Stream the best unseen movies and TV shows of SXSW 2020

The Texas festival was cancelled last minute. Now, the best bits we thought we’d never see are coming online

by Douglas Greenwood
22 April 2020, 11:13am

Barely a month ago, the city of Austin, Texas, was bracing itself for a flood of culture buffs from all over the world, in town for a week of gigs, movie-watching and general debauchery in the heat for SXSW 2020. Then, Ms Rona arrived and scuppered everybody’s super expensive plans. Facebook and Twitter, the big tech entities who pull a big international crowd, were some of the first to pull out. Then everybody else -- including a bunch of indie musicians and filmmakers who’d invested a whole lot of money into the festival -- fell with them.

With said musicians now jumping on IG live to deliver those sets via the internet instead, a suitable alternative has been sought for the filmmakers whose work was set to premiere there. Enter Amazon Prime, who’ve linked up with SX to bring a selection of those to their streaming platform for 10 days starting 27 April. It’s just like SXSW was still happening, albeit without the naggy A&R and so-called movie critics pestering you in the queue before it all kicks off.

So what’s coming and what looks good? Well, there’s a strong mix of documentaries, long-form narrative features and shorts to tide you over. Top of our list is a new series set to debut later in the year on horror platform Shudder, called Cursed Films. Write-ups say it dives into the hearsay and urban legends surrounding strange happening on old movie productions, like bombs going off on set of The Omen and real skeletons lurking in the closets of Poltergeist.

There’s also the latest documentary produced by Reese Witherspoon, which was set to have its world premiere at the festival. One for the die-hard music fans, My Darling Vivian looks into the life of Johnny Cash’s first wife before he met June Carter, and the four children she raised. No reviews yet, but it seems like it’ll be a fascinating look into life in the shadows of a 20th century superstar, and Reese is known for treating those subjects with care.

Another documentary that’s caught our eye is TFW NO GF, a deep dive into incel culture on Twitter and internet forums like 4chan. Its director, Alex Lee Moyer, described it to Deadline as a “film about a subculture of alienated youth that was made on a shoestring budget, a wing and a prayer”.

poster for film i'm gonna make you love me

Then, there’s I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, a documentary about an 80s New York trans icon who, after a short spell of living as a woman, reverted back to gay manhood. It’s a controversial look at the shifting of identity and fluid nature of gender, told from the perspective of a flamboyant, diva-like figure.

There’s also a bunch of shorts you can binge in quick succession: Dieorama, a documentary about a woman who recreates miniature grisly crime scenes in her spare time; Dirty, about two teenage boys’ first sexual encounter; Reminiscences of the Green Revolution, about the youngest member of a teen environmental activist group founded in 2001 called The Green Gorillas; and Modern Whore, an adaption of sex worker Andrea Werhun's memoir directed by Nicole Bazuin.

All this and more to tide you over for 10 days starting next Monday.

Right now, it seems like a US-only affair, but let’s hold out hope and see if they’ll bring it to Europe and the rest of the world too.