Nearly one year after the 2020 iteration of the SXSW film festival had to be canceled at the 11th hour due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first titles for the 2021 virtual SXSW have been announced.
The world premiere of the Demi Lovato docuseries Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil will open the paired-down fest. Directed Michael D. Ratner the docuseries, a YouTube Original, explores every aspect that led to Lovato’s nearly fatal overdose in 2018, and her awakenings in the aftermath.
“It’s impressive and rare to see a pop superstar tell their story so authentically and without pretense,” said Janet Pierson, director of film. “We’re privileged to present this intimate journey told with such vulnerability. Demi Lovato’s profound interest in mental health awareness is helping change the landscape of a crucial issue in this year of national and international trauma and loss.”
Other titles that will screen at the virtual fest are the Justine Bateman directed Violet, which stars Olivia Munn, Luke Bracey and Justin Theroux, and Andrea Nevins’ doc Hysterical, which follows women in comedy.
SXSW will run from March 16-20, with the full 2021 program announced on Feb. 10. The titles announced today can be found below.
Confronting A Serial Killer
Director: Joe Berlinger, Showrunner: Po KutchinsJoe Berlinger’s newest docuseries
Confronting a Serial Killer follows reporter Jillian Lauren who lures the most prolific serial killer in American history — Sam Little. The series will follow their unsettling and unlikely relationship. (World Premiere) (Episodic Premiere)
Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil
Director/Screenwriter: Michael D. Ratner
Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil is a powerful YouTube Originals documentary event, exploring every aspect that led to Lovato’s nearly fatal overdose in 2018, and her awakenings in the aftermath. (World Premiere) (Headliners)
The Hunt for Planet B Director: Nathaniel Kahn
The Hunt for Planet B follows a diverse group of scientists on a quest to find another Earth among the stars. From the hi-bays of NASA to the edge of the universe and the bottom of the sea, the film offers a way to see our own planet with new eyes. (World Premiere) (Documentary Spotlight)
Director: Andrea Nevins
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. (World Premiere) (Documentary Spotlight)
Jakob’s Wife Director: Travis Stevens, Screenwriters: Travis Stevens, Kathy Charles, Mark Steenland
The disappearance of a young woman threatens to change the beige and banal lives of Anne Fedder (Barbara Crampton) and her pastor husband Jakob Fedder (Larry Fessenden) forever. Cast List: Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, Bonnie Aarons, Mark Kelly, Sarah Lind, Robert Rusler, Nyisha Bell, Phil Brooks (World Premiere) (Midnighters)
Directors: Paola Calvo, Patrick Jasim, Screenwriters: Patrick Jasim, Paola Calvo, Phillip Kaminiak
Luchadoras portrays the courageous female wrestlers of Ciudad Juárez, a city knownfor its high murder rate against women — who fight in the ring and in their daily lives to redefine the image of what it means to be a woman in Mexico. (World Premiere) (Global)
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché Director: Paul Sng, Celeste Bell, Screenwriters: Celeste Bell, Zoë Howe
The death of punk icon and X-Ray Spex frontwoman Poly Styrene sends her daughter on a journey across the world and through her mother’s archives to reconcile their fraught relationship. (North American Premiere) (24 Beats)
Director: Mallory Everton, Stephen Meek, Screenwriters: Whitney Call, Mallory Everton
Two directionless sisters brave a cross-country road trip to rescue their grandmother from a COVID outbreak at her nursing home. Cast: Whitney Call, Mallory Everton, Anne Sward Hansen, Julia Jolley, Baylee Thornock, Jessica Drolet, Stephen Meek, Tyler Andrew Jones, Tori Pence, Dora McDonald (World Premiere) (Narrative Spotlight)
Violet Director/Screenwriter: Justine Bateman
A film development executive realizes that the “guiding voice” inside her head has been lying to her about everything. Cast List: Olivia Munn, Luke Bracey, Justin Theroux (World Premiere) (2020 Spotlight)
This story was originally published in The Hollywood Reporter.