May 29, 2023

SXSW was filled with so much to do and that included everything from tech, music and of course our reason for going FILMS! We managed to see a good amount of films from major studios but we always like to keep up with up and coming filmmakers. This is why the short film showcase is always important. Here are three films we had a chance to see at that festival.

Mother of Dawn

One of the shorts was a documentary called Mother of Dawn was one of our favorites. The film is directed by Janell Shirtcliff and tells the story of a religion called Vale do Amanhecer. We really enjoyed the film and found it very informative and interesting. The film left us wanting to see a feature length documentary on the subject and was done very well. Definitely one to check out.I will provide a synopsis of the short below from SXSW:

“In the early 1950s, in a remote corner of Brazil, a female truck driver named Tia Neiva started having visions of extraterrestrial spirits; shortly after, she began to gain a following, which led to her creation of a religion called Vale do Amanhecer (Valley of the Dawn) which practices various elements of Christianity, Spiritism, Umbanda, and religious beliefs in UFOs. In our documentary, Mother of the Dawn, we explore how this religion came to have 800,000 followers but is virtually unheard of to the rest of the world.”

Mother of Dawn

Vibrator Girl

The next short we had the chance to see was Vibrator Girl which was also part of the Midnighter shorts. This film was very dark and explored some topics that can be a bit much for some. I definitely will give a warning it does get graphic. It has an interesting premise that left me with some questions. It is a great body horror that has a lot of potential. The film is directed by Kara Strait and is produced by Morgane Ciot and Zoe Mintz from the production company Zorg Productions. I will provide the synopsis from SXSW below:

“An isolated young woman uses her vibrator compulsively — until it starts deforming her body in disturbing ways. To regain control and change the way she masturbates, she goes on a journey through a lurid underground of corporate neurologists and orgasm gurus, none of whom seem to have her best interests in mind. Ultimately, there’s little she can do to withstand her vibrator’s eerie influence.”

Vibrator Girl


Run was another short we had the chance to check out and this one was by far our favorite looking film. It had that technicolor look to it as well as just beautifully set up shots. The film was interesting and left me wondering more about the world it had us in. I do like when a film leaves you with questions especially a short film since it makes you want to see what more the filmmaker is capable of. Run is definitely a film that I would want to see more and I think director Alex Prager has a lot to offer. I will provide the synopsis below from SXSW:

“Directly responding to a period of cultural ambivalence and uncertainties, “Run” urgently examines the collective will to exist and explores the opportunities for empathy, participation, and the absurd present in everyday life.”


Dead Enders

The final short we saw was Dead Enders which reminded us a lot of early 2000’s horrors specifically, James Gunn’s Slither. This one was another that I would like to see more of for a potential feature length. I thought the performances were good and the story also was interesting. With a larger budget, Dead Enders could definitely become a cult-like movie since as it gave me vibes of earlier horror creature features. The film is done by Fidel Ruiz Haley and Tyler Walker. I will provide a synopsis from the SXSW page below:

“Disaffected, young gas-station clerk Maya doesn’t care about much besides messing with her manager and getting her beer discount at the end of the midnight shift. But after a sinister race of mind controlling parasites are set loose by irresponsible oil drillers, Maya realizes that there might be more to life than spending all your waking hours stacking shelves for a corporate overlord.”

Dead Enders

We always love seeing the shorts at any festival as it provides a lens as to what’s to come from future filmmakers. The three shorts definitely showcase some of these filmmakers talent as well as everyone involved. Make sure to keep following us here for more SXSW coverage!

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