“Blockers is a story that deals with, among other issues, young women and their sexuality and female empowerment,” she explains. “I couldn’t wait to take on that subject from my personal point of view. The fact that it’s an R-rated studio comedy made me want to do it even more given that so few women, in the history of film, have been offered the opportunity. I mean, five years ago, this comedy about teenage girls making a pact to lose their virginity probably would have been directed by a middle-aged white dude. That I got to do it means the world to me.”
Suzi Yoonessi, known as director of such films as Dear Lemon Lima and The Real Reason Women Don’t Direct More Action Movies joins SXSW’s Narrative Spotlight category with Unlovable, the story of a woman (Charlene deGuzman) who is seeking treatment for sex and love addiction. Melissa Leo and John Hawkes co-star in Yoonessi’s biggest project so far, and the director speaks warmly about bringing the timely film to this year’s festival.
“As a child, I learned from my grandmother that women are natural storytellers, so I’m thrilled to be part of this groundbreaking class of diverse directors at SXSW where minorities become the MAJORITY!” she enthuses. “I’m elated that Unlovable is premiering at a festival that’s paving the way for a new generation of female voices, and my inner riot grrrl is having a dance party [in] my heart.”Matching her enthusiasm is Miranda Bailey, the director behind the SXSW 2018 film You Can Choose Your Family, and producer of such films as Swiss Army Man, The Squid and the Whale and The Diary of a Teenage Girl. “I was very excited to see that there were so many female filmmakers this year,” she says. “It proves that we are out there! And like any filmmaker who is lucky enough to be invited to SXSW - whether or not they are a woman, dude or a Martian — I’m stoked to premiere my first feature film to the most fun and rowdiest audiences of all film festivals!”
You Can Choose Your Family takes place in 1992 and follows the contentious relationship between grunge-loving Phillip (Logan Miller) and his strict father (Jim Gaffigan). The Narrative Spotlight film will have its World Premiere at this year’s festival.
Short filmmaker Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami of the docu-series Funny Girls are the minds behind The Breaker Upperers, an oddball outing from the producers of 2016 SXSW fan fave Hunt For the Wilderpeople. Both women are thrilled to bring their break-up comedy to the fest, with Sami saying: “I’m inspired by the many, many women stepping into traditionally male-dominated roles in the film industry. Girl power, yo! I look forward to checking out all their amazing work in Austin.”
See schedule.sxsw.com or the SXSW GO app for all SXSW Film Festival screening information. Also, look for SXSW conference programming related to “Empowerment, Inclusion, and Activism in Business and the Arts,” one of 12 significant trends for SXSW 2018.