SXSW fest planners stir up 'melting pot'

'MacGruber,' 'Mr. Nice' premiering at Austin film festival

The South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival unveiled its feature film program Wednesday night, highlighted by the world premieres of action spoof "MacGruber" and "Mr. Nice," a real-life tale of an infamous British drug smuggler starring Rhys Ifans.

Features from the Duplass brothers ("Cyrus"), Steven Soderbergh ("And Everything Is Going Fine"), Michel Gondry ("The Thorn in the Heart") and Tim Blake Nelson ("Leaves of Grass") also have spots on the program.

The March 12-20 festival will showcase 119 features and 55 world premieres, including pervasively announced opening-night film "Kick-Ass." Selections were chosen from 1,572 submissions (1,206 U.S., 366 international).

"We want discovery," said conference and fest producer Janet Pierson, now in her second year. "We want a real range of films across the board."

Eight narrative and eight documentary features comprise the main competition categories.

The narrative selections are "Brotherhood," directed by Will Canon; "Dance With the One" (Mike Dolan); "Earthling" (Clay Liford); "Helena From the Wedding" (Joseph Ifantolino); "The Myth of the American Sleepover" (David Robert Mitchell); "Phillip the Fossil" (Garth Donovan); "Some Days Are Better Than Others" (Matt McCormick); and "Tiny Furniture" (Lena Dunham).

The docs in competition are "Beijing Taxi," directed by Miao Wang; "Camp Victory, Afghanistan" (Carol Dysinger); "The Canal Street Madam" (Cameron Yates); "Dirty Pictures" (Etienne Sauret); "For Once in My Life" (Jim Bigham and Mark Moormann); "Marwencol" (Jeff Malmberg); "Pelada" (Luke Boughen, Rebekah Fergusson, Gwendolyn Oxenham and Ryan White); and "War Don Don" (Rebecca Richman Cohen).

Along with "Cyrus," "Mr. Nice," "MacGruber" and "Kick-Ass," the Headliners section will feature Sony Pictures Classics' July release "Get Low," the U.S. premiere of the Jean-Pierre Jeunet film "Micmacs," and Apparition's Sundance premiere "The Runaways."

Additional categories such as Spotlight Premieres, Emerging Visions, the Texas-centric Lone Star States, the music-focused 24 Beats Per Second and the genre-based Midnighters will round out the offerings.

"We have an environment where filmmakers are watching each others' films, meeting each other and being inspired by each other, and connecting and collaborating," Pierson said. "It's very exciting for us that we're sort of an incubator or melting pot -- you just see the cross-collaborations all over the place."

A SXSW film festival lineup follows:


Cyrus (Directors-screenwriters: Jay and Mark Duplass) With John's social life at a standstill and his ex-wife about to get remarried, a down on his luck divorcee finally meets the woman of his dreams, only to discover she has another man in her life -- her son. Written and directed by Jay & Mark Duplass, the iconoclastic filmmaking team behind The Puffy Chair, Cyrus takes an insightful, funny and sometimes heartbreaking look at love and family in contemporary Los Angeles. Cast: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener, Matt Walsh.

Get Low (Director: Aaron Schneider, Screenwriters: Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell) A film spun out of equal parts folk tale, fable and real-life legend about a mysterious, 1930s Tennessee hermit who plans his own rollicking funeral party ... while still alive. Cast: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray.

Kick-Ass (Director: Matthew Vaughn. Screenwriters: Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn) A twisted, funny, high-octane adventure, based on the comic written by Mark Millar and John S. Romita, Jr. The film tells the story of average teenager Dave Lizewski, a comic-book fanboy who decides to take his obsession as inspiration to become a real-life superhero. Cast: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Chloe Grace Moretz and Nicolas Cage. (world premiere)

MacGruber (Director: Jorma Taccone. Screenwriters: Will Forte & John Solomon & Jorma Taccone) Will Forte brings his clueless soldier of fortune to the big screen in the action-comedy MacGruber. Cast: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, Powers Boothe, Maya Rudolph and Val Kilmer. (world premiere)

Micmacs (France) (Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Screenwriters: Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant) Drawing on one of France's most popular screen stars, the incorrigible Dany Boon from the comedy megahit Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis, as well as a cast of some of the country's best-known actors, Jeunet turns on the afterburners in this searing piece of romantic filmmaking set against the storm clouds of warring arms dealers. Cast: Dany Boon. (U.S. Premiere)

Mr. Nice (U.K.) (Director-screenwriter: Bernard Rose) The true story of Howard Marks. He was Britain's most wanted man. He spent seven years in America's toughest penitentiary. You'll like him. Cast: Rhys Ifans, Chloe Sevigny, David Thewlis, Luis Tosar, Crispin Glover, Omad Djalili. (world premiere)

The Runaways (Director-screenwriter: Floria Sigismondi) The Runaways follows two friends, Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), as they rise from rebellious Southern California kids to rock stars of the now legendary group that paved the way for future generations of girl bands. Cast: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Scout Taylor-Compton, Michael Shannon, Alia Shawkat, Tatum O'Neal.


