Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the horror flick “Jakob’s Wife” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans and one Latino) representing the middle-class.
Culture Clash: A minister’s housewife, who’s bored with her marriage, becomes a vampire.
Culture Audience: “Jakob’s Wife” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in horror movies that mix bloody gore with campy comedy.
“Jakob’s Wife” is a memorable vampire flick that serves up a hilariously enjoyable blend of campy horror and gruesome chills, with a dash of female empowerment. The movie isn’t for people who hate the sight of blood. (It’s a vampire movie for adults. What do you expect?) But for people who can handle all the over-the-top gory mayhem in the story, then “Jakob’s Wife” might be your bloody cup of tea.
There are many predictable routes that a vampire movie can take. “Jakob’s Wife” takes some of those routes (for example, the title character’s transformation into a vampire follows the usual conventions of blood lust), but then the movie takes some unexpected and wacky detours. “Jakob’s Wife” director Travis Stevens, who co-wrote the movie’s screenplay with Kathy Charles and Mark Steensland, revels in the movie’s low-budget aura and makes sure that viewers know that this movie is not taking itself seriously at all. “Jakob’s Wife” had its world premiere at the 2021 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.
The title character of “Jakob’s Wife” is Anne Fedder (played by Barbara Crampton), the dutiful spouse of a minister named Jakob Fedder (played by Larry Fessenden), her husband of about 30 years. Anne and Jakob, who do not have children, live in an unnamed small town in the United States. They are Christian, but their specific religion is not mentioned in the movie.
The movie’s opening scene takes place during a church service that Jakob is conducting. He tells the parishioners during his sermon that men should respect their wives because it’s a reflection of how husband feel about themselves. “He who loves his wife loves himself,” intones Jakob.
Jakob is not secretly a hypocrite who abuses his wife. He loves Anne and he treats her very well. Anne hasn’t fallen completely out of love with Jakob, but their marriage has become boring to her. It’s implied that their sexual intimacy has decreased significantly. Jakob is devoted to his work at the church, while Anne spends her days doing workout routines and gardening.
In the movie’s opening scene at the church service, one of the parishioners approaches Jakob and tells him, “It was a beautiful service.” Her name is Amelia Humphries (played by Nyisha Bell), and she’s about 16 to 18 years old. Anne notices that Amelia’s mother Lucy, who is a regular churchgoer, is not with with Amelia.
Anne asks Amelia where her mother is, and Amelia says with some sadness and embarrassment that her mother couldn’t be there because Lucy started drinking again. Amelia adds, “I’m praying for her happiness.” Anne and Jakob express their sympathies.
While Amelia is walking home at night by herself, she’s startled to see some rats crawling around at her feet. She quickly walks away but not long after that, someone with vampire-type hands grans her from behind. It won’t be the last time that viewers see Amelia.
Not long afterward, Amelia is reported missing. Anne and Jakob have dinner at their house with Jakob’s brother Bob (played by Mark Kelly) and Bob’s wife Carol (played by Sarah Lind). The topic of Amelia’s disappearance comes up in the conversation.
Everyone except Anne seems to think that it’s likely that Amelia ran away. Anne is skeptical of that theory because she thinks Amelia was too close to her mother Lucy to suddenly abandon her. Of course, viewers who know that “Jakob’s Wife” is a vampire movie can easily predict what happened to Amelia.
Over this family dinner, the discussion also includes Anne’s involvement in a construction project that she thinks will be good for their town. She’s apparently part of the town’s Historical Society, which had to approve this project because it’s being built on historical land. The project will be an abandoned mill that is going to be turned into a retail space.
Anne comments that the Historical Society thinks the new retail space will provide tourism and jobs. Jakob is leery of the project because he doesn’t think that anything commercial should be built on this historical land. But there’s probably another reason why Jakob is uneasy about this construction job.
It just so happens that the interior designer for the space is an ex-boyfriend of Anne’s named Tom Lewis (played by Robert Russler), and they haven’t seen each other in years. Jakob calls Tom an “old flame” of Anne’s, while she downplays the relationship that she had with Tom, by saying that they were “just kids” when she and Tom dated each other.
Anne and Tom have agreed to meet for dinner at a restaurant to discuss the construction project. Judging by the way Anne gets ready for the dinner, she wants to look very attractive for this meeting and she might have some unresolved has feelings for Tom. When Anne and Tom see each other again, they can’t help but notice they’ve still got chemistry with each other.
It soon becomes clear that Tom had a “bad boy” reputation when he dated Anne. She comments to him that he was “uncontrollable” in those days. Meanwhile, Tom says to Anne about how she’s changed since he last saw her.
“You a church mouse?” Tom declares with surprise. “What happened to the adventurous Anne who wanted to travel to exotic places?” Anne replies, “You make plans for things and then life happens. It was around the time that you left town that my mother died, and Jakob was there for me.”
Anne continues, “He offered me comfort—and so did the church. They were both steady when I needed support. Make no mistake—we have a food life. I’m happy.” Tom seems to accept that explanation.
But on another day, when Anne and Tom are at the abandoned mill where the new construction will take place, it’s revealed that this was also a place where Anne and Tom had romantic trysts when they were dating each other. Tom brings it up and Anne says she hasn’t forgotten. It should come as no surprise that Anne and Tom start kissing each other.
What happens next at this abandoned mill leads to Anne becoming a vampire. Will Anne have an extramarital affair with Tom? Will Jakob find out that she’s a vampire? And how will Anne satisfy her cravings for blood? All of those questions are answered in the movie.
Anne finds out early during her turning into a vampire that animal blood won’t work for her. There’s a comical scene of her going to the butcher section of a grocery store and asking the butcher (played by Skeeta Jenkins) if she could just buy the blood from the meat. When she gets home and drinks the blood like someone would drink wine or martinis, she discovers that the animal blood actually makes her sick. And yes, there’s a nauseating scene where she vomits up blood like a garden hose on full blast.
People who watch “Jakob’s Wife” should know that the movie is very enthusiastic about showing a lot of blood and bile gushing from bodies of humans and animals. This isn’t the type of vampire movie where a vampire gives neck bites with the minimum amount of blood drainage. No, in “Jakob’s Wife,” the people who get bitten by a vampire have enough blood spewing out of them to fill buckets.
The movie gets chillingly creative in a scene where Anne visits her dentist Dr. Meda (played by Monica L. Henry) for a routine checkup. The doctor notices that Anne has new teeth (that look like baby fangs) growing inside her back teeth. And when an automatic teeth-cleaning device is put on Anne’s mouth, it leads to one of the more horrifying yet intentionally hilarious scenes in the movie.
There’s a lot of crude dialogue that’s also meant to comedic. It’s enough to say that Anne isn’t the only vampire in the story. During an attack by one of the other vampires, this bloodsucker growls to the intended victim: “I’m going to tongue fuck a hole in your head until I puke blood!”
And later, a bratty neighborhood girl (played by Armani Desirae), who’s about 8 or 9 years old, sees Anne acting suspiciously in Anne’s front yard. The girl refuses to leave because she says she wants to learn a new curse word. Anne tells the girl, “Fuck off!” And the girl replies, “I already know that one!” It’s an example of some of the off-the-wall humor in the movie.
Early on in the movie, Jakob scolds two teenagers who are smoking a joint on the hood of his car that’s parked outside the church. One of the teens, whose name is Oscar (played by Omar Salazar) angrily talks back to Jakob, while Oscar’s female friend Eli (Angelie Simone, also known as Angelie Denizard) tries to calm him down and de-escalate the situation. Jakob ends up confiscating the marijuana joint, which shows up later in one of the movie’s comedic scenes.
Where there’s a vampire plague, there’s also a vampire leader. And in “Jakob’s Wife,” that leader is called The Master (played by Bonnie Aarons), who looks like an androgynous Nosferatu type of vampire. The way this creature looks isn’t fully revealed until a certain point in the movie. The Master keeps appearing near Anne and Jakob’s house and ends up having a big moment in the movie that’s one of the highlights of the film.
The cast members of “Jakob’s Wife” lean into their roles with gusto. All of the characters are well-cast, and Crampton’s performance sets the right level of tongue-in-cheek tone (or bite-in-neck tone, as it were) that makes the movie so entertaining to watch. (Crampton is one of the movie’s producers.) And even when there are some horror movie tropes, such as take-charge Sheriff Mike Hess (played Jay DeVon Johnson) and his bumbling Deputy Colton (played by C.M. Punk), there’s enough satire for viewers to know that everyone is in on the joke.
What also makes “Jakob’s Wife” better than the average horror film is that the movie’s characters aren’t complete stereotypes. Jakob isn’t as dull and uptight as people might think he is on first impression. Anne doesn’t become an evil vampire, because she’s someone who is struggles with having to adjust to this drastic change in her life.
The movie’s musical score by Tara Busch doesn’t conform to the expected norms of a horror movie that’s about a middle-aged woman who becomes a vampire. Normally, a movie like this would have the usual Gothic scary music or have soundtrack cues using songs that were popular during this middle-aged woman’s youth. Instead, “Jakob’s Wife” is heavy with interludes of modern electronica music that sounds spooky at the same time. It’s almost as if to conjure up images that this minister’s wife could end up at an underground dance club now that she’s a vampire. It should come as no surprise that Anne’s lusty side is awakened, as she takes full control of her sexuality during her metamorphosis.
Underneath all the blood spatter and violent mayhem, “Jakob’s Wife” also has a message of finding one’s identity in the strangest of circumstances. Is it bizarre that a woman finally figures out how to be a strong and independent person only after she becomes a vampire? This movie doesn’t seem to think it’s so far-fetched, and in fact celebrates this transformation. And if the new Anne could change the title of the movie, she’d change it from “Jakob’s Wife” to “Anne the Vampire Warrior.”
RLJE Films and Shudder released “Jakob’s Wife” in select U.S. cinemas and on digital and VOD on April 16, 2021.
The Tribeca Film Institute has announced that the Warner Bros. Pictures musical “In the Heights” will be the opening night film at the 20th annual Tribeca Film Festival, which will be held in New York City from June 9 to June 20, 2021. Directed by Jon M. Chu, “In the Heights” is based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical of the same name. “In the Heights” tells the fictional story of a group of mostly Latino residents of New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood The movie’s cast members include Anthony Ramos, Jimmy Smits, Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Melissa Barrera, Olga Meridez and Daphne Rubin-Vega. Miranda has a small role in the film.
“In the Heights” will be released in U.S. theaters and on HBO Max on June 11, 2021. The movie was originally scheduled for release in 2020, but the release was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More movies and events for the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival are to be announced.
Miranda commented in a statement: “It is such an honor to open the 20th anniversary Tribeca Festival with In the Heights. We’re so excited to welcome them uptown! This will be an unforgettable night at the United Palace. We can’t wait to share this musical love letter to our community, with our community, in our community.”
The Tribeca Film Festival was one of numerous large-scale events in 2020 that were cancelled as an in-person event. However, a limited number of the festival’s movies were made available online to members of the media and entertainment industry. The festival also had jury-voted awards in 2020.
The Tribeca Film Festival participated with numerous other festivals in the inaugural We Are One: A Global Film Festival, which was held May 29 to June 7, 2020, as a YouTube showcase for festival films that couldn’t be screened by in-person audiences because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these offerings were international films that were not in English but had subtitles.
The annual Tribeca Film Festival had been traditionally held from late April to early May. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival has moved to June in 2021. In March 2021, it was announced that screenings for the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival will be held in person at various venues (mostly outdoors), with social distancing, mask wearing and other safety protocols in place. The venues that will have Tribeca Film Festival screenings include Brookfield Place New York, Pier 57 Rooftop, The Battery, Hudson Yards (all in Manhattan); The MetroTech Commons (in Brooklyn); and Empire Outlets (in Staten Island).
Since the COVID-19 pandemic caused worldwide shutdowns in March 2020, most film festivals that weren’t cancelled have pivoted to becoming online-only/virtual events. It has not been announced yet if the Tribeca Film Festival will also offer movies online to audiences who can’t attend the festival in person.*
The Tribeca TV Festival, which launched in 2017, was cancelled in 2020. It has not been announced if the Tribeca TV Festival will return in 2021.
The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2011 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in to revitalize lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The first Tribeca Film Festival took place in 2002. The festival’s screenings initially took place exclusively in lower Manhattan, but over the years the festival has expanded to venues across New York City. In 2020, the Tribeca Film Festival announced that it would, for the first time, hold some its programming in New Jersey (in the city of Hoboken), but the festival was cancelled as an in-person event before that could happen.
*April 19, 2021 UPDATE: The Tribeca Film Festival has announced that it isselling tickets and packages to experience the 2021 edition of the festival through online viewing. It is the first time that the entire festival will be made available online as a virtual event.
Culture Representation: Taking place in Los Angeles, New York City and various other U.S. cities, the documentary “Hysterical” features a group of well-known North American female stand-up comedians (who are mostly white, with a few African Americans, one Asian and one Latina) discussing their lives and careers.
Culture Clash: All of the women say that rampant sexism is the biggest problem with “gatekeepers” in stand-up comedy.
Culture Audience: “Hysterical” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in a candid look at what it’s like to be a female stand-up comedian.
It’s no secret that stand-up comedy is a male-dominated business where men get paid much more than women overall, and men get the vast majority of jobs available at venues and media outlets that book stand-up comedians. And whenever there’s a documentary about stand-up comedians, women are also usually in the minority. The admirably insightful documentary film “Hysterical” puts women front and center, by having the entire movie be about well-known female stand-up comedians telling their stories through interviews, performances and some footage that follows them as they hang out with other comedians.
The comedians interviewed in the documentary represent multiple generations. There are those who started in stand-up comedy in the 1980s (Kathy Griffin, Margaret Cho, Judy Gold and Wendy Liebman); the 1990s (Sherri Shepherd, Rachel Feinstein, Marina Franklin, Bonnie McFarlane, Jessica Kirson and Lisa Lampanelli); the 2000s (Nikki Glaser, Carmen Lynch, Iliza Shlesinger and Fortune Feimster); and the 2010s (Kelly Bachman). They are all very different from each other but share a lot of similarities in their struggles and triumphs as female stand-up comedians. “Hysterical,” directed by Andrea Nevins, had its world premiere at the 2021 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.
The documentary is raw, real and, of course, funny. But it also presents a brutally honest look at how society’s stereotypes of how women should act in public are entrenched in the sexism that withholds opportunities from female stand-up comedians and gives these opportunities to men instead. The movie also gives first-hand accounts about the dangerous realities of being a female stand-up comedian, whether it’s staying in unsafe areas while on tour, dealing with sexual harassment, or defending themselves from physically aggressive audience members and colleagues. These female comedians are not expecting pity when they tell their stories, but it’s clear that they want people to understand what they’ve been through to get to where they are.
Think about how people generally react when women curse out loud, compared to how people react when men say the same curse words, and you have an idea of how this double standard affects the careers of female stand-up comedians. Male comedians with an “angry” persona are generally more accepted than female comedians with an “angry” persona, which is why so many female stand-up comedians often smile during their stand-up act, even when they’re saying the angriest things. And because working stand-up comedians have to frequently travel, female stand-up comedians are judged more harshly if they’re parents away from home on tour, compared to male stand-up comedians who are parents away from home on tour.
“Hysterical” is a perfect title for this documentary because it has a double meaning: Hysterical can mean “hilarious,” or it can mean the word’s original definition of “someone losing control of their emotions or sanity,” which was a trait that was originally (and unfairly) attributed to women in the days when this word was invented. (For example, the word “hysterectomy” is related to the word “hysterical.”) “Hilarious” and “crazy” are how most female comedians are described at some point if they want to be considered successful.
The “crazy” label is one that many of these comedians wear with a badge of honor when it suits them, but they also know it can come at a price. All of the women in the documentary say, in one way or another, that being a stand-up comedian is a line of work that you have to be a little crazy to want to do. It’s a profession where people of any gender constantly get rejections, low pay (or no pay) at the bottom of the career ladder, and exploitation from all kinds of people. However, the women in the documentary say they know (because they’ve have experienced it) that whatever negativity that the comedy industry can throw at people, women get it worse overall then men do.
Just like their male counterparts, female comedians were often bullied as kids, they come from dysfunctional families, and/or they’ve suffered some type of past trauma. Depression, addiction and divorce are very common among stand-up comedians. But the women in this documentary say that women are more likely to be stigmatized for these issues than men are, simply because there are too many people who expect more perfection from women than they expect from men.
Over and over, the women share eerily similar stories of feeling inadequate or feeling like misfits in their childhood and adolescence. (Almost all come from middle-class or working-class families.) Being funny gave these comedians a sense of purpose and an identity. And laughter from telling jokes helped these comedians feel accepted in some way.
Liebman says she has a history of being clinically depressed, and comments on her family dynamics: “It gave me an identity to be the funny one.” Kirson says that her parents had a very unhappy marriage, her father was very tough on her, and she was often bullied by boys. “I was not a happy kid,” she remembers.
Glaser, a recovering anorexic/bulimic who describes having lifelong insecurities about her physical appearance, says her decision to become a comedian came early in her childhood: “I realized I wasn’t as pretty as my sister, and the pretty girls were the ones getting the roles in the plays.” Instead of trying to be a glamorous actress like other girls were doing, Glaser decided to become a comedian first. In the documentary, Glaser admits that she still feels insecure when comparing herself to her sister.
Feinstein says that her she got bad grades in her childhood due to a learning disability. At 17, she moved to New York City and ended up pursuing stand-up comedy as a career. Shlesinger describes her childhood as growing up with a single mother in a Dallas suburb where they were Jews in a very Christian environment.
McFarlane, a Canadian who grew up on an Alberta farm with no running water, remembers that she felt out-of-place in her own family: “To my family, I was a very strange person. I liked things they didn’t like. I found humor in things they didn’t find funny.”
Lampanelli, who has retired from stand-up comedy, says that she grew up with an emotionally abusive mother: “My mother was a big yeller. She had a lot of rage … And I think I was that middle child who could make mom laugh to diffuse the tension in the house. I, as a comic, was doing jokes to shut everybody up before they got to me.” Lampanelli is shown in the documentary hanging out pleasantly with her mother, so it seems they’re in a good place now with their relationship.
Bachman found fame in 2019 through a viral video of her performing at the New York City club Downtime and did some ad-libbed heckling at someone she didn’t expect to be in the audience: disgraced entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was at the show the year before he went on trial and was convicted of rape. In “Hysterical,” Bachman says that she’s a rape survivor, and seeing Weinstein triggered her to make comments directed at him.
While Bachman was on stage during that show, she mentioned being a rape survivor, called Weinstein “the elephant in the room,” and then said about him being at the club: “I didn’t know we had to bring our own mace and rape whistles.” At first, she got some boos from male-sounding people, while one unidentified man in the audience shouted at Bachman to “shut up.” But Bachman continued by saying “fuck you” to all rapists. Anyone who disapproved of what she was saying was drowned out by mostly female cheers from the audience.
Bachman’s rebuke of Weinstein and all other rapists got a lot of media attention and was widely praised by other comedians. In the “Hysterical” documentary, Glaser comments on this defining moment for Bachman: “That was fearless. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.” Griffin, who is no stranger to controversy, says with admiration about Bachman’s takedown of Weinstein and rapists: “That was nothing less than an act of civil disobedience.”
Just like some of the other comedians in the documentary, Bachman says comedy is a form of therapy for her: “Everyone in [my] family has touched trauma. It’s not something we talk about, so we chose to laugh at funerals, we choose to laugh when somebody is getting divorced. Someone has the job to make things funny. We look to that person, and it helps. And I made the choice to be that person in my family.”
Women of color have the added burden of dealing with racism. Franklin, Shepherd and Lynch (who is a Latina) all tell stories about experiencing racist bullying when they were children and other racism when they became adults. Lynch, who spent part of her childhood in Spain before her family moved to the U.S. , says she was often ridiculed because of her Spanish accent when she talked.
Franklin says of the racism she experienced in her childhood, “Back then, you had to learn how to live with it. And one of the ways I did was by being funny.” Shepherd comments on her career: “As a black woman, I had to fight for a spot. I really, really had to prove that I was funny.”
Cho repeats some of her well-known stories of how her Korean American heritage and her body size were used as reasons to demean her. A low point for her was when TV executives pressured her to lose a dangerous amount of weight when she starred on the 1994-1995 sitcom “All-American Girl.” Cho says of her experiences with being body-shamed: “I have achieved more peace in my body as I’ve gotten older, but it took a long time to get there.” She has also experienced a lot of prejudice from people who think all Asian women are supposed to be quiet and submissive.
Although female entertainers are often expected to look as attractive as possible, Cho says that female comedians have a double-edged sword because people often have this attitude about women in comedy: “Don’t be too pretty. A beautiful woman is a threat.” Glaser adds, “You can be very pretty and funny. The only requirement is that you feel ugly on the inside.”
Feimster, who identifies as a lesbian, also talks about what it’s like to be a female comedian who proudly doesn’t fit into a stereotypical mold of female gender conformity or body size. She admits there have been many times when she’s been insecure about it, but ultimately, her differences make her stand out from many other female stand-up comics. Much of her stand-up comedy act talks about these issues.
Gold, another openly lesbian comedian, says that the bullying and awkwardness that she experienced in her youth had a lot to do with her tall height (she’s 6’3″) and being a “tomboy” as a child. And when she started to become taller than most of her peers, she turned any insecurities about her height into eventual jokes that made their way into her stand-up comedy act.
Feimster also echoes what many people interviewed in the documentary say about their comedy material coming from a place of emotional “damage.” She laughs when she explains why women want to become stand-up comedians: “There’s probably a lot of us that’s filling some sort of void.”
Kirson says something similar in this comment: “I say this on stage: No matter how much you clap, you’ll never fill the hole. We’re just trying to fill this hole and get attention that we’ve always wanted and can’t get.”
Don’t mistake “Hysterical” for a non-stop whinefest. It’s not. The comedians also frequently say what they love about doing stand-up. That type of passion is what keeps them going in their toughest times. And there’s quite a bit of laugh-out-loud footage of all of the comedians doing what they do on stage as examples of why they’ve achieved a certain level of fame.
All of the comedians, in one way or another, say that doing stand-up comedy is not something they chose but something that chose them. For Shepherd, stand-up comedy is about “the joy I get from getting on stage and being able to take people on a journey to a place where they can forget what they’re going through.” Feinstein says what she gets out of stand-up: “I have control. I’m a storyteller. I get to tell my tale.”
Feimster comments, “The beauty of comedy is I have a voice, I have a microphone, and I can go out and do my thing.” Later in the documentary, Feimster says, “I was a cautious kid, so it’s weird that I ended up in this job that has such a lack of stability, and you’re having to take risks all the time.”
Cho adds, “It’s mostly people’s biggest fear to get up in front of others and try to make them laugh. But, for me, when I was very different and very young, I also had to convince people that I had something important to say.”
Franklin comments, “The best experience on stage is when the whole room is with you, and you feel like you’re truly sharing a story that you can connect with.” Shlesinger says that stand-up comedy has a unique rhythm like no other form of entertainment: “It’s almost melodic. It’s almost like singing, like you can just riff and knowing that you can take them [the audience] anywhere.” Lynch says, “The very first time I performed on stage was for two minutes. And right then, I felt like I’d just married and had a baby.”
Speaking of marriage and children, the documentary fortunately doesn’t seem preoccupied about asking details about what type of family planning these women might or might not have. It’s a line of questioning that female entertainers are asked a lot more than male entertainers. Shepherd and McFarlane talk briefly about the challenges of raising kids while being a traveling stand-up comedian. (McFarlane takes her daughter Rayna Lynn, who was born in 2007, on the road with her.)
The documentary also mentions the hazards of being an up-and-coming stand-up comedian who doesn’t have the luxury of security guards or other people as protection against crazy audience members, stalkers or other potential dangers to safety. Many female stand-up comedians travel alone from city to city. And sometimes, promoters will put them in the same hotel room or condo with other comedians (almost always male) whom the women do not know.
Franklin is shown having a conversation with a male comedian friend and telling him about a bad experience she had where she stayed at a hotel on his enthusiastic recommendation, but the hotel and the surrounding area turned out to be very unsafe. The more she described the unsafe conditions, the more the male comedian began to understand that from his perspective as a man, the place wasn’t so bad. But from a female perspective, it was not a good place to be alone.
Sexual harassment and/or sexual assault seem to be experienced by the majority of female stand-up comedians in relation to their job. Most of the women don’t go into details, but some of the women describe the derogatory comments, sexual groping without consent and other unwanted touching that they’ve experienced as stand-up comedians. The general attitude is that these degrading experiences come with the territory, but more women now are more likely to report misconduct than they were in the past.
The movie makes a passing mention of how female comedians are often put in tricky #MeToo situations by people who can later claim that their offensive comments or actions were “just a joke” that a comedian should be able to take. Some of the women interviewed in the documentary hint that they feel pressure to be like “one of the guys” and have “thick skin” when sexual degradation is in their presence. The documentary should have asked this question: Is a woman who has a lot of sexually explicit raunchiness in her stand-up comedy act more likely to be considered “fair game” to be targeted for sexually explicit offensiveness?
If the offender is a comedian, the documentary could have used more exploration of the complicated issue of how comedy is used as an excuse to justify offensive things that aren’t illegal. There also should have been some discussion of “cancel culture” and how far back in someone’s life should offensive comments or actions be used to “cancel” that person. There are no easy answers, but the documentary could have asked more of these questions to get the perspectives of these female comedians, many of whom have a lot of sexually explicit content in their comedy acts.
Being a stand-up comedian, regardless of gender, is hard on a stand-up comedian’s love life. Almost all of the women talk about their love lives as part of their stand-up comedy act. And there’s an appreciation for how far things have changed from the days when it was scandalous for female stand-up comedians to talk about sex. However, gender double standards remain. Comedians vary when it comes to how raunchy or politically outspoken they want to be in their stand-up comedy acts.
The documentary mentions the 2017 controversy over Griffin posing for a photo while holding up a fake, bloodied head of Donald Trump, who was president of the U.S. at the time. The backlash was swift and far-reaching: Griffin was blacklisted from performing in most of the U.S., and she was put on a government watch list. Griffin’s 2019 documentary: “Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story” chronicled this controversy and her comeback tour outside the United States. In “Hysterical,” Griffin doesn’t really say anything new that she didn’t already say in her own documentary about this subject.
“Hysterical” has a compilation of footage of male entertainers (such as the rock band Gwar) who depicted the beheading or mutilation of Trump as part of their stage acts but never got the type of backlash and career damage that Griffin did. Glaser says of the Griffin controversy: “It was all so much bullshit. She got so railroaded.” Cho adds, “They would never treat a male comedian that way.”
Even with gender double standards, many of the comedians in “Hysterical” say that stand-up comedy is still a form of entertainment where people have true freedom of expression. (However, comedians still face career consequences if their material is considered too offensive.) Glaser comments, “I used to feel like ‘ugh,’ when comedians would pat themselves on the back and say that we are the last bastions of free speech. It’s like we kind of are. When someone tells me I can’t talk about something, I want to do it more.”
“Hysterical” has a brief overview of influential female stand-up comedians over the years. Moms Mabley, Sophie Tucker, Totie Fields, Bella Barth, Jean Carroll, Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers are all mentioned as being pioneers in their own ways. Franklin mentions Wanda Sykes as being a personal inspiration to her when Franklin started out in stand-up comedy.
But for many of the women interviewed in this documentary, being a stand-up comedian was not something they were taught to believe was a realistic career choice for a woman. Shlesinger is the only one in the documentary who says that it never occurred to her that she couldn’t be a stand-up comedian because she was a woman. And almost all female stand-up comedians have had plenty of naysayers in their lives who told them that they shouldn’t be stand-up comedians.
On average, women tend to have shorter careers in stand-up comedy than men do, because they’re more likely to experience age discrimination and more likely to stop touring for family-related reasons. But regardless of where a female stand-up comedian is in her career, she’s more likely to lose out on job opportunities to men. And this gender discrimination causes a lot of women to get discouraged and give up.
A large part of this self-doubt and insecurity comes from long-held sexist practices of booking women in only one or two slots in a stand-up comedy lineup where men get not only the majority of the slots but also the best (headlining) slots in most cases. It’s mentioned repeatedly in the documentary that female stand-up comedians have been so accustomed to these limited opportunities, it was hard to for them to feel camaraderie with female comedians because they saw each other as competition.
Griffin says of women trying to get booked into a lineup of comedians: “There was a time when it seemed like there really was only room for one.” McFarlane agrees: “It was hard to like another woman [comedian] because you felt threatened because only one person is going to get the job.”
That’s not to say that stand-up comedy is any less cutthroat for women. Nor does it mean that women are not immune to jealous rivalries. But nowadays, female comedians say they’re much more likely to reach out and support other female comedians. More venues and promoters are becoming open to booking more than just one woman in a comedy lineup. And a few places sometimes host all-female comedy lineups.
The female comedians in the documentary say that things have gradually improved as there’s slowly been progress in job opportunities for women in comedy. However, it’s up to women to join forces and create supportive networks for each other, which is something that male comedians have been informally doing for years. Franklin comments, “I never understood sexism until I got into the comedy scene.”
Shlesinger adds, “Men have always gotten to do things first, whether it’s owning property or freedom of speech or anything fun. By sheer numbers, men have been doing comedy for longer [than women have].” The general consensus that the female comedians have is that the best way to change the outdated mindset that men should always dominate in comedy is for the public to vote with their wallets and by making more requests for diverse lineups of talented comedians.
In the “Hysterical” documentary, Kirson mentions New York City venues such as Comedy Cellar and The Stand and Los Angeles venues such as The Comedy Store and The Improv as having welcoming communities for comedians of any gender: “There are certain clubs were people really become family and close and hang out.”
Feinstein, Glaser and Kirson are shown hanging out together at Comedy Cellar. There’s also some footage of Franklin spending time at Comedy Cellar with some comedian friends, including Jeff Ross. The documentary includes archival footage of comedians Amy Schumer, Glaser and Bridget Everett in a car and speaking words of support and encouragement to Griffin during Griffin’s scandal.
The support for each other isn’t all just lip service. Liebman produces a show for up-and-coming comedians called Locally Grown Comedy at the Los Angeles-area nightclub Feinstein’s at Vitello’s. The documentary includes footage from one of these shows. Liebman says that she personally looks out for young talent whom she can mentor, especially women, since she knows how much harder it is for women than men to break into stand-up comedy.
Some of the women in the documentary believe that the #MeToo movement is a major factor in this shift toward more female comedians having more solidarity with each other than in previous decades. Bachman says, “Once you stand up to power, the narrative changes.” Women in stand-up comedy are also starting to verbally push back, on stage and off, on certain people trying to dictate what beauty standards are, since these beauty standards can affect how people are treated in society.
One of the best and most emotionally touching parts of the documentary is how it covers Franklin’s journey in going public with having breast cancer. There’s footage of Franklin telling some of her comedian friends about it and revealing that she’s going to go on stage and try out some jokes about her cancer for the first time. After the friends get over the shock of Franklin having cancer and see her performance (which got a standing ovation from the audience), Franklin is shown being somewhat overwhelmed by all the love and support. And fortunately, she is now in remission from the cancer.
The women in “Hysterical” expose a lot of insecurities about themselves on stage and in the documentary. But they also show a lot more strength than they might give themselves credit for, because not too many people would have the courage to turn their personal pain into something that will make people laugh. By allowing these comedians to tell their stories, without “gatekeepers” (agents, managers, comedy promoters, talent bookers) and other talking heads interrupting and drowning out their voices, director Nevins gives each woman the chance to shine in her own way in the documentary. It’s a film that’s worth watching by anyone who enjoys talented stand-up comedians and people who speak their own truths unapologetically.
Concerns about the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) pandemic have led to numerous cancellations or postponements in the entertainment industry. The way things are going in the United States and many other countries, any public gathering of at least 50 people per gathering is probably going to be cancelled or postponed until further notice. Shutdowns are occurring at public places for sports and entertainment.
Here’s a list of what’s been cancelled or postponed so far. This list will be updated as more cancellations and postponements are announced.
NOTE: This list does not include individual TV series, movies, plays or musicals that have shut down production until further notice. (There are too many of them to list.)
The annual Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars) in Los Angeles (originally scheduled for February 28, 2021) has been postponed and rescheduled. The Academy Awards (televised in the U.S. on ABC) will now take place on April 25, 2021. (Updated June 15, 2020.)
Academy of Country Music Awards
The annual ACM Awards (originally scheduled for April 5, 2020) and its related ACM Party for a Cause events in have been postponed and rescheduled. The ACM Awards (televised in the U.S. by CBS) will now take place on September 16, 2020, and has moved from Las Vegas to Nashville. ACM Party for a Cause events will occur around this date in Nashville. Keith Urban was announced as host of the 2020 ACM Awards, which will take place in Nashville for the first time in the show’s 55-year history. (Updated April 27, 2020.)
ACE Comic Con Northeast
ACE Comic Con Northeast was scheduled to take place in Boston from March 20 to March 22, 2020, but the event has been cancelled.
Live-events promotion company AEG Presents has cancelled or postponed almost all of its events for 2020. (Updated May 24, 2020)
All Points East
The annual All Points East for alternative rock music has been cancelled. The festival (which takes place in London) was scheduled for May 22 to May 24 and May 29 to May 31, 2020. Tame Impala, Caribou, Glass Animals and Kelly Lee Owens were among performers. (Updated March 27, 2020)
The annual Japanese animation convention in Los Angeles has been cancelled as an in-person event and will now be a virtual/online event called Anime Expo Light, which will take place on July 3 and July 4, 2020. (Updated April 21, 2020.
Lionsgate has postponed and rescheduled the release of the drama “Antebellum,” starring Janelle Monáe. Originally set for release April 24, 2020, “Antebellum” will now be released on September 18, 2020. In the U.S., “Antebellum” will be released on VOD, while outside the U.S., the movie will be released in theaters that are open for business.(Updated August 6, 2020)
Searchlight Pictures has postponed until further notice the release of the horror movie “Antlers,” originally set for April 17, 2020. The movie stars Keri Russell and Jesse Plemons. (Updated March 12, 2020)
The world-famous Apollo Theater in New York’s Harlem neighborhood has cancelled all in-person events until further notice. (Updated April 5, 2020)
The computer corporation is shutting down all Apple retail stores outside of China for two weeks, from March 14 to March 27, 2020. The re-opening date is subject to change. Apple did a similar shutdown of its retail stores in China. (Updated March 12, 2020)
Disney’s sci-fi film “Artemis Fowl” (starring Ferdia Shaw, Judi Dench and Colin Farrell) was set for a theatrical release on May 24, 2020, but will instead forgo a theatrical release and go directly to the Disney+ streaming service on June 12, 2020. (Updated April 3, 2020)
“The Artist’s Wife”
Strand Releasing and Water’s End Productions have postponed and rescheduled the release the dramatic film “The Artist’s Wife,” starring Lena Olin and Bruce Dern. The film was originally scheduled to be released in New York City on April 3, 2020, in Los Angeles on April 10, 2020, and in the San Francisco Bay Area on April 17, 2020. The movie is now set for release in select U.S. theaters and on VOD on September 25, 2020. (Updated August 28, 2020)
The annual Los Angeles networking event for ASCAP songwriters and publishers is now cancelled. ASCAP Experience, formerly known as the ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo, was scheduled for April 1 to April 3, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
Austin City Limits Festival
The annual music festival in Austin, Texas, has been cancelled. The festival was scheduled for October 2 to October 4 and October 9 to October 11, 2020. Artists on the festival bill included Eminem, Fleetwood Mac, Rage Against the Machine, Chris Stapleton, STS9, Twenty One Pilots and Common. (Updated March 26, 2020)
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this superhero reboot, starring Robert Pattinson. “The Batman” was originally set for June 25, 2021, was postponed to October 1, 2021, and is now scheduled for release on March 4, 2022. (Updated October 6, 2020)
Beale Street Music Festival
The annual music festival in Memphis, Tennessee, has been cancelled. Originally scheduled for May 1 to May 3, 2020, the event was then postponed to October 16 to October 18, 2020. Artists who had been scheduled to perform at the 2020 Beale Street Music Festival included the Lumineers, Lil Wayne, Three 6 Mafia, the Avett Brothers and the Smashing Pumpkins. (Updated June 18, 2020)
Beijing International Film Festival
The annual event in China has been postponed. The Beijing International Film Festival was set for April 19 to April 26, 2020.
The Grammy-winning pop star has postponed until further notice the North American concerts for his “Changes” Tour. The tour dates were scheduled to begin in Seattle on May 14, 2020, and end in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on September 26, 2020. (Updated April 1, 2020)
Big Ears Festival
The annual music and film event in Knoxville, Tennessee, has been cancelled. Originally scheduled for March 26 to March 29, 2020, the Big Ears Festival’s announced performers this year included Devendra Banhart, Anthony Braxton, Kronos Quartet and Patti Smith. (March 11, 2020)
Billboard Music Awards
The annual award show was scheduled to take place in Las Vegas on April 29, 2020, but the ceremony has been postponed and rescheduled for October 14, 2020. NBC has the U.S. telecast of the Billboard Music Awards. Kelly Clarkson has hosted the show since 2018. (Updated August 14, 2020)
Disney’s Marvel Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero movie “Black Widow,” which was set for May 1, 2020. The movie was then postponed to May 7, 2021, and is now set for release on Disney+ (at an extra premium price for Disney+ subscribers) and in theaters on July 9, 2021. The stars of “Black Widow” include Scarlett Johansson, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour and Florence Pugh. (Updated March 23, 2021)
Paramount Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of this crime drama, starring Stephen Odubola and Micheal Ward. “Blue Story” was due in U.S. theaters on March 20, 2020, and will now be released direct-to-video on May 5, 2020. The movie was already released in the United Kingdom in November 2019. (Updated March 12, 2020)
BMI Latin Awards
The annual BMI Latin Music Awards ceremony has been postponed. The show had been scheduled for March 31 in Los Angeles. The rescheduled date is to be announced. (Updated March 10, 2020)
Bon Jovi’s summer 2020 North American tour has been cancelled. The New Jersey rock band’s tour had been scheduled to begin in Tacoma, Washington, on June 10, 2020, and end in New York City on July 28, 2020. (Updated April 20, 2020)
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
The annual festival in Manchester, Tennessee, has been cancelled. Originally scheduled to take place June 11 to June 14, 2020, the event had been rescheduled for September 24 to September 27, 2020. Before the cancellation, the announced lineup included Tame Impala, Tool, Lizzo, Vampire Weekend, Lana Del Rey, The 1975, Run the Jewels and Brittany Howard. (Updated June 25, 2020)
The annual book fan event in New York City has been cancelled. Originally set for May 30 and May 31, 2020, BookCon had been rescheduled to place on July 25 and July 26, 2020. The event has now been completely scrapped for 2020. (Updated April 14, 2020)
The annual rock festival in Boston has been cancelled. Boston Calling had been scheduled for May 22 to May 24, 2020. The festival’s performers this year would have included Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Run the Jewels, Jason Isbell and The 1975. (Updated March 31, 2020)
Boston Symphony Orchestra
The Boston Symphony Orchestra has cancelled its tour of Asia. The trek had scheduled shows in South Korea, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong from February 6 to February 16, 2020.
BottleRock Napa Valley
The annual music and arts festival in Napa, California, has been cancelled. Originally scheduled to take place May 22 to May 24, 2020, the event was rescheduled for October 2 to October 4, 2020, but now has been completely cancelled. Artists announced for the festival included Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Nicks, Miley Cyrus, Khalid, Zedd, and Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals. (Updated July 16, 2020)
Bourbon and Beyond Festival
The annual rock music festival in Louisville, Kentucky, has been cancelled. The Bourbon and Beyond Festival was scheduled to take place from September 25 to September 27, 2020. The lineup of artists had not been announced. (Updated April 24, 2020)
Broadway and off-Broadway shows in New York City
All Broadway and off-Broadway shows in New York City have been cancelled until May 30, 2021, but that date could change, depending on the circumstances. (Updated October 7, 2020)
BST Hyde Park
The annual music festival in London has been cancelled. BST Hyde Park was scheduled for July 4 to July 11, 2020. The artists who were announced as performers included Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Pearl Jam, Post Malone, Rita Ora, Kesha, Zara Larsson, Pixies, James Blake and Little Mix. (Updated April 8, 2020)
The South Korean boy band has cancelled all of its concerts in Seoul for its “Map of the Soul” tour. The cancelled BTS shows were scheduled for April 11, 12, 18 and 19, 2020. (Updated March 10, 2020)
Bushfire Relief Charity Concert
The benefit show to help victims of Australia’s wildfires has been cancelled, after being scheduled to take place in Melbourne on March 13, 2020. Miley Cyrus was the headliner, while other artists announced for the show were Lil Nas X, the Veronicas and DJ Seb Fontaine. (Updated March 10, 2020)
The annual music and arts festival that takes place in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert has been cancelled for the second year in a row. For 2021, instead of an in-person event, a virtual Burning Man will be held from August 21 to September 5. (Updated April 27, 2021)
Byron Bay Bluesfest
The annual festival in Australia was abruptly cancelled just hours before it was set to begin on April 1, 2021, because a local man tested positive for a COVID-19 variant. (And this wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke.) The 2021 edition of Byron Bay Bluesfest had been scheduled to run until April 5. Artists who were supposed to perform at the event included Jimmy Barnes, Kasey Chambers, Courtney Barnett, Mo’Ju & Birdz and Kate Miller. (Updated April 1, 2021)
The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) in San Francisco has postponed CAAMFest 38 until further notice. The Asian American festival of film, music and food was originally scheduled for May 14 to May 24, 2020. CAAMFest was formerly known as the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. (Updated March 19, 2020)
The former Fifth Harmony pop star has postponed her Romance world tour, which was set to begin in Oslo on May 26, 2020 and end in Miami September 26, 2020. A concert that was supposed to take place in Dundee, Scotland, on May 24, 2020, has been completely cancelled. (Updated March 24, 2020)
Canadian Music Week
The annual showcase event in Toronto has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally set for May 19 to May 23, 2020, Canadian Music Week will now take place September 8 to September 13, 2020. (Updated March 18, 2020)
Universal Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of the horror-movie reboot “Candyman,” starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. “Candyman” was originally scheduled for release on June 12, 2020. The new release date is September 25, 2020. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled to take place May 12 to 23, 2020. (Updated May 10, 2020)
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity
The annual networking event for creative marketers was set to take place in Cannes, France, from June 22 to June 26, 2020. The event is postponed until further notice. (Updated March 18, 2020)
The annual drama event in Cannes, France, has been postponed and rescheduled. It was originally scheduled to take place March 27 to April 1, 2020, and will now take place October 9 to October 14, 2020.
The Grammy-winning superstar has postponed her March 10, 2020, concert in Honolulu and will reschedule it for sometime in November 2020.
“Charm City Kings”
Sony Pictures Classics has dropped the release of this drama, starring Jahi Di’Allo Winston and Meek Mill. “Charm City Kings” had been scheduled for release in select theaters on April 10, 2020. Instead, the streaming service HBO Max will premiere “Charm City Kings” (under the Warner Max label) on a date to be announced. (Updated May 6, 2020)
The R&B singer has cancelled her Fort Hood USO show in Texas that was scheduled for March 19, 2020.
The annual cinema convention in Barcelona has cancelled. CineEurope was originally set for June 22 to June 25, 2020, and was rescheduled to take place August 3 to August 5, 2020. However, CineEurope was officially nixed after it became obvious that Spain would not be ready to host large-scale events during the rescheduled dates. (Updated May 12, 2020)
CinemaCon, the National Association of Theatre Owners’ annual convention in Las Vegas, has been cancelled. The event was scheduled to take place from March 30 to April 2, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
Cirque du Soleil
The international acrobatic dance company has cancelled all of its performances worldwide until further notice, as of March 15, 2020. (Updated March 14, 2020)
The Grammy-winning original “American Idol” winner has postponed until further notice her “Invincible” Las Vegas residency, which had been set to begin on April 1, 2020. In addition, her NBCUniversal-syndicated daytime talk show “The Kelly Clarkson Show” has temporarily shut down production. (Updated March 16, 2020)
Sony Pictures Classics has postponed and rescheduled the release of this buddy comedy, starring Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin. “The Climb” had been scheduled for release in New York City and Los Angeles on March 20, 2020. The movie will, now open in select U.S. theaters on November 13, 2020. (Updated October 21, 2020)
The Country Music Association’s annual fan festival in Nashville has been cancelled. CMA Fest had been scheduled to take place June 4 to June 7, 2020. The lineup of performers had not been announced. Because CMA Fest will not happen this year, there also won’t be an ABC TV special for CMA Fest in 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)
CMT Music Awards
The annual CMT Music Awards in Nashville has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally set to take place on June 3, 2020, this award show for country music will now take place on October 14, 2020. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
The world’s biggest annual music festival (in terms of ticket sales) has been cancelled. Originally scheduled for April 10 to April 12 and April 17 to April 19, Coachella was rescheduled for October 9 to October 11 and October 16 to October 18, 2020. The Coachella Festival (which takes place in Indio, California) has also been cancelled for 2021. Artists who were announced for the 2020 Coachella Festival included Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean, as well as Calvin Harris, Big Sean, Lewis Capaldi, Lana Del Rey, Flume, Lil Nas X, 21 Savage and Charlie XCX. (Updated March 11, 2021)
The annual comic-book/sci-fi/fantasy entertainment fan convention in San Diego (also known as San Diego Comic-Con) has been cancelled for the first time in its 50-year history. Comic-Con International had been set for July 23 to July 26, 2020, with preview night taking place on July 22. Instead of an in-person event for the 2020 edition of Comic-Con, there will be a virtual online event called Comic-Con@Home, which will take place from July 22 to July 26, 2020. Click here for more details. Comic-Con in 2021 will also not be an in-person event and instead will be the online virtual event Comic-Con@Home, which will take place from July 22 to July 25, 2021. (Updated March 10, 2021)
Walt Disney Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of the origin story “Cruella” (starring Emma Stone as the “101 Dalmatians” villain), which moves from December 23, 2020, to May 28, 2021. The movie will be released on Disney+ (at an extra premium price for Disney+ subscribers) and in theaters on the same date. (Updated March 23, 2021)
The Grateful Dead spinoff group has cancelled its 2020 U.S. tour. Dead and Company had been scheduled to begin the tour in Boulder, Colorado, on July 10, 2020, and conclude the tour in Boston on August 8, 2020. These were the only concerts that the band was going to perform in 2020. (Updated April 21, 2020)
“Death on the Nile”
Disney’s 20th Century Studios has postponed until further notice the release of the Agatha Christie mystery thriller “Death on the Nile,” the sequel to 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” “Death on the Nile” was set for release on October 23, 2020 and then rescheduled for December 18, 2020. The stars of “Death on the Nile” include Kenneth Branagh, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer and Letitia Wright. The movie’s new release date is February 11, 2022. (Updated March 23, 2021)
Disney’s Twentieth Century Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the thriller movie “Deep Water,” which was set for November 13, 2020. The movie was then postponed to August 13, 2021, and is now set for release on January 14, 2022. The stars of “Deep Water” include Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. (Updated March 23, 2021)
Greenwich Entertainment has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of the French horror-comedy film “Deerskin,” starring Jean Dujardin. “Deerskin” was originally set for a U.S. release in select theaters on March 20, 2020. The new U.S. release date (on digital and VOD) is June 26, 2020. “Deerskin” was already released in France in 2019. (Updated March 30, 2020)
“Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy”
Greenwich Entertainment has postponed and rescheduled the release of the documentary “Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy.” The movie was originally set for release on April 22, 2020. In the U.S., the movie will be released in virtual cinemas on May 22, 2020, on digital/VOD on June 19, 2020, and on DVD on June 23, 2020. (Updated March 23, 2020)
“Dino Dana: The Movie”
Amazon Prime Video and Fathom Events have postponed and rescheduled the release of this movie spinoff of the “Dino Dana” children’s series. The movie was originally scheduled for a one-day-only release in theaters on March 21, 2020. Amazon Prime Video will now release the movie on September 4, 2020. (Updated July 23, 2020)
Disney has cancelled its launch event for its streaming service Disney+ Europe, which had been scheduled to take place in London on March 24, 2020. In addition, all Disney theme parks—which were supposed to re-open on March 31, 2020—have different re-opening dates. Disney World in Orlando, Florida, re-opened on July 11, 2020. Disneyland in Anaheim, California, is set to re-open on April 30, 2021. (Updated March 15, 2021)
“Doctor Strange 2”
Disney’s Marvel Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero movie “Doctor Strange 2,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch. “Doctor Strange 2” was originally scheduled for release on May 7, 2021. The new release date is November 5, 2021. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Doha Film Institute’s Qumra Event
The Doha Film Institute’s Qumra event for mentor networking with upcoming talent in the movie industry has been cancelled. The conference was supposed to be from March 20 to March 25 in Doha, Qatar.
Dolly Parton’s theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has temporarily closed until further notice, as of March 14, 2020. (Updated March 13, 2020)
The annual Download Festival for hard rock/heavy metal has been cancelled. The festival (which takes place in Derby, England) was scheduled for June 12 to June 14, 2020. Kiss, Iron Maiden, System of a Down, Deftones, Gojira and Korn were among the performers. (Updated March 26, 2020)
The annual music festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been cancelled. Dreamville Festival, which is from hip-hop artist J. Cole, had originally been scheduled for April 4, 2020, and was postponed to August 29, 2020, until the event was shuttered altogether for 2020. The event’s lineup had not been announced. (Updated May 16, 2020)
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this sci-fi remake, starring Timothée Chalamet, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Jason Momoa and Rebecca Ferguson. “Dune” was originally set for December 18, 2020, and is now scheduled for release on October 1, 2021. (Updated October 6, 2020)
East Coast Music Awards: Festival & Conference
Canada’s East Coast Music Association has cancelled the 2020 East Coast Music Awards: Festival & Conference. The event was scheduled to take place in St. John’s from April 29 to May 3, 2020. (Updated March 17, 2020)
The annual film festival founded by the late film critic Roger Ebert was scheduled for April 15 to April 18, 2020, in Champaign, Illinois, but the event is now cancelled. The next Ebertfest will take place in Champaign from April 14 to April 17, 2021. (Updated March 15, 2020)
Edinburgh Art Festival
The annual event in Scotland has been cancelled. The Edinburgh Art Festival had been scheduled for August 7 to August 29, 2020. (Updated April 1, 2020)
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
The annual performing-arts event in Scotland has been cancelled. The Edinburgh Art Festival had been scheduled for August 7 to August 31, 2020. (Updated April 1, 2020)
Edinburgh International Film Festival
The United Kingdom’s longest-running film festival has been postponed until further notice. The Edinburgh International Film Festival in Scotland had been scheduled to take place June 17 to June 28, 2020. The festival’s main programming slate for 2020 has not been announced yet.(Updated April 1, 2020)
Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) Las Vegas
Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) Las Vegas has been cancelled. Originally set for May 15 to May 17, 2020, EDC Las Vegas was rescheduled for October 2 to October 4, 2020, and then completely scrapped. The lineup was supposed to include The Chainsmokers, David Guetta, Carl Cox, Alison Wonderland, Martin Garrix, Tiësto, DJ Snake and Major Lazer. EDC Las Vegas is set to return from May 21 to May 23, 2021. (Updated August 2, 2020)
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3)
The annual consumer event in Los Angeles for electronic entertainment has been cancelled. Electronic Entertainment Expo, also known as E3, had been scheduled to take place from June 9 to June 11, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
The annual music and arts festival in Rothbury, Michigan, has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for June 25 to June 28, 2020. Artists who were scheduled to perform included Major Lazer, Duke Dumont, the String Cheese Incident and Big Gigantic. (Updated April 21, 2020)
“Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things”
Eagle Rock Entertainment has postponed and rescheduled the theatrical release of this Ella Fitzgerald documentary, which was set for a one-night-only release on April 3, 2020. The movie will now be released in virtual cinemas on June 26, 2020. (Updated June 4, 2020)
Emerald City Comic Con
Scheduled to take place March 12 to March 15, 2020, the annual comic-book convention in Seattle has been postponed. The event will be rescheduled for the summer; the exact dates are to be announced. Before the postponement, Emerald City Comic Con experienced several cancelled appearances. DC Entertainment, Dark Horse Comics, Penguin Random House, as well as individual speakers and panelists, cancelled their participation this year.
