Richard Linklater's new film, "Bernie," starring Jack Black as a Texan mortician, will open the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival, event organizers announced Monday. The independent film, which does not yet have domestic distribution, joins a lineup of both low-budget and largely commercial fare at the Los Angeles Times-sponsored festival, which runs from June 16-26 at L.A. Live.
The black comedy centers around an undertaker (Black) who commits a crime but is still popular within the community, especially with one surly, wealthy widow (Shirley MacLaine). The movie reteams Black with Linklater, who directed the comedian in 2003's "School of Rock." That was the last box office hit for the filmmaker, best known for his work on movies such as "Dazed and Confused," "Before Sunrise" and the subsequent "Before Sunset." His last directorial effort, 2008's "Me and Orson Welles," starring Zac Efron, received positive critical reviews but flopped upon its release in theaters.
The festival also revealed that it will welcome musician Quincy Jones and writer Frank Pierson for a conversation about the legacy of filmmaker Sidney Lumet. Meanwhile, the event's guest director, Guillermo del Toro -- whose "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" will close the festival -- will present a little-seen Italian film called "The Arcane Enchanter." Del Toro is presenting the 1996 release, written and directed by Pupi Avati, as an example of a film that influenced him.
Photo: Jack Black stars in "Bernie." Credit: Los Angeles Film Festival.