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SXSW Announces Film Lineup

South by Southwest will host gala premieres next month of Melissa McCarthy’s “Spy,” Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart starrer “Get Hard,” Brian Wilson biopic “Love and Mercy” and Alex Gibney’s documentary “Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine.”

SXSW, now in its 22nd year in Austin, Texas, unveiled its features lineup Tuesday with 145 films to be shown between March 13 and 21, including 100 world premieres, 13 North American premieres and 11 U.S. premieres. The festival announced last month that the Russell Brand documentary “Brand: A Second Coming” would be the opening night title.

The festival will also include a “work in progress” screening of Judd Apatow’s “Trainwreck,” eight years after he screened a work in progress version of “Knocked Up” at the fest.

Other notable titles include Jamie Babbit’s “Fresno,” Shannon Sun-Higginson’s “GTFO: Get The F% Out,” Larry Charles’ FX series “The Comedians,” Alex Winter’s “Deep Web,” Ryan Gosling’s “Lost River,” Jake Szymanski’s “7 Days in Hell,” Laura Gabbert’s “City of Gold,” Todd Strauss-Schulson’s “The Final Girls,” Charles Hood’s “Night Owls,” Robert Duvall’s “Wild Horses,” Lina Mannheimer’s “The Ceremony” and Colin Hanks’ “All Things Must Pass.”

SXSW will also include a special screening of George Miller’s 1981 “Road Warrior” with a Q&A following and “Jonathan Demme Presents Made in Texas,” a collection of short films from Austin in the early ’80s. Last year’s festival included a showing of the original “Godzilla,” followed by a Q&A with Gareth Edwards, director of the 2014 “Godzilla.”

The films were selected from a record 2,385 feature-length submissions — 1,614 U.S. and 771 international. Total submissions were up 13% to 7,335.

SXSW will announce the Midnighters feature section and the Short Film program on Feb. 10 and the complete conference lineup and schedule on Feb. 17.

Like other film festivals that have added TV programming to the mix, the conference is bringing back the Episodics screening section with five new series, including “The Comedians” and TBS’s “Angie Tribeca,” starring Rashida Jones.

SXSW is expanding the Convergence programming — aimed as “celebrating the intersection of interactive, film and music” — with the SXsports panels and screenings; the Future of TV conference track; Digital Domain, which examines modern-day storytelling with a focus on experimental projects and SXSW Comedy.

Head of SXSW film Janet Pierson noted that the competition films in the narrative and documentary categories have been expanded from eight to 10 each. The competition screenings will run from March 14 to 17, with winners announced on March 17. Audience awards will be announced March 21.

“The quality of films that were submitted was high enough to justify expanding the competition categories,” she said.

Pierson also singled out “A Poem Is a Naked Person” as a particular favorite among the 145 selections, directed by the late documentary filmmaker Les Blank, who died in 2013.

Notable SXSW debuts in recent years have included Lena Dunham’s “Tiny Furniture” and Destin Daniel Cretton’s “Short Term 12.”

Previously announced keynote speakers include “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, Mark Duplass, RZA and Gina Prince-Bythewood.

The narrative feature competition includes: “6 Years,” directed by Hannah Fidell; “The Boy,” directed by Craig Macneill; “Creative Control,” directed by Benjamin Dickinson; “Funny Bunny,” directed by Alison Bagnall; “The Grief of Others,” directed by Patrick Wang; “Krisha,” directed by Trey Edward Shults;  “Manson Family Vacation,” directed by J. Davis; “Quitters,” directed by Noah Pritzker; “Sweaty Betty,” directed by Joseph Frank and Zachary Reed; and “Uncle John,” directed by Steven Piet.

The documentary feature competition includes “Breaking a Monster,” directed by Luke Meyer; “Deep Time,” directed Noah Hutton; “Frame by Frame,” directed by Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli; “Madina’s Dream,” directed by Andrew Berends; “Peace Officer,” directed by Scott Christopherson and Brad Barber; “Poached,” directed by Timothy Wheeler; “The Sandwich Nazi,” directed by Lewis Bennett;  “She’s the Best Thing in It,” directed by Ron Nyswaner; “Twinsters,” directed by Samantha Futerman and Ryan Miyamoto; and “A Woman Like Me,” directed by Alex Sichel and Elizabeth Giamatti.


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