Next week, Austin, Texas will be happily inundated with music, film, TV, tech, and art lovers at this year’s South by Southwest Festival return with a vengeance. Two years after its 2020 edition was moved to a virtual-only affair, SXSW is welcoming back in-person engagement with its 2022 event that kicks off today.
Thankfully, pop culture junkies, audiophiles, and tech whizzes will be happy and excited to descend upon “Hippie Haven” for ten days of cultural hype and discovery. The festival, now in its 29th edition, is set to run from Mar. 11 — Mar. 20, and for those who opt to travel (or stay at home), the slate of film and TV shows is packed with star power and surprisingly cool new offerings.
Presented as a hybrid model (yes, online screenings will be available to view from the comfort of your living room) — there are riches aplenty to add to your queue. And so with SXSW ready to “Keep Austin Weird,” here are 6 must-see TV shows and films that you’ll want to keep an eye on!
Directed By: Damian Marcano
Starring: Akil Williams, Yidah Leonard, Lou Lyons
Damian Marcano, who recently helmed a few episodes of HBO’s Winning Time, debuts his first feature on the SXSW stage. Chee$e is an unpredictable stoner comedy about a disillusioned weed dealer who tries to hawk his product by stashing it in the myriad of cheeses he makes at a local dairy factory.
He also evades the advances of the pregnant woman he may or may not want to spend the rest of his life with and deals with the way-too-serious advances of local law enforcement. Throw in some hallucinatory visions and a host of slapstick hijinks, and Chee$e offers audiences energy so electric that they’ll be buzzing as they enjoy their time in “Hippie Haven,” Austin, Texas.
Directed By: Hiro Murai
Starring: Donald Glover, Zazie Beetz, Brian Tyree Henry, LaKeith Stanfield
It will be a bittersweet, yet raucous showing for the cast of Atlanta, who will be closing out SXSW on Mar. 20, while also putting an end to the series when their Season 4 debuts this fall. As one of the most celebrated half-hour programs of the last decade, Atlanta Season 3 will answer some big questions from Season 2, while remaining unpredictable for longtime fans to pin down.
The plot is being kept heavily under wraps, but * spoiler alert * after arriving in Europe for Paper Boi’s (Brian Tyree Henry) tour, his cousin Earn (Donald Glover), their wild-card friend Darius (Lakeith Stanfield), and Earn’s ex-girlfriend (Zazie Beetz) all adjust to living with success in their own nuanced and interestingly fantastic way. Atlanta is SXSW’s marquee event with the cast in attendance, so whichever way you can get a chance to view this one, be sure to look it into your calendar ASAP.
Directed By: Ti West
Starring: Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow, and Martin Henderson
Bolstered by an enviable cast, X stars Mia Goth (in two roles) and a host of others, including Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, in a pandemic-filmed chiller that marries director Ti West’s love for brutal violence with rampant cinephilia. And while the results await those who watch virtually (or in-person in Austin, Texas) — X, which takes place in 1979, finds this disparate group of friends secluded away during a weekend trip to a Texas farmhouse, hoping to make their own porno, without realizing that the creepy property owners are not into any type of XXX content.
If you think you know what comes next, a la Texas Chainsaw Massacre, trust us, you really, really don’t, and X promises to be full of a lot of titillating twists and turns that should have horror fans anticipating the film’s release to theaters on Mar. 18 after its SXSW showing.
The Man Who Fell To Earth
Directed By: Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Naomie Harris, Bill Nighy, Jimmi Simpson, Joana Ribeiro, Annelle Olaleye, Rob Delaney, Kate Mulgrew, and Clarke Peters
Based on the landmark 1976 cult film, The Man Who Fell To Earth, which starred the late, great David Bowie — this Showtime original series follows a new alien character who arrives on Earth at a turning point in human evolution.
Bill Nighy plays the otherworldly being, Thomas Newton, made famous by Bowie, while Chiwetel Ejiofor is the alien who gets befriended by Naomie Harris. And thankfully, this is not a remake of Nicolas Roeg’s original because to see this new take means we get some fantastic tributes to Starman filtered through a uniquely (Black starring) lens.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Directed By: Dan Kwan
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jenny Slate, and James Hong
The Russo Bros. have built their name as the minds behind popular Marvel films such as the Captain America and Avengers series. Now, as masterful multiverse storytellers, these producers behind Everything Everywhere All at Once place the legendary Michelle Yeoh as an aging Chinese-American immigrant who gets swept up in an insane adventure.
As Evelyn Wang, she delves into an interdimensional, interconnected ride where she must navigate all of her other persona’s memories and acquire their skills to keep everything from imploding. Another A24 hit, there are so many fascinating elements that Everything Everywhere All at Once is not one to miss.
Look at Me: XXXTENTACION
Directed By: Sabaah Folayan
Starring: Jahseh Onfroy
It goes without saying that XXXTENTACION changed the face of hip hop by being one of the architects behind emo rap. Before he was even 18-years-old, his songs on SoundCloud were becoming memes and shared all across social media. By the time he was 20, he’d become a publicly controversial figure, arrested for aggravated battery, domestic abuse, and alleged sexual assault.
His murder in 2018 was one of the most shocking events from that year, making Look at Me, directed by Sabaah Folayan (Betty, Pier Kids), an intriguing delve into the Plantation, Florida rapper’s life and legacy. If anyone was going to deal with this divisive subject, it’s her, and if you’re into a non-exploitative documentary, then it is this film.
Kevin L. Clark is a screenwriter and entertainment director for BET Digital, who covers the intersection of music, film, pop culture, and social justice. Follow him on @KevitoClark.