Seven Australian films selected for SXSW

Seriously Red.

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Seven Australian screen projects have been selected for the 29th South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival which will take place in Austin, Texas and online from 11-20 March this year.

Making their world premieres are feature films Seriously Red and Sissy, mid-length film Shadow, feature documentary Clean and virtual reality (VR) project Lustration VR.

Feature documentary Anonymous Club will make its international premiere and VR project Gondwana is also set to be showcased at the festival.

Seriously Red, the comedy written by and starring Krew Boylan and directed by Gracie Otto will have its world premiere at SXSW Film Festival in the Narrative Feature category. The story follows Red (Boylan), a vivacious but, at times, misguided red-head who trades her job in real estate for a new career as a Dolly Parton impersonator. Featuring a catalogue of classic songs including music by Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Neil Diamond, David Bowie and more, Seriously Red is the debut feature film from the all-female collective Dollhouse Pictures, founded by Krew Boylan, Rose Byrne, Jessica Carrera, Gracie Otto and Shannon Murphy.

Director Gracie Otto said, “I’m thrilled to continue my longstanding association with SXSW and I am particularly proud to have my first narrative feature Seriously Red follow up last year’s screening of my music doco Under the Volcano.”

Producer Jessica Carrera said, “SXSW is a cultural happening – the festival has a great synergy across film and music so it’s the perfect home for the world premiere of Seriously Red.”


Having its world premiere in the Midnighters section is feature film Sissy, a horror-comedy by writer/directors Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes and produced by Arcadia, the team behind 2067. Also producing is DEMS Entertainment, The Academy of Interactive Entertainment and Freedom Films. Led by The Bold Type star Aisha Dee, the film centres on Cecilia (aka Sissy), a successful social media influencer living the dream, until she runs into her ex-teenage best friend. Invited away on a bachelorette weekend, Sissy is stuck in a remote cabin with her high school bully…and a taste for revenge.

Sissy producers Lisa Shaunessy, John De Margheriti, Jason Taylor and Bec Janek said, “We’re excited and honoured to be premiering in the Midnighters Section on the opening night of the festival and at such a premium venue as the Alamo Drafthouse. SXSW has a wonderful track record of world premieres, including some of our favourite films of the past few years: A Quiet Place, Booksmart and Spring Breakers. It’s fantastic to have Sissy recognised in this company. We can’t wait to unleash this film on audiences.”

Also making its world premiere is Shadow, a film from Victorian theatre company Back to Back Theatre. The film follows Simon, Scott and Sarah, a trio of activists with intellectual disabilities, who hold a town hall meeting about the future impacts of artificial intelligence. What begins as a polite discussion quickly descends into bickering and chaos, seemingly provoked by a force within.

Actor and co-writer Scott Price said, “Shadow is a story that needs to be told, it’s about Artificial Intelligence and disability activism. The fact that it is premiering at festival such as SXSW shows that it is a beautiful piece of work, and the importance of telling stories from perspective of people with disabilities.”

Shadow producer Alice Fleming said, “Back to Back’s transition into the screen space is extremely exciting. Shadow’s World Premiere status at SXSW is something we dreamed about, but didn’t imagine would be possible for our debut into feature filmmaking. It is strong evidence for more inclusive film-making and storytelling teams. We couldn’t be any more thrilled.”


From writer/director Lachlan McLeod is feature documentary Clean that will make its world premiere in the Documentary Feature Competition section. It provides a fly-on-the-wall insight into the world of trauma cleaning through the journey of larger-than-life business owner Sandra Pankhurst and the workers at Melbourne’s Specialised Trauma Cleaning Services.

Clean director Lachlan McLeod said, “To have Clean premiere at SXSW is a huge honour and means so much to me and the production team involved. This documentary has been three years in the making, and we can’t thank Sandra and the team at STC Services enough for inviting us into their lives during this time. SXSW is a dream launch for our film, and we are absolutely thrilled to be able to participate in the 2022 festival.”