Brotherhood (Director: Will Canon. Screenwriters: Will Canon and Doug Simon) When an initiation ritual spins dangerously out of control, one young man must stand up to save a friend's life. Cast: Jon Foster, Trevor Morgan, Arlen Escarpeta, Lou Taylor Pucci. (world premiere)

Dance With The One (Director: Mike Dolan. Screenwriters: Smith Henderson and Jon Marc Smith) An emotionally explosive thriller set in the troubled heart of Texas. Tragic family history rises to the surface when a teenager races to protect his family from a lethal drug-runner. Cast: Gabriel Luna, Xochitl Romero, Gary McCleery, Mike Davis, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson. (world premiere)

Earthling (Director-screenwriter: Clay Liford) Tragedy aboard the international space station triggers a discovery that some lives have been a lie. Cast: Rebecca Spence, Peter Greene, Amelia Turner, William Katt, Matt Socia. (world premiere)

Helena from the Wedding (Director-screenwriter: Joseph Infantolino) Newlyweds Alex and Alice Javal host a New Year's Eve party at a cabin in the mountains for their closest friends and an unexpected guest in this nuanced and often funny portrait of marriage and anxiety in the late blooming professional class. Cast: Lee Tergesen, Melanie Lynskey, Gillian Jacobs, Dagmara Dominczyk, Paul Fitzgerald, Dominic Fumusa, Jessica Hecht, Corey Stoll. (world premiere)

The Myth of the American Sleepover (Director-screenwriter: David Robert Mitchell) Four young people cross paths as they navigate the suburban wonderland of Metro-Detroit looking for love and adventure on the last night of summer. Cast: Claire Sloma, Marlon Morton, Amanda Bauer, Brett Jacobsen. (world premiere)

Phillip the Fossil (Director-screenwriter: Garth Donovan) Centering around an aging party animal chasing the endless summer, Phillip the Fossil is an uncompromising and raw, portrait of everyday people who struggle in all their blemished glory for a life of meaning. Cast: Brian Hasenfus, Nick Dellarocca, Ann Palica, Angela Pagliarulo, J.R. Killigrew. (world premiere)

Some Days are Better than Others (Director-screenwriter: Matt McCormick)
Why do the good times go by so fast while the bad times always seem so sticky? Cast: Carrie Brownstein, James Mercer, Renee Roman Nose, David Wodehouse. (world premiere)

Tiny Furniture (Director-screenwriter: Lena Dunham) 22-year-old Aura returns home after college to her artist mother's loft with the following: a useless film theory degree, 357 hits on her YouTube page, and no shoulders to cry on. Starring Dunham and her real-life family, Tiny Furniture is tragicomedy about what does and does not happen when you graduate with no skills, no love life, and a lot of free time. Cast: Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Grace Dunham, David Call, Alex Karpovsky. (world premiere)


Beijing Taxi (Director: Miao Wang) Through a humanistic lens, Beijing Taxi vividly portrays China undergoing a profound transformational arch in an era of Olympic transitions. The intimate lives of three cabbies connect a morphing cityscape and a lyrical journey through fragments of a society riding the bumpy roads to modernization. (world premiere)

Camp Victory, Afghanistan (Director: Carol Dysinger) Using almost 300 hours of footage shot over the course of three years, Camp Victory, Afghanistan tells the story of the Afghan officers charged with building a new Afghan National Army and the U.S. National Guardsmen sent to mentor them. (world premiere)

The Canal Street Madam (Director: Cameron Yates) An FBI raid on Jeanette Maier's infamous family-run brothel in New Orleans destroyed her livelihood. Stigmatized by felony, fearing recrimination from powerful clients and determined to protect her children, Jeanette sets out to re-invent herself. (world premiere)

Dirty Pictures (Director: Etienne Sauret) Dirty Pictures is an intimate portrait of the life and work of Dr. Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin, one of the world's most renowned chemists who is considered by many to be the "Godfather of Psychedelics." (world premiere)

For Once in My Life (Directors: Jim Bigham and Mark Moormann) The film takes an inspiring journey with a unique band of musicians with the common goal of making and performing music. Their story tells of the fine balancing act of taking on new challenges while living day-to-day with disabilities. This documentary shows what people can do when given a chance. (world premiere)

Marwencol (Director: Jeff Malmberg) After a vicious attack leaves him brain damaged and broke, Mark Hogancamp seeks recovery in "Marwencol," a 1/6th-scale World War II-era town he creates in his backyard. (world premiere)

Pelada (Directors: Luke Boughen, Rebekah Fergusson, Gwendolyn Oxenham and Ryan White) Away from the bright lights and manicured fields, there's another side of soccer. (world premiere)

War Don Don (Director: Rebecca Richman Cohen) The war is over, a trial begins. (world premiere)

Click here for more of the SXSW 2010 lineup.