LGBTQ+ highlights at SXSW Online 2021

Ahead of tomorrow’s SXSW Online 2021 launch, we take a look at some of the LGBTQ+ feature, short, episodic, VR, and panel discussion highlights at this year’s virtual festival. SXSW Online 2021 runs Tuesday March 16th to Saturday March 20th. Explore the full festival lineup at

SXSW Online 2021 LGBTQ+ Panels:

Expanding Queer Cinema at SXSW 2021

Before the official festival events kick off catch a live Zoom panel discussion tonight with some of the LGBTQ+ filmmakers premiering work at SXSW, featuring Adam Baran (Trade Center), Wes Hurley (Potato Dreams of America), Whitney Skauge (The Beauty President), Todd Stephens (Swan Song), and Mari Walker (See You Then). Panelists will discuss how they brought their films to life, the challenges they face as queer filmmakers in the current indie cinema landscape, and how to sustain a career as an LGBTQ+ filmmaker. Find out how these filmmakers are continuing to push the queer canon to be more representative and the lessons, and comfort, their unique visions offer audiences in these challenging times.  

Monday March 15th 6pm – 7:30pm CT


Omari Douglas in It’s A Sin. Chase Sui Wonders, Justice Smith & Uly Schlesinger. Courtesy of HBO Max.

LGBTQ+ Representation in TV: Genera+ion & It’s A Sin

Join HBO Max LGBTQ+ creators Russell T Davies (It’s A Sin) and Zelda Barnz and Daniel Barnz (Genera+ion) for a moderated fireside chat covering topics including how every generation forges its identity through art; the experiences Russell, Daniel and Zelda have pulled from their own lives to create these two projects with specific viewpoints about attitudes towards sexual identity in the 1980s and today; how the LGBTQ+ community is represented in their shows, and why championing more LGTBQ+ representation onscreen and behind-the-camera is still urgent and necessary.

Tuesday March 16th 11:15am – 12:10pm CT


Kris (Pooya Mohseni) and Naomi (Lynn Chen) continue their journey through the night in See You Then. Credit: Jordan T. Parrott.

See You Then

A decade after abruptly breaking up with Naomi (Lynn Chen), Kris (Pooya Mohseni) invites her to a dinner to catch-up on their complicated lives, relationships, and Kris’ transition. Over the course of their one night encounter, they engage in a series of increasingly intimate and vulnerable conversations, before a shocking secret is revealed. See You Then focuses on the universal truth that no matter how much you change, a part of you will always stay the same. Written and directed by Mari Walker, the cast also features Nican Robinson and Danny Jacobson.

World premiere: Tuesday March 16th 11am CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

William Basinski on stage. Credit: Sara Hogsten.

Disintegration Loops

A documentary that examines avant-garde composer William Basinski’s infamous work tied to 9/11 from a contemporary perspective in quarantine, as the 20th anniversary of that event approaches. The film examines William Basinski’s work from the lens of 2020 and looks back at the legacy of those tapes, and what inspired him. Basinski is an experimental composer, sound sculptor, and video artist. He is an experimentalist obsessed with reel-to-reel tape decks, splicing tape and spindling it. His musical signature is evidenced by deeply emotional sounds filled with multiple tones, drones, textures, and shades that are as hauntingly beautiful as they are somber. While he’s best-recognized for his career-defining 2002 album The Disintegration Loops, Basinski recorded and released new music prolifically, expanding on his beautiful and emotionally resonant sounds with albums like 2020’s mournful Lamentations.

World premiere: Tuesday March 16th 1pm CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

Potato Dreams of America. Photo: Vincent Pierce.

Potato Dreams of America

Wes Hurley’s autobiographical dark comedy about a gay boy growing up in the collapsing USSR, his courageous mail-order bride mother and their adventurous escape to Seattle in the 90s. Full of unexpected twists, the film is an immigrant’s take on the American Dream and the power of cinema, proving that life is often stranger than fiction. The cast features Tyler Bocock, Marya Sea Kaminski, Lea DeLaria, Dan Lauria, Jonathan Bennett, and Rizo aka Grammy-winning singer, comedian, and actress Amelia Zirin-Brown.

