22 Films We Can't Wait to See at SXSW 2024

From big, blockbuster action and spine-tingling thrills to wry comedy and fascinating true stories, here are the buzziest titles at South by Southwest.

by | March 7, 2024 | Comments


The 2024 South By Southwest Film Festival will be in full effect from Mar. 8-16. Over 115 features and 80 short films will be shown during that time, more than any mortal can handle in a week, even if you completely eliminate sleep and eating. It always helpful to have a schedule, and between the films we’re looking forward to and the ones we have already had the opportunity to see, here are 22 titles worth planning your festival around.

Whether you’re attending SXSW or just curious to see what the raucous crowd will be cheering for, read on for our picks of the buzziest titles at the SXSW film festival.

Image from The Antisocial Network (2024)

(Photo by Netflix)

“You can fix code. You can’t fix people.” Those chilling words are part of what opens Giorgio Angelini and Arthur Jones’ follow-up to their documentary, Feels Good Man, which channeled (or 4channeled) the infamous evolution of Pepe the Frog. The co-opting of that cartoon character into bad actors is just one part of the rise of internet memes and conspiracy theories. This companion piece lets us hear from those behind the rise of everything from Anonymous to “Q,” where good intentions and fun blur into misinformation and ultimately chaos. It will debut on Netflix on Apr. 5.

Michelle and Ilana Glazer in BABES, directed by Pamela Adlon.

(Photo by Courtesy of NEON)

After directing the bulk of her television series, Better Things, Pamela Adlon makes her feature directorial debut with a screenplay from Broad City collaborators Ilana Glazer and Josh Rabinowitz. That should already be enough of an enticement for this story about a woman (Glazer) who seeks guidance from her best friend after getting pregnant from a one-night stand. Add into the mix a cast that includes Michelle Buteau, Oliver Platt, Stephan James, John Carroll Lynch, Hasan Minhaj, and Sandra Bernhard and you should already be lining up for its big Paramount Theatre premiere before it hits theaters in May.

Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong

(Photo by Courtesy of SXSW)

Over 50 years of stand-up, comedy albums, movies, and now, partners-in-gummies, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong have been icons across multiple spectrums. Now the first authorized documentary on their partnership will debut just a few blocks from 6th Street in Austin. The film chronicles their journey from bringing drug humor into the mainstream to decades later, when their medicine of choice is practically available in every corner store. Fans will get a full two hours on their careers from director David Bushell, his first feature after producing films such as Sling Blade, The Minus Man, and Get Him to the Greek. Bonus points if there is a whole section on It Came From Hollywood.

Writer-director Alex Garland is no stranger to controversial subject matter, as evidenced by his last film, Men. He takes a bolder step here with Civil War, an action-thriller about a divided America set to release smack dab in the middle of a contentious US election year. The A24 film set in a dystopian near future stars Kirsten Dunst and Wagner Moura as journalists trying to survive as they capture an intensifying civil war and race across the country to Washington, D.C. It’s a little early to say whether releasing this film in 2024 was a brilliant move or an unwise one, but either way, it will be a conversation-starter.

An unsuspecting weed dispensary owner is kidnapped and dragged out to the desert for money he doesn't have in Dickweed (2024)

(Photo by Skyler Bocciolatt)

What is behind the story of a man and woman who were abducted in the middle of the night by a stranger who, in lieu of a successful extortion of cash from a pot dispensary, took the man’s penis instead? How is that for 45 words or less? There is more to this story than you can imagine, and the most chilling part is hearing a good deal of it told directly from the chief suspect involved. Jonathan Ignatius Green’s documentary weaves a tale of greed, abuse, hubris, incompetence (on both sides of the law), and watching pure concentrated evil in action. Or are we?

Lily Singh in Doin' It (2024)

(Photo by Courtesy of SXSW)

It should not take long for this to become the comedy that SXSW attendees are telling people to add to their schedule — maybe a few minutes, at most. Appropriate, as the film stars Lilly Singh (who also co-wrote the screenplay) as a woman haunted by a high school humiliation who becomes a substitute sex education teacher. The catch — she is a virgin. The supporting cast includes Ana Gasteyer, Stephanie Beatriz, and a scene-stealing Sabrina Jalees who all add to a film that may be as close to laugh-a-minute as the fest can deliver this year.

Originally slated to open the month of March, the action/comedy starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt instead was moved to open the summer season, and now it has the opportunity to premiere where David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde did in 2017. His big-screen version of the 1980s Lee Majors/Heather Thomas television show about a stunt man/bounty hunter with a particular set of skills looks like a super fun vehicle for Leitch’s brand of over-the-top action and Gosling’s comic naivete. We’re hoping this is more Deadpool 2 than Bullet Train, but anywhere in the vicinity of the cinematic version of The A-Team would fit in just nice with the Austin crowd and kick off May in fine fashion.

