‘Prairie’ opens SXSW

'Dreamz' to wrap film fest

The South by Southwest Film Conference & Festival unveiled its full competish lineup Sunday, and plans to unspool 115 features this year overall. Fest, which runs March 10-18 in Austin, Texas, culled its lineup from about 2,800 submissions and will host 50 world premieres.

After kicking off with the North American preem of Robert Altman’s ensembler “A Prairie Home Companion,” being distribbed by Picturehouse, the 13th annual SXSW will wrap with Paul Weitz’s comedy “American Dreamz.” Universal opens that social satire, starring Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid and Mandy Moore, on April 21.

Other highlights this year include the Kim Basinger-Ray Liotta vehicle “Even Money”; “Heavens Fall,” starring Timothy Hutton and David Strathairn; James March’s “The King,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal and William Hurt; and Billy Kent’s “The Oh in Ohio,” starring Parker Posey and Paul Rudd.

Also world preeming is the John Goodman-narrated “Tales of the Rat Fink,” Ron Mann’s profile of hot-rod designer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, who created the popular rubber-burning “Rat Fink” character.

Competish pics include Eric Allen’s world preeming “Bondage,” starring Michael Angarano, Illeana Douglas and Griffin Dunne, which follows a teen’s ride through Orange County’s correctional system, as well as “Live Free or Die,” starring Aaron Stanford, Paul Schneider, Zooey Deschanel, Michael Rapaport and Judah Friedlander.

“Live Free,” from helming duo Andy Robin and Gregg Kavet, follows a would-be criminal who finds himself in real trouble when he teams with a dimwitted friend in an attempt to prove he’s an outlaw.

Making the cut in the Emerging Visions program were “Apart From That,” Jennifer Shainin and Randy Walker’s interweaving tale of a disparate group of quirky Pacific Northwest residents, and “Bickford Shmeckler’s Cool Ideas,” starring Patrick Fugit in the story of a college freshman who finds his prized journal of cool ideas is stolen.

“We considered many more films this year,” said fest producer Matt Dentler, adding that the quality of submissions was particularly high. “Despite the large amount of star-driven films at the festival, there is still an amazing variety of new voices in our programs. There will be a wealth of talented discovery at SXSW this year.”

Docu competish section will include “Darkon,” Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer’s look at a group of hardcore medieval fantasy role-players; Mark Woollen’s “Jam,” an exploration of the world of roller derby; Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack’s “Oil Crash,” about the world’s dwindling oil supply; and “Shadow Company,” helmer Nick Bicanic’s inside view of private military forces.

Away from the SXSW cinemas, other highlights will include “A Conversation With Peter Bart,” editor-in-chief of Daily Variety. Another panel will focus on Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner’s 2929 Entertainment.

Go to 2006.sxsw.com/film for a full fest lineup.

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