World premiere: Tuesday March 16th 12pm CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

Lucien Guignard, Idella Johnson and Hannah Pepper appear in Ma Belle, My Beauty by Marion Hill. Photo Lauren Guiteras.

Ma Belle, My Beauty

Newlywed musicians Bertie (Idella Johnson) and Fred (Lucien Guignard) are adjusting to their new life in the rural South of France. Lane (Hannah Pepper)—the quirky ex who disappeared from their three-way relationship years ago—suddenly shows up for a surprise visit, bringing new energy and baggage of her own. First-time feature filmmaker Marion Hill takes us on a tipsy, moody dive into polyamory that holds all of the gravity and complexity of sexual fluidity and triangulation, while maintaining the buoyant atmosphere of a hot summer adventure through the fields of Europe. Levitated by an intoxicating acoustic guitar soundtrack by Mahmoud Chouki.

Wednesday March 17th 5pm CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

Read our exclusive interview with filmmaker Marion Hill and stars Idella Johnson and Hannah Pepper.

Udo Kier in Swan Song. Courtesy of Todd Stephens.

Swan Song

Retired hairdresser Pat Pitsenbarger (Udo Kier) has given up on life from the confines of his small-town Sandusky, Ohio nursing home. When Pat receives word that a former client’s dying wish was for him to style her final hairdo, he sets out on an epic journey across Sandusky to confront the ghosts of his past, and collect the beauty supplies necessary for the job. Swan Song is a comical and bittersweet journey about rediscovering oneself, and looking gorgeous while doing so. Written, directed, and produced by Todd Stephens, the cast also features Jennifer Coolidge, Linda Evans, Michael Urie, Ira Hawkins, and Stephanie McVay.

World premiere: Thursday March 18th 1pm CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

Alone Together. Courtesy of SXSW Online 2021.

Alone Together

Global pop phenomenon Charli XCX was riding high when she had just finished an electric headline global tour, but despite her career success, she was personally unfulfilled, anxious, and her long-term relationship was on the brink. Lost in the early days of quarantine in 2020, Charli turned to music after announcing she would attempt to make an album at home in five weeks. The unique creative boundaries take Charli on a creative and emotional journey when she is forced to confront her relationship with work, rekindle her relationship with her boyfriend, and connect with vulnerable LGBTQ+ fans in need.

World premiere: Thursday March 18th 7pm CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

SXSW Virtual Cinema Spotlight:

Marisol Agostina Irigoyen plays 17-year-old Juana in 4 FEET HIGH. Credit: Natalia Roca.

4 Feet High

Directed by María Belén Poncio and Rosario Perazolo Masjoan, 4 Feet High the series which world premiered at Sundance, tells the story of Juana, a spunky 17-year-old in a wheelchair who aims to explore her sexuality but is ashamed of her body. SXSW Virtual Cinema Spotlight showcases the 4 Feet High VR experience focused on Juana’s perspective on life in four 360-degree episodes.

Tuesday March 16th 11am CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

The Passengers: Her & Him. Credit: Couzin Films & Les Produits Frais.

The Passengers: Her & Him

Enter the thoughts of one of the Passengers, and help them face a pivotal moment in their lives aboard this interactive VR experience, in which your gaze and voice influence the story. Directed by Ziad Touma, the voice over cast features Maxim Roy, Sébastien Chassagne, Évelyne Istria, Ethann Bergua Isidore, and Sebastian Marx.

Tuesday March 16th 11am CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT


Asha Reid and Paapa Essiedu in Femme. Credit: James Rhodes.