Image from Grand Theft Hamlet (2024)

(Photo by Courtesy of SXSW)

The classic web series Red vs. Blue debuted at SXSW back in 2003. In the same tradition comes this film set entirely in the world of the video game Grand Theft Auto, where two theatre actors decide to use the platform to stage Shakespeare’s Hamlet. We go from an actual audition process to the final production, all while the actors try to avoid the random violence of other gamers. As spawned towards the end of the first full year of the pandemic, the often screamingly funny film is also one of pain, regret, and fallout.

Shameik Moore and Susan Sarandon in The Gutter (2024)

(Photo by Courtesy of SXSW)

The world needs more movies about bowling. Filmmakers Yassir and Isaiah Lester hope to put their stamp on the sport (yes, it’s a sport!) about “the greatest bowler ever put on this earth” (Shameik Moore) who sets out on the pro tour to save his beloved local alley. The cast also includes Susan Sarandon, D’Arcy Carden, Paul Reiser, and Paul Scheer. Kingpin owns the crown in this genre (with a notable nod to The Big Lebowski, which isn’t strictly about bowling), and then the list slides down to films such as 1979’s Dreamer and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-a-Rama with cameos from Teen Wolf to Greedy and beyond. The documentary A League of Ordinary Gentlemen premiered at SXSW in 2004, and now, 20 years later, the sport has an opportunity to shine in Austin again.

Writer-director Michael Mohan reunites with his The Voyeurs star Sydney Sweeney in this psychological horror-thriller about a young, devoutly religious nun named Cecilia (Sweeney) who accepts a new role at a remote Italian convent. Initially welcomed warmly, Cecilia soon discovers her new home holds terrifying secrets that may shake her steadfast faith. Sweeney’s profile has risen dramatically in the last few years, following stints on HBO series The White Lotus and Euphoria, as well as a couple of high-profile films (surprise hit Anyone But You, infamous superhero flick Madame Web, and her finest work to date as whistleblower Reality Winner in Reality) and a recent hosting gig on Saturday Night Live, so there’s a lot of interest in seeing where Immaculate will fit on her resume.

Dev Patel makes his feature directorial debut with producer Jordan Peele and stars as a man in a sharp suit (and sometimes out of it) enacting bloody revenge on those who murdered his mother. Trading in John Wick and Mission: Impossible vibes, the trailer promises us that any oppressive regime doesn’t stand a chance against Dev’s fists or his menacing mask. Universal has had many successful launches at SXSW over the years, and between this and The Fall Guy, we’re hoping they will blow the roof off the Paramount Theatre again.

Image from MoviePass, MovieCrash (2024)

(Photo by Courtesy of Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images/HBO)

Were you one of the many who experienced the ups and downs of the MoviePass phenomenon? As someone who avoided that whole period of movie ticket bargains, I am personally anxious to hear the story as told by the co-founders, Stacy Spikes and Hamet Watt. Director Muta’Ali Muhammad purports to take us inside the inception of the idea and how it all spiraled out of control once those pesky outside forces were brought in to manage it. Did movie theaters and ex-streamer CEOs sabotage it, or was it doomed from the start? Moviegoers demand answers.

Ed Harris, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Natalie Morales in My Dead Friend Zoe (2024)

(Photo by Courtesy of SXSW)

Anytime Ed Harris’ name appears in a cast list, is an immediate call to action. But this is a cast brimming with possibilities in a comic drama about an Army veteran (Sonequa Martin-Green) being followed by her deceased best friend from their time in Afghanistan (Natalie Morales) as she reconnects with her estranged grandfather. Directed and co-written by Army veteran Kyle Hausmann-Stokes, the film also features Morgan Freeman, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Gloria Reuben. Morales has been a scene-stealer recently in No Hard Feelings and I’m Totally Fine and we hope this will be one of the films that brings the feels along with the laughs.

Demonstrators gather in front of SCOTUS in Preconceived (2024)

(Photo by Chris Mariles)

Last year’s reversal of Roe v Wade continues to spark the stories and experiences of women across this country, but it has also helped further expose the lengths to which they have often been duped. Sabrine Keane and Kate Dumke’s documentary delves into the “pregnancy resource centers” that outnumber actual clinics in unfathomable numbers, offering assistance in anything but their freedom of choice. The film hears from expectant mothers and those who have experienced both sides of the process, but also from those in charge of these centers who used their influence to make them thrive, including one named after a particular savior’s father. All anyone can hope for is to be as well-informed in body and mind when making these life choices. This film will be a good start in making sure they are getting the truth.

