Film Lists

All the SXSW Movies to Look Out For in Amazon's Free Online Film Festival

People were excited to see these films at SXSW; later this month you'll be able to stream them at home.

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Photo by Thibault Penin on Unsplash

When SXSW was officially canceled in early March, dozens of filmmakers were left with nowhere to premiere their movies.

Luckily Amazon has stepped up, offering an online film festival for free to its Prime members (and to people who sign up for a free Prime trial just for this event...). The festival will last ten days and is expected to begin sometime this month. While an official start date and lineup have yet to be announced, it's not too soon to get excited for some new movies at a time when we're all pretty desperate for something to watch. While we'll have to wait and see which ones make Amazon's cut, these are the movies that had people excited for SXSW.


22-year-old Cooper Raiff wrote, directed, and starred in this coming-of-age romance. Telling the story of two college Freshman struggling to navigate the world away from home, it was made on a shoestring budget. Critics have praised it for its awkward sincerity, and on Tuesday it was announced as the winner of SXSW's Grand Jury prize for Best Narrative Feature.

An Elephant in the Room

An Elephant in the Room documents the lives of children dealing with the death of one or both parents. Director Katrine Philps takes viewers into the Good Grief community where children learn how to process loss and support one another through life's most difficult experiences. A deeply moving portrait of childhood under trying circumstances, An Elephant in the Room won SXSW's Grand Jury prize for Best Documentary Feature.


Lapsis is a dystopian sci-fi dramedy written and directed by Noah Hutton. The story follows Ray, a down-and-out blue-collar worker from queens who is depserate to earn enough money to treat his brother's obscure medical condition. When Ray gets a new job running cable for a mysterious and shady tech company, things quickly devolve into chaos and violence. Lapsis has earned critical acclaim for its wry humor and meticulous world-building.


Acclaimed screenwriter and filmmaker Boaz Yakin, well-known for directing Remember the Titans, funded Aviva himself himself to tell a surrealist story that covered questions of gender identity and love, drawing on his real life relationship with his ex-wife. The film has been noted particularly for its use of dance sequences to communicate emotion with the help of choreographer Bobbi Jene Smith.

You Cannot Kill David Arquette

Do you remember David Arquette from Scream? Patricia Arquette's brother? He used to be married to Courtney Cox? Well, he was also in a terrible movie called Ready to Rumble in the year 2000, which he promoted by briefly becoming a professional wrestler and winning the WCW heavyweight championship in a scripted victory that enraged fans. The backlash from that event, along with some other challenges have led to a distinct lull in his career, but he's ready for a comeback. Directed by David Darg and Price James, You Cannot Kill David Arquette documents the 48-year-old actor's attempt to revitalize his career and redeem himself in the world of pro-wrestling and relaunch his career. Even a heart attack (which he had early on in the project) apparently can't stop him.


Celine Held and Logan George are a directorial team known for their short films, but in Topside they applied their talents to a feature-length story about a young girl and her mother evicted from their home beneath the streets of New York City, and forced to contend with life above ground. It received SXSW's Special Jury Selection for Directing.

Finding Yingying

Finding Yingying documents the disappearance of 26-year-old Xhang Yingying from the University of Illinois, and her family's search for her. Directed by Jiayan "Jenny" Shi, Yingying's former classmate from Nanping, China, Finding Yingying follows the Zhang family's struggle to find out what happened to their daughter and to navigate the American justice system. It received SXSW's special jury recognition for Breakthrough Voice.

Shiva Baby

Shiva Baby is a comedy that follows Danielle, a sex worker sitting shiva with her Jewish family after the death of a family member—though she's not sure which one. Events quickly begin to unravel when Danielle's client shows up at the service and Danielle finds out that there is about his personal life and connection to her father. Writer-director Emma Seligman has earned praise for her debut feature's sharp wit.

I Used to Go Here

I Used to Go Here is a comedy written and directed by Kris Rey and starring Gillian Jacobs and Jemaine Clement. It follows Kate, an author in her mid-30s whose career and personal life are both falling apart. Amid this turmoil, she's invited to return to her old university to do a reading from her mediocre new book and to briefly relive her college years. I Used to go Here was made with The Lonely Island's Party Over Here production company and has been praised for its relatable, cringe-inducing comedy.

Boys State

Since 1937 the American Legion has hosted Boys States and Girls states around the US, where young aspiring leaders practice a summer-camp version of politics complete with an election to select their "Governor." Past attendees have gone on to be prominent figures in American politics, including Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney. Boys State follows several participants in Texas' 2018 Boys State event as they form parties—the Federalist and the Nationalist (yikes)—compete for nominations, and ultimately for the governorship. Directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss offer views toward possible futures in the American political landscape that are by turns chilling and hopeful.