Jordan is a femme gay man – a label he wears proudly. But every time he steps out of the house with his lipstick on, he remembers his dad’s stark warning: the world will always be a dangerous place for a boy like him. After suffering heartbreak at a nightclub, Jordan meets Wes, a drug dealer, out on the street. Wes is flirtatious, masculine, and exactly the kind of boy Jordan’s dad warned him about. Throwing caution to the wind, Jordan gets in Wes’s car, and the night takes a dangerous turn…Written and directed by Ng Choon Ping and Sam H. Freeman, starring Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You) and Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats).

Tuesday March 16th 11am CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

Plaisir (Pleasure)

A lonely American faces unrequited love on a farm commune in the south of France. Written and directed by Molly Gillis, the cast features Eleanore Pienta, Sophie Amieva, and Alexandra Hollander.

Tuesday March 16th 11am CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

Trade Center. Credit: Daniel Lam.

Trade Center

The voices of five gay men who cruised for sex at the World Trade Center in the 1980s and 1990s haunt the sanitized, commerce-driven landscape that is the newly rebuilt Freedom Tower campus. Directed by Adam Baran, featuring Billy Miller and Dale Corvino.

Tuesday March 16th 1pm CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

The Beauty President. Courtesy of SXSW Online 2021.

The Beauty President

In 1992, drag queen Joan Jett Blakk made a historic bid for the White House as an openly queer write-in candidate. Today, Terence Smith, the man behind the persona, reflects back on his place in gay rights history at the height of the AIDS crisis. Directed by Whitney Skauge.

Tuesday March 16th 1pm CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

Still from “Our Bed is Green,” an animated short film by Maggie Brennan. | Credit: Maggie Brennan.

Our Bed is Green

A young woman seeks digital refuge from an overwhelming world and a bewildering obsession. Directed by Maggie Brennan.

Tuesday March 16th 3pm CT to Sunday March 21at 1am CT

Puss. Courtesy of SXSW Online 2021.


Multi-hyphenate Leah Shore returns to SXSX with their fifth film programmed at the festival. Loosely based on the filmmaker’s own experience, Puss is a surreal, scandalous, hilarious, and extremely relatable story of Samantha, who is spending the pandemic locked down alone, bored, and thirsty. Samantha’s search for close human contact only leads to frustration – until her pent-up desire bubbles over and explodes in a delirious fever dream.

Tuesday March 16th 9pm CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

Episodic Pilot Competition:

Angela (Anna Hopkins) and Ray (Julian De Zotti) just split in For The Record. Courtesy of SXSW Online 2021.

For the Record

Ray and Angela just broke up. What if music had the power to bring them back together? Follow the iconic songs that make up the unforgettable soundtrack for a uniquely interconnected cast of characters. Stars Anna Hopkins, Julian De Zotti. Showrunner: Julian De Zotti. Directors: Lisa Baylin and Julian De Zotti.

Wednesday March 17th 11am CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

Jamie introducing herself to her St. Mary’s High School religion class in Parked in America. Credit: San Yvin.

Parked in America

A half-hour YA drama following Jamie Park, a Korean teenager, who moves in with her relatives in Illinois after a family tragedy strikes back at home in Seoul. Showrunner Kayla Yumi Lewis and Luke Salin direct. The cast features Judy Song, Jeff Lawless, Solomon Abell, Ella Baker-Smith, Judy Han, Jim Cairl, Lexi Perkel, and MeeWha Alana Lee.

Wednesday March 17th 11am CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

In case of an intruder, always bring a pointy thing. Dale’s House. Credit: Ben Rutkowski.

Dale’s House

A horror comedy about two estranged best friends, both at rock bottom in their careers and personal lives, who end up house sitting together in a demonic building that grants them all the success they desire, in exchange for their souls. The cast features Julie Lake, Matt Kirsch, Sandi McCree, and Jeff Cahn. Showrunner: Julie Lake, Matt Kirsch, Director: Kat Whalen.

Wednesday March 17th 11am CT to Sunday March 21st 1am CT

SXSW Online 2021 runs Tuesday March 16th to Saturday March 20th. For the full festival lineup, and details on tickets and passes head to

Leave a Reply

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: