The genre offerings aren’t just limited to the feature film categories at the SXSW Film Festival but television, too, among shorts, music videos, and beyond. The fest’s Episodic Premieres category offers world premieres of series slated for release, and many of this year’s premieres feature sci-fi, dystopian comic book adaptations, horror-thriller, and more. The best part is that they’re all heading to the small screen very soon.
Here’s a roundup of the SXSW genre series coming our way very soon.
When and Where to Watch: HBO Max on March 17
The four-episode miniseries, created by Roberto Patino, adapts the DC comic book series by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli. The dystopian series stars Rosario Dawson as Alma, an experienced nurse. She ventures into the demilitarized zone of Manhattan Island to search for the son she’d lost during evacuation in the Second Civil War. The lawlessness of the DMZ makes Alma’s journey more dangerous than the war-torn world outside its walls.
Episode one serves as a harrowing introduction to the gritty world and how it’s shaped the lives of those unable to flee six years ago, young and old alike. Dawson’s character serves as the audience proxy but offers hope in the bleak, cruel world. Benjamin Bratt costars as the charismatic but powerful leader in the DMZ. Ava DuVernay directs the first part, with Ernest R. Dickerson helming the remaining three episodes.
Swimming with Sharks
When and Where to Watch: The Roku Channel on April 15
Writer/Creator Kathleen Robertson draws inspiration from the 1994 psychological comedy-drama movie of the same name, spinning out a series that embraces a pulpy erotic psychological thriller tone. Kiernan Shipka stars as Lou, a new intern for one of Hollywood’s most notoriously cutthroat execs, Joyce Holt (Diane Kruger). The studio Holt works for is filled with schemers, backstabbers, and conniving Hollywood hopefuls attempting to get ahead. None of them realize the timid and mild Lou might be poised to outwit them all.
The premiere episode sets up Lou as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, hinting at a deeply disturbed individual with a specific goal in targeting Joyce. Why that is and what happened in her past remains to be revealed, but the pulpy ’90s thriller style ensures you’ll want to discover the answers.
The Man Who Fell to Earth
When and Where to Watch: Showtime on April 24
Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet developed a new sci-fi series based on Walter Tevis‘ novel and the iconic 1976 film starring David Bowie. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Faraday, an alien who’s arrived on Earth at a pivotal moment in history. Faraday is on a mission but must navigate the strangeness of his new terrain. Naomie Harris‘ Justin Falls becomes a vital part of Faraday’s mission, as well as an unwitting and sometimes resistant partner.
SXSW premiered the first two episodes, a heady and often unwieldy introduction to Faraday. The premiere perhaps too effectively captures the sensory overload and culture shock of dropping an alien into a brand-new world, making for a disorienting viewing experience. Glimpses of Faraday’s home world are the most visually impressive. Episode two begins to settle in, but this meditative exploration of being human teases a long, winding existential road ahead for Faraday and Justin.
Bill Nighy, Jimmi Simpson, Clarke Peters, Martha Plimpton, and Kate Mulgrew also star.
When and Where to Watch: Apple+ on April 29
Series creator and writer Silka Luisa adapts Lauren Beukes‘s twisty novel that centers around Kirby Mazrachi (Elisabeth Moss), a woman unbound by time and reality thanks to a brutal attack. As Kirby struggles to keep notes about her life’s details before it all shifts again, a killer (Jamie Bell) connected to her past hunts for new victims. Kirby teams with veteran reporter Dan Velasquez (Wagner Moura) to confront her past and understand her ever-shifting present.
Again, Moss nails the woman on the edge role, ideally suited to this grim, mind-bending thriller series. Based solely on the premiere, Bell looks poised to steal the show as the utterly creepy killer who methodically stalks his prey through time, including children.