Three Chicago Films Set to Premiere at SXSW

Three Chicago Films Set to Premiere at SXSW

Three Chicago feature films will make their World Premiere at the prestigious South by Southwest Film Festival this March, in Austin, Texas. Let's take a look at the films and hear from the visionary women helming these projects...


Following the launch of her new novel, 35-year-old writer Kate Conklin (played by Gillian Jacobs) is invited to speak at her alma matter by her mentor and former professor (Jemaine Clement). After accepting the invitation, Kate finds herself deeply enmeshed in the lives of an eccentric group of college students.

Director Kris Rey returns to SXSW once again, as her first feature, IT WAS GREAT, BUT I WAS READY TO COME HOME, played in competition at SXSW in 2009, followed by her next feature, EMPIRE BUILDER (2012) and short film BABY MARY (2014). "Having I USED TO GO HERE premiere at SXSW is very meaningful to me," Rey told SCREEN. "SXSW is where I started my career and has always been a home for my work. I love the festival and, in my opinion, it’s the best place to premiere a comedy. I can’t wait to show people the special film that we’ve made."

Line Producer Mary Kay Cook added, "Making a film is hard, and making a good film is even harder. So it's lovely to share this moment with such a talented group of people who all worked tirelessly to bring Kris’ vision to life."

Click here for SCREEN's full interview with Kris Rey and Mary Kay Cook.


THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE, directed by Maria Finitzo, produced by Diane Quon and Cynthia Kane alongside Kartemquin Films, explores the clash between the power of gender politics and the equally powerful imperatives of female sexual desire. A feature length documentary by two-time Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Maria Finitzo, the film follows two scientists and a conceptual artist who are using their work to shatter the myths and outright lies women have been taught about their sexual desire and their bodies.

"As a mother of a son and daughter, I watched my children grow up navigating the ups and downs of the sexual landscape," Finitzo told SCREEN. "Despite all the gains of the 60’s, old rules remained in place. Gender politics was even more pervasive and most importantly, I was struck by how much more dangerous the world was for both of my children, and in particular for my daughter. I am deeply committed to making this film--for my daughter, for my son, for all of our children."

Click here for SCREEN's full interview with director Maria Finitzo.


In her debut feature, Chicago-based documentary filmmaker and video journalist Jiayan “Jenny” Shi presents an intimate portrait of a family coping with grief and a long wait for justice in a foreign land.

In FINDING YINGYING, Yingying Zhang, a 26-year-old Chinese student, comes to the U.S. to study. In her detailed and beautiful diaries, the aspiring young scientist and teacher is full of optimism, hoping to also be married and a mother someday. Within weeks of her arrival, Yingying disappears from the campus. Through exclusive access to Yingying’s family and boyfriend, the film closely follows their journey as they search to unravel the mystery of her disappearance and seek justice for their daughter while navigating a strange, foreign country. But most of all, FINDING YINGYING is the story of who Yingying was: a talented young woman loved by her family and friends.

This feature is backed by 4-time Academy Award-nominated production house Kartemquin Films (HOOP DREAMS), Mark Mitten (ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL) and Ken Pelletier (ICARUS) among the executive producers, and co-executive producers Shizuka Asakawa, Cherry Chen and Peng Zhao.

Click here for the full slate of films for SXSW 2020, which takes place in Austin, Texas March 13-22.