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has postponed the Daytime Emmy Awards until further notice. The Daytime Emmy Awards had been scheduled to take place in Pasadena, California from June 12 to June 14, 2020. The show’s host and nominations haven’t been announced yet. The Daytime Emmy ceremonies have not been televised in several years. Instead, the live ceremonies can be seen via webcast. (Updated on March 19, 2020)
The National Television Academy of Arts and Sciences has also postponed the annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards (originally scheduled for April 19, 2020, in Las Vegas) and the Sports Emmy Awards, originally scheduled for April 28, 2020, in New York. The rescheduled dates for the ceremonies are to be announced. (Updated March 13, 2020)
Universal Home Entertainment has postponed and rescheduled the release of the dramatic film “Emperor,” starring Dayo Okeniyi, Brad Carter, James Cromwell and Bruce Dern. The movie was set to be released on March 27, 2020, and will now be released on DVD, digital and VOD on August 18, 2020. (Updated July 16, 2020)
Concert promoter Danny Wimmer Presents has cancelled the annual Epicenter festival, which was scheduled to take in place in Concord, North Carolina, from May 1 to May 3, 2020. The lineup of performers included Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deftones, Godsmack, Volbeat, Staind, Papa Roach, David Lee Roth, Gojira, Chevelle, Cypress Hill and Rancid. Many of the artists who were scheduled to perform at the festival will instead perform at the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, Kentucky (another Danny Wimmer Presents event), which has expanded to four days (September 17 to September 20, 2020), with Metallica headlining on September 17. Louder Than Life pass holders will not be charged extra for the fourth day. Ticket/pass holders for the cancelled festival have three options: get a refund, use their purchase for the same festival in 2021, or exchange the purchase for another Danny Wimmer Presents event in 2020. (Updated March 23, 2020)
The annual music and culture festival presented by Essence magazine in New Orleans has been cancelled. The Essence Festival, which was scheduled to include headliners Bruno Mars and Janet Jackson, had been set for July 1 to July 6, 2020. (Updated April 15, 2020)
Disney’s Marvel Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero movie “Eternals,” starring Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Richard Madden, Brian Tyree Henry and Gemma Chan. “Eternals” was originally scheduled for release on November 6, 2020, then moved to February 12, 2021. The new release date is November 5, 2021. (Updated September 23, 2020)
Eurovision Song Contest
The annual music event was supposed to take place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, from May 12 and 14, 2020 (for semi-final rounds) and on May 16, 2020 (for the final round), but Eurovision Song Contest has been cancelled. It’s the first time in the event’s 64-year history that it has been shut down. (Updated March 18, 2020)
“Fast & Furious 9”
Universal Pictures has postponed the release of this action sequel to April 2021. (The U.S. release will be on April 2, 2021.) “Fast & Furious 9,” starring Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, was originally scheduled for release on May 22, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
Festival d’été de Québec
The annual music festival Québec Cityhas been cancelled. Festival d’été de Québec was scheduled for July 9 to July 19, 2020. Artists were announced as performers included Imagine Dragons, Jack Johnson, The National, Marshmello, Alanis Morissette, G-Eazy, 5 Seconds of Summer and Halsey. (Updated April 9, 2020)
Film at Lincoln Center
The membership-funded organization Film at Lincoln Center in New York City became one of the first in the U.S. to close its movie theaters, as of March 12, 2020, until further notice. Film at Lincoln Center operates the Walter Reade Theater and the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center. Film at Lincoln Center has also postponed the New Directors/New Films Festival (which had been scheduled to run from March 25, to April 5, 2020) and the Chaplin Award Gala honoring Spike Lee, which was set for April 27, 2020. The rescheduled dates are to be announced. In addition, Film at Lincoln Center’s membership magazine Film Comment (which has been published since 1962) is going on an indefinite hiatus after the May/June 2020 issue, which will be published in digital form only. (Updated March 28, 2020)
Film Independent Spirit Awards
The annual Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California, (originally scheduled for February 27, 2021) has been postponed and rescheduled. The Film Independent Spirit Awards (televised in the U.S. by IFC) will now take place on April 24, 2021. (Updated June 16, 2020.)
The annual music festival in Dover, Delaware, has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled to take place from June 18 to June 21, 2020. Artists who were announced for the event included Rage Against the Machine, Billie Eilish, Halsey, Khalid, Blink-182, Maggie Rogers, Cage the Elephant, Illenium, Diplo and Run the Jewels. (Updated March 26, 2020)
The annual LGBTQ comic-book/sci-fi convention in New York City has been cancelled as an in-person event but has pivoted to being a online virtual event. FlameCon had been scheduled to take place August 15 and August 16, 2020. The virtual FlameCon is set for August 15, 2020. The next FlameCon will take place August 21 and August 22, 2021. (Updated July 24, 2020)
The Grammy-winning rock band has postponed April 2020 U.S. concerts for its Van Tour. Some of the concerts have already been rescheduled for December 2020. (Updated March 13, 2020)
Fox Entertainment has cancelled all development presentations at industry events until further notice. Fox Broadcasting Company’s “WWE Smackdown Live” will not have live audiences until further notice. (Updated March 12, 2020.)
Fox News has cancelled its upfront presentation that was scheduled to take place in New York City on March 24, 2020. In addition, Fox News’ “The Greg Gutfeld Show” will not have live audiences until further notice. (Updated March 12, 2020.)
Disney-owned 20th Century Pictures (formerly known as 20th Century Fox) has postponed and rescheduled the release of the action flick “Free Guy” (starring Ryan Reynolds), which moved from July 3, 2020 to December 11, 2020. The movie’s current release date is August 13, 2021. (Updated March 23, 2021)
“The French Dispatch”
Searchlight Pictures has postponed until further notice the comedy “The French Dispatch,” starring Benicio del Toro, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand and Timothée Chalamet. “The French Dispatch” was originally set for release on July 24, 2020 and then postponed to October 16, 2020, before being shelved again. The movie’s new release date is to be announced.
Frozen Dead Guy Days
Frozen Dead Guys Days in Nederland, Colorado, was scheduled to take place from March 13 to March 15, 2020, but has been cancelled. The annual event celebrates “frosty merriment featuring live bands and outrageous events—paying homage to Bredo Morstol, frozen in a Tuff Shed,” according to a statement on the event’s website.
Full Frame Documentary Festival
The annual Full Frame Documentary Festival in Durham, North Carolina, has been cancelled. The event had been set for April 2 to April 5, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
Game Developers Conference
The annual video-game industry conference in San Francisco was scheduled to take place March 16 to Mach 20, 2020, but the event has now been postponed. The new dates for the event are to be announced.
“The Ghost of Peter Sellers”
Film Movement has postponed and rescheduled the release of this documentary, which chronicles the ill-fated production of the Peter Sellers movie “Ghost of the Noonday Sun.” “The Ghost of Peter Sellers” had been scheduled for release in New York City on March 27, 2020. The movie’s VOD release is on June 23, 2020. (Updated May 1, 2020)
Sony’s Columbia Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this “Ghostbusters” sequel. “Ghosbusters: Afterlife,” starring original “Ghostbusters” headliners Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, was due out in cinemas on July 10, 2020, and has been rescheduled to open on March 5, 2021. (Updated March 30, 2020)
The world-famous guitar manufacturer has temporarily closed its headquarters in Nashville and its facility in Bozemon, Montana, as of March 20, 2020. The operations will re-open on a date to be announced. (Updated March 20, 2020)
GLAAD Media Awards
The GLAAD Media Awards have been cancelled. The bi-coastal ceremonies for LGBTQ people in entertainment/media had been set for New York City on March 19, 2020, and Beverly Hills, California, on April 16, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
The Glastonbury Festival, one of Europe’s largest annual music events, has been cancelled. The festival (which takes place in Glastonbury, England) was scheduled for June 24 to June 28, 2020. Kendrick Lamar, Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift and Diana Ross were among the headliners. The 2021 edition of the Glastonbury Festival has also been cancelled before any artists were announced for the event. (Updated January 21, 2021)
Global Media Summit
The annual Global Media Summit (GMS) in Carrollton, Texas, has been cancelled. Described by organizers as “a Christian alliance uniting media professionals globally,” the event, which includes the GMS Music Awards, was scheduled to take place from April 22 to April 25, 2020. (Updated March 13, 2020)
“Godzilla vs. Kong”
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled “Godzilla vs. Kong,” starring Millie Bobby Brown, Alexander Skarsgård and Rebecca Hall. “Godzilla vs. Kong” was originally set to premiere on November 20, 2020, and is now set for release on March 31, 2021. (Updated June 11, 2020)
Google I/O and Google Cloud Next events
Google has cancelled Google I/O. The annual event for Google developers to announce consumer products was scheduled to take place in Mountain View, California, from May 12 to May 14, 2020. Meanwhile, the Google Cloud Next event that was supposed to happen in San Francisco from April 6 to April 8, 2020, will shift from a physical event to a virtual online event, where attendees will be participate through digital resources.
The annual Governors Ball music festival in New York City has been cancelled. The festival was scheduled for June 5 to June 7, 2020. Artists on the festival bill included Stevie Nicks, Missy Elliott, Tame Impala, Vampire Weekend, Solange, Miley Cyrus, Flume, Maren Morris, Ellie Goulding, H.E.R., Banks, Of Monsters and Men, Milky Chance, Bleachers and Swae Lee. (Updated March 26, 2020)
The 63rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles has been postponed to March 14, 2021. CBS will have the U.S. telecast of the show, which was originally scheduled to take place on January 31, 2021. (Updated January 4, 2021)
Great Escape Festival
The annual Great Escape Festival for alternative rock has been cancelled. The festival (which takes place in Brighton and Hove, England) was scheduled for May 13 to May 16, 2020. Balming Tiger, House of Pharaohs and Amber Van Day were among performers. (Updated March 23, 2020)
The Grammy-winning rock band has postponed all of its concerts in Asia for the band’s Hella Mega Tour. The shows have not been rescheduled yet. The postponed concerts were scheduled to take place from March 8 to March 27, 2020, in Singapore, The Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.
Mongrel Media had planned to release this Canadian lacrosse movie in the U.S. on March 20, 2020, but the movie’s U.S. release has been rescheduled to be on digital and VOD on September 15, 2020. “The Grizzlies,” whose cast includes Ben Schnetzer and Booboo Stewart, was already released in Canada in 2019. (Updated August 28, 2020)
“The High Note”
Focus Features has postponed and rescheduled the release of the comedy film “The High Note” starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson. “The High Note” was originally scheduled for release in theaters on May 8, 2020. The new release will be direct-to-video on May 29, 2020, with a premium rental price. (Updated May 4, 2020)
The History Channel’s annual fan convention in Pasadena, California, has been postponed until further notice. HistoryCon was originally scheduled to take place April 3 to April 5, 2020. (Updated March 20, 2020)
The annual country music festival in Louisville, Kentucky, has been cancelled. Hometown Rising was scheduled to take place on September 12 and September 13, 2020. The lineup of artists had not been announced. (Updated April 24, 2020)
The annual documentary festival in Toronto has been postponed until further notice. The event had been scheduled for April 30 to May 10, 2020. (Updated March 13, 2020)
“I Am Not Alone”
Avalanche Entertainment has postponed until further notice the release of this documentary about Armenian activist Nikol Pashinyan. The movie had originally been scheduled for release in New York City on April 10, 2020 and in Los Angeles on April 17, 2020. (Updated March 18, 2020)
“I Know This Much Is True”
HBO has postponed and rescheduled the TV premiere of the limited drama series “I Know This Much Is True,” starring Mark Ruffalo. “I Know This Much is True” was originally set to premiere on April 27, 2020, and will now premiere on May 10, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)
iHeartRadio Music Awards
The iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles (originally scheduled for March 29, 2020) has been postponed, and the rescheduled date is to be announced. Fox has the U.S. telecast of the annual award show. (Updated March 14, 2020)
“In the Heights”
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this musical movie, starring Anthony Ramos. The “In the Heights” movie, which is based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical, was originally scheduled to be released on June 26, 2020. The new release date is June 18, 2021. (Updated on March 24, 2020)
Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles
The annual event has been postponed until further notice. The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles was originally scheduled for April 1 to April 5, 2020. (Updated March 14, 2020)
Isle of Wight Festival
The annual Isle of Wight Festival for rock and pop music has been cancelled. The festival (which takes place in Newport, England) was scheduled for June 11 to June 14, 2020. Lionel Richie, Lewis Capaldi, Snow Patrol, the Chemical Brothers and Duran Duran were among the performers. (Updated March 26, 2020)
Ivors With Apple Music Awards
The annual award show in London has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally set for May 21, 2020, the ceremony will now take place on September 2, 2020. (Updated March 19, 2020)
The Grammy-and-Oscar-winning superstar has postponed all of his North American concerts that were scheduled to take place from March 25 to May 2, 2020. The shows are going to be rescheduled for 2021, on dates to be announced. (Updated March 16, 2020)
Sibling pop trio the Jonas Brothers have cancelled their Las Vegas residency, which had been scheduled to run April 1 to April 18, 2020. (Updated March 13, 2020)
“Judy & Punch”
Samuel Goldwyn Films has postponed and rescheduled the release of the drama “Judy & Punch,” starring Mia Wasikowska andDamon Herriman. Originally scheduled for release on April 24, 2020, “Judy & Punch” will now be released in select U.S. theaters (if they’re open) and on VOD on June 5, 2020. (Updated April 6, 2020)
Disney has postponed and rescheduled the release of the action-adventure flick “Jungle Cruise,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. The movie’s release date moves from July 24, 2020, to July 20, 2021. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Just for Laughs
The annual comedy festival in Montreal has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally set for July 15 to July 26, 2020, Just for Laughs will now take place from September 29 to October 11, 2020. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this drama, starring Will Smith as Richard Williams, father to tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams. “King Richard” was originally set for November 25, 2020, but will now be released on November 19, 2021. (Updated April 20, 2020)
“The King’s Man”
Twentieth Century Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the action flick “The King’s Man,” starring Ralph Fiennes. “The King’s Man” was originally set to be released on November 15, 2019, then postponed to February 14, 2020, and then to September 18, 2020. The current release date is December 22, 2021. (Updated March 23, 2021)
Dark Star Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of this Swedish horror film. “Koko-Di Koko-Da” (starring Peter Belli, Leif Edlund and Ylva Gallon) had been scheduled for release in New York City on March 27, 2020, with more U.S. cities to follow in subsequent weeks. The movie is now scheduled for a U.S. release in virtual cinemas on November 6, 2020, and on digital and VOD on December 8, 2020. (Updated September 30, 2020)
The Grammy-and-Oscar-winning pop star has postponed until further notice the release of her album “Chromatica,” which was originally due out on April 10, 2020. In addition, Lady Gaga’s Las Vegas shows that were set for April 30 to May 11, 2020, have been postponed. (Updated March 24, 2020)
The Grammy-winning pop star has postponed the Asian leg of her “Head Above Water” world tour. The concerts (which were to take place from April 23 to May 24, 2020) were scheduled for China, Japan, The Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The rescheduled dates are to be announced.
“The Library That Dolly Built”
Abramorama has postponed and rescheduled the release of this Dolly Parton documentary, which was originally scheduled to be released in U.S. cinemas for one night only on April 2, 2020. The one-night-only release will now take place on September 21, 2020. (Updated March 30, 2020)
Life Is Beautiful
The annual music and arts festival in Las Vegas has been cancelled. Life Is Beautiful had been scheduled for September 18 to September 20, 2020. The event’s lineup had not been announced. (Updated April 21, 2020)
Live Nation, the world’s largest live-events promotion company, has cancelled or postponed almost all of its events for 2020. (Updated May 24, 2020)
Locarno Film Festival
The annual event in Switzerland has been cancelled. The Locarno Film Festival had been scheduled for August 5 to August 15, 2020. Instead, the festival will launch Locarno 2020 – For the Future of Films, an online program to promote independent films. (Updated April 29, 2020)
The annual music festival in Chicago has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for July 30 to August 2, 2020. The 2020 Lollapalooza lineup had not been announced. (Updated June 9, 2020)
London Book Fair
The annual London Book Fair has been cancelled. The event was scheduled for March 10 to March 12, 2020.
Louder Than Life
The annual heavy-metal festival in Louisville, Kentucky, has been cancelled. Louder Than Life was scheduled to take place between September 18 and September 20, 2020. Metallica had been announced as the headliner. (Updated April 24, 2020)
Paramount Pictures has dumped the release of this comedy, starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani. The movie was supposed to have its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, which was also cancelled. “The Lovebirds” was due in U.S. theaters on April 3, 2020, but will now be released on Netflix on May 22, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
The annual Lovebox Festival for electronica dance music has been cancelled. The festival (which takes place in London) was scheduled for June 12 to June 14, 2020. Fatboy Slim, DJ Harvey and Annie Mac were among the performers. (Updated March 27, 2020)
Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero movie “Luca,” which was set for May 1, 2020. The movie was then postponed to May 7, 2021, and is now set for release on Disney+ (at an extra premium price for Disney+ subscribers) and in theaters on July 9, 2021. The stars of “Black Widow” include Scarlett Johansson, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour and Florence Pugh. (Updated March 23, 2021)
Made in America Festival
The annual music festival in Philadelphia has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for September 5 and September 6, 2020. The 2020 Made in America Festival lineup had not been announced. (Updated July 1, 2020)
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed until further notice this thriller, starring Annabelle Wallis. “Malignant” was originally scheduled to be released on August 14, 2020. (Updated on March 24, 2020)
Mammoth Lakes Film Festival
The annual Mammoth Lakes Film Festival in California has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for May 20 to May 24, 2020. (Updated March 26, 2020)
“The Many Saints of Newark”
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this prequel to “The Sopranos,” starring Michael Gandolfini, Ray Liotta and Vera Farmiga. “The Many Saints of Newark” was originally set for September 25, 2020, but will now be released on March 12, 2021. (Updated April 20, 2020)
“The Matrix 4”
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the fourth “Matrix” movie, whose official title is to be announced. The sci-fi sequel was originally due out on May 21, 2021, and is now set for release on April 1, 2022. (Updated June 11, 2020)
Melbourne International Film Festival
The annual Melbourne International Film Festival in Australia has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for August 6 to August 23, 2020. (Updated April 7, 2020)
Method Fest Independent Film Festival
The annual festival for independent film actors has been postponed and rescheduled. It had been originally scheduled to take place in Beverly Hills, California, from March 20 to March 26, 2020. The new dates for the event are May 29 to June 4, 2020. (Updated March 18, 2020)
The Metropolitan Opera in New York City has cancelled all performances until December 31, 2020. (Updated June 2, 2020)
Miami Film Festival
The annual event began on March 6, 2020, and was scheduled to end on March 15, 2020, but was abruptly cancelled on March 12, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
The annual music-industry conference in Cannes, Frances, has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for June 2 to June 5, 2020. MIDEM officials have announced that some of the previously announced keynote speakers will still deliver their speeches, but will do so online. Previously announced keynote speakers include singer/songwriter Akon, SoundCloud CEO Kerry Trainor, the Raine Group partner Fred Davis, and Downtown Music Holdings CEO Justin Kalifowitz. (Updated March 30, 2020)
“Minions: The Rise of Gru”
Universal Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of this animated sequel. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” had originally been due out in late June 2020 (in some countries) and on July 8, 2020 in the United States. The movie, includes voice actor Steve Carell, is now set to be released on July 2, 2021. (Updated April 1, 2020)
The annual documentary industry event in Cannes, France, has been cancelled. It was scheduled to take place March 28 and March 29, 2020.
The annual producer/buyer event in Cannes, France, has been cancelled. It was scheduled to take place March 28 and March 29, 2020.
The annual TV industry event in Cannes, France, has been cancelled. It was scheduled to take place March 30 to April 3, 2020.
The annual event in Atlantic City, New Jersey, that focuses on mobster movies and related entertainment has been postponed and rescheduled. The inaugural Mob Movie Awards will still be part of the event, which has moved from April 18 and April 19, 2020 to August 22 and August 23, 2020. In addition, SopranosCon Part II will be incorporated into MobMovieCon this year. (Updated March 13, 2020.)
Montclair Film Festival
The annual festival in Montclair, New Jersey, has been postponed until further notice. The Montclair Film Festival had been originally scheduled to take place from March 20 to March 26, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
Montreaux Jazz Festival
The annual Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland has been cancelled, for the first time in the event’s 53-year history. The festival had been scheduled for July 3 to 18, 2020. Artists (Updated April 17, 2020)
Sony’s Columbia Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this vampire flick, based on the Marvel Comics character. “Morbius,” starring Jared Leto as the title character, was originally due in cinemas on July 31, 2020, was rescheduled to open on March 19, 2021, and has now been delayed to open on October 8, 2021. (Updated January 11, 2021)
In March 2020, movie theaters were shut down in several countries, with each country having various policies on when they would re-open. Drive-in theaters are remaining open. In the United States, each individual state is deciding when movies theaters can re-open. Most U.S. theaters re-opened in August 2020. If there are any indoor movie theaters in the U.S. that are open, most have pledged to not book theater rooms at more than 50% capacity. But given the huge dropoff in moviegoing since the coronavirus outbreak was classified as a pandemic, attendance at movie theaters was reaching well below 50% anyway. Cineworld (which owns Regal Cinemas in the U.S., and Cineworld and Picturehouse cinemas in the U.K.) announced that it’s once again shutting down all locations until further notice, as of October 8, 2020. (Updated October 5, 2020)
Disney has postponed and rescheduled the release of its live-action remake of “Mulan,” starring Liu Yifei as the title character. The movie was originally scheduled to be released on March 27, 2020, was postponed to July 24, 2020, and will now be released on September 4, 2020. In the U.S., “Mulan” will be available to Disney+ subscribers for an additional $29.99 until December 3, 2020. As of December 4, 2020, there will be no extra charge for Disney+ subscribers to watch the movie. “Mulan” will be released in theaters in countries outside the U.S. where theaters are open for business. Premieres for the movie were already held in Los Angeles on March 9, 2020, and in London on March 12, 2020. (Updated April 3, 2020)
The Music Business Association’s annual Music Biz conference in Nashville has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally scheduled for May 11 to May 14, 2020, the event is now set for August 16 to August 19, 2020. (Updated March 20, 2020)
STX Films has dumped the comedy “I Spy,” which was supposed to be released in U.S. theaters on April 17, 2020. The movie’s U.S. release will now be on Amazon Prime Video on June 26, 2020. “My Spy,” starring Dave Bautista and Chloe Coleman, was already released in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Croatia, Germany and the Netherlands. (Updated June 11, 2020)
NAACP Image Awards
The National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards in Pasadena, California, has been postponed. The ceremony was originally set for February 20, 2021, and has been rescheduled for Match 27, 2021. BET will have the U.S. telecast of the ceremony. (Updated January 20, 2021)
National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas has been cancelled. The annual convention had been scheduled to take place from April 19 to April 22, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
National Symphony Orchestra
The U.S. ensemble has cancelled its tour of China and Japan. The National Symphony Orchestra concerts were scheduled for March 6 to March 17, 2020.
Netflix Is a Joke Fest
Netflix has postponed until further notice its inaugural comedy festival in Los Angeles. Netflix Is a Joke Fest had been set for April 27 to May 3, 2020. Announced stand-up comedy performers included Dave Chappelle, Ali Wong, Marlon Wayans, Amy Schumer, Pete Davidson, Taylor Tomlinson, Iliza Shlesinger, Deon Cole and Ken Jeong. (Updated March 17, 2020)
New York Comic Con
The annual sci-fi/fantasy/comic book fan convention in New York City has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled to take place October 8 to October 11, 2020. For people who want to experience something related to the event that weekend, New York Comic Con has teamed up with sister event MCM Comic Con in London to bring New York Comic Con’s Metaverse, a new online portal, which will be available October 8 to October 11, 2020 at YouTube.com/NYCC and FindtheMetaverse.com.(Updated April 21, 2020)
“The New Mutants”
20th Century Pictures (formerly known as 20th Century Fox) has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero flick “The New Mutants,” originally set for April 3, 2020. The new release date in theaters is August 28, 2020. The movie’s ensemble cast includes Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams and Charlie Heaton. (Updated August 12, 2020)
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
The annual music and arts event has been cancelled in 2020 and postponed and rescheduled in 2021. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival had been scheduled for April 23 to May 3, 2020. The performers would have included The Who, Dead & Company, Stevie Nicks, Foo Fighters, Lionel Richie and Lizzo. The 2021 edition of the event was originally set for April 22 to May 1, 2021, and has been rescheduled for October 8 to October 17, 2021. (Updated January 20, 2021)
Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards
The annual award show in Los Angeles has been postponed and rescheduled as a virtual ceremony. The Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards had been set for March 22, 2020 but the virtual ceremony will take place on May 2, 2020. Chance the Rapper had been announced as the ceremony’s host, but the virtual ceremony will be hosted by Victoria Justice. (Updated April 24, 2020)
Even if there are cities that allow gatherings of less than 50 people per gathering, several cities are still mandating the closure of all nightclubs and bars in the cities until further notice. In the United States, New York City and Los Angeles were among the first big cities that have ordered these closures. (Updated March 15, 2020)
Film Movement has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of this Chinese drama, starring Ke-Xi Wu as the title character. Originally scheduled for a U.S. release on March 20, 2020, the new U.S. release date for “Nina Wu” is by virtual cinema in New York City (at the Museum of the Moving Image) on March 26, 2021. The movie expands to more cities via virtual cinemas and will be released on VOD on April 2, 2021. (Updated March 13, 2020.)