In & of Itself

Frank Oz, the voice and hand behind Kermit and Yoda, is also the talented director responsible for The Dark Crystal and The Muppets Take Manhattan, andWhat About Bob. His latest feature, In & Of Itself, brings the off-Broadway stage show of magician and storyteller Derek DelGaudio to the screen. Blending dazzling illusions with autobiography and existential musings, In & Of Itself has received praise for tackling complex subjects with the aid of magic show spectacle.

Really Love

Really Love is a romantic drama that director Angel Kristi Williams wrote with Felicia Pride. Really Love tells the story passionate artist Isaiah and ambitious, hopelessly romantic Stevie falling in love. Kofi Siriboe and Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing won Special Jury Recognition for Acting for their performances.

Golden Arm

Golden Arm, directed by Maureen Bharoocha, is a comedy telling the story of an unlikely competitor being trained by her butch best friend to enter the National Ladies Arm Wrestling Championship. Golden Arm has been lauded for transforming the familiar buddy comedy formula as a vehicle for exploring themes of women's empowerment.

The Donut King

The Donut King is the directorial debut of Alice Gu, and it documents the life of Ted Ngoy, a Cambodian refugee who launched a donut craze in California that ended up supporting much of the Cambodian community in that state. The documentary recounts Ngoy's escape from the Khmer Rouge and his early business success, followed by the greed that led to his eventual downfall and return to Cambodia. The film received the Special Jury Recognition for Documentary Storytelling.

She Dies Tomorrow

Written and directed by filmmaker Amy Seimetz (Sun Don't Shine and The Girlfriend Experience), She Dies Tomorrow tells a surreal story of contagious self-destruction and mental breakdown—in other words, the perfect movie for our time. As the dazed characters wander LA, the film explores concepts of modern alienation and the dread of mortality in a fragmentary structure that is intentionally disorienting and eerie.

Look out for these films and more to appear on Amazon Prime later this month.


American Authors Begin a New Chapter with "Before I Go" Music Video

The band begins a new chapter with a fearless announcement of what it means to be human.

American Authors just released the music video for "Before I Go," shot at drummer Matt Sanchez's wedding last October.

"Before I Go" is from the band's most recent album, Seasons, which has accumulated 30 million streams on Spotify, along with millions more on other platforms.

Based in Brooklyn, American Authors is made up of Zac Barnett (vocals), James Adam Shelley (guitar, banjo), Dave Rublin (bass), and Matt Sanchez (drums). In 2012, after changing their name from the Blue Pages to American Authors, they signed with Mercury Records and released their debut single, "Believer," earning well-deserved attention. Their follow-up single, "Best Day of My Life," went triple-platinum and launched the band to galactic success, appearing everywhere: television, movies, video games, and sporting events.

Since then, American Authors have dropped three albums, Oh, What A Life, What We Live For, and Seasons, resulting in sold-out shows around the world, as well as performances at Lollapalooza, Firefly Music Festive, BottleRock, Reading Festival, and the Leeds Festival, Pukkelpop, SXSW, and Polartec Big Air.

"Before I Go" opens with muted colors topped by Barnett's sensitive rasping vocals, infusing the tune with genuine warmth. Choirlike harmonies give the music a glowing radiance. The pop-flavored alt-rock melody is awash with yearning optimism and poignant lyrics: "I hope I find a peace of mind / In all of my woes / I hope the rain, it brings a light / To my broken soul / I hope I lose myself in the city / But…"

"Before I Go" rides bright hues full of emotions and a sense of imminent greatness, as a new chapter unfolds for the band.

Follow American Authors Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Watch Kate McKinnon Play an Evil Queen in New 'Heads Will Roll' Audio Series Teasers

In her new audio-only musical fantasy series, out on Audible tomorrow, Kate McKinnon pokes fun at evil-queen tropes.

Heads Will Roll - Audible


Fairy tales about royals have been told and retold since time immemorial—so hopefully Kate McKinnon and her team can put a fresh 21st-century spin on the old trope of the bitter queen.

The first episode of her new audio fantasy series, Heads Will Roll, which debuts on Audible tomorrow, appears to be doing just that.

Though Heads Will Roll will primarily be an audio-only endeavor, it released its first promotional video clip today. Appearing in full-on evil queen regalia, McKinnon ominously announces some poor victim's impending beheading—but then struggles with the phrasing of that archetypical evil queen catchphrase, "Off with your head," trying out various emphases and inflections on different words before apologizing to the victim in question. "He doesn't want to hear this," she coos. "The guillotine's that way!"

