Although we’re still dealing with quarantine and lockdown, there are many things to be excited about this month: the ongoing vaccine rollout, the beautiful spring weather (hey, we missed you!), and the return of SXSW. After a devastating but necessary cancellation last year, the Texas-based festival has triumphantly returned this year as SXSW Online 2021, offering an enormous range of film screenings, discussion panels, comedy showcases, musical performances, and more—all conveniently viewable from the comfort of your couch.
With such a huge selection of content on offer, we don’t blame you for being a little overwhelmed!
As always, we’re here to help. Here are just a few female-directed feature films, documentaries, and shorts to look out for at this year’s edition!
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (2021)
Written, directed, and produced by Kier-La Janisse, founder of Spectacular Optical Publishing and the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, Woodlands Dark Days and Days Bewitched is the first feature-length documentary focused exclusively on the exploration of cinematic folk horror, starting in the 1960s. With the pedigree of its creator and its promise to dig deep into the history of the sub-genre, Woodlands Dark Days and Days Bewitched is likely to become the definitive documentary on the subject—it’s definitely my most anticipated title at this year’s SXSW, where it celebrates its world premiere.
The Expected (2021)
In this Swedish short by director and screenwriter Carolina Sandvik, a father-to-be stumbles into a living nightmare when he discovers a strange being growing in his partner’s blood after a tragic miscarriage.
Here Before (2021)
British director and screenwriter Stacey Gregg explores grief, obsession, and paranoia in this chilling psychological thriller, starring Andrea Riseborough, Martin McCann, Jonjo O’Neill and Eileen O’Higgins. Riseborough plays a bereaved mother who develops a bizarre connection to a mysterious young woman after a new family moves in next door. SXSW serves as the film’s world premiere.
A Canadian revenge film that serves up a hearty helping of vicious gore, Violation was written, directed, and produced by Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli, and tells the story of a troubled woman dealing with a marriage on the verge of collapse who succumbs to her darker instincts in the name of vengeance after a devastating betrayal by her sister and her brother-in-law. If that synopsis doesn’t grab you, the films boasts an 82% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Alien On Stage (2020)
Who among us hasn’t dreamt of producing a stage play of Ridley Scott’s influential 1979 sci-fi horror masterpiece Alien? In Alien on Stage, a British documentary directed by Danielle Kummer and Lucy Harvey, an ambitious bus driver manages to bring his amateur stage show and its motley cast to a famous London theatre—homemade special effects and all! The question remains: how will the audience react? SXSW serves as the international premiere of this film.
A Really Dark Comedy (2021)
SXSW offers support the next generation of filmmakers through its film competition for Texas high school students. Manasi Ughadmathe’s A Really Dark Comedy comes to us via that competition. The short tells the story of a prom night gone wrong, when a young man’s rush to ask out his dream date takes him on an unexpected and startling journey.