Austin film festival kicks off with Luketic's '21'

Sixty-four world premieres fill the lineup of the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, which kicks off with Robert Luketic’s card-counting thriller “21.”

Fest closes with Stephen Walker’s Sundance doc on a senior citizen chorus line, “Young@Heart.”

Also added to the “Spotlight Premieres” section are Martin Scorsese’s docu on the Rolling Stones, “Shine a Light”; Kimberly Peirce’s Iraq war drama “Stop-Loss”; and Michael Almereyda’s Jekyll-and-Hyde love story “New Orleans Mon Amour.”

“We’re aiming for quality over quantity,” said SXSW Film Festival producer Matt Dentler. “I think this year’s program is an example of that. There may be a lot of films and a lot of premieres, but we were lucky enough to discover so many new gems.”

Among the eight narrative features in competition are Mark Webber’s inner-city Philly story “Explicit Ills”; Joe Maggio’s “Paper Covers Rock,” about a suicidal young woman who loses custody of her son; and “Older Than America,” directed by Georgina Lightning, about a priest’s atrocities at a Native American boarding school.

The docu competition includes “Bulletproof Salesman,” Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein’s film on an Iraq war profiteer; and Josh Koury’s “We Are Wizards,” about obsessive “Harry Potter” fans.

The noncompetitive sections include a few Sundance titles. Jennifer Phang’s “Half-Life” will play in Emerging Visions. Clark Gregg’s “Choke” and Margaret Brown’s Mardi Gras docu “The Order of Myths” screen in Spotlight. Alex Gibney’s docu “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson” and David Zellner’s feature “Goliath” unspool as Special Screenings.

Suroosh Alvi’s doc “Heavy Metal Baghdad” will have its U.S. premiere in the music-themed 24 Beats Per Second section, while Tony Krantz’s “gore-porn” horror film “Otis” will open the Midnight section.

SXSW runs March 7-15.

Click here for the full lineup

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