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Festival coverage, lists and news from the Letterboxd crew.
Art from The Spokeswoman—which has its international premiere in the Hot Docs Festival, streaming across Canada April 29 to May 9.

Stories

Best of SXSW 2021.

From properly good Covid comedies to an epic folk-horror doc and an Indigenous feminist Western, the Letterboxd Festiville team reveals their ten best of SXSW Online.

Unmasking the Pandemic at SXSW: “We’re going to have to Sean Baker this!”

A healthy sense of the absurd runs through a trio of SXSW 2021 Covid-era films. Gemma Gracewood and Selome Hailu report on the comedies that capture the barminess of quarantine, pathetic stimulus checks, and our reliance on cats for happiness. Featuring (pictured above from left to right): Puss, Learning Tagalog with Kayla and I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking).

Bewitched at Midnight: Kier-La Janisse Premieres Folk Horror Doc at SXSW

Writer, film programmer and horror scholar Kier-La Janisse at last steps behind the camera with Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror, after being the subject of a documentary (2004’s Celluloid Horror) and producing many others (including last year’s portmanteau horror doc Tales of the Uncanny, directed by her Severin Films colleague David Gregory).

Festiville's Best of Berlinale 2021

Céline Sciamma does it again, a demented, anthropological A-to-Z of Romanian pornography takes the Golden Bear, and Indigenous sci-fi breaks new ground as Letterboxd’s Festiville team awards its Berlinale bouquets for 2021.

Liked reviews

Swan Song

Swan Song

★★★★

This is Udo Kier's movie. He's in nearly every scene, and even when he's not visible, his presence looms large. He is absolutely wonderful here, digging deep and pulling out a mesmerizing, deeply affecting and emotionally textured performance, proving that he's an actor with much more range than people give him credit for; I also just love seeing him decked out like Quentin Crisp and getting back into drag again.

I found myself really resonating with what this movie has…

Ludi

Ludi

★★★

SXSW 2021, Film #5

Shein Mompremier really buoys Ludi in its titular role. Her face is so expressive and Jean is right to make a point of hanging on it so often. I really hope she gets picked up from here, because she really does show a lot of promise. The screenplay and direction are more than just competent as well, as there are a good handful of hooks that unexpectedly turn this into a low-key anxious thriller. I noticed…

SXSW FEATURE #16

is it too long, is it very conventional filmmaking.. yes... but i LOVE LILY AND I WOULD KILL FOR HER!!!! what a FUN intro to this world i had no idea existed!! i put this on thinking it would be some fun asmr to have in the background while getting some writing done but i barely wrote a paragraph because i was MESMERIZED!!!!! AND WHEN THAT SWEET LITTLE BOY GETS TO MEET LILY AT VIDCON AND HE CRIES🥺🥺😭😭🥺🥺🥺😭🥺..... my first tears of sxsw.

A really special film about slow to accept parenting. The cast is funny and they feel like real twenty somethings, special accommodations to Arthur Berning as Dick Jesus.
The animation is cute, and clearly influenced by Peresopolis (which makes a cameo in a bookstore scene).
Easily the best film I've seen at SXSW.

Islands

Islands

★★★★

sxsw 2021

what a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful movie. i have had horror movies make me less on-edge about what the characters were going to do (i swear this was one edit away from being a horror movie). and i am so in love with esteban comilang. what a gorgeous movie.

Here Before

Here Before

★★★½

Here Before is a slow burn psychological thriller with an incredible performance by Andrea Riseborough at its core. With striking cinematography and an interesting, you want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes while also having some pacing issues towards the end.

7/10

DEAR MR. BRODY is an incredibly moving portrait of Michael James Brody Jr. and the countless lives who were touched by his (sadly, undelivered) promise. You may be an emotional mess throughout (especially as families read the letters they wrote 50 years ago), but the rewards are in a bountiful supply on the other side.

Berlinale 2021.

I loved this film's approach to sci-fi. Change a few details and it could be a period piece about residential schools. A lot of ideas here, almost too many for one 90 minute film, but that's a good problem to have.