AUSTIN, Texas — The newest film in director Alex Garland’s filmography is "Civil War," and the world premiere was held at South by Southwest on Thursday night.

"Civil War" is said to be A24’s biggest budget film to date.

Fans who missed the premiere at South by Southwest will be able to see the movie in theaters on April 12.

What is the film about?

The film showcases journalists dealing with the horrors of a civil war between the Western Forces and the federal government. The Western Forces is comprised of Texas and California. The journalists are rushing to Washington D.C. before the Western Forces arrive, aiming to capture the war in photographs.

"Civil War" star Kirsten Dunst portrays Lee, who leads the group in traveling to D.C. to capture violent and potentially final moments of the war. Wagner Moura, as Joel, is Lee’s journalist partner who wants to drive the team to D.C. An aspiring photographer, portrayed by Cailee Spaeny, joins the group. 

The film can be seen as a precautionary tale, a warning about division in the U.S. 

How did the idea for the film come to fruition?

Garland opened up about how the idea for the movie stemmed from four years ago, when we were coming up on an election year and dealing with COVID. He talked about how “all of the topics in this film have been a part of a huge public debate for years and years and years. The debate has been growing and growing in volume and awareness.”

Moura explained that he was drawn to the film due to its timely nature.

“No reason explains war, no reason explains the human cost of a war," Moura said. 

Garland’s idea of keeping the journalists as the focus of this film stems from his dad, who was a newspaper writer.

The film is intended to explore the "importance of journalists and also war journalism, but also the cost and the complexity of being a journalist,” Garland said.

The idea behind the film was teetering on the balance between being an anti-war and making war scenes glamorous and fun.

“In the end, being unblinking about some of the horrors of war," was ultimately Garland’s goal in making this film. The film allows you to absorb the horrors and chaos of war with people turning on each other and killing innocents, but at the heart of this movie is a warning: war and the division of war are the worst things that can happen in a country that is supposed to be united.

Garland’s intent

Garland said that the movie is intended to start “a conversation. It is not asserting things. I mean, I guess it’s asserting some things.”

In the film, the intention is for the journalists to be seen as heroes. Garland expressed his desire for the film to serve as “a love letter to journalism."