We are less than a week away from South by Southwest’s (SXSW, March 11-20) unveiling of this year’s film festival lineup. Given the festival’s eccentric and eclectic programming style, it’s challenging to pinpoint exactly what features are headed to Austin this year. That doesn’t stop us at Silver Linings Reviews from trying though! Check out our top six predictions on what makes this year’s lineup below and stay tuned for the official announcement of the film festival program on February 2nd.
Synopsis: A woman (Karen Gillan) opts for a cloning procedure after she receives a terminal diagnosis but when she recovers her attempts to have her clone decommissioned fail, leading to a court-mandated duel to the death.
Riley Stearns is a bit of a SXSW golden boy, with all of his films (Faults, The Art of Self Defense) making their world premiere at the 2014 and 2019 editions of the festival, respectively. While his latest film already had its premiere at Sundance 2022, Stearns’ Dual seems like the most likely bet to appear in the SXSW’s Festival Favorites category this year.
Cha Cha Real Smooth
Synopsis: A young man (Cooper Raiff) who works as a Bar Mitzvah party host strikes up a friendship with a mother (Dakota Johnson) and her autistic daughter (Vanessa Burghardt).
Similar to Riley Stearns, Cooper Raiff has a bit of history with the Austin festival as his debut, Shithouse, was supposed to premiere at SXSW 2020. While the festival was never held due to COVID, Raiff was still awarded the Narrative Grand Jury prize for his directorial debut. Apple recent bought the worldwide rights to Cha Cha Real Smooth for 15 million, so it’s possible that the film could skip the rest of the festival circuit like their 2021 Sundance darling, CODA, did. However, given that Raiff has been vocally looking for a major in-person festival screening, maybe this up and coming filmmaker will finally get his wish this March.
Synopsis- A young woman (Jessie Buckley) goes on a solo vacation to the English countryside after the death of her ex-husband.
Little is known about Alex Garland’s (Ex Machina, Annihilation) next feature, beyond A24 scheduling a release for some point in 2022 and the brief logline above. However, given that Garland is about to start production on a new project with Kirsten Dunst (Civil War), Men may be further along than many think. Couple that with the fact that Garland’s directorial debut had its U.S. premiere at SXSW 2015, a world premiere for Men at this year’s festival isn’t out of the question.
Synopsis: With TikTok crowned the world’s most downloaded app, these are the personal stories of a cultural phenomenon, told through an ensemble cast of Gen-Z natives, journalists and experts alike.
While the film portion of the festival is quite large, SXSW has become one of the preeminent tech events in recent years. With TikTok, Boom. exploring the effects of one of the most successful apps since Snapchat, this film seems like it would have non-film badge holders line up around the block to see it. Look for this title to make an appearance in the Festival Favorites section of this year’s lineup.
Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song
Synopsis- This feature-length documentary explores the life of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen as seen through the prism of his internationally renowned hymn, “Hallelujah”.
SXSW is unique amongst film festivals, as there is a huge portion of badge holders who are primarily registered for the technology and music portions of the event. There are so many music fans that SXSW has a dedicated film program dedicated specifically to music documentaries titled 24 Beats Per Second. Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song had its world premiere at last year’s Venice Film Festival, but has been radio silent ever since. Given Cohen’s popularity stateside and that Sony Pictures Classics intends to release the documentary this summer, it seems likely that Hallelujah will make its North American premiere as the centerpiece title of SXSW’s 24 Beat Per Second program.
The Lost City
Synopsis- A reclusive romance novelist (Sandra Bullock) on a book tour with her cover model (Channing Tatum) gets swept up in a kidnapping attempt that lands them both in a cutthroat jungle adventure.
SXSW has often been considered a launching pad for raunchy comedies that appeal to a wide audience like Blockers, Booksmart, and Spy to name a few. The Lost City is currently scheduled to hit theaters the week after SXSW concludes (March 25th). Holding its world premiere at the festival could generate some much needed positive buzz for the film, especially considering it’s the first major studio comedy to release exclusively in cinemas since Paramount’s Like A Boss in January 2020.