Indie Focus: South By Southwest 2010 films announced
The South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival has announced the complete feature film lineup for this year's festival, which runs from March 12-20 in Austin, Texas.
Among the most notable titles are the world premieres of "MacGruber," the action-comedy spinoff of a "Saturday Night Live" character played by Will Forte directed by Jorma Taccone, and "Mr. Nice," the story of British drug smuggler Howard Marks directed by Bernard Rose.
Other films showing in the Headliners section are "Cyrus," directed by Jay and Mark Duplass, "Get Low," directed by Aaron Schneider, "MicMacs," directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and "The Runaways," directed by Floria Sigismondi.
As previously announced, the festival's opening night film will be the world premiere of the much-anticipated superhero story "Kick-Ass," directed by Matthew Vaughn.
"There's a combustion that happens here, people meet and there's creative collaborations and people get excited by one another," said Janet Pierson, film conference and festival producer, in a phone interview on Monday. She added that it was at the festival where Lena Dunham, director of competition title "Tiny Furniture," met the project's cinematographer, Jody Lee Lipes, also director of last year's "Brock Enright" and co-director of this year's "NY Export: Opus Jazz."
"We really see it as a creative cross-collaboration," added Pierson. "That's a vital part of who we are."
South By Southwest has become an increasingly important part of the American festival scene. Aligned with the music and technology events that take place around the same time under the SXSW banner, the festival has been especially open to the evolution of low-budget filmmaking and alternative methods of distribution. This year's Sundance Film Festival introduced a new section, called NEXT, that was seen by many as a way to showcase the same micro-budget independent films that South By Southwest has made its reputation with.
The festival will feature eight films in its narrative feature competition, "Brotherhood," directed by Will Canon, "Dance With One," directed by Mike Dolan, "Earthling," directed by Clay Liford, "Helena From The Wedding," directed by Joseph Infantolino, "The Myth Of The American Sleepover," directed by David Robert Mitchell, "Phillip The Fossil," directed by Garth Donovan, "Some Days Are Better Than Others," directed by Matt McCormick, and Dunham's "Tiny Furniture."
The documentary feature competition will also feature eight films, "Beijing Taxi," directed by Miao Wang, "Camp Victory, Afghanistan," directed by Carol Dysinger, "The Canal Street Madam," directed by Cameron Yates, "Dirty Pictures," directed by Etienne Sauret, "For Once In My Life," directed by Jeff Bingham and Mark Moormann, "Marwencol," directed by Jeff Malmberg, "Pelada," directed by Luke Boughen, Rebekah Fergusson, Gwendolyn Oxenham and Ryan White, and "War Don Don," directed by Rebecca Richman Cohen.
The festival's Spotlight Premiere section will feature among its titles Frank V. Ross' "Audrey The Trainwreck," Chris D'Arienzo's "Barry Munday," Aaron Katz's "Cold Weather," Sebastian Gutierrez's "Elektra Luxx," Shane Meadows' "Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee," Tim Blake Nelson's "Leaves Of Grass," Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski's "Lemmy," James Franco's "Saturday Night," and Emmet Malloy's "The White Stripes Under Great White Canadian Lights."
Other titles of note in the festival include the world premieres of "Mars," an animated film by Geoff Marslett, "Ain't In It For My Health, A Film About Levon Helm," directed by Jacob Hatley, and "Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields," directed by Kerthy Fix and Gail O'Hara.
Among the section Festival Favorites will be such titles as "And Everything Is Going Fine," Steven Soderbergh's documentary on monologist Spalding Gray, "Dogtooth," directed by Giorgos Lanthimos, "The Freebie," directed by Katie Aselton, "Harry Brown," directed by Daniel Barber, "Lovers Of Hate," directed by Bryan Poyser," "Trash Humpers," directed by Harmony Korine and recent Sundance prize winner "Winter's Bone," directed by Debra Granik.
There will also be a handful of films programmed by Austin's Fantastic Fest, itself gaining in reputation as a leading event for international genre films. Those titles are "Higanjima," directed by Tae-Kyun Kim, "Monsters," directed by Gareth Edwards, "Outcast," directed by Colm McCarthy, "Serbian Film," directed by Srdjan Spasojevic and a "super secret" title still to be announced.
With a record number of submissions, more than 1,500 features, this year's South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival looks to be another indicator of the resilience and tenacity of independent filmmaking.
"I'm not telling these filmmakers to make films," Pierson added. "People are doing this because it makes life worth living; it's what these people want to be doing."
-- Mark Olsen
Photo: Ryan Phillippe, Will Forte and Kristen Wiig in "MacGruber." Credit: Greg Peters / Rogue Pictures