South by Southwest Film Festival – Asian Presence 2023

We present the Asian films, shorts, music videos and VR Projects that will be screened at the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) which will take place from March 10 – 19, 2023 in Austin, Texas, USA.

Note: The list includes productions made by directors of Asian descent.

Narrative Feature Competition

Mustache by Imran J. Khan – USA | 2023 – 81 minutes | World Premiere

It’s the mid-90’s in Northern California and 13-year-old Pakistani-American Ilyas is facing a major crisis — his parents yanked him out of his comfortable Islamic private school and now he has to face life at public school. Ilyas’ fears about joining public school are made worse by insecurities due to his inescapable, prepubescent “Mustache.” Ilyas hatches a hilarious plan to return to his old school — but he must also learn to accept himself. (SXSW 2023)

Raging Grace by Paris Zarcilla – UK | 2023 – 99 minutes | World Premiere

A bold coming-of-rage story. Joy is an undocumented Filipina immigrant who is struggling to do the best she can for her daughter when she secures the perfect job; taking care of an extremely wealthy but terminal old man. The new position pays well and guarantees a roof over their heads but very soon, Joy and her daughter Grace start to realize everything is not as it seems. Something is festering beneath the surface, threatening all they have worked for. Deeply personal, “Raging Grace” is a nightmarish fever dream from an exciting new voice. (SXSW 2023)

Midnighters Section

Aberrance by Baatar Batsukh – Mongolia | 2022 – 75 minutes | North American Premiere

When city dwellers Erkhmee and Selenge arrive at an old cabin deep in the Mongolian wilds, a foreboding settles over the couple. Erkhmee’s seemingly keen desire to provide a safe and nurturing space for his artistic wife is at odds with the violent actions and mannerisms their quizzical neighbor observes. As the neighbor digs deeper for the reason behind this aberrant behavior, only more questions and trouble arise. (SXSW 2023)


It Lives Inside by Bishal Dutta – USA | 2023 – 99 minutes | World Premiere

Sam, an Indian-American teen, lives in an idyllic suburb with her conservative mother and her assimilated father. Sam’s cultural insecurities grow due to her estranged friend, Tamira, who mysteriously carries around an empty mason jar all the time. In a moment of anger, Sam breaks Tamira’s jar and unleashes an ancient Indian demonic force that kidnaps Tamira. Sam searches for Tamira, following the trail of a young man who performed a deadly ritual, until the demonic entity starts targeting her, murdering her boyfriend and shattering her reality with terrifying visions. Sam must band together with her parents and a sympathetic teacher to save Tamira and put an end to the terror of the demon. (SXSW 2023)

Independent TV Pilot Competition

A Guide To Not Dying Completely Alone by Yen Tan – USA | 2022 – 11 minutes | World Premiere

“A Guide to Not Dying Completely Alone” follows a gay Asian writer who passes out in a gay bar bathroom, wakes up in the hospital, and realizes he is detached from society. Terrified of dying alone, he decides to change his life for the better and chronicles his journey in a book he writes called “A Guide To Not Dying Completely Alone!” A bitchy “Eat, Pray, Love” for 2022, this show is about mortality, forgiveness, and starting over, all from a gay Asian perspective. But it isn’t about our differences, it’s about what makes us similar. And it isn’t about dying, it’s about how to live. (SXSW 2023)

Narrative Shorts Competition

Closing Dynasty by Lloyd Lee Choi – USA | 2022 – 17 minutes | North American Premiere

Queenie, a precocious 7 year-old, brims with confidence and swagger. She fearlessly scours the subways and streets of New York City searching for ways to make a dollar. From basketball charity schemes to peddling roses, Queenie is relentless and unstoppable. As we follow a day in her life, we ultimately wonder what Queenie’s true intentions are and why this little girl is working so hard on a school day. (SXSW 2023)

Graveyard of Horses by Xiaoxuan Jiang – China | 2022 – 17 minutes | North American Premiere

A frigid winter on the Mongolian steppe, an untimely snowstorm aggravated the lives of a pregnant herder and her 8-year-old daughter: the missing flock of sheep, the unborn child, the absent husband, traces of wolves…… everything led the mother and daughter to places they’ve never been. (SXSW 2023)

Slick Talk by Courtney Loo, David Karp – USA | 2022 – 9 minutes | World Premiere

“Slick Talk” follows Kiki, a Chinese-American rapper from New York, on the day she is supposed to meet with a connected music manager. Leading up to the meeting, Kiki feels judged by family and strangers alike for her life decisions; she knows it’s uncommon to see someone like herself enter the hip-hop arena, but she sadly underestimates the world’s ability to mislabel her. The story unfolds over a single day and culminates with the anticipated meeting with her potential manager. For Kiki, her Chinese-American identity and burgeoning hip-hop career are completely separate parts of who she is, but she slowly discovers that, to the people around her, they couldn’t be more intertwined. (SXSW 2023)

Take Me Home by Liz Sargent – USA | 2022 – 15 minutes | Texas Premiere

Anna is an adult with an Cognitive Disability living with her mother in Midland Florida. When her mother is unresponsive, she calls her sister for help, but without the language to be believed, Anna is brushed aside.

Emily returns home and is immediately engulfed in a futile struggle for medical information, while Anna’s world is deconstructed. In this sadness, Anna sees the bigger picture and with a straightforward strength, Anna holds her own. The uncertainty for the sisters’ future independence remains but they are now a team against all odds. (SXSW 2023)

Documentary Shorts Competition

Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó by Sean Wang – USA | 2022 – 16 minutes | World Premiere

Nǎi Nai (奶奶) is my grandma. Wài Pó (外婆) is also my grandma. Together, they are a grandma super team that dances, stretches, and farts their sorrows away.

