Movies to Look Out for at the 2021 SXSW Digital Film Festival


Feb. 19 2021, Updated 3:02 p.m. ET

The 28th annual SXSW Film Festival is approaching, and it’s time for another newly digital experience of 2021! From March 16-20, audiences will be able to view 75 features, 84 short films, and 30 special events through the festival platform. With seven films launching every two hours and no capacity limits, the stress comes from deciding where to begin! But lucky for you, we’ve gathered some notable mentions to watch out for.

Film categories this year include Headliners, Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Narrative Spotlight, Documentary Spotlight, Visions, Midnighters, Global, 24 Beats Per Second, Festival Favorites, and 2020 Spotlight.

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This YouTube docuseries follows Demi as she recounts every moment that led to her near fatal overdose in 2018. A vision of struggle and healing, she shows how we can thrive in the aftermath of such dark times.

Director: Michael D. Ratner

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Many people let their creative sides flourish during the last year’s pandemic, and Charli XCX was no exception. While under lockdown and recording her new album, how I’m feeling now, Charli enlisted two directors of her previous videos to capture the process on camera. Charli explained on her Instagram, “The documentary tells the story of not only the 5 week process surrounding the making of my album…but also all the emotions that creating, connecting and living in a quarantine and in basically a new world evokes for people across the globe.”

Directors: Bradley Bell and Pablo Jones-Soler

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Many people consider Wildflowers to be Tom Petty’s greatest album, and now we can put some visuals to that music in our ears. These never-before-seen reels of 16mm film show Tom at work in the studio as he recorded his 1994 masterpiece.

Director: Mary Wharton

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Straight from Northern Ireland, this psychological thriller sees a mother’s reality begin to unravel after new neighbors move in next door.

Director: Stacey Gregg

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Narrative Feature

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In their last effort to create a bond, two estranged sisters start off on a search for their mysterious uncle – who may hold the secret to their father’s suicide.

Director: Bradley Grant Smith



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As he approaches 50, a shy Filipino immigrant is afraid of dying alone and begs God for a companion.

Director: Martin Edralin


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The true story of a young gay boy growing up in the Soviet Union, his mail-order bride mother, and their risky escape to America.

Director: Wes Hurley

Category: Narrative Feature

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In the wake of a school tragedy, a teenage girl navigates the emotional fallout she experiences with her family, friends, and the world around her.

Director: Meagan Park


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When a mother and her daughter become homeless, she convinces the young girl that they are just camping for fun – all while working tirelessly to get them back on their feet.

Directors: Kelley Kali and Angelique Molina


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Produced by Buzzfeed Studios, this pandemic-comedy is a harsh reflection of the current times. Sit uncomfortably as you watch a couple breakup during quarantine, while not being able to escape each other.

Directors: Steven Kanter and Henry Loevner

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Set in San Francisco during the 1960s, a Latina teen decides to break free from the obstacles and oppression, finding friends and hope along the way. The title is a nod to all the free-spirited Janis Joplin fans.

Director: Lissette Feliciano

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Selma’s life has been completely altered since her MS diagnoses in 2018. While she has managed to appear upbeat through her journey, this in-depth look will bring more awareness to the harrowing disease.

Director: Rachel Fleit

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Documentary Feature

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The only woman in her field and often deemed the best, this documentary follows 20-year-old domino toppler, Lily Havesh. The passion and patience that go into this artform will have you forgetting to blink.

Director: Jeremy Workman

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It was breaking news back in 2015, when a group of Western teenage girls left everything they knew to join ISIS. Many of them now regret their decisions and yearn to return home, but their countries don’t want them back.

Director: Alba Sotorra

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Centered around four brothers at a controversial Filipino wedding, this film includes all the shenanigans from romance to cockfights.

Director: Dante Basco

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Mark Duplass decides to start taking Spanish lessons and soon forms an unexpected friendship with his teacher.

Director: Natalie Morales

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A hardworking nurse battles unruly clients, crass coworkers, and dreadful public transportation as she chases the American Dream in Miami’s Little Haiti.

Director: Edson Jean

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COVID-19 takes two wayward sisters on a cross-country road trip to rescue their grandmother from her nursing home.

Directors: Mallory Everton and Stephen Meek

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A decade after their abrupt breakup, Kris and Naomi reunite to catch up on life and Kris’ gender transition.

Director: Mari Walker

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A woman hosts a lovely dinner party in her rural home, with her guests not even realizing that this will be their last supper.

Director: Lee Haven Jones

Category: Midnighters

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