5 films and documentaries to look out for at South by Southwest festival 2021

From Egypt's 'Trapped' to 'Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil', the virtual festival's line-up packs a heavy punch

'Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil' premieres at South by Southwest festival before landing on YouTube. Courtesy YouTube
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Back in March 2020, South by Southwest (SXSW) was the first major festival to announce its cancellation as the pandemic began to take hold across the globe. But the SXSW is back for 2021, albeit in a different format.

Taking place from Wednesday to Sunday, the film festival is being held almost entirely virtually this year, with films and documentaries streaming across multiple platforms.

As well as film premieres, the festival will host a number of keynote speeches and presentations, hip-hop performances and interactive discussions. There will also be a schedule of comedy performances, and, for those with virtual reality capacities, there will be virtual 360-degree meet-ups.

Here are five films and documentaries to look out for at this year’s SXSW:

‘Introducing, Selma Blair’

Selma Blair arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

This documentary film follows actress Selma Blair on a quest to take control of her personal health and adapt to new ways of living while pursuing a risky medical procedure, after revealing her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in 2018. The film, directed by Rachel Fleit will enjoy its world premiere at the festival.

‘Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil’

Highly-anticipated YouTube Original documentary Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil premieres at this year's SXSW, before making its way online. The powerful documentary, directed by Michael D Ratner, explores every aspect that led to pop star Lovato's near-fatal overdose back in 2018, and details her awakenings in the aftermath.

‘The Lost Sons’

This powerful film, set in 1960s Chicago, follows the story of a baby who is kidnapped from hospital. Fifteen months later, a toddler is abandoned. Could he be the same baby? Full of twists and turns, it’s a tale of two mysteries that begin to unravel and reveal dark family secrets. The film, directed by Ursula Macfarlane and starring Paul Fronczak, will see its world premiere at SXSW.

‘Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America’

American Civil Liberties Union lawyer and podcast host Jeffery Robinson's recorded talk on the history of US anti-black racism is interwoven with archival footage, interviews and Robinson's own story. The lawyer has spent more than 40 years fighting for criminal and racial justice. The talk explores the legacy of white supremacy and the collective responsibility to overcome it and features a number of influential figures, including Chief Egunwale F Amusan of the African Ancestral Society, Tiffany Crutcher, Reverend Robert Turner, and Commissioner Tami Sawyer.


Official poster for 'Trapped' by Manal Khaled. Mad Solutions

This Egyptian film will see its world premiere at SXSW, and is the only Arabic title showing at the festival. Trapped revolves around a number of women from different walks of life whose destinies are tied together – all being under one siege. As the events unfold, their own personal stories reflect a far bigger siege of the restrictions imposed on them by a patriarchal society. Directed by Manal Khaled, the film stars Caroline Khalil, Reem Hegab, Osama Abo El Ata, Ne'ma Mohsen, Mona Mokhtar and Sara'a Jebel.