35 years have passed since we were told it was “my way or the highway.” Despite the advice of Dalton to “be nice,” critics were not back then, and yet Patrick Swayze’s bouncer has become one of the great ridiculous treasures of late ‘80s macho cinema. So now it is Jake Gyllenhaal’s turn to clean house in Florida as an ex-UFC fighter against Billy Magnussen and his stable of goons led by Conor McGregor. The trailer does ooze testosterone with plenty of punches, explosions, broken limbs, and tough guy posturing. Director Doug Liman has declined to attend the opening night screening at SXSW to protest Amazon sending the film directly to streaming in lieu of a theatrical release. No one ever wins in a fight, but we are hoping this remake wins us over.

Image from Roleplay (2024)

(Photo by Paavo Hanninen)

In the vein of Robert Greene’s Procession, in which sexual assault survivors of the Catholic Church created films to process their trauma, Kate Lyn Mathews’ documentary shows how students of Tulane University took it to the theater. Assaults were being ignored on campus, and Goat in the Road Productions stepped up to produce the stories of those whose voices were being silenced. The film is a behind-the-scenes look into the process of confronting these delicate memories and inhabiting the skins of the worst players on the everyday stage. Most importantly, it is about overcoming the difficulty of sharing these tales and finding the ears willing to listen.

Image from She Looks Like Me (2024)

(Photo by She Looks Like Me)

Torquil Jones’ documentary tells the story of Jen Bricker, an Illinois native, who was born without legs. As a child she idolized Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu, who motivated her to compete in gymnastics and ultimately become a motivational speaker. But that is just one of the stories. Dominique also used her own voice to call out abuses in the sport well before the more engaged hearings against Larry Nassar. That is only the second story, though, as this is also one about inspiration, courage, outrage, forgiveness, and one great secret you do not want spoiled until the film reveals it. You will not have to wait long, but it is part of a much greater story.

Image of Stormy Daniels from Stormy (2024)

(Photo by Peacock/Denver Nicks)

One of the several women who got under the former president’s skin gets to tell her story in this documentary from director Sarah Gibson. Adult film star Stormy Daniels recounts the events that led to hush money payments to silence her affair with Donald Trump, as well as how the aftermath has affected her personal life. While there was no shortage of news and talk show appearances, we’re hoping this film pulls into focus the fuller story for those who only saw the headlines. The doc from executive producer Judd Apatow premieres on Peacock on Mar. 18.

A Wayfinder camper prepares to play the Adventure Game in We Can Be Heroes (2024)

(Photo by Peter Alton)

Returning to the subject of bowling, Pete Weber’s legendary victory line becomes part of the mantra of the live-action role-players (aka LARPers) at the center of this documentary by Carina Mia Wong and Alex Simmons. The LARP camp in New York where the fantasy world revels in battles and betrayals is also a safe haven for teenagers who find a community of acceptance and get a chance to achieve something missing in so many of their lives — victory. This is not to say there isn’t heartbreak and disappointment (“healers” have never been more welcome with their perceived magical properties), but the fun and imagination is infectious, and the promise of another great day and story is there for anyone who wants (or needs) to play.

Nathalie Morris, Erana James, and Manaia Hall in We Were Dangerous (2024)

(Photo by Kirsty Griffin)

Stories of the repression and deprogramming of young women’s sexuality are as freshly troubling now as they were 70 years ago when Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu’s film takes place. An institution for delinquency was not strong enough to hold the free-willed girls of this story, thus prompting a relocation to a remote island. Under the thumb of a Matron (well-played by Rima Te Wiata), good friends are tested as the teachings of the Bible and experiments in re-education threaten the sanctity of their sense of right and wrong.

Ashly Burch and Jordan Rodrigues in We're All Going to Die (2024)

(Photo by RocketJump)

Folks in Austin should put some time aside to find one of the real discoveries of the festival. Freddie Wong and Matthew Arnold’s film begins where many have before, with a mysterious alien presence invading our planet, and then focuses on a couple of people and how they handle life going forward. The difference in this one is that the two people we meet and with whom we embark on a road trip together have a unique and fresh chemistry. They are played wonderfully and hysterically by Ashly Burch and Jordan Rodrigues. She’s a beekeeper; he’s an EMT. They each have baggage and are sparring partners, but it feels natural and we come to care for them.

Jaeden Martell, Rachel Zebler, and Julian Dennison in Y2K (2024)

(Photo by Nicole Rivelli)

While opinions vary about his stint on Saturday Night Live, Kyle Mooney surprised and charmed many of us with his screenplay for Brigsby Bear. Now he sits in the director’s chair, making his debut (with a co-writing credit) with a film about the night we were all told to dread when computers were going to kill us all over a date-switch glitch. The comedy features the likes of Rachel Zegler, Jaeden Martell, and Julian Dennison. No film since Strange Days has successfully confronted the potential nightmare scenario of New Years 1999, and with a backing from A24, maybe this could be the one.

Thumbnail image by A24

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