“No Time to Die”
The release of this James Bond 007 movie, starring Daniel Craig, has been postponed and rescheduled. MGM Pictures’ “No Time to Die” had been scheduled to be released in the U.K. and other territories on April 2, 2020. The movie was postponed to November 2020 and then rescheduled for April 2, 2021. The movie’s release date was then changed again and is now set for October 8, 2021. (Updated January 21, 2021)
The annual award show in London for West End stage shows has been cancelled. The Olivier Awards had been scheduled for April 5, 2020. The winners will be announced in another way, most likely online. (Updated March 17, 2020)
Orange Warsaw Festival
The annual music and arts festival in Poland has been cancelled. The Orange Warsaw Festival had been scheduled for June 5 and June 6, 2020. (Updated March 24, 2020)
The annual Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco has been cancelled. The festival was scheduled for August 7 to August 9, 2020. The festival will return on August 6 to August 8, 2021, with most of the same artists who were scheduled for the 2020 Outside Lands event. Artists on the 2021 Outside Lands bill include Tame Impala, Lizzo, The Strokes, Tyler, the Creator, The 1975, J Balvin, Kehlani, Vampire Weekend, Young Thug and Zhu. (Updated June 24, 2020)
PaleyFest in Los Angeles has been postponed until further notice. The event, which showcases TV programs and TV stars, had been scheduled to take place from March 13 to March 21, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
The Grammy-winning rock band has postponed the North American leg of its “Gigaton” tour. The tour dates consisted of U.S. and Canadian concerts that were scheduled to begin on March 18 in Toronto and run through April 19 in Oakland, California. There’s no word yet on when these Pearl Jam shows will be rescheduled.In addition, Pearl Jam has cancelled the “Gigaton Listening Experience,” which was supposed to take place March 25, 2020, as a one-night-only listening event at numerous Dolby movie theaters worldwide for the band’s “Gigaton” album. (Updated March 17, 2020)
PEN America Literary Gala
The annual PEN America Literary Gala has been postponed and rescheduled. The event was originally set for May 19, 2020, and will now take place on September 15, 2020. (Updated March 20, 2020)
“The Personal History of David Copperfield”
20th Century Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of the drama “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” originally set for May 8, 2020. The new U.S. release date is August 28, 2020. The movie, which was already released in the United Kingdom in January 2020, stars Dev Patel. (Updated August 11, 2020)
“Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway”
Sony’s Columbia Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of this live-action/animated sequel. “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” was originally due in cinemas on April 3, 2020, was postponed to August 7, 2020, then January 14, 2021, and will now be released on April 2, 2021. The cast of “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” includes Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson and David Oyelowo as live actors and Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki as voice actors. (Updated October 22, 2020)
Pilmgrimage Music and Cultural Festival
The annual music festival in Franklin, Tennessee, has been cancelled. The event had been set to take place September 26 and September 27, 2020. (Updated May 19, 2020)
Universal Pictures has postponed until further notice the release of the music-choir drama “Praise This,” which was originally scheduled for release on September 25, 2020. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Primavera Sound Festival
The annual music festival in Barcelona has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally set for June 4 to June 7, 2020, the festival will now take place August 26 to August 30, 2020. The artists announced for the event include Massive Attack, Disclosure, Kacey Musgraves, the Strokes, Lana Del Rey, Beck, Bikini Kill, Iggy Pop, Bauhaus, Bad Bunny, Jesus and Mary Chain and Tyler, the Creator.
The annual film and TV awards event has been cancelled. Premios Platino had been scheduled to take place in Riviera Maya, Mexico, from May 1 to May 3, 2020.
“A Quiet Place Part II”
Paramount Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of this horror sequel, starring Emily Blunt, which was originally scheduled to be released from March 18 to March 20, 2020, depending on the territory. (The U.S. release was supposed to on March 20.) The movie was then postponed to September 4, 2020. The movie’s new release date is now April 23, 2021. “A Quiet Place Part II” already had its world premiere in New York City on March 8, 2020. (Updated October 22, 2020)
Juno Films has postponed and rescheduled the release of the drama “Radium Girls,” which is about a group of young female labor activists in the 1920s. The movie, which stars Joey King and Abby Quinn, was originally scheduled for release on April 3, 2020. The new release date is October 23, 2020. (Updated September 22, 2020)
Rage Against the Machine
The Grammy-winning rock band has postponed until further notice the first two months of its Public Service Announcement reunion tour that was set begin March 26, 2020 in El Paso, Texas, and continue to May 23, 2020, in Boston. (Updated March 13, 2020)
Record Store Day
Record Store Day, which takes place at various retail music stores around the world, has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally set for April 4, 2020, Record Store Day is now set for June 20, 2020. (Updated March 13, 2020)
Red Sea Film Festival
The inaugural event (which was scheduled to take place March 12 to March 21, 2020 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) has now been postponed until further notice. Oscar-winning filmmakers Oliver Stone and Spike Lee had been announced to attend the event. Stone was selected as a jury member, while Lee was supposed to present a special screening of his 1992 film “Malcolm X.”
FilmRise has postponed and rescheduled the theatrical release of director Sasha Joseph Neulinger’s autobiographical documentary about abuse that he experienced as a child. “Rewind” had been set to be released in New York City on March 27, 2020, and in Los Angeles on April 3, 2020. The movie will now be released on digital and VOD on May 8, 2020. “Rewind” will also be shown on the PBS series “Independent Lens” on May 11, 2020. (Updated April 16, 2020)
Ride for Ronnie Motorcycle Ride and Concert
The Ride for Ronnie Motorcycle Ride and Concert (which was planned for May 17, 2020) has been postponed until further notice. The annual event benefiting the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund is comprised of a motorcycle ride originating at Harley-Davidson of Glendale, California, followed by an afternoon of live music at Los Encinos Park in Encino, California. (Updated March 17, 2020)
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
The 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which was supposed to take place on May 2 in Cleveland, was postponed to November 7, 2020, but has now been cancelled. The performers who were to be inducted in the live ceremony were Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, Notorious B.I.G. and T. Rex. Instead of a live telecast of the show, HBO will televise a pre-recorded special to honor the inductees. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland temporarily closed for a few months, as of March 14, 2020, but it has now re-opened. (Updated July 8, 2020)
Rolling Loud Festival
The Rolling Loud festival in Miami has been postponed and rescheduled with the same lineup. The festival was originally set for May 8 to May 10, 2020, and will now take place February 12 to 14, 2021. The artists who are scheduled to perform include Post Malone, Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Rick Ross, Big Sean, Megan Thee Stallion, Swae Lee, Juicy J, A$AP Ferg, Tyga, Young Thug, Gucci Mane, T-Pain, YG, Playboi Carti, Lil Yachty and Young M.A. (Updated April 1, 2020)
The Rolling Stones have postponed until further notice the 2020 North American leg of their “No Filter” tour. The 15 concerts were scheduled to begin May 8 in San Diego and end July 9 in Atlanta. (Updated March 18, 2020)
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
The annual event in Scotland has been cancelled. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo had been scheduled for August 7 to August 29, 2020. (Updated April 1, 2020)
Lionsgate has dropped the release of the horror film “Run,” originally set for release in theaters May 8, 2020. Hulu will now release “Run” on November 20, 2020. The movie stars Sarah Paulson. (Updated September 22, 2020)
RuPaul’s DragCon LA
This annual Los Angeles event celebrating the culture of drag queens has been cancelled. RuPaul’s DragCon LA had been scheduled to take place May 1 to May 3, 2020. (Updated March 10, 2020)
San Francisco Silent Film Festival
The annual event has been cancelled. Originally set to take place from April 29 to May 3, 2020, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival was rescheduled for November 11 to November 15, 2020. However, the festival has now been cancelled for 2020, and is set to from May 5 to May 9, 2021. (June 3, 2020)
Warner Bros. Pictures will release directly to home video this animated film, based on the “Scooby-Doo” TV series. “Scoob!” was originally scheduled to be released in theaters on May 15, 2020. The release date is still the same, but it will now be on digital and VOD. The movie’s voice cast includes Frank Welker, Will Forte, Gina Rodriguez, Amanda Seyfried and Zac Efron. (Updated on April 21, 2020)
Screen Actors Guild Awards
The 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles has been rescheduled to April 4, 2021. The original date for the show (which will be televised in the U.S. on TNT and TBS) was March 14, 2021, but had to move when the 2021 Grammy Awards was postponed to this date. (Updated on January 13, 2021)
“The Secret: Dare to Dream”
Roadside Attractions has postponed and rescheduled the release of this dramatic film, starring Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas. “The Secret: Dare to Dream” was due in U.S. theaters on April 17, 2020, and is now set for release on digital and PVOD (premium video on demand) on July 31, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
The annual TV festival in Lille, France, has been cancelled. Series Mania was supposed to take place from March 20 to March 28, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
Disney’s Marvel Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero movie “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” starring Simu Liu and Tony Leung. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” was originally scheduled to be released on February 12, 2021, was postponed to May 7, 2021, and will now be released on September 3, 2021. (Updated March 23, 2021)
Universal Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of this animated sequel. “Sing 2,” which includes voice actors Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey, was originally set to open July 2, 2021, and will now be released on December 22, 2021. (Updated April 1, 2020)
“Slay the Dragon”
This critically acclaimed documentary about gerrymandering in U.S. politics had been scheduled for a limited U.S. theatrical release on March 13, 2020. Magnolia Pictures will now release “Slay the Dragon” on VOD and on other digital platforms on April 3, 2020. (Updated March 10, 2020)
“Sometimes Always Never”
Blue Fox Entertainment has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of this British thriller, starring Bill Nighy and Sam Riley. “Sometimes Always Never” had been rescheduled for a U.S. theatrical release on April 15, 2020, after being postponed from March 6, 2020. The movie will now be released in virtual cinemas on June 12, 2020, and on VOD on July 10, 2020. The movie was already released in 2019 in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hungary. (Updated June 1, 2020)
Songwriters Hall of Fame
The annual Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony in New York City has been postponed and rescheduled for 2021, and the show will award the previously announced honorees. Originally set for June 11, 2020, the ceremony will now take place on June 10, 2021. The previously announced honorees are Mariah Carey; Eurythmics co-founders Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart; the Isley Brothers members Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, O’Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley and Chris Jasper; Steve Miller; the Neptunes founders Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo; Rick Nowels; and William “Mickey” Stevenson. Paul Williams will receive the Johnny Mercer Award. Universal Music Publishing chairman/CEO Jody Gerson will receive the Abe Olman Publisher Award. (Updated March 31, 2020)
Sonic Temple Arts + Music Festival
Concert promoter Danny Wimmer Presents has cancelled the annual Sonic Temple Arts + Music Festival, which was scheduled to take in place in Columbus, Ohio, from May 15 to May 17, 2020. The lineup of performers included Metallica, Slipknot, Deftones, Bring Me the Horizon, Evanescence, and Staind. Many of the artists who were scheduled to perform at the festival were going to perform at the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, Kentucky (another Danny Wimmer Presents event), which has expanded to four days (September 17 to September 20, 2020), with Metallica headlining on September 17. However, the 2020 edition of Louder Than Life has now also been cancelled. (Updated April 24, 2020)
Disney’s Pixar Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of this animated film, which is the first Pixar movie to have an African American character in the lead role. The voice cast of “Soul” includes Jamie Foxx, Daveed Diggs, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, Questlove and Graham Norton. “Soul” was originally scheduled to be released in theaters on November 19, 2020, and will now be released on December 25, 2020. “Soul” will be available to Disney+ subscribers in countries where Disney+ is available, while the movie will be released in theaters in countries where Disney+ is not available. (Updated October 9, 2020.)
South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals
The 2020 edition of SXSW has been cancelled for the first time in the event’s 34-year history. The event was scheduled to take place from March 13 to 22 in Austin, Texas. A public health state of emergency has also been declared in the city of Austin. SXSW includes festivals for music, film and live comedy, as well as conferences for technology, education and gaming. Days before the cancellation, several companies pulled of out participating in the event this year, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel, Lionsgate, Starz, TikTok, Twitter, Vevo and WarnerMedia. The SXSW Film Festival announced that it will still give awards this year in the jury-voted categories. The films in competition are being made available online to jurors. Winners will be announced online and not at an awards ceremony. Click here for the full story of the SXSW event cancellation. On April 2, it was announced that the 2020 SXSW Film Festival has partnered with Amazon Prime Video to make select films from the cancelled festival available for free on Amazon Prime Video for a limited time. Click here for more details. (Updated April 2, 2020)
Lionsgate has postponed until further notice the release of the horror movie “Spiral,” originally set for May 15, 2020. The movie, which is a reboot of the “Saw” franchise, stars Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson. (Updated March 17, 2020)
“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run”
Paramount Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of this animated sequel, starring voice actor Tom Kenney, which was originally scheduled to be released May 22, 2020. “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run”was then pushed back to July 17 and then July 31, 2020. The movie’s new U.S. release date will be sometime in early 2021, where it will be released on premium VOD (PVOD). After being released on PVOD, the movie will be available on CBS All Access, which is changing its name to Paramount+ in 2021. (Updated July 8, 2020)
Stagecoach Music Festival
The annual country music festival has been cancelled. Originally scheduled for April 24 to April 26, 2020, Stagecoach (which takes place in Indio, California) was rescheduled for October 23 to October 25, 2020, but now the event will not take place in 2020. Artists who had been announced to perform included headliners Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church, as well as Brett Young, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Dan + Shay, Alan Jackson, Jon Pardi and Bryan Adams. (Updated June 11, 2020)
The former One Direction star has postponed and rescheduled the U.K. and continental European dates of his Love on Tour. The shows were originally scheduled to begin April 15, 2020 in Birmingham, England, and end June 3, 2020, in Moscow. The concerts will now take place in 2021, beginning February 12 in Bologna, Italy, and end March 30 in Moscow. (Updated March 25, 2020)
The Grammy-winning superstar has postponed all of her tour dates for the remainder of 2020. The rescheduled dates for the concerts are to be announced. Unlike other artists’ tour dates that have been postponed, refunds will be available for Swift’s postponed tour dates. (Updated April 17, 2020)
The annual music festival in Milwaukee has been postponed and rescheduled. The event was originally set for June 24 to July 5 to the weekends of September 3 to September 5, September 10 to September 12, and September 17 to September 19, 2020. Performers include Justin Bieber, Guns N’Roses, Dave Matthews Band, Luke Bryan, Khalid, Halsey, Sam Hunt and Jessie Reyez. (Updated March 23, 2020)
Sun Valley Film Festival
The annual festival in Sun Valley, Idaho, has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled to take place from March 18 to March 22, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
Sydney Film Festival
The annual film festival in Australia had been scheduled for June 3 to June 14, 2020, but the event has been cancelled. The Sydney Film Festival plans to return in 2021. (Updated March 17, 2020)
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
The annual event in Telluride, Colorado, has been cancelled. The Telluride Film Festival had been scheduled for September 3 to September 7, 2020. (Updated July 14, 2020)
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the thriller “Tenet,” starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson. “Tenet” was originally set to premiere on July 17, 2020, was postponed to July 31, 2020, and then August 12, 2020. Theatrical release dates for the movie will now vary by country. The new U.S. release date for “Tenet” is September 3, 2020. In Canada, the movie will be released on August 26, 2020. (Updated August 2, 2020)
“The Third Day”
HBO has postponed the TV premiere of the limited drama series “The Third Day,” starring Jude Law and Naomie Harris. “The Third Day” was originally set to premiere on May 11, 2020, and will now premiere on September 14, 2020. (Updated July 22, 2020)
“Thor: Love and Thunder”
Disney’s Marvel Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero movie “Thor: Love and Thunder,” starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman. “Thor: Love and Thunder” was originally scheduled for release on November 5, 2021. The new release date is February 8, 2022. (Updated April 3, 2020)
“Tom & Jerry”
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the live-action animated film “Tom & Jerry,” starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Ken Jeong and Rob Delaney. The film was originally due out on December 23, 2020, and is now set for release on March 5, 2021. (Updated June 11, 2020)
The annual electronic-music festival Tomorrowland in Alpe d’Huez, France, has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for March 14 to March 21, 2020.
Paramount Pictures has postponed until further notice the release of this sci-fi/fantasy film, starring Chris Pratt, which was originally scheduled to be released December 25, 2020. (Updated April 2, 2020)
The Tony Awards, an annual ceremony in New York City for Broadway shows, has been postponed until further notice. The ceremony had originally been scheduled for June 7, 2020. The show will be webcast, not televised, on a date to be announced. (Updated October 8, 2020)
“Top Gun: Maverick”
Paramount Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of this action sequel, starring Tom Cruise, which was originally scheduled to be released June 24, 2020. The movie’s release date was changed to December 23, 2020, and then postponed to July 2, 2021. The movie’s new release date is November 19, 2021. (Updated April 9, 2021)
Toronto Comic Arts Festival
The annual comic-book convention has been cancelled. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival had been scheduled for May 8 to May 10, 2020. (Updated March 19, 2020)
Treefort Music Fest
The annual festival in Boise, Idaho, for emerging talent has been postponed. Treefort Music Fest had originally been scheduled to take place from March 25 to 29, 2020, and will now take place from September 23 to September 27, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
Tribeca Film Festival
The Tribeca Film Festival in New York City has been turned into a semi-open virtual event, with industry people and the media being able to access certain films online from April 15 to May 15, 2020. The annual event had been scheduled for to be open to the public from April 15 to April 26, 2020. Winners of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival’s jury awards were announced on April 29, 2020. (Updated April 29, 2020)
IFC Films has postponed the U.S. release of this French drama, starring Catherine Denueve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke. Originally scheduled for a U.S. release on March 20, 2020, the new U.S. release date for “The Truth” is on July 3, 2020. The movie was already released in France and in Japan in 2019. (Updated June 20, 2020.)
TV Network Upfront Presentations
TV networks’ annual upfront presentations for advertisers take place in New York City, mostly in April and May. In 2020, all of these events have now been cancelled or switched to being online presentations only. (Updated March 15, 2020)
TV Shows With Live Audiences
Almost all nationally televised series that are known to have live audiences have announced that they will continue without live audiences or they are temporarily shutting down production. These include talk shows, game shows, talent shows and variety shows. Some of these shows have already taped episodes with audiences, before bans on large gatherings went into effect. (Updated March 16, 2020)
Ultra Music Festival
The annual electronica-dance music event in Miami has been cancelled and will return in 2021. Ultra Music Festival had been scheduled to take place March 20 to March 22, 2020. Performers at the 2020 Ultra Music Festival would have included David Guetta, DJ Snake, Major Lazer, Above & Beyond, Afrojack and Martin Garrix.
Sony’s Columbia Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this video-game-based movie. “Uncharted,” starring Tom Holland and Bryan Cranston, was due out in cinemas on March 5, 2021, and has been rescheduled to open on October 8, 2021. (Updated March 30, 2020)
Universal Studios Hollywood will be closed until further notice, as of March 14, 2020. Universal Studios in Florida closed on March 16, 2020 and re-opened on June 5, 2020. (Updated April 1, 2020)
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage”
Sony’s Columbia Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of the sequel “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” starring Tom Hardy. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” was originally scheduled to be released on October 2, 2020, was postponed to June 25, 2021, and then delayed to September 21, 2021. (Updated March 19, 2021)
VidCon, the annual networking event for video-based media influencers, has postponed all of its conferences. The flagship VidCon in Anaheim, California, was supposed to take place from June 17 to June 20, 2020, but the event will be rescheduled on dates to be announced. The inaugural VidCon Mexico in Mexico City was scheduled for April 30 to May 3, 2020, and has been rescheduled for September 17 to September 20, 2020. The inaugural VidCon Abu Dhabi was scheduled for March 25 to March 28, 2020, and has been rescheduled for December 16 to December 19, 2020. (Updated March 23, 2020)
The annual star-studded music concert, hosted by Los Angeles pop radio station KIIS-FM, has been cancelled. The show was set for June 5, 2020, in Carson, California. The 2020 Wango Tango lineup included headliner Harry Styles. (Updated March 24, 2020)
The annual award show in New York City honoring World Wide Web content and creators has been postponed until further notice and will be changed from an in-person event to an online event. The original date for this year’s Webby Awards was May 11, 2020. (Updated March 19, 2020)
Welcome to Rockville
Concert promoter Danny Wimmer Presents has cancelled the annual Welcome to Rockville festival, which was scheduled to take in place in Daytona Beach, Florida, from May 8 to May 10, 2020. The lineup of performers included Metallica, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Godsmack, Deftones,Social Distortion, The Offspring, Staind, Lamb of God, Rancid. Many of the artists who were scheduled to perform at the festival were going to perform at the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, Kentucky (another Danny Wimmer Presents event), which has expanded to four days (September 17 to September 20, 2020), with Metallica headlining on September 17. However, the 2020 edition of Louder Than Life has now also been cancelled. (Updated April 24, 2020)
“West Side Story”
Disney’s 20th Century Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the musical remake of “West Side Story,” which was set for December 18, 2020. The movie’s new release date is December 10, 2021. The stars of “West Side Story” include Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler and Rita Moreno. (Updated September 23, 2020)
The annual convention in Los Angeles celebrating the work of writer/director Joss Whedon (who’s best known for the first two “Avengers” movies and the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series) has been postponed, rescheduled and turned into an online-only event. WhedonCon was originally scheduled for June 5 to June 7, 2020, then postponed to October 30 to November 1, 2020. The event will now be online only on October 24, 2020. (Updated August 19, 2020)
Universal Pictures has postponed until further notice the release of this movie adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical. “Wicked,” starring Katie Rose Clark and Jessica Vosk, had originally been set for release on December 22, 2021. (Updated April 1, 2020)
Winter Music Conference
The annual convention in Miami for electronica-dance music was scheduled to take place March 16 to March 19, 2020, but has been postponed and will be rescheduled on dates to be announced.
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the horror/fantasy film “The Witches,” starring Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer. “The Witches” was originally set to be released in theaters on October 9, 2020, and will now go directly to streaming on HBO Max on October 22, 2020. (Updated October 2, 2020)
“The Wolf House”
Independent movie distributor KimStim has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of this Chilean animated film, which tells the story of Colonia Dignidad, a German émigré-run colony in post-WWII Chile that was revealed to have been used to imprison, torture and murder dissidents during the Pinochet regime. “The Wolf House” is now set for release in virtual cinemas on May 15, 2020. The movie was originally scheduled for release in New York City on March 20, 2020, and in Los Angeles on March 27, 2020. (Updated May 1, 2020.)
The annual World of Music and Dance (WOMAD) Festival in Wiltshire, England, has been cancelled. The festival (founded by Peter Gabriel) was scheduled for July 23 to July 26, 2020. Artists on the festival bill included the Flaming Lips, Angélique Kidjo, Kate Tempest and Fatoumata Diawara. (Updated June 8, 2020)
“The Woman in the Window”
20th Century Pictures has sold the thriller “The Woman in the Window” to Netflix. Originally set for release in theaters on April 18, 2020, “The Woman in the Window” (which stars Amy Adams) will have a release date to be announced. (Updated November 3, 2020)
The annual comic-book/sci-fi/fantasy entertainment fan convention in Anaheim, California, has been cancelled. WonderCon had been set for April 10 to April 12, 2020.The event will return on March 26 to March 28, 2021. (Updated April 17, 2020)
“Wonder Woman 1984”
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this superhero sequel, starring Gal Gadot. “Wonder Woman 1984” was originally set for June 5, 2020, then rescheduled for August 14, 2020, and then October 2, 2020. The movie’s current theatrical release dates are December 16, 2020, in countries outside of the U.S. and Canada, and on December 25, 2020 in the U.S. and Canada. “Wonder Woman 1984” will also be available on HBO Max at no additional charge to subscribers on December 25, 2020. (Updated November 18, 2020)
The London edition of YouTube on Stage, an event to showcase YouTube talent, was cancelled just hours before the event was supposed to happen on March 11, 2020. In addition, YouTube has switched its annual Brandcast marketing presentation (set for April 30, 2020) to be an online event instead of an in-person event. (Updated March 16, 2020)
The South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference and Festivals announced the 2021 Jury and Special Award winners of the 28th SXSW Film Festival. Feature films receiving Jury Awards were selected from the Narrative Feature and Documentary Feature Competition categories. SXSW also announced all other juried sections, including Shorts, Design and Virtual Cinema Awards. Special Awards announced included: Louis Black “Lone Star” Award, Adobe Editing Award, Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award, Final Draft Screenwriters Award, ZEISS Cinematography Award, the Mailchimp Support the Shorts Award and the Brightcove Illumination Award which honors a filmmaker on the rise, celebrating the innovation and creativity of new artists within the SXSW Film Festival official selections. The 2021 SXSW Film Festival Awards are presented by Brightcove.