Introducing: My Nǎi Nai (奶奶) & Wài Pó (外婆). I hope you love them as much as I love them. (SXSW 2023)

Midnight Shorts Competition

Kodama by Brian M Tang – USa | 2023 – 15 minutes | World Premiere

After a young Arthur stumbles into the spirit world, Hiro, his father, and captain of an elite SWAT Samurai team, rescues him from a terrifying Yokai Spirit, solidifying Arthur’s unrealistic admiration for his savior. Years later, Arthur prepares to enter the spirit world again with a squadron SWAT Samurai to recover Hiro and his team from another Yokai spirit, the Kodama. After battling their way through a swarm of Tengu, the team find Hiro. Unbeknownst to them, he is actually a Fox Spirit disguised as Arthur’s father. It will take Arthur’s discernment of who he wants his father to be verses who is father actually is in order to beat this shape-shifting Fox Spirit. (SXSW 2023)

Taxas Shorts Competition

When You Left Me On That Boulevard by Kayla Abuda Galang
USA | 2022 – 13 minutes | Texas Premiere

Teenager Ly and her cousins get high before a boisterous family Thanksgiving at their auntie’s house in southeast San Diego in 2006. Stoned and harboring a romance with her maybe-boyfriend, Ly moves through her family’s gossip, nosiness, and loudness until the day ends. (SXSW 2023)

Music Video Competition

Pranav Bhasin, Rohini Maiti – ‘Screaming on the Fly’ directed by Pranav Bhasin
India | 2022 – 4 minutes | International Premiere

George Carlin once famously said – “The planet is fine, the people are f**ked.” Shivi, an entitled city girl, has just realized she’s got nothing to wear for her big date. She has her eyes on something new. A red dress. But when she can’t attain it, her delicately balanced sense of sanity comes crashing down. Now she’ll go to any lengths to get it. Even if it means punching your best friend in the face. Because that dress? That dress means happiness. ‘Screaming on the Fly’, is steeped in the concept of excess. It’s the story of a girl trying to find satisfaction in a hyper-capitalistic world. When we’re always consuming, how much is enough? (SXSW 2023)

XR Experience Competition

Aespa VR Concert at Kwangya directed by Soo-man Lee
Korea, U.S. | 2023 – 20 minutes | World Premiere

Aespa is having their first concert at “Kwangya”, an unruled and infinite place. Users are invited to “Kwangya” by being virtually flown into the “Flat” where “aespa” and “ae-aespa” can “Synk” (“ae” is one’s alter ego in the virtual world with a free will of its own; “Synk” is a state of connection between human in the real world and their counterpart avatar). Fans will experience aespa and their stories up close and personally like never before in this VR Concert experience. (SXSW 2023)

Find WiiLii – Ep.1 The Gate-Crasher directed by Mina Hyeon, Sooyoung Choe, Whitton Frank
Korea | 2023 – 50 minutes | World Premiere

There is a world where a teleportation device has changed the future and lives of humanity with its first appearance, it has been commercialized. However, this device has a flaw: the traveler’s memory is lost with a 5% chance.

These lost memories are called “WiiLii,” which cause the machine to malfunction, so the service developer IIOIIG secretly operates a team “Find WiiLii” to eliminate WiiLii.

In the Find WiiLii experience, you discover hidden facts while working as a newcomer to this secretive ‘Find WiiLii’ team. (SXSW 2023)

Once a Glacier by Jiabao Li – USA | 2022 – 10 minutes | World Premiere

In Inupiaq tradition, glaciers carry memories from the past and communicate them in song. The climate crisis has become a terrifying reality that includes seeing the end of glaciers—the end of these sung histories—happen before our eyes. Glacial time, once was slow, is now fast. By telling the story of the life journey of glacier ice along with the life of a girl, the film makes this human-nature timescale tangible and warns the audience that the consequences of climate change are within our lifetimes. “Once a Glacier” shows a gesture of nurturing, and whether the girl’s efforts are successful or not, the work suggests a poignant level of grace and humility for moving forward into the future. (SXSW 2023)

The Eye and I Vol. I by Hsin-Chien Huang, Jean-Michel Jarre
Taiwan | 2022 – 55 minutes | International Premiere

This story comes from the French word “surveillance”, which in English originally referred to “eyes in the sky”, or a pair of eyes above us watching everything that happens below. “The Eye and I “is a VR work that reveals a surveillance crisis while inspiring audience self-reflection.” Viewers will be able to explore the origin and development of “The Eye and I”, and learn about the intertwined story of human society and “surveillance”. After a series of dark journeys, viewers learn how “surveillance” is embedded in our culture in various forms and even affects our perception of reality. “The Eye and I” aims to help people escape the surveillance framework and its constraints. (SXSW 2023)

Neo-Wulin: The Era of Black Ark by Guanyu – China | 2023 – 60 minutes | International Premiere

“The Black Ark” Sect is the first sect in the series IP of Neo-Wulin. The sect’s show, “The Era of Black Ark,” is a fantasy world between virtual and reality created by Neo-Wulin and folk singer Hongyu Chen. Based on Hongyu’s residency project “The Black Ark” in his hometown of Erguna, “The Era of Black Ark” creates an exhibition + concert experience in the virtual world, allowing the audiences and fans to immerse themselves in Hongyu’s creative environment and experience an audio-visual feast. (SXSW 2023)

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