960s Chicago, a baby is kidnapped from a hospital. Fifteen months later, a toddler is abandoned. Could he be the same baby? In a tale of breathtaking twists and turns, two mysteries begin to unravel and dark family secrets are revealed. (World Premiere)

Mau (Austria, United States)
Directors: Benji Bergmann, Jono Bergmann, Producer: Karol Martesko-Fenster
Mau follows the unlikely story of design visionary Bruce Mau and his ever-optimistic push for massive change. (World Premiere)

Spring Valley
Director: Garrett Zevgetis, Producers: Chico Colvard, Jeff Consiglio, Ariana Garfinkel
An explosive viral video shows a white policeman throwing a Black teenager from her school desk. One woman uproots her life to help the girl, face the officer, and dismantle the system behind the "Assault at Spring Valley.” (World Premiere)

WeWork: or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn
Director: Jed Rothstein, Producer: Ross Dinerstein
WeWork: or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn explores the rise and fall of one of the biggest corporate flameouts and venture capitalist bubbles in recent years - the story of WeWork, and its hippie-messianic leader Adam Neumann. (World Premiere)

When Claude Got Shot
Director: Brad Lichtenstein, Producer: Steven Cantor, Brad Lichtenstein, Jamie Schutz, Santana Wilson (co-producer)
Three strangers' lives become inextricably entwined by a weekend of gun violence. (World Premiere)

Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America
Directors: Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler, Screenwriter: Jeffery Robinson, Producers: Jeffery Robinson, Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler
ACLU lawyer Jeffery Robinson’s shattering talk on the history of U.S. anti-Black racism is interwoven with archival footage, interviews and Robinson's story, exploring the legacy of white supremacy and our collective responsibility to overcome it. (World Premiere)