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The premiere of a new documentary about provocative comedian and activist Russell Brand will kick off the 2015 South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival, event organizers announced on Thursday.
From director Ondi Timoner — two-time winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Dig! (2004) and We Live in Public (2009) — Brand: A Second Coming follows the 39-year-old English firebrand on his life journey from drug addict to movie star to political disruptor. (His new book, Revolution, advocates for nothing short of the complete dismantling of organized capitalism and centralized political power.)
The festival’s chief curator, Janet Pierson, said in a statement that the film “knocked us out with its humor, insight and raw energy.”
While the full lineup won’t be announced until Feb. 3, a number of other titles have been unveiled to whet appetites.
Hello, My Name Is Doris, directed and co-written by comedy vet Michael Showalter, will receive a world premiere at SXSW. The clash-of-cultures comedy follows a 60-year-old woman — played by Sally Field — who braves the Brooklyn hipster scene in pursuit of a younger man.
Also receiving a world premiere is The Invitation, from Girlfight and Jennifer’s Body director Karyn Kusama. The thriller stars Logan Marshall-Green and Tammy Blanchard in the story of a reunion among friends with some menacing undercurrents.
Aside from Brand: A Second Coming, three more documentaries will receive their world premieres at this year’s SXSW. A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story tells the story of the TEDWomen breakout speaker, born with a rare disfiguring syndrome, who shared her inspiring story of surviving vicious cyberbullying to become one of the world’s leading anti-bullying activists.
Mavis! will tell the story of the legendary singer Mavis Staples and her family group, the Staple Singers, whose music helped to propel the civil rights movement. And Son of the Congo, the first film from Grantland Features, will trace Serge Ibaka‘s amazing journey from the violence of Brazzaville, Congo, to the peaks of NBA stardom playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Receiving its North American premiere is Ex Machina, the directorial debut of Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine. Starring Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson, the A.I. thriller tells the story of a computer programmer invited to spend a weekend at the mountain retreat of his mysterious boss.
Previously announced are a trio of keynote speakers: Selma director Ava DuVernay, hip-hop icon, actor and director RZA, and filmmaker (and now HBO series showrunner) Mark Duplass.