All film categories, except Special Events, will be eligible for category-specific Audience Awards, which will be certified by the accounting firm of Maxwell Locke & Ritter. After screenings conclude at 11:59 CT on Saturday, registrants have Sunday until 11:59pm CT time to vote. More information here. Winners will be announced via sxsw.com on Tuesday, March 23.
“We are so honored by the 2021 filmmakers who entrusted their work to us for this online version of our event, and joined us on this new adventure in such a beautiful way,” said Janet Pierson, Director of Film. “We are thrilled we could launch great new projects and talent in this pandemic year, and hope the films, sessions, music and gatherings online and in virtual reality, showcased the resilience, perseverance and creativity of our community.”
The 2021 SXSW Film Festival Juries consisted of: Narrative Feature Competition: Amanda N’Duka, Jake Coyle, Joanna Robinson Documentary Feature Competition: Jacqueline Coley, Sean Fennessey, Steven Zeitchik Louis Black “Lone Star”: Joe Gross, Ann Hornaday, Stephen Saito Brightcove Illumination Award: Clayton Davis, Kate Erbland, Inkoo Kang Narrative Shorts Program: Janicza Bravo, Karen Han, Ina Pira Documentary Shorts: Opal H. Bennett, Omid Fatemi, Sheila Nevins Animated Shorts: Bryan Dimas, Chris Prynoski, Taylor K. Shaw Midnight Shorts: Jason Blum, Arbi Pedrossian, Kristy Puchko Music Videos: Hugo Burnham, Michael Kauffman, Kristian Mercado Texas Shorts: Sarah Green, Paula Mejía, Monique Walton Texas High School Shorts: Laura Kincaid, Hans-Martin Liebing, Cooper Raiff Episodic Pilots: Jessica Derschowitz, Yassir Lester, Ben Wasserstein Excellence in Title Design: Brian Mah, Brian Merrell, Erin Sarofsky Excellence in Poster Design: Damon Nelson, Yen Tan, Erica Williams Virtual Cinema Competition Jury: Myriam Achard, Jesse Damiani, Liz Rosenthal
The 2021 Film Festival program has 75 features including 57 World Premieres, 3 International Premieres, 4 North American Premieres, 1 U.S. Premieres, 8 Texas Premieres and 53 films from first-time filmmakers + 84 Short Films including Music Videos, 5 Episodic Premieres, 6 Episodic Pilots, 20 Virtual Cinema projects, 14 Title Design entries, plus 34 Special Events.
Films will continue to be available on the SXSW Online platform until 11:59 CT on March 20. SXSW will continue running the Online Shift72 Screening Library through March 31, 2021, for those films that have opted-in to the extended timeframe.
The 2021 SXSW Film Festival Awards:
Feature Film Grand Jury Awards
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
Winner:The Fallout Director: Megan Park
“The Fallout takes us through the emotionally charged healing journey of a young girl whose life is forever changed in the wake of a school tragedy. Writer and director Megan Park delivers a timely, riveting, and thought-provoking film on the toll it takes on a teenager who is facing a world where they no longer feel safe. It is an intense, moving piece that highlights an important issue to which one can’t help but feel connected.”
Special Jury Recognition for Multi-hyphenate Storyteller: I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) Directors: Kelley Kali, Angelique Molina
“Kelley Kali’s I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking), financed in part by stimulus relief checks, is a marvel of multitasking and resourcefulness. Kali’s film, which she wrote, directed, produced and stars in, winningly captures the pandemic plight of a homeless, roller-skating single mother over a memorable daylong odyssey.”
Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Performance: Islands Director: Martin Edralin Actor: Rogelio Balagtas
“Islands gives us the story of a painfully shy man set adrift in the world by the declining health of the parents who sheltered him. This story, of someone blooming late in life, hinges on the tremendously compelling, interior performance from relative newcomer Rogelio Balagtas who can break hearts throughout with his tears and enables the movie to transcend with a single smile.”
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Winner: Lily Topples the World Director: JeremyWorkman
“A joyful portrait of grace in artistry and commitment in engineering, Lily Topples the World shows a life online that transcends virality and touches something deeper. In Lily Hevesh, aka Hevesh5, the film features a collaborative, creative soul who comes by community and entrepreneurship naturally. A rare achievement in nonjudgmental subcultural exploration and a gorgeously rendered portrait of burgeoning adulthood that tumbles forward, like Lily’s domino art, into something beautiful.”
Special Jury Recognition for Exceptional Intimacy in Storytelling: Introducing, Selma Blair Director: Rachel Fleit
“Selma Blair’s unflinching and raw vulnerability in Introducing, Selma Blair, coupled with director Rachel Fleit’s almost voyeuristic chronicling of her MS diagnosis, invites us not just to feel empathy for the star. More than that, it invites us into her fight, prompting anyone watching to feel joined with her in battle. That level of disarming intimacy is rarely witnessed on screen, particularly from a public figure, making the feat all the more incredible.”
Special Jury Recognition for Humanity in Social Action: Not Going Quietly Director: Nicholas Bruckman
“Activist is a word much used in contemporary culture. But few give expression to it like Ady Barkan, a California organizer who, upon being diagnosed with ALS in his early 30s, responds not with self-pitying convalescence but by barnstorming his fight across the country, bringing a movement with him. Barkan’s tale suggests that grace is not incompatible with ardor, and hardship no obstacle to achievement. Bruckman’s film captures him and the powerful women who lead his fight in ways that are richly human, always affectionate and frequently rousing.”
Short Film Grand Jury Awards
Winner: Play It Safe Director: Mitch Kalisa
“We were so thrilled by the varied, inventive selection of films in the Narrative Shorts competition this year. Of the shorts, we have decided to award the Jury Award to Play It Safe, for approaching oft-addressed topics in a new way, for its incredible main performance, for its thoughtful direction, and compelling cinematography.” Special Jury Recognition for Visionary Storytelling: Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma Directors: Topaz Jones, rubberband.
“We are awarding Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma a Special Jury Recognition for Visionary Storytelling for its bold filmmaking and mix of music, visuals, and documentary footage.”
Special Jury Recognition for Direction: Like the Ones I Used to Know Director: Annie St-Pierre
“We are awarding Like the Ones I Used to Know a Special Jury Recognition for Direction, as its weaving between reality and flights of fancy make it a Christmas tale to remember. Congratulations to all of the filmmakers this year, and thank you for your new works!”
“Águilas is a film that most poignantly displays the need immigrants feel to come to America — even at the cost of starvation and death. Failed attempts are presented by a backpack, a sweater, and scattered bones. How desperate the dream is of a perfect landing that ends so tragically.”Special Jury Recognition for Courage: Red Taxi Director: Anonymous
“Red Taxi is a film that is being recognized for its courage. The type of courage that spans the definition of the word. The subjects are courageous, the filmmakers are courageous and the film itself is courageous both stylistically and in the way it speaks on an issue through editing that is measured, considered and understanding of the complexities of the post-colonial project.”Special Jury Recognition for Poetry: I Ran From It and Was Still in It Director: Darol Olu Kae
“Its title invites audiences to expect a wholly distinct storytelling experience and this film delivers. For it’s audacious storytelling through textured imagery, bold structure and lyrical approach, we award this special achievement to I Ran From It and Was Still In It.”
Winner: The Moogai Director: Jon Bell
“The Moogai is a haunting, psychological thriller that explores postpartum depression in an impressive display of disciplined filmmaking that stuck the landing at every pivotal moment. The cinematography is striking, the actor’s performances are brave, and the underlying commentary on a country’s forced removal of generations of children is heartbreaking. Filmmaker Jon Bell’s film affected us on so many levels that we proudly recognize it with the Jury Award prize.”
Special Jury Recognition for Bold Vision :Stuffed Director: Theo Rhys
“Stuffed proudly presents a story grisly and grotesque yet beautifully bittersweet. Director and co-writer Theo Rhys stitches together a world of rot, flesh, and leather, then brings it to radiant life with curious characters and striking songs of dark dreams, lifting love, and the ultimate sacrifice. It is with shock and awe that we award this strange and sensational short a Jury Recognition for Bold Vision.”
Winner:Nuevo Rico Director: Kristian Mercado
“Be prepared for this dystopian tragedy to rip your hair out by the roots and pour liquid vaporwave rainbows directly onto your brain’s tongue. A cautionary tale of friendship and fame, Nuevo Rico slaps convention to the ground and stomps on it with steel toed boots of satisfying stylistic innovation. Kristian Mercado Figueroa doesn’t give a fuck — and gives all the fucks at the same time. If you’ve never wrestled a laser snake in a Lambo going two hundred off a cliff into an iridescent volcano, Nuevo Rico will make you feel like you have.”
Special Jury Recognition for Innovation: KKUM Director: Kang Min Kim
“An awe inspiring masterclass in creativity, resourcefulness, and innovative lighting and stop-motion techniques. This film manages to elevate simplistic materials to create mesmerizing sequences, while also taking you on a poetic, dreamy, and emotional journey that serves as a beautiful tribute to a mother’s love.”
Special Jury Recognition for Storytelling: Your Own Bullshit Director: Daria Kopiec
“We the jury have selected Your Own Bullshit for a Jury Recognition for Storytelling for its masterful and experimental take on a vastly relatable human story. Its stylistic choices, humor, sound design, character development, and pace bring excitement to a topic under which it is not easy to push boundaries. Yet, it does just that.”
Winner: Madame Gandhi – ‘Waiting for Me’ Director: Misha Ghose
“Of all the wonderful works nominated, Madame Gandhi’s ‘Waiting for Me’, directed by Misha Ghose, soared to the top for its compelling visuals, rich color palettes, and vital message of empowerment and self-expression. The video supported and enhanced both the song and the artist. This video and this artist deserve to be shared, seen, and heard by everyone. Everywhere.”
Special Jury Recognition for How the Hell Did They Do That?!: Waze & Odyssey, George Michael, Mary J. Blige & Tommy Theo – ‘Always’ Director: Nelson de Castro
“The Jury would also like to award the music video for ‘Always’ by Waze & Odyssey with a Special Jury ‘How the Hell Did They Do That?!’ recognition.”
Special Jury Recognition for Pure Joy: Kuricorder Quartet – ‘Southpaw’ Director: Sawako Kabuki
“The Jury would further like to recognize for pure joy, the music video, ‘Southpaw’ by Kuricorder Quartet, directed by Sawako Kabuki.”
Winner: Summer Animals Director: Haley Elizabeth Anderson
“Summer Animals, Haley Elizabeth Anderson’s short film entry for SXSW 2021, captivated us with its naturalistic style and layered approach to storytelling. Ostensibly a story about three siblings and their quest to find a moment of relief — or a pool to cannonball into — during a particularly grueling summer, the film evolves into something else entirely, and is anchored by the cast’s stellar performances and Anderson’s clear-eyed direction.”
Special Jury Recognition for Vision: O Black Hole! Director: Renee Zhan
“This imaginative journey explores a literal impression of its title and a figurative one. It’s otherworldly imagery, music and sound design combined for an emotional experience that surprised us at every turn.”
TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SHORTS
Winner: A Really Dark Comedy Director: Manasi Ughadmathe
“A Really Dark Comedy is a well-crafted comedy short that weaves together great comedic timing, excellent chemistry between its two leads, and some surprising twists. We found it to be a breath of fresh air in a pandemic year where everyone could use a (really dark) laugh.”
Special Jury Recognition for Directing: Beyond the Model Director: Jessica Lin
“The power of this documentary comes from the artistry and sensitivity of its director, Jessica Lin. Parts observational and parts reflexive, Beyond the Model‘s clear voice stems from a desire to allow its subjects to breathe and share, making for an organic, poignant, and insightful short.”
EPISODIC PILOT COMPETITION
Winner: 4 Feet High Directors: Maria Belen Poncio, Rosario Perazolo Masjoan
“For its beautifully cinematic and heartfelt coming-of-age story, with a confident performance from a standout lead actress, the jury is awarding this year’s top prize to 4 Feet High. The episode is thrillingly unique from its opening minutes, with a strong point of view and an engaging central character whose journey feels keenly specific but also evokes universal high school experiences — and while the story takes its time, there is never a wasted frame. We commend the cast and creative team for telling this a moving story in such an assured way.”
Special Jury Recognition for Best Duo: Pretend Partners Director: Ron Najor
“For their witty script and genuine onscreen chemistry, the Special Jury Recognition for Best Duo goes to Kristin Erickson and Ron Najor for Pretend Partners. As showrunners, screenwriters, producers, and stars of the project (in addition to Najor directing), Erickson and Najor created an inventive take on the romantic comedy that was sweet and hilarious in equal measure, and then carried that story themselves as its central characters.”
SXSW Film Design Awards Presented by Adobe
POSTER DESIGN COMPETITION
Winner: Bob Moses Featuring ZHU – ‘Desire’ Creative Director: Owen Brown, Art Director and Illustrator: Benjámin Kalászi, Graphic Designer: Diego L. Rodríguez (Paramoidme)
“A visually gripping design, this poster draws you into a surreal moment frozen in time where something you want so badly seems just out of reach. We were struck by the electric color palette, bold typography and dreamy illustration style that evokes flight, time travel and science fiction. Everything in this poster just feels intriguing and we are so excited to award the Excellence in Poster Design Winner to “Desire”!”
Special Jury Recognition: The Box Designers: James Burns and Shal Ngo, Aleksander Walijewski
“A mix of bold graphics, creative typography, and emotive imagery, this poster grabs attention and pulls you into the narrative of prisoners in criminal reform systems and isolation. Spending a moment with the imagery feels like a window into the film and the minds of those enduring their own boxes, both tangible and the ones built in our minds. Overall, this poster was interesting, thought provoking, and wove together narrative and design in striking ways. Brava! We’re thrilled to give a Special Jury Recognition to “The Box”!”
TITLE DESIGN COMPETITION
Winner: The Queen’s Gambit Title Sequence Designer: Saskia Marka
“Using simple geometric forms and a restrained palette, these titles spring to life through elegant motion design that captures the spirit of the protagonist’s brilliant mental calculations.”
Special Jury Recognition: Birds Of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn Title Sequence Designer: Michael Riley
“This sequence embodies everything a great title should: The tone is a perfect match for the movie, the style is unique and ownable, and the visual narrative keeps the audience engaged and delighted throughout.”
VIRTUAL CINEMA COMPETITION
Winner: Samsara Director: Huang Hsin-Chien
“Samsara provokes existential questions about the future of humanity and consciousness.
From the evolution of users’ hands to the rhythmic juxtaposition of vignettes, every detail is weighted in metaphor. The result is a work that compresses a universe into a few minutes; audiences are left to reflect on humanity as a collective macro-organism—as experienced through the machine.”
Special Jury Recognition for Immersive Journalism: Reeducated Director: Sam Wolson
“Reeducated offers a glimpse into a horrifying world obscured from public view. Through illustration and testimony from three people who lived through the internment camps in Xinjiang, we learn about the brutal practices used against the Uyghur ethnic minority. It’s a striking piece of 360 cinema that makes a clear argument for the unique affordances of immersive formats for telling stories, establishing a powerful logic and vocabulary through the use of composition, scale, pace, and perspective.”
SXSW Special Awards
Brightcove Illumination Award The Brightcove Illumination Award honors a filmmaker on the rise, celebrating the innovation and creativity of new artists within the SXSW Film Festival official selections.
Brightcove Illumination Award Presented to:The Fallout Director: Megan Park
“For her empathetic and honest exploration of life after tragedy, inspired craft, and stellar guidance of a talented young cast, we award the Brightcove Illumination Award to Megan Park for her The Fallout.”
Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award In honor of a filmmaker whose work strives to be wholly its own, without regard for norms or desire to conform. The Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award is presented to a filmmaker from our Visions screening category.
Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award Presented to:Delia Derbyshire – the Myths and the Legendary Tapes Director: Caroline Catz
Adobe Editing Award Adobe is committed to celebrating creativity for all and empowering everyone to bring their stories to life. By creating greater opportunity for all voices, we can enact change in our communities and move the world forward. We are proud to celebrate the art and craft of editing as we grant the Adobe Editing Award at the SXSW Film Awards. We are also pleased to spotlight this year’s incredible title and poster designers through the Film Design Awards presented by Adobe.
Adobe Editing Award Presented to: R#J Editor: Lam Nguyen
Final Draft Screenwriters Award Final Draft, the industry standard in screenwriting software, is proud to support SXSW and provide the second SXSW Final Draft Screenwriters Award. We pride ourselves in shining a spotlight on new voices in the writing and filmmaking community, and coming together with like-minded organizations, such as SXSW, that share the same core values. A huge congratulations to this year’s recipient from all of us at Final Draft!
Final Draft Screenwriters Award Presented to:Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break Screenwriters: Brook Driver, Matt White, and Nick Gillespie
Louis Black “Lone Star” Award To honor SXSW co-founder/director Louis Black, a jury prize was created in 2011 called the Louis Black “Lone Star” Award, presented to a feature film world premiering at SXSW that was shot primarily in Texas or directed by a current resident of Texas. (Opt-in Award)
Louis Black “Lone Star” Award Winner: Without Getting Killed or Caught Directors: Tamara Saviano, Paul Whitfield
“This year’s Lone Star Award goes to Tamara Saviano and Paul Whitfield’s remarkable Without Getting Killed or Caught, an examination of not just the life of legendary Texas singer-songwriter Guy Clark but the complicated, fascinating relationship between himself, his wife Susanna and his best friend Townes Van Zandt, all of whom made extraordinary work together and apart. The storytelling was graceful, densely layered and immersive.”
ZEISS Cinematography Award ZEISS Cine Lenses is honored to be returning this year to support the SXSW film community in the Cinematography category. We believe that by supporting the art within the frame, ZEISS helps filmmakers realize their creative vision.
ZEISS Cinematography Award Winner: Gaia Cinematographer: Jorrie van der Walt
Mailchimp Support the Shorts Award Mailchimp is committed to uplifting and supporting creators. We’re so proud to support SXSW by helping short films win big. We congratulate the honorees of the Support the Shorts Award and Special Jury Recognition as well as the entire SXSW-invited filmmaking community.
Mailchimp Support the Shorts Award Presented to: Chuj Boys of Summer Director: Max Walker-Silverman
“With its gentle, observant eye, Chuj Boys of Summer offers a vision of unexpected compassion and tender masculinity. Director Max Walker-Silverman and writer Marcos Ordoñez Ixwalanhkej Mendoza know too much about the world to provide convenient answers to the film’s complicated questions, so they instead focus on the little gestures that define their characters’ lives. Against the grandeur of the San Juan Mountains, these small moments become unspeakably powerful.”
Mailchimp Support the Shorts Special Jury Recognition Presented to:Like the Ones I Used to Know Director: Annie St-Pierre “Weaving a Christmas tale filled with familiar indignities, Annie St-Pierre and her talented ensemble deftly transform heartbreak into levity while always staying one step ahead of the audience. As every emotion imaginable plays across the cast’s astonishing faces, it’s the heroes’ crumpled dignity that leaves us smiling.”
Mailchimp Support the Shorts Special Jury Recognition Presented to: Malignant Director: Morgan Bond, Nickolas Grisham “In its combination of rich characterization and mysterious camera work, Malignant manages to conjure a uniquely cinematic sense of hallucinatory tension. We honestly can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that directors Morgan Bond and Nickolas Grisham have done to create this much unease, but thanks to their mesmerizing talents, Malignant‘s climax floods the senses and lingers long after the film is over.”
SXSW is proud to be an official qualifying festival for the Academy Awards® Short Film competition. Winners of our Best Animated, Best Narrative and Best Documentary Short Film categories become eligible for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards (Oscars). Any British Short Film or British Short Animation that screens at SXSW is eligible for BAFTA nomination. Films are also eligible for the Independent Spirit Awards, more information on eligibility here.
About SXSW SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. In 2021, the event moves to a digital format. SXSW Online offers conference sessions, music showcases, film screenings, exhibitions, and a variety of networking and professional development opportunities. An essential destination for global professionals, SXSW Online 2021 will take place March 16 – March 20. For more information, please visit sxsw.com.
SXSW Online 2021 Platinum Partners are White Claw, High Grade Hemp Seed, Showtime, Mountain Dew Rise Energy and The Austin Chronicle.
Culture Representation: The four-part docuseries “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” features a racially diverse group of people (Latino, white and African American) of mostly people in the entertainment industry, including Demi Lovato, discussing her life and career, particularly from 2018 to 2020.
Culture Clash: Lovato, who is a recovering drug addict, relapsed and had a near-fatal overdose in 2018, and she says that she no longer believes that complete drug abstinence is the best method of recovery for her.
Culture Audience: “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in stories about how celebrities cope with addiction and trauma.
Singer/actress Demi Lovato is well-known for revealing a lot of painful and unflattering aspects of her life, so it should come as no surprise that her four-part YouTube docuseries “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” has a confessional tone to it. The docuseries had its world premiere at the 2021 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. Among other things, Lovato goes into details about what she experienced before and after her near-fatal drug overdose at her Los Angeles home in July 2018. (She has since moved from that house because of the bad memories.) She also reveals publicly for the first time that she’s a rape survivor and how the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine led to her very quick and ultimately failed engagement to actor Max Ehrich.
Directed by Michael D. Ratner, “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” has much more disturbing revelations than Lovato’s 2017 YouTube documentary film “Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated.” There’s a trigger warning at the beginning of “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” because it contains graphic talk of sexual assault, her drug use and eating disorders. She goes into details about what happened before and after her overdose of heroin laced with Fentanyl.
Lovato says that the drug dealer who supplied the drugs also sexually assaulted her and left her for dead. She also reveals that when she was 15, she lost her virginity by being raped by someone she worked with in her Disney Channel days. Lovato doesn’t name either of her alleged rapists, but she says that when she reported her underage rape to adults, nothing happened to her alleged rapist. And she claims that she’s managing her addiction problems by drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. That’s not a good sign that she’s on the road to a healthy recovery.
It’s a big contrast to “Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated,” where her most personal revelation was that she’s openly living her life as a member of the LGTBQ community. (The movie had scenes of her discussing her attempts to find love on online dating sites.) Lovato refuses to label her sexuality, and she will only describe herself as “queer” or “not straight.” “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” shows that although Lovato claims to be in a much better emotional place than she was in 2018, she’s still struggling with the idea that her recovery from addiction means that she has to completely abstain from drugs and alcohol.
She admits to drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana “in moderation,” even though she’s said in many interviews that she’s an alcoholic and drug addict. Although she talks a lot about the drugs that she’s used and/or been addicted to over the years, in “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” she leaves out any mention of her alcoholism. And that omission is probably because she keeps repeating in the documentary that she’s tired of other people controlling her life and telling her what she can and cannot put in her body.
Ever since former Disney Channel star Lovato first went to rehab in 2010, at the age 18, she has publicly talked about her recovery from a variety of issues, including drug addiction, alcoholism, eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia), self-harming (cutting) and bipolar disorder. In “Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated,” she repeated the claim that she was clean and sober since 2012. And in 2018, during her “Tell Me You Love Me” tour, she was filming another documentary about herself, until her drug overdose resulted in shutting down production of that untitled documentary, which was permanently shelved.
“Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” has some clips from that never-seen-before 2018 documentary that shows a seemingly happy Lovato on tour. But as is often the case with entertainers who are drug addicts, they are very skilled at hiding dark sides of their lives. In “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil,” Lovato says of her shelved 2018 biographical film: “In that documentary, I was allowing the cameras to see the tip of the iceberg.”
“Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” opens with Lovato backstage during that 2018 tour, in footage that was taken one month before her overdose. She’s on the phone with her mother, Dianna De La Garza. Her mother gushes, “Demi, that was the best show you’ve ever done! It’s only going to get better from here.” Lovato gives a small smile but there’s some sadness in her eyes.
There’s also a clip from that a concert earlier on that 2018 tour, with the footage showing Demi being congratulated on stage by opening acts DJ Khaled and Kehlani for her sixth “sober birthday,” to celebrate her being clean and sober for the past six years. On the surface, Lovato looked healthy and happy. But in “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil,” she now confesses that she relapsed later that night.
Lovato says, “I picked up a bottle of red wine that night and it wasn’t even 30 minutes before I called someone that had drugs on them … I’m surprised that I didn’t OD that night. I ended up at a party and ran into my old drug dealer from six years before. That night I did drugs I had never done before.”
According to Lovato, she did a dangerous mix of methamphetamine, Ecstasy, alcohol and OxyContin. “That alone should’ve killed me,” Lovato adds. She also confesses that during this relapse that lasted for months, she tried crack cocaine and heroin for the first time.
The first time she went to rehab in 2010, Lovato says that she was addicted to cocaine and Xanax. Years later, when she turned to crack cocaine and heroin (which she usually smoked, not injected), Lovato says in the documentary that she was trying to get the same “upper/downer” combination feeling that she had with cocaine and Xanax. “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” includes a photo identified as Lovato on crack for the first time and a photo of her while she was smoking heroin.
Lovato says she quickly became addicted to crack and heroin, but she was able to hide these addictions from most of the people who were close to her. Her immediate family members are interviewed in the documentary: mother Dianna De La Garza; stepfather Eddie De La Garza; older sister Dallas Lovato; and younger half-sister Madison De LaGarza. All of them say some variation of how Lovato is very good at keeping secrets and pretending that everything is just fine. “There’s a lot that the public don’t know,” says her stepfather Eddie, who is interviewed while sitting on a couch with his wife Dianna.
Demi’s parents got divorced when she was 2 years old. For years, she has been open about how her biological father Patrick Lovato struggled with mental illness (bipolar disorder, schizophrenia) and drug addiction, and their relationship was fractured for a very long time. Patrick died of cancer in 2013.
