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SXSW Shifts Online, Opens With Demi Lovato’s ‘Dancing With The Devil’

The “docuseries” is intended to provide a window into Lovato’s life as she struggled with her sobriety during her 2017-2018 tour.

The South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival, usually held every year in Austin, Texas, is moving online for 2021. This year, its official Opening Night Headliner is planned to be Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, a YouTube Original documentary about the circumstances that surrounded Lovato’s near-fatal oxycodone overdose in 2018.

Lovato calls the period of time leading up to her overdose the “darkest point in [her] life.” The “docuseries” is intended to provide a window into Lovato’s life as she struggled with her sobriety, due to problems that included bulimia, conflicts with her management team, and abandonment issues. This eventually culminated in the release of her June 2018 single “Sober,” in which she revealed she’d relapsed into drug and alcohol addictions, and her overdose the next month.

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Dancing with the Devil was originally announced as premiering on Lovato’s YouTube channel for free on March 23. At time of writing, its new headliner position at SXSW doesn’t appear to be changing that plan; it’ll still be up on YouTube in its entirety a few days after it first debuts at SXSW.

Janet Pierson, the Director of Film for SXSW, was quoted as saying, “It’s impressive and rare to see a pop superstar tell their story so authentically and without remorse. We’re privileged to present this intimate journey told with such vulnerability. Demi Lovato’s profound interest in mental health awareness is helping change the landscape of a crucial issue in this year of national and international trauma and loss.”

The rest of the programming for the virtual SXSW will be revealed in full early next month, although several other films have been announced. Other documentaries planned for SXSW premieres include Joe Berlinger’s Confronting a Serial Killer, which follows Jillian Lauren, the only reporter who ever spoke to the infamous American murderer Sam Little; The Hunt for Planet B, directed by Nathaniel Kahn, about the search for another habitable planet in our universe; and Hysterical, a “backstage pass” into the work and lives of female standup comedians, including Nikki Glaser, Iliza Shlesinger, and Bonnie McFarlane.

Some of the more typical movies that will premiere at this year’s SXSW are Violet, the directorial debut of Justine Bateman (Family Ties), which stars Olivia Munn as a film executive who realizes the voice in her head (Justin Theroux) has been lying to her; Recovery, co-directed by Mallory Everton and Stephen Meek, where two sisters go on a road trip to rescue their grandmother from a COVID-infected nursing home; Luchadoras, a German film about female wrestlers in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, who go onstage and fight despite the city’s infamous murders of women; and Poly Styrene, about the daughter of a deceased punk singer who explores her mother’s career in an attempt to seek closure.

South by Southwest, virtual edition, is planned to run from March 16 through 20.

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Source: Deadline

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