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The South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival unveiled its 2014 lineup, which will feature the world debut of the Seth Rogen–Zac Efron comedy Neighbors and the world premieres of Michael and Peter Spierig‘s time-travel thriller Predestination and the Neil Berkeley documentary Harmontown, which follows self-destructive TV writer Dan Harmon as he takes his live podcast on a national tour.
Other highlights of the the festival include the North American premieres of Diego Luna’s Cesar Chavez and the Wes Bentley starrer Things People Do.
Among the films competing this year are Before I Disappear from musician-turned-Oscar winning short director Shawn Christensen and Aaron I. Naar‘s documentary Mateo, which follows America’s most notorious white mariachi singer on his misadventures in Cuba.
Those films join the previously announced Opening Night film Chef, from writer-director Jon Favreau, as well as narrative features Veronica Mars, Break Point and Creep and documentaries Doc of the Dead and Leave the World Behind.
The festival, which is celebrating its 21st edition and runs March 7-15 in Austin, has become an increasingly important showcase for studios looking to roll out films with a hip quotient. Last year, nearly 75,000 people converged on Austin for the film festival, which featured the world premiere of Short Term 12 and the U.S. premiere of Spring Breakers. That figure is expected to increase for the 2014 incarnation. Unlike other film festivals, SXSW takes place in conjunction with one the most-attended music festivals in the United States.
This year, 115 features will screen over the nine days, including 68 films from first-time filmmakers, 76 world premieres, 10 North American premieres and 7 U.S. premieres. The films were selected from a record 2,215 feature-length film submissions (1,540 from the U.S. and 675 international films). The festival received a record number of 6,482 submissions, up 14 percent from 2013.
The Midnighters feature section and the Short Film program will be announced on Feb. 5, with the complete Conference lineup and schedule to follow on Feb. 12.
New for 2014, SXSW introduces the “Episodic” screening category, inspired by the success of previous SXSW programming, such as the world premieres of HBO’s Girls and A&E’s Bates Motel. This section will feature premieres of HBO’s Silicon Valley, Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, Hulu’s Deadbeat, FOX’s COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey and From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, debuting on Robert Rodriguez‘s El Rey Network.
“There have always been great independent filmmakers working in TV,” SXSW Film head Janet Pierson told The Hollywood Reporter. “I watch a lot of high-quality work on TV and talk about a lot of TV. We have to be current, and we decided not to be restricted by screen size. That’s why we figured out a way to create a whole new section.”
Also new for 2014, SXSW launched SXsports, a sports-focused conference that delves into the intersection of sports and culture and entertainment. Featured speakers include Mandalay Sports Media chairman Peter Guber, ESPN’s Bill Simmons and Nate Silver in conversation, U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team head coach Jürgen Klinsmann in conversation with Men in Blazers’ Roger Bennett and cycling legend Greg LeMond.
In addition to film screenings, the festival will feature more than 150 sessions including its first-ever daily keynotes with Lena Dunham, Jason Blum and Casey Neistat and conversations with the likes of Alejandro Jodorowsky.
The final conference lineup will be released Feb. 12.
“What’s different about us is the fact that we’re connected to music, so we’re both an industry and a populist event,” Pierson added. “We’re democratic, not elitist. So, you have normal people alongside industry people, and that creates a unique, vibrant atmosphere. As we program, we’re not precious. We look for work that moves us and entertains us.”
Also on tap, Wes Anderson will screen his upcoming The Grand Budapest Hotel and take part in an extended Q&A.
The narrative feature competition includes Carlos Marques Marcet’s 10,000KM, Collin Schiffli‘s Animals, Christensen’s Before I Disappear, Sarah-Violet Bliss & Charles Rogers‘ Fort Tilden, Zachary Wigon‘s The Heart Machine, Leah Meyerhoff‘s I Believe in Unicorns, John Magary‘s The Mend and Lawrence Michael Levine’s Wild Canaries. The documentary feature competition includes David Marshall‘s Beginning With the End, Catherine Gund‘s Born to Fly, Margaret Brown‘s The Great Invisible, Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado’s The Immortalists, Jeremy Ambers‘ Impossible Light, Naar’s Mateo, Luis Lopez and Clay Tweel‘s Print the Legend and Diana Whitten‘s Vessel.
Hosted by comedian Jerrod Carmichel, the SXSW Film Awards show will take place March 11 at 8 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre.
Other films screening at the festival include Liz Tuccillo‘s Take Care, Elijah Drenner‘s That Guy Dick Miller, Jack Plotnick‘s Space Station 76, Florian Habicht‘s Sheffield: Sex City, Nacho Vigilondo‘s Open Windows, Angus MacQueen & Guillermo Galdos‘ The Legend of Shorty, Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s The Dance of Reality, Darius Clark Monroe‘s Evolution of a Criminal, Jason Bateman‘s Bad Words, Mike Myers‘ Supermensch, David Gordon Green‘s Joe, John Ridley‘s JIMI: All Is by My Side and a special screening of 1954’s Godzilla: The Japanese Original, with a Q&A following with 2014 Godzilla director Gareth Edwards.
The complete 2014 SXSW lineup can be found at http://sxsw.com/film.
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