From war pics to politics: SXSW sets festival lineup

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NEW YORK -- The 14th annual South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival announced a lineup of 110 feature films Monday. They include eight each in the narrative and documentary feature competitions, 61 world premieres and a number of political films.

"Last year there were several war documentaries that emerged, and this year we're seeing films about the electoral process coming into the forefront," SXSW Film Festival producer Matt Dentler said.

Among the political docus are Dan Cox's Arnold Schwarzenegger chronicle "Running With Arnold," which features Nazi footage that prompted narrator Alec Baldwin to attempt to pull out of the project. Other election examinations that got the SXSW vote are Katy Chevigny's "Election Day," Marlo Poras' "Run Granny Run" and Kazuhiro Soda's Japanese city council chronicle "Campaign."

Narrative features in competition include writer-director Adam Rapp's adaptation of his dark stage drama "Blackbird," Michael Lehmann's cereal store satire, "Flakes," Jamie Babbit's feminist comedy "Itty Bitty Titty Committee" and Ryan Eslinger's midlife crisis drama "When a Man Falls in the Forest" starring Timothy Hutton, Dylan Baker, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Sharon Stone.

Along with "Campaign" and "Run Granny Run," the docu competition includes two films about former inmates adjusting to life after prison: Macky Alston and Andrea Meller's "Hard Road Home" and Andrew Berends' "When Adnan Comes Home." Jennifer Venditti's look at a teen outcast, "Billy the Kid," and Harris Fishman's animal trainer biopic "Cat Dancers" also made the cut.

Judd Apatow's pregnancy comedy "Knocked Up," featuring Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd, is among the most notable of the Spotlight Premieres. The program kicks off with the world premiere of Scott Frank's crime drama "The Lookout," the fest's opening-night film.

Other section titles include two 2006 Toronto International Film Festival entries: Alejandro Gomez Monteverde's romance "Bella," winner of the fest's People's Choice Award; and Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein's Iraq prison docu "The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair" with more than 10 minutes of additional footage. "A film's premiere status is not as much of a priority to us as its quality," Dentler said.

Other sections of the slate include Special Screenings, innovative Emerging Visions titles, 24 Beats Per Second music docus, 'Round Midnight genre flicks and Texas-centric Lone Star States films. Robinson Devor's "Zoo," Gary Hustwit's "Helvetica," Dean Budnick's "Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Nightclub," Glasgow Phillips' "Undead or Alive: A Zombedy" and Marcy Garriott's "Inside the Circle" are among the notable selections.

The fest runs March 9-17 in Austin. Short films, retrospective screenings, panels and seminars will be announced Feb. 13.
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