Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, and Natalie Portman star in “Song to Song,” described as a modern love story set against the Austin music scene. The story follows two entangled couples — a pair of struggling songwriters Faye and BV, a music mogul, and the waitress whom he ensnares — as they chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal.
Malick began shooting the film in 2012. Broad Green is releasing “Song to Song” on March 17 under its partnership with Malick, announced in 2015.
“Terrence Malick is a world class revered cinematic poet. His work is a treasure trove of talented actors and vision,” said Janet Pierson, SXSW’s director of film. “Set in the world of music and Austin, Song to Song couldn’t be a more perfect Opening Night film for SXSW.”
Malick’s most acclaimed film, “The Tree of Life,” opened the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Since then, he’s directed “To the Wonder,” “Knight of Cups,” and “Voyage of Time.”
SXSW also announced several other high-profile titles Thursday for the festival: “Spettacolo,” Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen’s portrait of a tiny hill town in Tuscany, the duo’s second feature after “Marwencol”; Jennifer Reeder’s coming-of-age Muslim melodrama “Signature Move,” starring Fawzia Mirza; and René Pérez Joglar’s chronicle of his global exploration of his genetic roots in “Residente.”
SXSW will also premiere Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods,” directed by David Slade with Ricky Whittle and Ian McShane starring. Its new VR/AR strand is Viacom Next’s “The Melody of Dust,” set inside the tortured mind of an artist.
“Small Town Crime,” starring John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson, Octavia Spencer, and Robert Forster, will also have its world premiere at SXSW. Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms direct from their own script in the story of an ex-cop who finds the body of a young woman and becomes hellbent on finding the killer while putting his family in danger.
“While these titles are just a taste of what SXSW 2017 will offer, they reflect the range of work we are known for, from newcomers and auteurs to pop entertainment in traditional cinema, episodics and now VR,” Pierson said.
The complete film festival lineup will be announced Jan. 31 with the exception of Midnighter features, which will be revealed with the Short Film Program on Feb. 7.
SXSW will be in its 24th year. Previously announced keynote and featured speakers include Lee Daniels, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” director Gareth Edwards, Kathryn Hahn, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and “Transparent” showrunner Jill Soloway.
Richard Linklater’s “Everyboy Wants Some” was the opening night film last year. Russell Brand documentary “Brand: A Second Coming” was the 2015 opener.