Hollywood may still have a diversity problem, but this year’s SXSW film lineup is making some major moves in the right direction. Particularly in light of “Time’s Up” and the #MeToo movement, it’s encouraging to see a strong lineup of women in director’s chairs.
At this year’s SXSW, 33% of all feature films were directed by women, and the short films division featured 59% female-directed films. From feature films premiering at the festival to shorts, here are a handful of films we’re pretty excited about:
Blockers premiered March 11, but you’ve likely seen this trailer in theaters already. It’s 30 Rock and Pitch Perfect writer Kay Cannon’s directorial debut, and it’s both raunchy and kind of sweet, too. About three parents who discover their teenaged kids have made a pact to lose their virginity, parental hijinks ensue in order to ensure the plan doesn’t happen. Featuring a very funny John Cena, Hannibal Buress and Leslie Mann, Blockers looks like the perfect movie to take the family to.
First Match started as an award-winning short, and now we get to see the story of a young teenage girl wrestler in a full-length feature distributed by Netflix. It’s director Olivia Newman’s first feature, and as Deadline put it, it champions women in front of and behind the camera. Talking about actress Elvire Emanuelle’s five weeks of wrestling training, Newman said, “She is so focused and the work is so important to her — she is so committed to it,” the director said.
The New Romantic
Carly Stone’s The New Romantic won Special Jury Recognition for Best First Feature, and that’s made me even more excited to see this film. It tells the story of a college senior who decides to become a sugar baby in order to get her college newspaper sex column back and win a journalism prize. It’s also for self-discovery, as she sets out to figure out the power dynamics of relationships. Stone tells this story without judging or condemning sex work, and Blake — played by Jessica Barden — embarks on this path in earnest exploration.
Suzi Yoonessi’s Unloveable introduces us to Joy (Charlene deGuzman), a woman who enters a 12-step program for sex and love addiction after a series of demeaning sexual encounters and binge drinking lead her to attempt suicide. Written by deGuzman, who herself was in a 12-step program for love and sex addiction, the film has humor, truth and, best of all, a focus on Joy’s reinvention, not as a muse to costar John Hawkes’ character, but on a journey all her own.