In “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil,” she talks about how she still feels trauma over her troubled relationship with her father, whom she says abused her mother Dianna. Demi also says that she feels terrible about how her father died alone. His body, which wasn’t discovered for several days, was so decomposed that there couldn’t be an open casket at his funeral. Demi says that her biggest fear was that he would die alone, and she says she’s still haunted by guilt over it.
As for what led to her relapse and overdose in 2018, Demi comments: “Anytime you suppress a part of yourself, it’s going to overflow. Ultimately, that’s what happened to me in a lot of areas of my life. And it led to my overdose, for sure.” She adds later in the documentary: “I was miserable. I snapped.”
In addition to the issues of abandonment that she had with her father, Demi says she believes that the beauty pageants she entered as a child also had a negative effect on her: “My self-esteem was completely damaged by those beauty pageants.” Demi says that her eating disorders began as a direct result of the pressure she felt to be thin and pretty for the pageants.
Her mother Dianna says in the documentary about Demi’s childhood traumas: “I didn’t know that she needed to work with a professional to work through some of that.” In a separate interview, Demi says, “I crossed the line in the world of addiction. It’s interesting that it took a quarantine to work on this trauma stuff I’ve never really taken the time to dig deep and do the work on.”
To her credit, Demi doesn’t sugarcoat the very real and permanent health damage that her overdose caused: “I had three strokes. I had a heart attack. I suffered brain damage from the strokes. I can’t drive anymore. I have blind spots in my vision. When I pour a glass of water, I’ll totally miss the cup because I can’t see it anymore. I’ve also had pneumonia because I asphyxiated and multiple organ failure.”
What happened the night of the overdose has been reported in many media outlets, but the story in this documentary is told by Demi and some other people who were with her in the 24-hour period before and after her overdose. On the evening of July 23, 2018, Demi had been celebrating the birthday of Dani Vitale, who was Demi’s choreographer/creative director at the time.
Demi, Vitale and some other friends went out to nightclubs before heading back to Demi’s house. (The documentary includes phone footage of Vitale and Demi doing a choreographed dance routine on the rooftop.) Vitale, who is interviewed in the documentary, says that she didn’t know that Demi had been using drugs at that time.
That night, Demi begged Vitale to stay overnight at the house, but Vitale declined because she had to go home and feed her dogs and had to get up early the next morning. However, Vitale says as she was driving away from the house with a friend, she told the friend that she had a strange feeling that something wasn’t right. Ultimately, Vitale says that she didn’t stay because of her other obligations and she didn’t want to treat Demi like a child who needed a babysitter.
Demi says that when she was alone in the house, she called her drug dealer and spent the rest of the night doing drugs with him. The documentary includes blurry video surveillance footage of him leaving her house that morning, a few hours before Demi was found unconscious and the ambulance was called. Police later decided not to arrest him for his involvement in this overdose.
Jordan Jackson, a woman who was Demi’s assistant at the time, was the one who found Demi naked, unconscious and surrounded by vomit in Demi’s bed the next morning on July 24, 2018. “There was one point where she turned blue. Her whole body turned blue. I was like, ‘She’s dead for sure,'” Jackson says in the documentary. “It was the craziest thing I had ever seen.”
When Demi woke up at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, she was legally blind for a short period of time. She didn’t even recognize her younger sister Madison, who chokes up with emotion in the documentary when she remembers that moment: “She looked me dead in the eye and said, ‘Who is that?’ That’s something you never want to hear your sister say.”
Cedars-Sinai neurologist Dr. Shouri Lahiri, who sits next to Demi while he’s interviewed in the documentary, remembers that her oxygen levels were “dangerously low and trending down.” Demi also was put on dialysis to clean her blood, and the tubing had to be stuck through her neck. “It was like a horror movie,” as Dianna De La Garza describes it.
Demi is seated next to Dr. Lahiri when he talks about her hospital treatment. He says he didn’t know she why she was famous until about a week after he became her doctor, when he looked her up on the Internet. In the documentary, Dr. Lahiri mentions that he avoided looking up the information earlier because he didn’t want Demi’s celebrity status to affect his medical decisions about her. It’s kind of hard to believe that while she was in the hospital, he didn’t know for the first several days why she was famous, considering all the media coverage about her overdose.
Demi’s stepfather Eddie De La Garza gives a lot of praise to the hospital doctors who helped Demi with her recovery. But no one (not even Demi) is seen or heard in the documentary explicitly thanking Jackson, the person who found Demi and made the crucially important decision to call 911. Jackson admits in her documentary interview that she was afraid that calling 911 would bring a lot of negative publicity for Demi, but Jackson did the right thing and called anyway. Part of the 911 call is played in the documentary, and Jackson is heard asking the 911 operator if the ambulance could not turn on any sirens when it arrived at the house. However, the operator said that there would be ambulance sirens, and 911 operators have no control over that.
Demi says in the documentary, “I’m really lucky to be alive. My doctors said that I had five to 10 minutes [to live before I was found]. Had my assistant not come in, I wouldn’t be here today.” It would’ve been nice for Demi to directly and publicly thank Jackson in the documentary. If Demi did thank her while filming this documentary, it didn’t make it into the movie. And based on the “bare it all” tone of this film, a moment like that wouldn’t be edited out of the film if this thank you really happened while filming.
The documentary also shows that Vitale’s career and reputation were damaged by this overdose, because she was wrongfully blamed for it and wrongfully identified as being a drug buddy of Demi’s. Vitale says she doesn’t do drugs, but she was bullied and harassed by many of Demi’s fans who believed that Vitale was the one who supplied the drugs that Demi took that night. Vitale lost clients because of the overdose scandal. Demi says that her fans who harassed Vitale went too far.
In the documentary, while Vitale is getting her hair and makeup done for the interview, Demi is shown going into the room, hugging Vitale, and telling her that she’s sorry that she didn’t come forward sooner to clear Vitale’s name, but she was still in recovery at the time. Demi also says that she hopes that the documentary will help Vitale set the record straight that Vitale had nothing to do with Demi’s overdose. They seem to be friendly with each other, but it’s clear that Vitale doesn’t want to risk going through this experience with Demi again.
During her interview, Vitale tears up with emotion when she talks about the fallout from Demi’s overdose: “It was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with in my life. I just wanted [Demi] to live … I lost all my teaching jobs. No one wanted to bring their kid to an apparent heroin dealer teacher. I lost all the artists I was working with. No one wanted to deal with the drama … I had to rethink my whole future, all because of someone else’s decision.”
After recovering from her overdose, Demi says she decided she no longer wanted to have a team of people controlling what she ate or people checking up on her as if she would relapse at any moment. As an example, she says that for her birthdays, her previous management team would only allow her to have watermelon cake. After she fired that management team, Demi says one of the ways she celebrated her freedom from other people telling her what to eat was by having three cakes on her birthday.
After getting rid of her previous management, Demi asked Scooter Braun (who’s most famous for being Justin Bieber’s manager) to become her personal manager. Braun, who is an executive producer of “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil,” is interviewed in the documentary and says that he was skeptical about representing Demi until he met her in person and she won him over. During contract negotiations, Demi says she relapsed and was truthful about it to Braun. Demi says she was sure that after this confession, Braun wouldn’t want to represent her.
But the opposite happened. Braun says that rather than distancing himself from Demi because of the relapse, he wanted to help her. He says his reaction was, “As long as you tell me the truth, we’ll work through it.” Braun also says, “She didn’t need a manager. She needed a friend.”
Demi didn’t get rid of everyone on her business team after the overdose. She gives a lot of credit to her longtime business manager Glenn Nordlinger and head of security/chief of staff Max Lea for helping her through tough times. Nordlinger and Lea are both interviewed in the documentary. Nordlinger says it was his idea to get Demi checked into the Cirque Lodge addiction treatment center in Orem, Utah, for her post-overdose rehab. Demi is seated next to Lea and Nordlinger during some of her interviews, and she often keeps her head lowered, as if she’s still ashamed of what they know about her.
Two other people who’ve remained in Demi’s inner circle and are interviewed in the documentary are Sirah Mitchell (a hip-hop artist) and Matthew Scott Montgomery (an actor), who are each described in the documentary as Demi’s “best friend.” Mitchell is also described as Demi’s “former sober coach.” Mitchell and Montgomery, who were not with Demi on the night that she overdosed, profess unwavering loyalty to Demi. They both say that they knew that Demi was doing heroin and other drugs in the weeks leading up to the overdose, but they say that Demi ignored their concerns and there was nothing they could do about it.
Mitchell and Montgomery seem to be among Demi’s biggest cheerleaders, but they also come across as enablers who will say what she wants to hear so she won’t cut them out of her life. For example, Mitchell and Montgomery make vague excuses for why they’re going along with Demi’s plan to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana as part of her “recovery” from alcoholism and drug addiction. By now, these friends should know that when drug addicts/alcoholics think they can handle drugs and alcohol, that’s still being in the sickness of denial.
As for Demi’s family members, they all say that based on their experiences with Demi, they know that an addict can only truly recover when the addict is willing to stop what’s causing their addiction of their own free will, not because other people are pressuring them to do it. Demi says that the first time she went to rehab, she was forced to go because she was told that she wouldn’t be able to see her sister Madison again if Demi didn’t get rehab treatment. In the documentary, Demi notes the “full circle” irony that after she woke up from her overdose, she literally couldn’t see Madison because of Demi’s temporary blindness.
Demi’s case manager Charles Cook is the one of the few people interviewed in the movie to warn viewers that Demi’s way of handling her addiction is not going to work for everyone. He chooses his words carefully, so as not to offend her, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s conflicted in endorsing Demi’s decision to continue to drink alcohol and use marijuana. Cook and Demi both say that addiction recovery doesn’t have a “one size fits all” solution, and Demi is trying to figure out what works best for her.
The documentary includes interviews with some celebrities who know Demi and have worked with her, including recovering addict/alcoholic Elton John. He is blunt when he comments on addicts/alcoholics who think they can still use their addiction substances as part of their recovery: “Moderation doesn’t work.” However, he praises Demi by saying: “She’s human and she’s adorable and she’s brave.”
Christina Aguilera and Will Ferrell also say good things about Demi. Aguilera says, “She’s just no bullshit when it comes to her spirit and her energy and her laughter.” Lovato and Aguilera teamed up for the duet “Fall in Line,” which was on Aguilera’s 2018 album “Liberation.” The song was also released as a single.
Ferrell says he was inspired to put Demi in his 2020 Netflix comedy movie “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” after seeing her emotionally perform “Anyone” at the 2020 Grammy Awards. The Grammy show was her first high-profile performance after her overdose, and she followed it up with another critically acclaimed performance at Super Bowl LIV, where she sang a powerful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Clips of both performances are in the movie, as well as snippets of her performing on tour in 2018 and in the recording studio. Demi says that she wrote and recorded “Sober” while she was in the throes of addiction to crack and heroin. And she mentions that her song “Dancing With the Devil” is one of the rawest, soul-baring songs she’s ever written about her addiction. Braun says, “In the studio, Demi is in her happy place.”
Demi describes her brief engagement to Ehrich in 2020 as part of their whirlwind and unconventional romance. Most of their courtship happened when they moved in with her mother and stepfather to quarantine with them during the coronavirus pandemic. Demi and Ehrich dated for just six months before calling it quits. After the breakup, he went on social media and gave interviews saying that he was blindsided and treated unfairly by Demi.
In the documentary, Demi says that she and Ehrich probably wouldn’t have gotten engaged so quickly if they hadn’t quarantined together. And although she doesn’t divulge the full details of their breakup, Demi reiterates what she’s already said publicly: She says she found out that Ehrich didn’t have the right intentions in their relationship. The documentary has selfie video footage of a forlorn-looking Demi after the breakup, fretting to the camera that she won’t find anyone to love her.
Demi has this to say about her love life at the time she filmed this documentary: “I feel like I’m too queer in my life to marry a man right now.” She describes her outlook: “Life is fluid, and I’m fluid, and that’s all I know.”
In addition to dealing with her physical health problems as a result of the overdose, Demi says she has the psychological trauma of being sexually assaulted. She has this to say about the sexual violation from her drug dealer: “When they found me, I was naked, blue. I was literally left for dead after he took advantage of me. I was literally discarded and abandoned.”
“When I woke up in the hospital, they asked if I had consensual sex,” Demi says in one of her documentary interviews. “There was one flash that I had of him on top of me. I saw the flash, and I said, ‘Yes’ [in answer to the question if the sex was consensual]. It wasn’t until a month after my overdose that I realized, ‘Hey, you weren’t in any state of mind to make a consensual decision.’ That kind of trauma doesn’t go away overnight, and it doesn’t go away in the first few months of rehab either.”
Demi reveals that instead of staying away from the drug dealer that she says raped her, she actually contacted him again when she relapsed after her overdose. And she says that when they had sex again, she wanted to be the one in control. Instead, Demi says this “revenge sex” made her feel worse.
And she also says it was history repeating itself because something similar happened with the person she says raped her when she was 15: “When I was a teenager, I was in a very similar situation. I lost my virginity in rape. I called that person back a month later and tried to make it right by being in control. All it did was make me feel worse.”
In the documentary, Demi doesn’t name her alleged rapists, but the drug dealer who admitted he was the one who supplied the drugs on the night of the overdose already gave tabloid interviews after he found out that he wouldn’t be arrested for supplying her the drugs. His name is already out there in the public. And in at least one of his interviews, he claimed that Demi was his sex partner in a “friends with benefits” situation.
As for the guy whom Demi says raped her when she was 15, she drops some big hints about who he is. “I was part of that Disney crowd that publicly said they were waiting until marriage.” She says in the documentary that this virginity image was a lie for her and her alleged rapist, which obviously implies that he was part of that “Disney crowd” too.
Commenting on how she lost her virginity, Demi says: “I didn’t have the romantic first time. That was not it for me. That sucked. Then I had to see this person all the time so I stopped eating and coped in other ways.”
Then she takes a breath and says, “Fuck it. I’m gonna say it.” She says that her #MeToo moment came when she reported the rape to adults (whom she does not name in the documentary), but her alleged rapist “never got in trouble for it. They never got taken out of the movie they were in. I always kept it quiet because I’ve always had something to say. I don’t know, I’m tired of opening my mouth. Here’s the tea.”
Just like many people with #MeToo stories, Demi says she’s going public with her truth to help give other people the courage to do the same. “I’m coming forward with what happened to me because everyone it happens to should absolutely speak their voice.” She also says, “At the end of the day, I’m responsible for my life choices and only hold myself accountable. And the last two years have been about me doing the work to identify and confront those traumas, so I can be my best self and truly be happy.”
The problem with these types of “confessions of a famous addict” is that they usually have the celebrity confessing that in the past, they put on a fake front of being happy and/or sober in public, but they were really miserable and/or relapsing in private. Then they usually end the documentary by saying they’re doing much better now. But it can be hard for people to believe that, when the celebrity has already admitted that they’re skilled at pretending that their life is better than it really is.
Demi says in the “Dancing With the Devil” documentary that when she made the “Simply Complicated” documentary, she was really miserable and pretended at the time that she happy. Is there eventually going to be another “confession” from Demi where she will say that she was lying in this “Dancing With the Devil” documentary too? It’s a vicious cycle where people aren’t going to know what to believe.
Another problem that people tend to have with these celebrity “tell-alls” is they usually come out at around the same time that the celebrity has a new project to promote. And it makes people wonder how much of this pain is being used to market something that the celebrity wants to sell. Sure enough, the documentary includes studio footage and video clips to promote Demi’s seventh studio album “Dancing with the Devil … The Art of Starting Over,” which is due out on April 2, 2021, the same week as when this docuseries’ last episode is released on YouTube.
Most addicts and alcoholics don’t get to profit from selling their stories. And there’s a lot of denial going on in the documentary when Demi, who spent years telling the world that she’s an alcoholic, now says she can handle drinking alcohol in moderation. Did she not learn anything in rehab?
Although there are website addresses and hotline phone numbers listed in the documentary as resources for people who want to get more information on how to get help for addiction or surviving sexual trauma, the mixed messages that Demi gives in her “Dancing With the Devil” documentary can actually confuse people. She does briefly acknowledge that she’s luckier than most addicts, because she can afford top-notch rehab treatment and a team of people who can get her whatever she asks for because she’s paying them to do it. But that acknowledgement rings hollow because she’s basically saying, “I know I can afford to go to the highest-priced rehab centers in the world, but I’m going to indulge in my addictive substances anyway, just because I feel like it.”
However, people who are not gullible fans can see the documentary for what it is: It shows the difficulty of overcoming addiction and how celebrities are surrounded by “yes” people who will say what the celebrity wants to hear so that they can stay in the celebrity’s inner circle. If there’s any meaningful takeaway from “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” it’s that if celebrities want to tell the world their truth, they should summon the courage to have people in their lives who will tell them the truth. And when it comes to addiction to alcohol and drugs, they can start with the basic fundamentals of rehab, which is that an alcoholic/drug addict isn’t doing enough real work to get clean and sober if that alcoholic/drug addict is still drinking and drugging.
YouTube Originals will premiere “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” on Demi Lovato’s YouTube channel on March 23, 2021.
The 11th annual Athena Film Festival—which takes place from March 1 to March 31, 2021—has undergone a massive change this year. Not only is the festival an entirely virtual event for the first time (due to safety concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic), but the Athena Film Festival has also expanded to an entire month. The Athena Film Festival was previously a four-day event. Although the 2021 Athena Film Festival takes place during the entire month of March, the feature-length films are not available during all 31 days of March. Check the schedule for availability.
One thing hasn’t changed: The Athena Film Festival has a diverse selection of female-focused programming. This year’s feature-length movie lineup is dominated by documentary films, many which focus on social justice issues. Most of the feature-length films are those that have already been released in theaters or have premiered at other events, but the Athena Film Festival has such a unique focus that it’s worth supporting for people who haven’t seen these movies yet, want to see the movies again, and/or are interested in checking out the panel discussions or short films. In most cases, the directors of feature-length films are doing Q&As online as part of the festival.
The opening-night film is the U.S. premiere of director Tracey Deer’s “Beans,” which tells the story of a 12-year-old Mohawk Indian girl and her family’s involvement in Canada’s 1990 Oka crisis, which was a 78-day standoff in Quebec between Mohawk communities and the Canadian government. “Beans” came in third place for the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award. In addition, there are discussion panels and creative workshops.
Here is the programming lineup of feature-length movies at the 2021 Athena Film Festival. More information can be found at the official festival website. (All descriptions listed below are courtesy of the festival.)
Director: Francis Lee
Writer: Francis Lee
In the 1840s, acclaimed self-taught palaeontologist Mary Anning (played by Kate Winslet) works alone on the wild and brutal Southern English coastline of Lyme Regis. The days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now hunts for common fossils to sell to rich tourists to support herself and her ailing widowed mother (played by Gemma Jones). When one such tourist, Roderick Murchison played by James McArdle), arrives in Lyme on the first leg of a European tour, he entrusts Mary with the care of his young wife Charlotte (played by Saoirse Ronan), who is recuperating from a personal tragedy. Mary, whose life is a daily struggle on the poverty line, cannot afford to turn him down but, proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, she clashes with her unwanted guest. They are two women from utterly different worlds. Yet despite the chasm between their social spheres and personalities, Mary and Charlotte discover they can each offer what the other has been searching for: the realization that they are not alone. It is the beginning of a passionate and all-consuming love affair that will defy all social bounds and alter the course of both lives irrevocably.
Director: Tracey Deer
Writer: Tracey Deer
Twelve-year-old Beans (played by Kiawentiio) is on the edge: torn between innocent childhood and delinquent adolescence; forced to grow up fast to become the tough Mohawk warrior she needs to be during the Indigenous uprising known as The Oka Crisis, which tore Quebec and Canada apart for 78 tense days in the summer of 1990.
My Name Is Baghdad
Director: Caru Alves de Souza
Writer: Caru Alves de Souza, Josefina Trotta
Baghdad (played by Grace Orsato) is a 17-year-old female skater, who lives in Freguesia do Ó, a working-class neighborhood in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. Baghdad skateboards with a group of male friends and spends a lot of time with her family and with her mother’s friends. Together, the women around her form a network of people who are out of the ordinary. When Baghdad meets a group of female skateboarders, her life suddenly changes.
Director: Shatara Michelle Ford
Writers: Shatara Michelle Ford
“Test Pattern” is part psychological horror, part realist drama set against the backdrop of national discussions around inequitable health care & policing, the #MeToo movement, and race in America. The film follows an interracial couple (played by Brittany S. Hall and Will Brill) whose relationship is put to the test after a Black woman is sexually assaulted and her white boyfriend drives her from hospital to hospital in search of a rape kit. The film analyzes the effects of the systemic factors and social conditioning women face when navigating sex and consent within the American patriarchy, along with exploring institutional racism from a Black female point of view.
Director: Aideen Kane
“The 8th” traces Ireland’s campaign to remove the 8th Amendment: a constitutional ban on abortion. It shows a country’s transformation from a conservative state in thrall to the Catholic church to a more liberal secular society. “The 8th” includes voices from both sides of the debate, but its primary focus is on the dynamic female leaders of the pro-choice campaign. The film follows the veteran campaigner Ailbhe Smyth and self-described glitter-activist Andrea Horan as they chart a bold strategy of grassroots activism and engineer the impossible. This dramatic story is underscored by a vivid exploration of the wrenching failures that led to this defining moment in Irish history. An urgent narrative, a cautionary tale and a roadmap for progressive reforms in a modern era where authoritarianism is on the rise, “The 8th” shows a country forging a new progressive path at a time when reproductive rights are threatened around the world.
Ahead of the Curve
Director: Jen Rainin
“Ahead of the Curve” is the story of one of the most influential women in lesbian history you’ve never heard of and the impact her work continues to have today. Growing up, Franco Stevens never saw any representation of queer women—she didn’t even know it was possible for a woman to be gay. When she realized she was a lesbian, it changed the course of her life. In 1990, Franco created a safe place for lesbians in the form of Curve magazine. Her approach to threats and erasure in the ‘90s was to lift all kinds of lesbians up and make them beautifully visible. The magazine helped build a foundation for many intersectional movements being led by today’s activists in the face of accelerating threats to the LGBTQ community. Decades later, as her legacy faces extinction and she reassesses her life after a disabling injury, she sets out to understand visibility work being led by an intersection of queer women today. Featuring Andrea Pino-Silva, Kim Katrin, Denice Frohman, Amber Hikes, Jewelle Gomez, Melissa Etheridge, and Lea DeLaria, and a score composed by the legendary Meshell Ndegeocello, “Ahead of the Curve” celebrates the legacy of a movement while considering the agenda of its future.
Belly of the Beast
Director: Erika Cohn
The pastoral farmlands surrounding the Central California Women’s Facility the world’s largest women’s prison, help conceal the reproductive and human rights violations transpiring inside its walls. A courageous young woman who was involuntarily sterilized at the age of 24 while incarcerated at the facility, teams up with a radical lawyer to stop these violations. They spearhead investigations that uncover a series of statewide crimes, primarily targeting women of color, from inadequate access to healthcare to sexual assault to illegal sterilization. Together, with a team of tenacious heroines, both in and out of prison, they take to the courtroom to fight for reparations. But no one believes them. As additional damning evidence is uncovered by the Center for Investigative Reporting, a media frenzy and series of hearings provide hope for some semblance of justice. Yet, doctors and prison officials contend that the procedures were in each person’s best interest and of an overall social benefit. Invoking the weight of the historic stain and legacy of eugenics, “Belly of the Beast” presents a decade-long, infuriating contemporary legal drama.
Director: Shalini Kantayya
When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that most facial-recognition software misidentifies women and darker-skinned faces, she is compelled to investigate further. It turns out that artificial intelligence, which was defined by a homogeneous group of men, is not neutral. What Buolamwini learns about widespread bias in algorithms drives her to push the U.S. government to create the first-ever legislation to counter the far-reaching dangers of bias in a technology that is steadily encroaching on our lives. Centering on the voices of women leading the charge to ensure our civil rights are protected, “Coded Bias” asks two key questions: what is the impact of Artificial Intelligence’s increasing role in governing our liberties? And what are the consequences for people stuck in the crosshairs due to their race, color, and gender?
Denise Ho – Becoming the Song
Director: Sue Williams
“Denise Ho – Becoming the Song” profiles the openly gay Hong Kong singer and human rights activist Denise Ho. Drawing on unprecedented, years-long access, the film explores her remarkable journey from commercial Cantopop superstar to outspoken political activist, an artist who has put her life and career on the line to support the determined struggle of Hong Kong citizens to maintain their identity and freedom. Denise’s story mirrors almost perfectly the last three decades of Hong Kong’s uneasy relationship with China. A top international recording artist in Hong Kong and across China and other Asian nations, the turning point in her career came during the seminal moment of change for Hong Kong, the Umbrella Movement of 2014. Her public support of students who demanded free elections and occupied central Hong Kong for nearly three months had immediate and lasting consequences: she was arrested and then blacklisted by China.
