The 2006 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference & Festival in Austin, TX will open on March 10th with the North American premiere of Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion," organizers announced Monday. The film features an all-star cast including Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin. The festival will conclude on March 18th.
"Prairie" was acquired by Picturehouse back in October and is described as a fictionalized look at preparations for what could be the final episode of Garrison Keillor's legendary radio program, exploring the fallout over a big corporation buying the theater home of the weekly radio show. According to Picturehouse, "As passions erupt, secrets emerge and a mysterious stranger lurks in the shadows, the vigilant stage manger must hold it all together since the 'show must go on'."
Set for a June release, the film was written by Altman and Keillor.
"I can't think of a more perfect Opening Night Film than A Prairie Home Companion," said SXSW Film Festival Producer Matt Dentler, in a statement. "Not only do you have great masters like Robert Altman and Garrison Keillor involved, but it's also a celebration of entertainment and the creative spirit."
Among the other premieres set for SXSW '06 are the world premiere of Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin's "loudQUIETloud: A Film About The Pixies," described by festival organizers as a look at the band's recent reunion tour. Another world premiere will be Ron Mann's "Tales of the Rat Fink," a documentary about Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, creator of the popular "Rat Fink" character. It is narrated by John Goodman.
Also set is the North American premiere of James Marsh's "The King" starring Gael Garcia Bernal and William Hurt, and the U.S. premiere of Mary Harron's "The Notorious Bettie Page" starring Gretchen Mol as the legendary pin-up. The SXSW Film Conference will include an array of panels and discussions from March 11 - 14. Variety editor Peter Bart and actor/author Henry Rollins are already set to participate in this year's conference.
The complete lineup for the 2006 SXSW Film Festival will be announced next month. Eight features are expected to screen in each of the narrative and doc competitions, while 80 features and 80 shorts are planned for the 2006 event.
The South by Southwest Music and Media Conference (SXSW) is now in its twentieth year, set for March 15 - 19, 2006. The SXSW Film Conference and SXSW Interactive Festival are both in their thirteenth year.
[For more information, please visit the SXSW website.]
Eugene Hernandez is the Editor-in-Chief of indieWIRE.