SXSW Adds 'Selma' Helmer Ava DuVernay, RZA as Keynote Speakers

Ava Duvernay RZA - H 2014
AP Images

Ava Duvernay RZA - H 2014

The pairs join previously announced Mark Duplass for the Austin-based festival, which runs March 13-21

South by Southwest has added two keynote speakers to its 2015 film conference and festival: Selma director Ava DuVernay and musician-actor RZA.

The pair join previously announced keynote speaker Mark Duplass. The keynote sessions will be held daily at 11:00 a.m. from March 14-17. The Austin-based festival runs March 13-21.

“Ava DuVernay’s career evolution is fascinating,” said head of SXSW Film Janet Pierson. “She began directing independent films while running her own successful marketing firm before expanding into distribution, and now she is helming a groundbreaking studio picture. Her passion, fearlessness, and excellence are extraordinary.

Pierson admitted that RZA is a somewhat out-of-the-box choice for the keynote role given his prominence in the world of hip-hop as the founder of the Wu-Tang Clan.

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“What is inspiring is how his love of film has informed his entire career and creativity,” added Pierson of RZA, a frequent collaborator of Quentin Tarantino’s. “We're intrigued by his increasing work as a multi-hyphenated filmmaker, actor and curator.”

DuVernay’s credits include Sundance darling Middle of Nowhere. Selma, which chronicles the 1965 voting rights campaign of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was recently nominated for four Golden Globe Awards including best director. She also is the founder of AFFRM, a film distribution collective dedicated to African-American cinema.

RZA is a multi-Grammy award-winning producer, BAFTA-nominated film composer, recording artist and actor. His onscreen credits include Mr. Right, Gang Related, The Man With the Iron Fists, American Gangster, Funny People, Due Date, The Next Three Days and G.I. Joe 2.

SXSW’s final film keynote speaker will be unveiled in early 2015 along with the complete conference lineup.

Twitter: @TatianaSiegel27