What to See at SXSW Film Festival

South by Southwest may be the festival that’s so strongly associated with new music but it’s also been gaining that same reputation in film over the past few years. It’s known for catapulting little-known productions into worldwide fame and critical acclaim (both Bridesmaids and Trainwreck had their world premieres at the event as ‘works in progress’). There’s no doubt we’ll see the same from this year’s line-up too; here’s what you need to see at SXSW Film Festival 2017.

Song to Song

song to song

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Opening up the SXSW Film Festival (where it premieres for the first time) this year is Song to Song, a Terrence Malick-directed drama set amongst Austin’s music scene. It’s a story of entangled love triangles, obsession and betrayal and features a star-studded cast of Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara and Natalie Portman – as well as appearances from the likes of Patti Smith and Iggy Pop.

Free Fire

free fire

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British film Free Fire debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and is already promising to be one of 2017’s must-see productions. Set in the 1970s, the whole film takes place over one night and in one location: a Massachusetts warehouse, in the middle of an arms deal, with Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley and Jack Reynor its stars.

Baby Driver

baby driver

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Another world premiere at SXSW is Baby Driver, written and directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). The story follows young getaway driver Baby (played by Ansel Elgort) planning to shake off his criminal life when he meets the girl of his dreams (Lily James); it’s not all smooth sailing though, mainly in thanks to his crime boss (Kevin Spacey).

Atomic Blonde

atomic blonde

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Atomic Blonde is the David Leitch-directed thriller based on graphic novel The Coldest City written by Antony Johnston. Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy and John Goodman, the film is set in Berlin just before the collapse of the wall in 1989 and follows a tale of spies, double agents and espionage.



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The closing film of SXSW is Life, also having its world premiere at this year’s festival. The Daniel Espinosa-directed film is a science fiction horror, following a crew aboard the International Space Station who may have just come across the first proof of extra-terrestrial life. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds and promises to be a contemporary take on sci-fi.

Words by Angharad Jones

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert