The 2022 SXSW Film Festival lineup has been released. This year’s festival, which runs March 11-19 live and in-person in Austin, Texas, includes 99 features (76 of which are world premieres), 111 short films, 24 music videos, 11 episodic premieres, and 6 episodic pilots. Last year at 360°Sound, we brought you exclusive coverage of the SXSW music documentaries. We plan to do it again this spring for the 29th edition of the festival.
We combed through the extensive list of features and selected the music-related documentaries that we’re most looking forward to. Note: Still Working 9 to 5 isn’t technically a music doc, but we had to include it because, c’mon, it’s Dolly Parton!
The following synopses were culled from the SXSW official site. To view the full film fest schedule, click here. Note: Some of the following films do not yet have a trailer available.
In the Court of the Crimson King
Director: Toby Amies
King Crimson is a band that people literally are dying to be in. In the Court of the Crimson King is a darkly comic film for anyone who wonders whether it is worth sacrificing everything for just a single moment of transcendence. For over 50 years, Robert Fripp, also famous for his work with Bowie and Eno, has overseen a unique creative environment in which freedom and responsibility conspire to place extraordinary demands on the band’s members – only alleviated by the applause of an audience whose adoration threatens to make their lives even harder. It’s a rewarding and perilous space in which the extraordinary is possible, nothing is certain, and not everyone survives intact.
Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story
Directors: Frank Marshall and Ryan Duffern
Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story weaves together live performances and interviews from the 50th anniversary of the iconic festival, featuring some of the biggest names in the music industry, along with a wealth of archival documentary footage from the past half-century. This film not only captures the music fest in all of its beauty, madness, and glory, but also delves deep into the rich culture of The Big Easy.
Still Working 9 to 5
Directors: Camille Hardman and Gary Lane
When the highest-grossing comedy, 9 to 5, starring Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, Dabney Coleman and Lily Tomlin, exploded on the cinema screens in 1980, the laughs hid a serious message about women in the office. Still Working 9 to 5 explores why workplace inequality 40 years later is no longer a laughing matter.
DIO: Dreamers Never Die
Directors: Don Argott and Demian Fenton
This career-spanning documentary on heavy metal legend Ronnie James Dio delves deep into his incredible rise from 50’s doo-wop crooner, to his early classic rock days in Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, to replacing the iconic lead singer Ozzy Osborne in Black Sabbath, to finally cement his legend with DIO. Ronnie’s biography is completely unique to the tired sex, drugs, and rock and roll cliches. The film is about perseverance, dreams, and the power to believe in yourself.
I Get Knocked Down
Director: Sophie Robinson
Dunstan Bruce is 59 and he’s struggling with the fact that the world seems to be going to hell in a handcart. Twenty years after his fall from grace, the former frontman of the anarchist band Chumbawamba is angry and frustrated. How does a middle-aged, retired radical who feels invisible get back up again? In this punk version of A Christmas Carol, haunted by the antagonistic ghost of his anarchist past, Dunstan is forced to question what he has done with his life and is sent on a search into his past for his long-lost anarchist mojo. This is a personal voyage of reawakening and redemption as well as a call to arms for anyone who thinks activism is best undertaken by someone else.
Look At Me!
Director: Sabaah Folayan
Look At Me! explores how Florida teenager Jahseh Onfroy became SoundCloud rapper XXXTENTACION, one of the most streamed artists on the planet. Through frank commentary from family, friends and romantic partners, and unseen archival footage, director Sabaah Folayan offers a sensitive portrayal of an artist whose acts of violence, raw musical talent and open struggles with mental health left an indelible mark on his generation before his death at the age of 20.
Santos–Skin to Skin
Director: Kathryn Golden
Santos–Skin to Skin is a film portrait of community activist and seven-time Grammy nominee John Santos, a “keeper of the Afro-Caribbean flame.” Rich in unforgettable musical performances, Santos links the rhythms of his ancestors to contemporary struggles against urban gentrification, social inequality, and racial injustice. His hands on the skin of the conga peel back the legacy of colonialism while navigating the politics of culture and global migration. One of the world’s foremost exponents of Afro-Latin music, Santos – through his mixed Puerto Rican and Cape Verdean heritage, musical storytelling and legendary percussion classes – strives to unite and expand his kaleidoscopic audience.
Really Good Rejects
Director: Alice Gu
Los Angeles luthier, Reuben Cox, channels his instinct and artistic intuition in creating unique, custom guitars sought after by some of the music world’s most-beloved artists. Musical legends like Jackson Browne, Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein, Aaron Dessner of The National, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird, and Perfume Genius, talk songwriting, the human experience, and connecting with the human collective. Reuben’s guitars have been described as “Excalibur” for unlocking musicians’ creativity, enabling them to make music that connects with hearts and souls around the world.
Director: Amy Scott
Sheryl is an intimate story of the songs and sacrifice of pop star Sheryl Crow as she navigates a highly succesful yet arduous musical career. Sheryl has battled sexism, ageism, depression, cancer, and has paid the price of fame. Told through present-day interviews with Sheryl, behind-the-scenes vérité on the road and in her studio, never-before-seen archival footage spanning 20 years of touring, as well as a handful of interviews with close allies Keith Richards, Laura Dern, Joe Walsh, Emmylou Harris, Brandi Carlile, and others. Sheryl’s early gift of music and her dedication to songwriting set her on an unapologetic path, which ultimately led her to both a blessings and burdens.
Director: Danny Cohen
With intimate access to the private life of Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett, this innovative and stylized 16mm feature documentary follows a paradoxically introverted performer and anti-influencer, who, at the height of success, is ready to walk away. Long-time collaborator Danny Cohen’s feature documentary reveals a woman who finds power in sharing her vulnerability. Recording her innermost thoughts on a Dictaphone over a period of three years, Courtney begins her slow acceptance of Danny Cohen’s camera. This unique filming process mirrors Courtney’s gradual search for purpose and emergence as an artist embracing her place in the world.
The Mojo Manifesto: The Life and Times of Mojo Nixon
Director: Mat Eskey
Neill Kirby McMillan Jr. comes of age in Danville, VA, listening to records from his father’s soul radio station and plotting his escape from the confines of conservative small-town life. On a bicycle trip across the country, Kirby experiences The Mojo Revelation and becomes Mojo Nixon, a primitive blues-inspired musician. Mojo then teams up with the enigmatic Skid Roper to form an outrageous duo. Relentless touring, a record deal, college radio airplay, and MTV exposure lead to unexpected mainstream success. The song “Elvis Is Everywhere” is a cult phenomenon, but his next single is banned by MTV and Mojo faces a decision that could jeopardize his career.
Getting it Back: The Story of Cymande
Director: Tim Mackenzie-Smith
In the racially turbulent South London of the early ‘70s, a group of musicians came together with a common love of rhythms and a message of peace. Cymande – with the dove as their symbol – combined jazz, funk, soul, and Caribbean grooves to forge a unique sound. Despite success in the USA, they faced indifference in their native Britain, becoming disillusioned and disbanding. But the music lived on, as new generations of artists absorbed and reworked their pioneering sounds in fresh ways. From Soul II Soul to De La Soul, MC Solaar to The Fugees, the Dove has spread Cymande’s message far and wide, prompting their return after 40 years. This is their story.
The Return of Tanya Tucker
Director: Kathlyn Horan
Trailblazing, hell-raising country music legend Tanya Tucker defied the standards of how a woman in country music was supposed to behave. Decades after Tanya slipped from the spotlight, rising Americana music star Brandi Carlile takes it upon herself to write an entire album for her hero, based on Tanya’s extraordinary life. The result was the greatest comeback in country music history. Taking stock of the past while remaining vitally alive in the present and keeping an eye on the future, The Return of Tanya Tucker is a rousing exploration of an unexpected friendship built on the joy of a perfectly timed creative collaboration.
This Much I Know To Be True
Director: Andrew Dominik
Shot over five days at Battersea Arts Centre and on location in London and Brighton, This Much I Know To Be True captures Nick Cave & Warren Ellis’ exceptional creative relationship as they bring to life songs from albums Ghosteen and Carnage. This is a document of their first-ever performances of these albums, filmed ahead of their 2021 UK tour. Accompanied by singers and string quartet, they nurture each song into existence. Interstitial pieces between the songs illuminate the cosmology and themes of the music. The film features a special appearance by close friend and long-time collaborator, Marianne Faithfull.
Stay tuned to 360°Sound for exclusive coverage of the 2022 SXSW Film Festival. We’ll be bringing you film reviews, director interviews, and more. See you in and from Austin!