The Dilemma of Desire
Director: Maria Finitzo
How much do you know about the clitoris? Chances are, not enough. The vast internal structure tasked with sexual pleasure for over half of the population has been largely ignored by a long history of western medical science written by men. With humor and candor in equal measure, “The Dilemma of Desire” follows a quartet of remarkable women whose work in science, academia, industrial design, and art has paved the way for a better understanding of women’s sexual desire, anatomy, and health in an era when women’s rights are once again under fire. Biologist Dr. Stacey Dutton dispels age-old myths about women’s pleasure for her students, while University of Utah academic Dr. Lisa Diamond dismantles outdated notions about women’s arousal. Industrial designer Ti Chang is designing and manufacturing elegant vibrators for women and artist Sophia Wallace has set out to make the world culturally cliterate. Providing the embodiment of their work are the personal stories of five young women claiming agency over their sexuality. In this timely and radical film about female desire, gender politics, and sexuality, filmmaker Maria Finitzo invites us to share intimate conversations with women on a mission to reverse a patriarchal legacy that denies female empowerment through omissions and distortions. The Dilemma of Desire reminds us that true equality will come once we all arrive at a place of understanding and acknowledgement that all human beings are sexual beings, entitled to live their lives fully within the expression of their desire.
End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock
Director: Shannon Kring
“End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock” is the incredible story of a small group of indigenous women who risk their lives to stop the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline construction that desecrated their ancient burial and prayer sites and threatens their land, water, and very existence. When the population of their peaceful protest camp exceeds 10,000, the women unwittingly find themselves the leaders of a global movement. Featuring exclusive footage including never-before-seen evidence of police brutality surrendered to the filmmakers by a disgraced law enforcement officer, “End of the Line” is both an exploration of the rise of indigenous and feminine power in the areas of social and environmental justice, and a searing and deeply personal story of four brave women. Together, they must face the personal costs of leadership, even as their own lives and identities are left transformed by one of the great political and cultural events of the early 21st century.
How It Feels to Be Free
Director: Yoruba Richen
“How It Feels to Be Free” takes an unprecedented look at the intersection of African American women artists, politics, and entertainment and tells the story of how six trailblazing performers, Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll, Nina Simone, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier changed American culture through their films, fashion, their music and their politics. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Yoruba Richen and based on of the book “How It Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement” by Ruth Feldstein, the film examines the lives of these women and how they used their ground-breaking careers as platforms to advocate for change and reshape representation of Black women on stage and screen. The film includes archival footage of the six women, as well as original interviews from contemporary scholars and entertainers, including Diahann Carroll, Pam Grier, Alicia Keys, Lena Waithe, Halle Berry, Yolonda Ross, Samuel and LaTanya Jackson, and Lena Horne’s daughter, Gail Lumet Buckley. The first documentary to focus on the crucial role Black female entertainers played in the ongoing struggle over inclusion and representation in American mass media, “How It Feels to Be Free” provides important context for the highly-charged contemporary debate over race and gender in Hollywood and shows how these women laid the path for the renaissance in Black entertainment that we see today.
Director: Jessica Earnshaw
Filmed for over three years, “Jacinta” begins at the Maine Correctional Center where Jacinta, 26, and her mother Rosemary, 46, are incarcerated together, both recovering from drug addiction. As a child, Jacinta became entangled in her mother’s world of drugs and crime and has followed her in and out of the system since she was a teenager. This time, as Jacinta is released from prison, she hopes to maintain her sobriety and reconnect with her own daughter, Caylynn, 10, who lives with her paternal grandparents. Despite her desire to rebuild her life for her daughter, Jacinta continually struggles against the forces that first led to her addiction. With unparalleled access and a gripping vérité approach, director Jessica Earnshaw paints a deeply intimate portrait of mothers and daughters and the effects of trauma over generations.
Julia Scotti: Funny That Way
Director: Susan Sandler
In the comedy boom of the late 1980’s Rick Scotti was a busy guy—appearing in clubs across the country, on bills with Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, when he came to the deadly realization that nothing felt right. At a time when the words gender dysphoria and gender reassignment surgery were rarely heard, Rick’s true awakening at age forty-seven led to hormonal treatments, surgery, and a new identity as Julia Scotti. And then the doors shut tight. Everyone turned away—former wives, friends, family, comedy world buddies, and most painfully Julia was shut out from any contact with her children. She reinvented herself, spent a decade teaching, and then several years ago, stepped back on stage at an open mic and began her journey back to the world she loves. And just as she returned to comedy, her children reached out to her after 15 years of silence. Shot over a period of five years, “Julia Scotti: Funny That Way” tracks Julia’s triumphant comeback, the rough life on the road, and the complex process of reuniting with her children, as comedy becomes the shared language of identity, healing, and joy.
La Madrina: The Savage Life of Lorine Padilla
Director: Raquel Cepeda
“La Madrina: The Savage Life of Lorine Padilla” is a feature-length documentary about a beloved South Bronx matriarch and former “First Lady” of the Savage Skulls gang struggling to remain visible in a rapidly gentrifying community she helped rebuild in the 1980s. With one foot firmly grounded in the outlaw life and the other as an activist and spiritual advisor, Lorine straddles the complexities of multiple worlds. Employing rich never-before-seen archives of the borough that gifted the world both salsa and hip-hop culture, we will go on a complicated and, at times, surreal journey through five decades of Bronx history and resilience in La Madrina’s own words.
Director: Luchina Fisher
Meet Mama Gloria. Chicago’s Black transgender icon Gloria Allen, now in her 70s, blazed a trail for trans people like few others before her. Emerging from Chicago’s South Side drag ball culture in the 1960s, Gloria overcame traumatic violence to become a proud leader in her community. Most famously, she pioneered a charm school for young transgender people that served as inspiration for the hit play Charm. Luchina Fisher’s empathic and engaging documentary is not only a portrait of a groundbreaking legend, but also a celebration of unconditional love, the love Gloria received from her own mother and that she now gives to her chosen children. And it is driven by the love the director has for her teenage transgender daughter.
Picture a Scientist
Director: Sharon Shattuck
“Picture a Scientist” is a feature-length documentary film chronicling the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. A biologist, a chemist and a geologist lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, overcoming brutal harassment, institutional discrimination, and years of subtle slights to revolutionize the culture of science. From cramped laboratories to spectacular field sites, we also encounter scientific luminaries who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all.
Through the Night
Director: Loria Limbal
To make ends meet, people in the U.S. are working longer hours across multiple jobs. This modern reality of non-stop work has resulted in an unexpected phenomenon: the flourishing of 24-hour daycare centers. “Through the Night” is a verité documentary that explores the personal cost of our modern economy through the stories of two working mothers and a childcare provider—whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center. The film follows a mother who works the overnight shift at a hospital; another holding down three jobs to support her family; and a woman who for two decades has cared for children of parents with nowhere else to turn. Over the span of two years, across working holidays, seven-day work weeks, and around-the-clock shifts, the film reveals the personal cost of rising wealth inequality in the U.S and the close bonds forged between parents, children, and caregivers.
Director: Ashley O’Shay
“Unapologetic” captures a tense and polarizing moment in Chicago’s fight for the livelihood of its Black residents. The film follows Janaé and Bella, two young abolitionist organizers, as they work within the Movement for Black Lives to seek justice for Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald, two young Black people killed by Chicago police. They aim to elevate a progressive platform for criminal justice to a police board led by Lori Lightfoot and a complicit city administration, while also elevating leadership by women and femmes.
Director: Stacey Lee
Filmed over the summer festival season, “Underplayed” presents a portrait of the current status of the gender, ethnic, and sexuality equality issues in dance music.
Culture Representation: The documentary “A Glitch in the Matrix” features a group of people (almost all white males, with one white woman and one African American man) of video game addicts, journalists and academics discussing the concept that life on Earth could be a virtual simulation, not the reality that people think it is.
Culture Clash: Different ways of looking at and defining reality are explored, including how video games influence people’s thoughts.
Culture Audience: “A Glitch in the Matrix” will appeal primarily to people who want to listen to ramblings from several people who admit they’re addicted to video games or some other form of virtual reality.
In the Oscar-winning 1999 sci-fi film “The Matrix,” Carrie-Anne Moss’ Trinity character tells Keanu Reeves’ Neo character that his feeling of déjà vu is “a glitch in the matrix.” It’s meant to explain a mistake in the matrix world where the movie’s characters live in a simulated reality. The documentary “A Glitch in the Matrix” talks to several people who are open to believe or actually believe the idea that the world as we know it is not “real” but is actually a simulation controlled by unknown and unseen forces.
If you want to listen to self-admitted geeks drone on and on about this concept, then by all means, waste your time and watch “A Glitch in the Matrix,” which adds nothing new or interesting to this debate. The movie is also very poorly researched. “A Glitch in the Matrix,” which had its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, spent more time gathering a variety of film clips than interviewing a variety of people.
Directed by Rodney Ascher, “A Glitch in the Matrix” is truly a case of style of over substance. It cobbles together a lot of clips from sci-fi flicks, edits them together with some animation, and tries to dazzle the viewer into thinking that movie is going to be a cutting-edge documentary. It’s not.
It’s really just a movie that gives a platform to several self-described video game addicts, who ramble on about how they sometimes have a hard time comprehending what’s reality and what is not. The only facts that this documentary really puts forth are that people can get addicted to video games and those with possible mental health issues can actually start to feel like they’re living in a video game. This problem of video game addiction has been common knowledge for decades, but the filmmakers of “A Glitch in the Matrix” try to make this documentary look as if it’s revealing insightful information. Perhaps they’re living in another reality if they think this lazy film is nothing more than a cash grab to appeal to gamers and other people interested in virtual worlds.
Some of the people interviewed in the documentary don’t even want to show their real faces. Instead, their video game avatars are shown on screen as they talk. These self-confessed video game addicts are:
Paul Gude, who appears with a creepy red mask surrounded by a ruby-like orb and wearing a samurai warrior outfit.
Brother Laeo Mystwood, who appears with an Anibus head and is decked out mostly in purple.
Alex LeVine, who appears as a shaman-like robot with an emoji face and a brain suspended in liquid
Jesse Orion, who appears as a space alien in an astronaut suit.
They all look like they’re auditioning to be a new character in a “Mortal Kombat” reboot game. And, clearly, all of them have “issues.” Orion describes himself as a video game addict who feels alienated from the world.
Gude says that when he was a student at the University of Missouri in Columbia in the early 1990s, he first became fascinated with the idea that the human brain is a computer that can be hacked into and manipulated. And he comments that he started to feel like his life was really a simulation when, as a child, he moved from Pontiac, Illinois, to the much smaller city of Dorsey, Illinois. He remembers being somewhat freaked out by things such as going to a shopping mall and seeing hardly any people there. He also thinks people are “chemical robots.”
Mystwood (which is obviously not his real name, but maybe it’s his name in the fantasy world he seems to have in his head) talks about having a religious upbringing that he thinks did some damage to his psyche. (Gude, who is the son of a pastor, describes a similar effect that religion had on him.) Mystwood also says that he got a clearer understanding of “alternate reality” when he experienced going into a sensory deprivation tank. Mystwood describes how his head started to pound and he had an out-of-body experience.
And he then came to this conclusion after going through the experience of the sensory deprivation tank: “I am a code … Nothing on me or anyone is real.” The documentary irresponsibly doesn’t include scientific information on how sensory deprivation can cause hallucinations similar to someone taking a psychedelic drug.
Speaking of psychedelics, what the filmmakers fail to ask in this documentary when people spew all of these paranoid theories is, “How often have you taken psychedelic drugs?” Because a lot of their ranting about discovering “alternate realities” just sounds like people who maybe took LSD or other psychedelics too many times. And a few of them sound like they’re in serious need of psychiatric evaluations.
Billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk is mentioned as somewhat of a hero to people who think that we live in a simulation, because Musk has publicly expressed this theory too. What the documentary doesn’t mention is Musk’s self-admitted drug use. It seems irresponsible for this documentary to not mention the possibility that drug-fueled hallucinations could be behind many of the theories about simulation that some people believe as gospel.
The closest that anyone will admit that being under the influence of substances (legal or illegal) has a lot to do with how they think about reality is when LeVine describes going on a drunken joyride in Mexico with some friends when he was younger. Everyone in the car, including the driver, was very drunk from alcohol and maybe who knows what other substances that LeVine (a Harvard-educated engineer) might not wanted to admit to on camera. After driving the wrong way on a freeway and narrowly missing a head-on collision, the car eventually flipped over and crashed by itself. The car was completely wrecked.
Luckily, no one was killed or seriously injured. LeVine describes having an out-of-body experience and remembers someone carrying him away from the corrupt federales who were going to demand money from these Americans to not arrest them. LeVine says the fact that no one got killed in this serious car crash was a sign that some other forces were at play.
Actually, it’s not unusual for intoxicated people in a car crash to suffer less injuries than people in the crash who were sober. There are many cases of drunk drivers who killed other people in an automobile crash, but the drunk drivers survived with minor injuries. There’s plenty of information available with the statistics.
Medical experts believe that intoxicated people in a car crash have a better chance of surviving and getting less injured, compared to sober people, because intoxicated people’s reactions and reflexes are slower while under the influence of alcohol or another substance. But course, the filmmakers never both to include this medical/scientific information. In fact, they don’t question or try to debunk any of the hallucinatory stories that are in this movie.
The production notes for “A Glitch in the Matrix” describe the documentary interviewees who believe in simulation theory as “eyewitnesses.” LeVine also mentions that he has Crohn’s disease, which is an odd thing to bring up, because the inner workings of his bowels have nothing to do with what this documentary is all about. That’s an example of some of the irrelevant information in this movie, which was in serious need of better editing and sensible research.
“A Glitch in the Matrix” interviews a few journalists and academics (who appear on camera as their real selves), but they just repeat things that they’ve already written about in essays, books or articles that they wrote years ago. In the documentary’s production notes, these talking heads are listed as people providing “expert testimony.” Among those interviewed is writer Erik Davis, author of the 1998 book “Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information.”
There’s also Nick Bostrom, an Oxford University professor who wrote the 2003 article “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?” for Philosophical Quarterly, while he was doing post-doctoral work at Yale University. He believes that there are three possibilities when it comes to simulation disguised as reality: (1) There was extinction before simulation; (2) Simulation technology was abandoned and there are only assets to simulation; (3) Simulation is “real.”
American cartoonist Chris Ware gives a useless interview where he comments on the illustration that he did for The New Yorker’s issue that was dated June 12, 2015. The cover features two girls looking at computers in their bedroom. Ware says that the video game Minecraft inspired the drawing.
Ware also has this to say about Minecraft: “Every time I play it with my daughter, I feel like we’re dead and we’re flying around the world. It’s the only experience that closely approximates what … a disembodied conscience might experience.”
Again. Are these people on drugs? These are the so-called “experts” in this movie.
Also interviewed is Emily Pothast, who wrote a 2019 article on Medium called “The (Deep) Dream of Motivated Reasoning Produces Monsters,” which gives an analysis of how people can be radicalized if they believe that their reality is different from what’s presented by the media. She is the only woman interviewed in this documentary, and she’s the only person in the movie who gives an intelligent cultural context of what can happen when people start to think that their reality is not what most other people think is reality.
Pothast comments, “I do think there’s an inability to separate the real world from digital realities, when you have the [2019 mosque mass-murder] shooter in [Christchurch] New Zealand, livestreaming what he’s doing … and going after people who are Muslims. Or people shooting up synagogues going after people who are constructed as ‘other’ by the media that [these shooters] consume.”
The New Zealand shooter was a white supremacist who appeared to be addicted to social media, such as Facebook, instead of video games. “A Glitch in the Matrix” doesn’t mention that New Zealand subsequently banned video games that were eerily similar to the mosque shootings. And there’s no discussion in this documentary on how substance abuse and/or mental illness play roles in people disconnecting from reality.
The documentary also takes a glib approach when mentioning the 2018 incident of Horizon Air employee Richard Russell stealing a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 plane, with no passengers, from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and doing dangerous tricks in the air. Russell died when he intentionally crashed the plane on Ketron Island in Puget Sound. During his communication with aircraft control, Russell (who did not have a pilot’s license) said he learned how to fly planes by playing video games. The people in the documentary, such as Orion, who comment on this tragic incident seem to be more impressed with how video games influenced this deadly stunt than caring about what led Russell to commit such a desperate act.
“A Glitch in the Matrix” also shows a clear bias in preference of white men, because all but two people interviewed in the movie fit that description. In addition to Pothast, the only other person interviewed in this documentary who is not a white man is Joshua Cooke, an African American man who was convicted of the 2003 shooting murders of his adoptive parents in Oakton, Virginia. Cooke was 19 when he committed the crime and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. He says that he was addicted to “The Matrix” movie and violent video games, and he says that he lost touch with reality. In court, he pled guilty instead of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.
Cooke was so obsessed with “The Matrix” that he dressed like the movie’s Neo character and bought a gun that’s similar to the one that Neo uses in the movie. Cooke does not appear on camera in “A Glitch in the Matrix,” but his comments are heard in audio voiceover from interviews that the filmmakers did with him from prison. Cooke’s story is included in the documentary’s long segment about the huge influence that “The Matrix” movies (especially the first one in the series) have had on people who believe that life is a simulation. Cooke vividly describes how “The Matrix” took over his life and spilled over into murdering the people he thought were the “enemy.”
What the documentary didn’t mention is that there was a history of mental illness with Cooke’s biological parents: His biological mother was schizophrenic, and his father was bipolar. There are no mental health experts interviewed in this documentary about people who believe that the world we live in isn’t real. That gives you an idea of how careless this documentary is.
“A Glitch in the Matrix” strangely and selectively mentions Cooke and Lee Boyd Malvo (also known as one of the DC Sniper serial killers) as the only two examples of people whose obsession with “The Matrix” and violent video games turned into homicide. Everyone knows that black people are not the vast majority of those who commit mass murders or serial killings of this type. And yet, “A Glitch in the Matrix” filmmakers show an appalling racist bias by only singling out black people as examples of those who’ve committed these violent crimes.
The movie gives a lot of screen time to archival footage of a 1977 speaking appearance given by sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, who’s cited as another major influence to people who believe that life is a simulation. Several of Dick’s novels and short stories have been adapted into movies, including 1982’s “Blade Runner,” 1990’s “Total Recall,” 2002’s “Minority Report” and 2011’s “The Adjustment Bureau.” The Amazon Prime Video series “The Man in the High Castle” was also based on one of his books.
“A Glitch in the Matrix” includes clips from several movies, such as “The Matrix,” “Total Recall,” “Minority Report,” 1997’s “Starship Troopers,” 1998’s “The Truman Show,” and 2009’s “Avatar.” All of these films have some version of the theme that humans are not as in control of their lives as they think they are because there are outside forces really in control or trying to invade humanity. The documentary also has several eye-catching animation clips, most notably Robert Crumb’s “Plato’s The Cave.”
“A Glitch in the Matrix” spends a lot of time discussing that people who believe that the world is really simulated are those who are usually addicted to video games. And yet, the filmmakers failed to include the perspectives of any video game developers or people who market video games. It’s a glaring oversight that shows how sloppily made and superficial this documentary is.
Some of the movie’s pace tends to drag because the rambling interviews get very boring after a while. The filmmakers also don’t confront a fact which seems pretty obvious from watching the type of people who get hooked on video games: These people have way too much time on their hands, which speaks to larger issues. There’s a certain amount of privilege that someone has to have to be able to spend all that time and money on video games.
“A Glitch in the Matrix” does a woefully inadequate job of addressing these socioeconomic issues. It’s a lot easier to want to escape into a video game world of shootouts and other mayhem if you don’t live in a gang-infested area or a war-torn environment. If any of these video game addicts who think the world isn’t real were taken out of the comfort of their homes and put in an actual war zone, they’d see how “real” the world is.
“A Glitch in the Matrix” doesn’t want to discuss how issues about mental health, substance abuse and socioeconomic status are major factors that link video game addiction to believing that the world isn’t real. The filmmakers just want to present a bright, shiny bubble of a documentary where the perspectives of people in one racial and gender demographic are given more importance over anyone else. And that lack of diversity is anything but what the real world looks like.
Magnolia Pictures released “A Glitch in the Matrix” in select U.S. cinemas and on digital and VOD on February 5, 2021.
For the first time, South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals will be held online for the 2021 edition of the event, which takes place March 16 to March 20, and has been dubbed SXSW Online. After being cancelled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, SXSW is following safety protocols to offer a virtual experience for SXSW attendees in 2021. SXSW is arguably the best-known event in the U.S. that combines music, film, interactive and convergence programming.
Here are some of the anticipated highlights of the festival:
Keynote and Featured Speakers
The lineup of SXSW keynote speakers includes:
Grammy-winning artist Willie Nelson
Politician, activist and author Stacey Abrams in conversation with author N.K. Jemisin
Featured speakers include:
Author James Altucher
Favor president/CEO and H-E-B Chief digital officer Jag Bath in conversation with Inc editor-at-large Tom Foster
Talk show host/comedian Samantha Bee
Oregon congressman and Congressional Cannabis Caucus founder Earl Blumenauer with Politico federal cannabis policy reporter Natalie Fertig
Business mogul and Virgin Airlines founder Sir Richard Branson
Oscar-nominated film composer Nicholas Britell
Hip-hop artist Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky)
Filmmaker Erin Lee Carr
Electronic dance music duo The Chainsmokers
Entrepreneur Mark Cuban
Interdisciplinary artist Torkwase Dyson
Relativity Space co-founder/COTim Ellis
Dance choreographer Laurieann Gibson
Author/psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb
Schwab executive vice president and chief digital officer Neesha Hathi
Singer/songwriter Imogen Heap
Oscar-wining filmmaker Barry Jenkins
Affectiva co-founder/CEO Dr. Rana el Kaliouby
Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson in conversation with Self magazine editor-in-chief Carolyn Kylstra
Twilio co-founder/CEO Jeff Lawson
Computer scientist Kai-Fu Lee
Grammy-winning rapper and “NCIS: Los Angeles” actor LL Cool J
Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey in conversation with Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber
International yoga teacher, actress, writer and entrepreneur Adriene Mishler
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian
Actor, filmmaker, author, and Olympic athlete Alexi Pappas
Sony Music Publishing chairman/CEO Jon Platt in conversation with Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Carole King
Emmy-winning producer, Grammy-winning artist and actress Queen Latifah
Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke
NFL football player Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
NFL football player Sebastian Tomich
NBA basketball star Chris Webber
Grammy-winning artist Wyclef Jean
Descriptions courtesy of SXSW:
Alexi Pappas & Bill Hader on Being a Bravey – A conversation with Olympian, actress, and author of the bestselling book Bravey, Alexi Pappas, in conversation with Emmy award-winning actor, filmmaker and creator/star of “Barry,” Bill Hader. Pappas and Hader will discuss their evolving relationship with mental health in their creative, professional, and personal lives, and on the lessons they’ve learned from mentors along the way.
Are We the Smartest Kids on the Block? – A conversation with Harvard University Professor of Science Avi Loeb, and New Scientist reporter Leah Crane about the search for extraterrestrial life, one of the most exciting frontiers in astronomy. With the recent discoveries on the cloud deck of Venus and studies of the weird interstellar object `Oumuamua’, find out how the search for unusual electromagnetic flashes, industrial pollution of planetary atmospheres, artificial light or heat, artificial space debris or something completely unexpected holds the promise of advancing and maturing both science and society.
Beyond the Gender Binary – With increasing recognition of the fluidity of gender, the time has come for a 21st century approach to gender justice. Dividing billions of people into one of two categories “man or woman” is not natural, it is political. Gender diversity is an integral part of our existence. It always has been, and it always will be. The gender binary – the idea that there are only two separate and opposite genders – was built to create conflict and division, not foster creativity and humanity. In this conversation ALOK and Demi Lovato will speak about the status of trans rights in the United States and the power of creative self-expression in the face of gender norms.
Bruce Mau: Designing for the Cluster – Bruce Mau applies his MC24 design principles and his new life-centered approach to confronting the simultaneous cluster cascade of crisis that he calls “The Cluster: Pandemics – Racial and Social Justice – Climate – Food Insecurity – Governance.” In this conversation with philosopher and writer Sanford Kwinter, Mau will demonstrate that all of these global challenges are interrelated and that they have their origin in a fundamental crisis of empathy.
Building Equity In Startup Communities – A discussion about scaling equity throughout the technology, startup, and venture ecosystem to ensure a path to shared prosperity for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous People of Color in the fourth industrial revolution and beyond. Foundry Group and Techstars co-founder Brad Feld, and 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund and Opportunity Hub co-founder Rodney Sampson will discuss their strategies for operationalizing diversity, equity and inclusion in the startup ecosystem, moderated by Business Insider reporter Dominic-Madori Davis.
Can 5G Transform the Live Music Experience? – In the last year we have felt the absence of live music. Artists have stepped up and gotten creative to reach fans virtually with some amazing results – but it can’t replace the impact of live performances. As we look forward to the return of live music, artists have a new platform to help deliver innovative experiences – 5G. The next generation of cellular delivers capabilities that can take the live experience to new levels of immersion and unlock new opportunities for artist creativity. Join Cristiano Amon, President and CEO-elect of wireless leader Qualcomm, and Grammy-nominated DJ Steve Aoki and hear from two visionaries about the future of the live experience in a 5G world.
The Chainsmokers on launching MANTIS VC – Grammy Award-winning and Billboard Chart topping artist/producer duo, The Chainsmokers, are a dominating musical force with a diverse repertoire of songs that have led them to become one of world’s biggest recording artists. Alex Pall and Drew Taggart have expanded The Chainsmokers’ empire into film and television, tequila, philanthropy, and most recently their venture capital firm Mantis. Hear their story on how the duo have evolved their music career into so much more with Andreessen Horowitz Managing Partner Chris Lyons.
A Conversation with Desus Nice and The Kid Mero – A conversation with multi-talented comedians, authors of the New York Times bestseller “God-Level Knowledge Darts: Life Lessons from the Bronx,” co-hosts of Showtime’s first late-night talk show “Desus & Mero” and the long-running Bodega Boys podcast, Desus Nice and The Kid Mero.
