Top brass at the 22nd South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival have announced the feature line-up for the upcoming festival, set to run from March 13-21 in Austin, Texas.
SXSW will showcase 145 features. The line-up includes 60 films from first-time film-makers and comprises 100 world premieres, 13 North American premieres and 11 US premieres.
Head of film Janet Pierson and her team of programmers culled selections from a record 2,385 feature-length submissions composed of 1,614 US and 771 international features. The record of 7,335 total submissions marks a 13% gain on 2014.
For the first time the number of films in the juried Narrative Feature and Documentary Feature selections have risen from eight to ten. The complete Conference line-up and schedule will be released on February 17.
Besides the Narrative Feature Competition and Documentary Feature Competition selections listed below, feature entries include Judd Apatow’s work-in-progress comedy Trainwreck starring Amy Schumer in Special Events, music film 808 (pictured) in 24 Beats Per Second and Alex Garland’s sci-fi Ex Machina in Headliners.
As previously announced, the world premiere of Ondi Timoner’s Brand: A Second Coming will open the festival on March 13.
“SXSW is always fascinated by films that take a familiar trope and somehow, against all odds, make it fresh and exhilarating — works that spin tantalising webs out of what seems like thin air,” said Pierson.
“When faced with a record 2,400 feature submissions, we had every intention to cut back on the total number in our lineup. But as we discovered the fantastic array of talent and fell in love with these 145 features, we had no choice but to program as many that resonated as possible.”
In addition to nine full days of film screenings, SXSW Film Conference (March 13-17) will feature more than 250 sessions covering a wide range of topics, such as keynotes with previously announced Ava DuVernay, Mark Duplass and RZA, and a Conversation with Gina Prince-Bythewood, among others.
Every film below is a world premiere. All synopses provided by the festival.
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
Ten world premieres, ten unique ways to celebrate the art of storytelling. Selected from 1,372 films submitted to SXSW 2015.
Director-Screenwriter: Hannah Fidell
A young couple bound by a seemingly ideal love begins to unravel as unexpected opportunities spin them down a volatile and violent path and threaten the future they had always imagined.
Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Ben Rosenfield, Lindsay Burdge, Joshua Leonard, Jennifer Lafleur, Peter Vack, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Molly McMichael, Jason Newman.
Director: Craig Macneill, Screenwriters: Craig Macneill, Clay McLeod Chapman
THE BOY is an intimate portrait of a nine-year-old sociopath’s growing fascination with death.
Cast: David Morse, Rainn Wilson, Jared Breeze, Bill Sage, Mike Vogel, Zuleikha Robinson, Aiden Lovekamp.
Director: Benjamin Dickinson, Screenwriters: Benjamin Dickinson, Micah Bloomberg
In near future Brooklyn, an ad executive uses a new Augmented Reality technology to conduct an affair with his best friend’s girlfriend… sort of.
Cast: Benjamin Dickinson, Nora Zehetner, Dan Gill, Alexia Rasmussen, Reggie Watts, Gavin McInnes, Paul Manza, Himanshu Suri.
Director-Screenwriter: Alison Bagnall
Funny Bunny is a serious comedy about a friendless anti-obesity crusader and a trust fund manchild who vie for the heart of a reclusive animal activist and incest survivor, releasing her demons and forming an unlikely ‘family’ in the process.
Cast: Kentucker Audley, Joslyn Jensen, Olly Alexander, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Josephine Decker, Louis Cancelmi, Grace Gonglewski, Nicholas Webber, Caridad de la Luz.
The Grief Of Others
Director-Screenwriter: Patrick Wang
Based on Leah Hager Cohen’s critically-acclaimed novel, a family struggles with a tragic loss when an unexpected visitor arrives. She stirs the pain of past betrayals but might also offer an unforeseen gift: a way out of their isolating grief.
Cast: Wendy Moniz, Trevor St. John, Oona Laurence, Jeremy Shinder, Sonya Harum, Mike Faist, Rachel Dratch, Chris Conroy.