Heads Will

The series stars McKinnon as a malevolent monarch and her sister, Emily Lynne, as a scatterbrained minion. It appears to poke fun at tired tropes of the evil queen and the hero's journey while also relishing in their theatrical value. In terms of plot, the story focuses on McKinnon's character, Queen Mortuana of the Night Realm, who catches wind of a potential peasant uprising and realizes that in order to put down the rebellion, she and her assistant JoJo (played by Lynne) must go on a quest to find the mystical "Shard of Acquiescence."

Regarding the series' podcast format, McKinnon told Variety, "Broadway Video was partnering with Audible, which I thought was very exciting, because we both are huge, insane podcast fanatics. I find that I can no longer sit in silence or walk anywhere in silence, which is actually a problem. So we wanted to hop on board this new thing that's happening." She also informed Jimmy Fallon, "We're living in the golden age and the renaissance of scripted audio."

Kate McKinnon's Heads Will Roll Is a Veep-Meets-Game of Thrones Sitcom for the

True to form, the show also released an audio clip from the series, which features a soothsayer, voiced by Sudi Green, telling McKinnon that she will need to find the "Shard" in question in order to continue ruling over her kingdom—but first, she has a few other predictions. "Tonight you will eat oatmeal," the soothsayer shrieks. "Perhaps tonight you will jack off!" In truth, the whole clip is profoundly cringeworthy—but hopefully, the whole series contains a bit more nuance and provokes a few more laughs. Hopefully, it also offers some queer delights; for, as a society, we would all benefit immeasurably from a fairytale that ends with an evil queen marrying a fairy godmother.

The fact that the Fab Five from Queer Eye will be making an appearance bodes well for this. Other stars who will appear on Heads Will Roll include Meryl Streep, Peter Dinklage, Audra McDonald, Bob the Drag Queen, and Tim Gunn. Some of McKinnon's SNL co-stars—such as Aidy Bryant, Alex Moffat, Heidi Gardner, and Chris Redd—have also lent their voices. When Fallon asked about how she recruited all of these stars for her show, McKinnon said, "Threats. Violent threats."

SXSW 2019 Heads Will Roll Event

When asked about her inspiration for the project, McKinnon said, "I always wanted to do something about a Maleficent-style evil queen, who's having a little bit of a crisis of conscience or wondering if she really wants to be in charge or not. We both grew up obsessed with Disney, and obsessed with fairy tales, and obsessed with Shelley Duvall's '"Faerie Tale Theatre.'" We love fairy tales, and we love fantasy. We just thought if we could combine that with the foibles of modern existence, then we could make something fun."

As one of comedy's brightest talents, and also as a lesbian icon, McKinnon yet to disappoint. Catch Heads Will Roll on Audible when it debuts tomorrow, May 2.

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.

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Aren't you tired of stories about cisgender white men? Don't you want to see movies made by and about people with unique perspectives?

Representation in art is one of the most powerful ways to normalize the vast number of identities human beings inhabit, and supporting this kind of art can be a powerful act of resistance. An important work that tells one of these vital stories is Award-Winning US-based Brazilian Refugee Filmmaker Flavio Alves' new feature film debut, The Garden Left Behind.

This touching film, "traces the relationship between Tina, a young, Latina, trans woman and Eliana, her grandmother, as they navigate Tina's transition and struggle to build a life for themselves as undocumented immigrants in New York City. This film is incredibly important and relevant to today's society, because it provides us with an intimate and realistic portrayal of the trans experience living in America, from activism and advocacy, to personal relationships with family, lovers and friends." It's garnered official support from GLAAD, the world's largest LGBTQ organization.

Not only does The Garden Left Behind tell the story of a transgender individual, its production team included 50 transgender film makers, indicating the genuine commitment the whole team had to creating opportunities and representation for trans individuals on and off camera. To add even more to the special nature of this film, The Garden Left Behind is the first movie in history to be partially funded by selling donated items on EBAY, receiving over $100,000 from donated item sales.

Popdust's own Brent Butler sat down with Paul Castro Jr., one of the actors in the film, to discuss the The Garden Left Behind and his role as Manny, as well as his upcoming movie Madonna and the Breakfast Club which is currently available for preorder on iTunes and Amazon.

The Garden Left Behind will be making its world premiere at SXSW in March 2019.

Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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It's that time of year again. Texas' prime time annual film, art and music festival SXSW is bringing us a well-curated line up of this year's most promising.

Austin plays host to a wide number of artists, all curated and hand-picked from countries around the world. That's always been the beauty of it's 2,000+ official performers - it's all about the connection that music can bring, down to the roots of it. It also hosts interactive conferences, showcases, and exhibitions of just about every type of art medium. There's an unparalleled level of discovery that takes place at SXSW, and with such an exciting lineup of artists from around the world, we're sure there's something for everyone.

We've compiled a list of who's set we're most excited to catch at SXSW 2018.


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