A Conversation with Noah Hawley and Andrew Bird – Set in Kansas City 1950, Fargo’s fourth installment follows two crime syndicates jockeying to control an alternate economy of exploitation and graft while fighting for a piece of the American dream. Join Noah Hawley (creator / executive producer / director / writer) and Grammy Award-nominated musician Andrew Bird for a not-to-be-missed conversation about how a concert in Austin lead to Bird’s acting debut in “Fargo.” Moderated by Whitney Friedlander. All four installments of the critically acclaimed limited series are currently available to stream on FX on Hulu.
A Conversation with the Russo Brothers and Elizabeth Banks – A fireside chat between visionary directors/producers Anthony and Joe Russo (“Welcome to Collinwood,” “Arrested Development,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Relic,” “Mosul” and “Cherry”) and acclaimed actress, director, writer, and producer Elizabeth Banks (“Charlie’s Angels,” “The Hunger Games” and “Shrill”). Banks will talk to the Russo Brothers about their new film “Cherry,” as well as the work they are doing with their company, AGBO. “Cherry” stars Tom Holland and is based on the critically acclaimed debut novel by Nico Walker. It will be released in theaters in February and on Apple TV+ in March.
COVID-19: The New Reality – Dr. Michael Osterholm, joined by health economist Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, will speak to the SXSW community about what is next in the fight against COVID-19. From the immediate concerns around new variants to the “collateral damage” we face from this pandemic, Dr. Osterholm and Ms. Sarasohn-Kahn will share insights to help navigate public health in 2021 and beyond.
Evolving the Gaming Industry with CouRage & Loaded – Gaming is taking off and bringing new opportunities for creators, brands and entertainment companies. Loaded, the leading management company for some of the world’s biggest professional gamers will host a special Q&A with leading content creator CouRage to examine the state of the today’s gaming industry and how the creator community has evolved the business for the better. The talk with Loaded VP of Talent Bridget Davidson will highlight key learning from CouRage’s successful career, as well as spotlight how brands and other non-endemic companies can work with creators to capture both eyeballs and engagement.
Forging a New Social Contract for Big Tech – Beyond privacy, revised liability laws can hold companies accountable for what they disseminate online. Antitrust actions could check the flow of wealth to the small number of companies that control platforms, aggregators, and algorithms. A lightweight horizontal regulation could add a safety layer to the high-risk applications of artificial intelligence. This discussion features U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar; Denmark tech ambassador Anne Marie Engtoft Larsen; Executive Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager; and President & Co-founder Center for Humane Technology Tristan Harris. The session will focus on the role for technology companies in the 21st Century and what a new “social contract” could look like for Big Tech – in both Europe and the United States.
Gene Editing: The Biotech Revolution of our Times – Bestselling author Walter Isaacson has established himself as the biographer of creativity, innovation, and genius. He wrote about Einstein, a genius of the revolution in physics, and Steve Jobs, a genius of the revolution in digital technology. Though the past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet, Isaacson argues we are now on the cusp of a third revolution in science—a revolution in biochemistry that is capable of curing diseases, fending off viruses, and improving the human species. With the invention of CRISPR, we can edit our DNA. CRISPR has been used in China to create “designer babies” that are immune from the AIDS virus and in the U.S. to cure patients of sickle cell anemia. With the life-science revolution, children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study the code of life — and all the moral dilemmas this brings. Isaacson will be joined in conversation with award-winning journalist, New York Times bestselling author, and a co-founder of Stand Up to Cancer Katie Couric.
Indigenous Peoples Hold the Key to Saving Earth – For centuries, Indigenous communities have served as guardians of the environment, protecting nature, respecting flora and fauna, and using traditional knowledge and wisdom passed down over generations. They safeguard 80% of biodiversity left in the world, which is key to turning around the climate crisis, as biodiverse areas are major carbon sinks. In this panel, Nemonte Nenquimo, a leader from the Waorani community in Ecuador and founding member of Indigenous-led nonprofit organization Ceibo Alliance and Amazon Frontlines speaks with Julia Jackson, Founder of Grounded.org, to discuss why climate philanthropy must be reimagined to protect the future of our planet, by directing resources to indigenous communities who are at the frontlines of our climate emergency.
Immersive Retail: Connected Shopping in a New Era – A conversation about the acceleration in changes to the retail environment and what major initiatives the retail industry is pursuing to enable the widespread proliferation of AR/VR and 3D content for e-commerce and retail with TechTalk/Studio president and co-founder Kevin O’Malley, IBM Global Business Strategy Partner Silke Meixner, and Unity Head of Industry Verticals, Operate Solutions, Tony Parisi.
Late Night Girls Club: Samantha Bee & Amber Ruffin – Samantha Bee (host and executive producer of the WGA nominated, Emmy Award-winning show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee) in conversation with Amber Ruffin (writer, executive producer and host of WGA Award-nominated series The Amber Ruffin Show). The two will discuss the trials and tribulations of covering politics in today’s unpredictable climate from a unique, comedic point of view. As the longest running correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Bee eventually went out on her own in 2016 with Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. The show continues to use political satire to entertain, educate, and empower viewers while keeping the government in check. Ruffin is also an Emmy and WGA Award-nominated writer and performer for Late Night with Seth Meyers, and was the first African American female to write for a late-night network talk show in the U.S.
Live Music in Venues: What’s Next? – 2020 was a year of catastrophic impact for the live music industry as the pandemic brought the industry to a screeching halt. A year later, this session brings together independent venue perspectives from across the US., including Troubadour talent booker Amy Madrigali, Iridium director of artist relations & programming Grace Blake, First Avenue Productions president and CEO Dayna Frank and moderated by Pollstar, VenuesNow executive editor Andy Gensler. How have they been able to support developing talent? What’s ahead for their establishment and how they can get back to supporting a full schedule of acts?
Melinda Gates + Kelly Corrigan Talk Big Change – For more than two decades, Melinda Gates has been on a mission. Her goal, as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been to find solutions for people with the most urgent needs, wherever they live. Throughout this journey, she has come to a critical conclusion: when we lift up women, we lift up humanity. In conversation with podcaster, PBS host, and bestselling author Kelly Corrigan, Gates will discuss her bestselling book, “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World,” and its stories of the empowered women Gates has met over the years. Gates will talk about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s work around family planning, education, and gender equality, and she will call us to action—urging us to drive progress in our homes, workplaces, and communities.
Music’s Limitless Variations – Hear from Lenzo Yoon, the Global CEO of BTS’ label Big Hit Entertainment (hereafter referred to as Big Hit), as he explains how Big Hit was able to see what comes next, as well as prepare for the future at every critical juncture, and share Big Hit’s past, present and tomorrow. Yoon presents prospects and insights on the future of the K-pop industry and, furthermore, on the future of the global entertainment industry.
Ocean Storytelling with James Cameron & Brian Skerry – Join world-renowned filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer at Large James Cameron and National Geographic Explorer and Photographer Brian Skerry on a guided adventure into the deep blue to discuss the upcoming Disney+ original documentary series Secrets of the Whales. Filmed over three years in 24 locations, avid underwater conservationists Cameron and Skerry join forces to deliver an epic, awe-inspiring look at the incredible life and culture of whales and how the world’s largest mammals are facing the challenge of an ever-changing ocean. Moderated by OceanXplorers executive producer Orla Doherty.
The Quest Effect: Inside VR’s Next Chapter – Anyone who has entered virtual reality knows what a transformative experience donning a headset can be. Until recently, that experience was enjoyed mainly by hard-core VR enthusiasts. This year, all-in-one VR has become better, more powerful, and more affordable, expanding and changing the makeup of who spends time in VR. Now, that new group is discovering how great VR can be — not only for games, but also for fitness, media, hangouts with friends, and even real work. Join Mark Rabkin, Vice President of Oculus at Facebook, for a discussion about the future of VR, its changing ecosystem, and what its recent success means for the development of the next computing platform.
STARZ’S “Power” Universe Collides – Join STARZ’S Power Universe co-creator, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson; Power Book II: Ghost cast: Michael Rainey Jr., Mary J. Blige, and Cliff “Method Man” Smith; Power Book III: Raising Kanan cast: Mekai Curtis and Patina Miller; and Power Book IV: Force lead: Joseph Sikora, for the first time ever as the Power Universe collides. Moderated by media personality and bestselling author Angie Martinez, Power stars will discuss: the legacy of the Power Universe, the latest on upcoming seasons, the future and fate of new and iconic characters.
Ted Lasso: Emotion in the Edit – Join producers and members of the Ted Lasso editorial team in a panel discussion on the magic of Bill Lawrence shows (Scrubs, Cougar Town, Spin City) and how editorial is the true partner in landing the jokes, drawing out emotion, and making it feel like you’re spending 30 minutes with your long time pack of friends. American Cinema Editors (ACE) CinemaEditor Magazine writer Nancy Jundi will moderate the panel with representatives from the Ted Lasso creative and editorial team (Bill Lawrence, Kip Kroeger, Melissa McCoy, and A.J. Catoline) to elaborate on the many considerations that go into building and honoring a character across episodes, seasons and a series.
Who Controls the Past: The Tulsa Race Massacre – How is it possible that the 1921 massacre of as many as thousands of Black people in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was almost erased from US history? And why is it finally penetrating the national consciousness? Featured in HBO’s The Watchmen and Lovecraft Country, this history survived because of the dedicated efforts of Black Tulsans, including the descendants of survivors, who have made it their life’s work to uncover what really happened and make sure we never forget. This session, moderated by Jeffery Robinson from Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, examines the work of activists Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, Chief Egunwale F. Amusan, and Kristi Orisabiyi Williams to take control of the historical narrative, and in so doing, to force a reckoning on racial justice in this country and a long overdue conversation on reparations for Black Americans.
Why Do We Fear Innovation? – A conversation featuring actress, author, and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik and historian, philosopher, and bestselling author Yuval Noah Harari, moderated by Tech Open Air founder Niko Woischnik. From the printing press to vaccines to artificial intelligence, the introduction of almost any transformative technology has been met with wonder as well as fear and rejection. Many of history’s greatest inventors were considered heretics – the archetype of the mad scientist exists for a reason. Why does the new still scare us? What does it take to build acceptance for transformative ideas? How does the unprecedented scientific progress to deliver COVID vaccines influence this? What role does disinformation play in shaping our fears? How can we ensure innovators consider ethical issues, so outcomes can lead to the betterment of people and the planet? What can innovators learn from artists and creators of fiction? Presented by Leaps by Bayer and Tech Open Air Berlin.
Why The Music Biz is Buzzing About the Metaverse – In the midst of the 2020 global pandemic, one of the biggest concerts ever took place in the virtual worlds of Roblox. Two-time Grammy Award winner Lil Nas X gave a performance debut of his new single ‘Holiday’ and other top hits, dancing and socializing with fans, and attracting over 30 million concert views in this revolutionary music experience. The concert’s unprecedented success was made possible by the Metaverse, a social and technological phenomenon driven by a new generation growing up online and global platforms paving a new way for people to be together, even when they can’t in person. Hear from Maverick Management music manager Zach Kardisch, futurist and CEO of Futures Intelligence Group Cathy Hackl, Roblox Global Head of Music Jon Vlassopulos, and Columbia Records SVP, Experiential Marketing and business development Ryan Ruden about how the Metaverse is shaping the future of music business, today.
Breaking the Sonic Color Line: A discussion about authenticity of voice in media, defeating racial stereotypes in voice acting, the impact of race in audio ads and how the industry can come together and make real change featuring DJ, actress and entrepreneur MC Lyte; Pandora Group Creative Director Roger Sho Gehrmann; and voice-over and television actress Joan Baker.
The Chainsmokers on launching MANTIS VC: Grammy Award-winning and Billboard Chart topping artist/producer duo, The Chainsmokers, are a dominating musical force with a diverse repertoire of songs that have led them to become one of world’s biggest recording artists. Alex Pall and Drew Taggart have expanded The Chainsmokers’ empire into film and television, tequila, philanthropy, and most recently their venture capital firm Mantis. Hear their story on how the duo have evolved their music career into so much more.
A Conversation with Icons Queen Latifah and LL COOL J: From the mic to the big screen, award-winning rappers, actors and producers Queen Latifah and LL Cool J have been major forces in the entertainment industry for over three decades. Queen Latifah executive produces and stars as the first female Equalizer, Robyn McCall, in the reimagining of the series Equalizer, and LL Cool J stars as Special Agent Sam Hanna on “NCIS: Los Angeles.” Join them for a lively, in-depth conversation about their illustrious careers in music, television and movies (in front and behind the cameras), the cultural resonance and timeliness of their series, and much more.
From Moonlight to The Underground Railroad: Barry Jenkins & Composer Nicholas Britell: A conversation with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barry Jenkins and with Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning composer Nicholas Britell (Succession), where they will discuss the joy, delicate nuances, challenges and unexpected discoveries from their work together. The pair will talk about their unique creative process in building a singular audiovisual identity with a specific focus on their upcoming Amazon Original limited series, The Underground Railroad, based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name. Jenkins and Britell first collaborated on Moonlight, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. During the making of Moonlight, the duo formed an inimitable rapport that brought them back together again for If Beale Street Could Talk. The Underground Railroad will stream in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide on Amazon Prime Video in 2021.
Hi, I’m Dave: Hailed by Rolling Stone as one of the best TV shows of 2020, FXX’s DAVE is based on the life of Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky), and centered on a neurotic man who’s convinced himself that he’s destined to be one of the best rappers of all time. The critically-acclaimed first season explored ambition, mental illness and masculinity in the world of hip-hop. Join co-creator/executive producer/writer/star Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky), co-creator/executive producer Jeff Schaffer, executive producer Saladin Patterson and series star GaTa for DAVE’s first panel at SXSW. Season 1 is available on FX on Hulu; season two will premiere on FXX in 2021.
How GenZ Duets the News on TikTok: Hear about tactics publishers are using to build relationships with young audiences on TikTok, and the content that moves audiences to action with The Washington Post video producer Dave Jorgenson; NowThis politics producer Ian McKenna; and content creator Jackie James.
Leading Safely + Motivating Empathetically: Learn how the hospitality industry have changed their tactics to adapt to the ever-changing health and wellness regulations and lead, motivate and engage their employees, colleagues and communities; eaturing Blackberry Farm Vice President of Food & Beverage Andy Chabot; Food & Wine editor-in-chief Hunter Lewis; executive chef and Cúrate Bar de Tapas and La Bodega by Cúrate co-owner Katie Button; and award-winning chef and activist Marcus Samuelsson
.Making Emotional Connections With Volumetric Video: Hear from three seasoned creatives on the most effective way to make emotional connections through volumetric video with writer, director, and new media artist Illya Szilak; Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Capture Studios creative director Jason Waskey, and producer and Atlas V co-founder Antoine Cayrol.
RIP Live Shows? Concerts in the Time of COVID: A conversation about the ways the live/touring industry are trying to stay afloat, what’s working, what isn’t, and what still needs to be done to save the music we love, featuring Driift general manager Adam Shore; Panache Booking and Panache Management founder Michelle Cable; and Paradigm Talent Agency Executive, Wilder Records founder and Home School co-founder Tom Windish.
There are normally about 2,000 artists who perform at SXSW every year. However, due to nightclub closures, the performance lineup has been reduced for 2021. Some of the announced artists who will be performing virtually include Indigo Sparke, Place to Bury Strangers, Francisca Valenzuela, Squid, Grrrl Gang, Darkoo, Samantha Sanchez, Holy Fuck, Astrid Sonne, NAYANA IZ, and Jealous
Showcases and presenters include AfroFuture Sounds (British Underground & DAJU Presents), Hotel Vegas & Hotel Free TV, Damnably, EQ Austin, Jazz re:freshed Outernational, FOCUS Wales, Roskilde Festival, Taiwan Beats, Close Encounter Club, Sounds from Spain, M for Montreal, Flipped Coin KOREA, Carefree Black Girl, New Zealand Music, KUTX The Breaks, Dedstrange, Fierce Panda x End of the Trail, Brazil Inspires the Future, and ÅÄÖ…Sounds Swedish.
Movie and TV Premieres
SXSW has a wide variety of feature-length and short films. In 2021, the SXSW Film Festival has music documentaries as its opening, centerpiece and closing films. “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” is the opening film, the Charli XCX quarantine chronicle “Alone Together” is the centerpiece, and “Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free” is the closing film.
Here are some of the more high-profile feature films that will have their world premieres at the festival: The psychological thriller “Here Before,” starring Andrea Riseborough as a woman questioning reality. The drama “Language Lesson,” starring Natalie Morales and Mark Duplass as a Spanish teacher and her student who become friends. And the superhero action flick “The Spine of Night,” starring Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Betty Gabriel and Joe Manganiello. Documentary world premieres include “United States vs. Reality Winner”; “Introducing, Selma Blair”; “WeWork: or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn”; “Hysterical,” about female stand-up comedians;
TV shows that will have episodes premiering at SXSW 2021 include Starz’s “Confronting a Serial Killer,” showrunner Po Kutchins and director Joe Berliner’s chronicle of the relationship between serial killer Sam Little and author Jillian Lauren; HBO Max’s “Made for Love,” starring Cristin Milioti as a divorcée who’s out for revenge; and the third season of Starz’s “The Girlfriend Experience” and Amazon Prime Video’s thriller series “Them.”
Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in rural Wyoming, the dramatic film “Land” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with one Latino and some Native American) representing the middle-class and working-class.
Culture Clash: A depressed, middle-aged widow, who is grieving over the loss of her husband and son, decides to isolate herself in a remote mountain cabin without knowing a lot of basic survival skills.
Culture Audience: “Land” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in a movie about coping with grief where the acting is better than some of the plot developments.
The dramatic film “Land” is a lot like the rural mountainous area that serves as the backdrop of this story. There are peaks and valleys and a lot of spaces to fill in between, with some parts handled in a rougher way than others. “Land” is the feature-film directorial debut of actress Robin Wright, who also stars in the movie, which had its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
“Land” features a lot of scenes of her Edee Holzer character in solitude and sometimes dealing with dangerous elements of the terrain. The performances of Wright and co-star Demián Bichir (the two actors who have the most screen time in the film) elevate “Land” to make it easier to watch this mostly grim and sometimes uplifting movie. It’s a solid directorial debut from Wright, who manages to bring emotional gravitas to a character who remains an enigma for almost the entire movie.
“Land” is supposed to take place mostly in Wyoming, but the movie was actually filmed primarily in Moose Mountain in the Canadian province of Alberta. As a director, Wright displays talent in how striking and immersive she can make the movie’s scenes look, physically and emotionally. (Bobby Bukowski was the cinematographer for “Land.”)
Where the movie needed improvement most was in the screenplay written by Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam. The story dips a little too much into some formulaic “life in the wilderness” tropes before trying to throw in some tearjerking sentimentality during a certain part of the movie where it’s expected. Still, there’s enough to hold people’s interest for anyone curious to see how the movie ends.
The beginning of “Land” shows Edee (whose name is pronounced “ee-dee”) in a therapy session. The therapist asks Edee, “How are you feeling right now?” Edee replies, “I’m feeling like it’s really difficult to be around people because they just want me to get better. Why would anybody want to share it that? They can’t anyway.” The therapist says, “But that means you’re alone with your pain.”
Edee is about to be “alone with her pain” for a lot of this story. The next thing you know, she’s packed up a U-Haul, thrown away her cell phone, and headed to a run-down remote cabin in the mountains. The previous owner was an elderly man who passed away years ago. The person renting out the property is a man named Colt (played by Brad Leland), who meets her at the cabin to make sure that Edee has what she needs to move into the place.
Edee knows that the house hasn’t been cleaned or repaired in a long time, but she tells Colt that she doesn’t care. She also asks Colt to have someone pick up the rental car with the U-Haul. Colt expresses concern that Edee would be in this isolated area without a car, but she assures him that this is how she wants to live. Colt also asks Edee if she knows how to take care of herself in this rural environment, but she shrugs off his doubts. Edee also makes it clear to him that she wants to be left alone.
It turns out that Edee is woefully unprepared for what she experiences in this mountain area. Cleaning up the cabin (which has no indoor plumbing or electricity) is easy compared to dealing with freezing temperatures, finding fresh food, and being on the alert for the occasional wild bear. (You can easily predict how the bear scenario goes.) Edee doesn’t even know how to chop wood or go fishing when she starts living at the cabin, but she learns how through trial and error.
During her period of complete isolation, Edee has flashbacks to three very important people in her life: Her husband Adam (played by Warren Christie), their son Drew (played by Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) and Edee’s sister Emma (played by Kim Dickens), who’s close to Edee’s age. Emma was the one who recommended the therapist whom Edee was seeing before Edee decided to leave her old life behind and go “off the grid” to live in solitude.
As soon as the flashbacks start about Adam and Drew (who’s about 7 or 8 years old in the flashbacks), it’s obvious that they have died and that’s why Edee is so depressed. The flashbacks show that Edee and Emma had a very close relationship, but their closeness wasn’t enough for Edee to overcome her depression. An incident is shown that indicates that at one point, Emma was afraid that Edee might harm herself.
Why was Edee so unprepared to be in this rural environment? It turns out she kind of has a death wish that’s not really suicidal, but more like “I’m going to rough it in the wilderness, and if I can’t handle it, oh well …” But there are moments, such as when she has a bear encounter and some other near-disasters, where she does show a will to survive.
Edee is very aware that she’s ill-prepared to last long in this environment unless she knows how to catch her own food. During the harsh winter, there are no plants or fruit to eat. And through a series of circumstances, all the non-perishable food that was in the cabin is now gone.
Therefore, during a brutal winter, Edee begins to starve and almost freeze to death. She eventually collapses from hunger and hypothermia in the living room of her house, and she wakes up at night to find that a man and a woman have come to her rescue. The man’s name is Miguel Borras (played by Bichir) and the woman is a nurse named Alawa Crowe (played by Sarah Dawn Pledge), who gives Edee the necessary medical treatment because Edee refuses to be taken to a hospital.
It’s revealed later in the movie that Edee was found because Miguel had passed by the house when he had gone hunting earlier that day and noticed that smoke was coming out of the house’s chimney. When he passed by later that evening after his hunting trip, he noticed that there was no smoke coming from the chimney, so he went to investigate. When Miguel saw an unconscious Edee in the house, he called Alawa. Miguel and Alawa know each other because as part of his job, he delivers water to the Native American reservation where she lives.
Alawa voices her suspicions to Edee in asking her why Edee is avoiding being around people. Edee assures Alawa and Miguel that she’s not an outlaw or someone who’s trying to hide for shady reasons. Alawa still looks skeptical, but Miguel is more compassionate and understanding. He offers to help Edee recover at home instead of taking her to a hospital. Alawa reluctantly agrees.
After Edee recovers from her near-death experience, Miguel comes back to her house (against her wishes) and tells her that he wants to teach her how to hunt and trap animals for food. (This is not a good movie to watch if you’re a hardcore vegan or vegetarian, although nothing gets too graphic in the hunting scenes.) Miguel tells Edee that after she’s learned these skills, he will leave her alone.
And it should come as no surprise that Edee and Miguel end up becoming close, and she lets him hang out with her longer than she originally expected. There are many scenes of them forming a gradual friendship while Miguel teaches Edee how to catch her own food. Miguel has a German Shepherd named Potter as his constant companion, and Edee grows fond of the dog too, even though she told Miguel that she’s more of a cat person.
Eventually, Miguel opens up to Edee and tells her that he’s a widower whose wife and daughter were killed in a car accident. Edee remains vague about her past when she interacts with Miguel, and she will only say with pain in her eyes, “I had a family once.” Toward the end of the movie, it’s revealed how Edee’s husband and son died.
Miguel is the type of person who offers sage advice in the way that people do in movies like this one, where the right person comes along at the right time. He’s a true gentleman who doesn’t try to take advantage of someone who’s living in isolation. Some of his dialogue can be on the corny side, such as when he lectures Edee about her starvation collapse: “Only a person who’s never been hungry would think starvation is a good way to die.”
But there are some whimsical moments that lighten the mood, such as a running joke that Miguel and Edee have over how off-key he is when he sings Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” which seems to be one of his favorite songs. Edee also affectionately gives Miguel the nickname Yoda, in a nod to the wise and prophetic “Star Wars” character. She’s shocked when Miguel tells her that he’s never seen a “Star Wars” movie.
To its credit, “Land” does not fall into a “romance novel” cliché trap of having a woman being “rescued” by a handsome stranger, and then they fall in love and live happily ever after. That’s not to say that Edee and Miguel don’t have a deep emotional connection. But having them go down a “romance novel” route wouldn’t ring true, since Edee has a lot of self-healing to do and isn’t ready to jump into another serious relationship.
However, some details of “Land” also needed more authenticity. Throughout the movie, Edee is dressed a little too much like a catalogue model for outdoorsy clothing when she’s supposed to be someone who’s given up on life and wants to be alone. Why bother dressing up if she doesn’t want to be seen by anyone? Edee’s “no makeup” look and unfussy hair look realistic, but her clothing sometimes does not.
Those are minor flaws though, because the rapport between Edee and Miguel is what makes this movie worth watching. Because it takes a while to get to that point, some viewers might find “Land” to be a little too slow-paced in the first third of the movie. There’s not much about Edee’s background that is revealed, although it’s implied that Emma is Edee’s closest living relative.
The blanks aren’t completely filled in, and that’s probably because scenes were cut from the film. The Internet Movie Database page for “Land” lists several cast members playing characters who weren’t in the movie. It appears that there were more flashback scenes that didn’t make the final cut. Overall, “Land” is more of a somber character study of grief than a tension-filled wilderness saga, with enough glimmers of hope and empathetic performances that prevent the movie from being completely depressing.
Focus Features will release “Land” in U.S. cinemas on February 12, 2021. The movie’s VOD release date is March 5, 2021.