Festival set to run March 9-17
World preems of movies from Michael Lehmann, Mike Mills and Alan Cumming highlight the South by Southwest Film Festival, set to run March 9-17 in Austin, Texas.Event will screen 110 features, with 61 world and seven U.S. preems. More than 3,100 submissions were received, according to fest director Matt Dentler. “Flakes,” the new feature from Lehmann (“Because I Said So”), will make its world bow at the fest. InDigEnt production, which stars Zooey Deschanel and Christopher Lloyd, takes a comedic look at rival cereal-shop owners in New Orleans. Mills (“Thumbsucker”) will bow “Does Your Soul Have a Cold?,” a documentary exploration of the evolving state of mental-health care in Japan. Cumming’s directorial effort “Suffering Man’s Charity,” a dark comedy about love and artistic ambition, also will have its world preem at the fest. Judd Apatow’s relationship comedy “Knocked Up,” set for release from Universal, will have its first major festival unspooling in the Spotlight Premieres section. (A cut of the movie previously screened at Harry Knowles’ “Butt-Numb-a-Thon” fest.) Scott Frank’s bank-heist thriller “The Lookout” will open the event; Miramax is releasing the movie later in the month. Closing pic should be announced by next week, fest organizers said. Among the special events is a panel with Robert Rodriguez that will feature footage from his part of the upcoming Weinstein Co. film “Grindhouse,” as well a trailer competition that he will judge. Notable docs at the fest include Dollan Cannell’s “638 Ways to Kill Castro,” about the many assassination attempts against the Cuban leader; Katy Chevigny’s “Election Day,” a verite account of voters in the 2004 presidential election; “Doubletime,” an exploration of the culture of competitive jump-roping; and anti-consumerism pic “What Would Jesus Buy,” produced by Morgan Spurlock. In the feature department, Jamie Babbit’s satire “Itty Bitty Titty Committee,” Ryan Eslinger’s midlife-crisis pic “When a Man Falls in the Forest” and “Blackbird,” playwright Adam Rapp’s tale of a Gulf War vet set in the ’90s, will play in competition. Previous fest players such as “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” and “The Ten” also will unspool. SXSW has been increasing its industry profile of late, becoming a more important launching pad for spring pics. Last year fest opened with Picturehouse release “The Prairie Home Companion” and closed with “American Idol” spoof “American Dreamz.” Credit-card doc “Maxed Out,” which sold to Magnolia, Netflix’s Red Envelope and Truly Indie, was one of several surprise finds for buyers at the festival.