Director-Screenwriter: Trey Edward Shults
When Krisha returns for a holiday gathering, the only things standing in her way are family, dogs, and turkey.
Cast: Krisha Fairchild, Robyn Fairchild, Bill Wise, Chris Doubek, Olivia Grace Applegate, Chase Joliet, Alex Dobrenko, Bryan Casserly, Augustine Frizzell, Trey Edward Shults.
Manson Family Vacation
Director-Screenwriter: J Davis
The story of two brothers: one who’s devoted to his family, the other who’s obsessed with the Manson Family.
Cast: Jay Duplass, Linas Phillips, Leonora Pitts, Tobin Bell, Adam Chernick, Davie-Blue.
Director: Noah Pritzker, Screenwriters: Noah Pritzker, Ben Tarnoff
A teenager’s family falls apart, so he goes in search of a better one.
Cast: Benjamin Konigsberg, Mira Sorivno, Greg Germann, Kara Hayward, Kieran Culkin, Morgan Turner, Saffron Burrows, Scott Lawrence.
Directors-Screenwriters: Joseph Frank, Zachary Reed
On the border of Washington DC, two stories of big dreams take place - a family is determined to turn their 1,000lb pig into the Redskins’ football team mascot, and two teenage fathers scheme a better life for themselves and their children.
Cast: Rico Mitchell, Seth Dubose, Floyd Rich III, Chris Rich, Tarich Rich, Floyd Rich V, Chrissy Rich, Charlotte the Pig, Cassy the Dog.
Director: Steven Piet, Screenwriters: Erik Crary, Steven Piet
Uncle John is an intimately told story that revolves around the struggle to keep a mysterious disappearance unsolved.
Cast: John Ashton, Alex Moffat, Jenna Lyng, Ronnie Gene Blevins.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Selected from 1,018 submissions, ten real-world stories that demonstrate innovation, energy and bold voices.
Breaking A Monster
Director: Luke Meyer
Breaking A Monster chronicles the break-out year of the band Unlocking The Truth, as the 12 and 13-year-old members first encounter stardom and the music industry, transcending childhood to become the rock stars they always dreamed of being.
Director: Noah Hutton
Ancient oceans teeming with life, Norwegian settlers, Native Americans and multinational oil corporations find intimacy in deep time.
FRAME BY FRAME
Directors: Alexandria Bombach, Mo Scarpelli
After decades of war and an oppressive Taliban regime, four Afghan photojournalists face the realities of building a free press in a country left to stand on its own - reframing Afghanistan for the world and for themselves.
Director: Andrew Berends
An unflinching and poetic glimpse into a forgotten war, Madina’s Dream tells the story of rebels and refugees fighting to survive in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains.
Directors: Scott Christopherson, Brad Barber
A former sheriff will stop at nothing to confront the SWAT team he founded.
Director: Timothy Wheeler
Obsessive egg thieves rob the nests of rare birds while a UK national police force tries to stop them. Poached delves into the psychology of these criminals, showing that when passion turns it can destroy the very object of one’s desire.
The Sandwich Nazi (Canada)
Director: Lewis Bennett
Deli owner Salam Kahil is an art collector, a former male escort, an amateur musician, and a sandwich maker to the homeless in Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood but his true passion is talking about blowjobs.
She’s The Best Thing In It
Director: Ron Nyswaner
Broadway legend Mary Louise Wilson teaches her first acting class, smashing her students’ red carpet illusions. An examination of acting and the sacrifices required, featuring Frances McDormand, Melissa Leo, Tyne Daly, Valerie Harper and others.
Directors: Samantha Futerman, Ryan Miyamoto
Imagine there was someone out there who you’d never met, looked exactly like you and was born on your birthday. Twinsters is the story of two strangers who discovered they were potentially twin sisters separated at birth.
A Woman Like Me
Directors: Alex Sichel, Elizabeth Giamatti
By creating a fictional character based on herself, film-maker Alex Sichel learns how to navigate a terminal disease with grace and humour.
For the complete line-up of all features sections click here.