Created, written and directed by First Nations creative Ryan Griffen (Cleverman), Lustration VR is an animated four-part virtual series adapted from Griffen’s graphic novel series of the same name. Created for Meta Quest, this unique project will make its world premiere in the XR Experience section.

Writer/Director Ryan Griffen said, “I was always taught that culturally, our stories were earned and not just given. I’ve been trying to apply this to our modern structures of storytelling for a while and VR is the perfect home for it. With Screen Australia’s support, we were able to assemble a world-class team and cast to bring this story to the world.  Being given the opportunity to launch Lustration at SXSW, a festival that doesn’t shy away from innovation in storytelling and technology, feels like the perfect fit.”

After its world premiere at Melbourne International Film Festival, followed by Cinefest Oz, Brisbane and Sydney Film Festivals, feature documentary Anonymous Club will make its international premiere at SXSW. Written and directed by Danny Cohen and produced by Film Camp, this film provides an intimate portrait of acclaimed Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett.

Writer/director Danny Cohen said, “I’m still pinching myself to have our international premiere at the incredible music and film festival that is SXSW. I’m thrilled for US audiences to experience our film on the big screen there, ahead of the theatrical releases here in Australia and then the US.”

After premiering at Sundance Film Festival last month, VR documentary Gondwana will also screen at SXSW. The project is a world-first durational VR experience that runs over 24 hours, featuring a constantly-evolving virtual ecosystem and chronicling the possible futures of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, the Daintree.



World Premiere
Director: Gracie Otto
Writer: Krew Boylan
Producers: Robyn Kershaw, Jessica Carrera, Sonia Borella, Timothy White
Cast: Krew Boylan, Daniel Webber, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Celeste Barber, Thomas Campbell
Red is a vivacious but at times misguided red-head who pours herself a cup of ambition and trades her 9 to 5 career in real estate for a life under the spotlight as a Dolly Parton impersonator.​

World Premiere
Writer/ Directors: Hannah Barlow, Kane Senes
Producers: Lisa Shaunessy, John de Margheriti, Jason Taylor, Rebecca Janek
Cast: Aisha Dee, Hannah Barlow, Emily De Margheriti, Daniel Monks, Yerin Ha, Lucy Barrett with Shaun Martindale
Invited away on a bachelorette weekend, Sissy is stuck in a remote cabin with her high school bully…and a taste for revenge. #Triggered

World Premiere
Director: Bruce Gladwin
Writers: Michael Chan, Mark Deans, Bruce Gladwin, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price, Sonia Teuben
Producer: Alice Fleming
A group of activists hold a public meeting, desperate to save the world. As the meeting unravels, they discover the greatest threat to their future is already in the room.

World Premiere
Writer/Director: Lachlan McLeod
Producers: Charlotte Wheaton, David Elliot-Jones
When illness forces her away from her beloved trauma cleaning business, Sandra Pankhurst faces up to her traumatic past and begins a search for her birth mother. Meanwhile, her workers approach this difficult work with camaraderie and humour, bringing hope to their clients despite carrying trauma of their own.

World Premiere
Director: Ryan Griffen
Writers: Ryan Griffen, Nayuka Gorrie
Producers: Carolina Sorensen, Taryne Laffar
An animated four-part virtual reality series for Meta Quest developed by Byron Bay-based XR Studio New Canvas. The multistrand story follows a group of characters whose stories are mysteriously intertwined in the real world and afterlife. Lustration VR is adapted from a comic of the same name published by Gestalt Comics.

International Premiere
Writer/Director: Danny Cohen
With unprecedented access to the personal and private life of notoriously shy, but widely acclaimed Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett, Anonymous Club delicately and intimately explores the inner life of an artist in conflict with herself.

Writer/Director: Ben Joseph Andrews
Producer: Emma Roberts
A world-first durational VR experience that runs over 24 hours, Gondwana is a constantly-evolving virtual ecosystem chronicling the possible futures of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, the Daintree.


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