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Forty World and U.S. Premieres Unveiled in SXSW Line up

Forty World and U.S. Premieres Unveiled in SXSW Line up

Forty World and U.S. Premieres Unveiled in SXSW Line up

by Brian Brooks

Morgan Freeman and Jet Li in Louis Letterier’s “Unleashed,” which will screen at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. Image courtesy of SXSW.

South by Southwest, the huge annual music and film festival that roughly in Austin, Texas’ last bastion of liberalism, has announced the details of its film event, slated for March 11-19 (the music event takes place March 16-20). The program slate includes 40 world and U.S. premieres, and will open with Andrew and Luke Wilson‘s world debut, “The Wendell Baker Story,” about an ex-con who gets a job in a retirement hotel, and is embroiled in an internal struggle to end its corrupt practices.

SXSW will feature eight films in its Narrative Feature Competition, all of which are world or U.S. premieres, including Toronto 2004 film, “Childstar” by Don McKellar (who also stars in the film) about a self-tormented adolescent star who runs away from his high profile production, but is pursued by his limo driver. Michael Parness“Max & Grace,” a suicidal comedy about a couple who get married and escape their mental institution, is also set to screen in the section, along with Andrew Bujalski‘s story of a musician who moves to New York, “Mutual Appreciation.” Bujalski won last year’s Someone to Watch Award at the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards for his first feature, “Funny Ha Ha.”

The festival culled its program from 2,500 entries this year. SXSW programs three-fourths of its slate through its regular submissions channels, according to festival director, Matt Dentler.

“[SXSW] has become a real destination for film fans and industry, with the number of attendees climbing year after year,” Dentler, who started as an intern with the festival eight years ago, told indieWIRE yesterday. “I think the industry has started to realize that SXSW is a wonderful place to find genuine audience reactions to the latest independent work. The crowds at SXSW embrace films and filmmakers in a way rarely seen at festivals.”

The festival’s Documentary Feature Competition also includes eight films, all of which are world premieres. Oscar-nominated documentarian, Michele Ohayon (“Colors Straight Up,” 1998 — shared with Julia Schachter) returns to the festival circuit with “Cowboy Del Amor,” about a professional matchmaker who pairs Mexican wives with “disillusioned” American men. “Southern Comfort” director Kate Davis teams with David Heilbroner in their look at the diverse list of entrants in the 31st annual Whistling Competition in Louisburg, N.C. in “Pucker Up.”

Another eight titles comprise the festival’s Emerging Visions section, spotlighting first and second time directors. Mystelle Brabbee‘s look at a girl born into prostitution in India, “Highway Courtesans,” which played in November at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) is among the sidebar’s lineup as well as Rotterdam doc profiling the deployment of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in Falluja, “Occupation Dreamland” by Garrett Scott and Ian Olds.

Thirty-three films will screen in SXSW’s ‘Spotlight’ section, including European Film Award-nominee “A Hole in My Heart,” by Lukas Moodysson. The film centers on a teenager who watches his father and friend shoot amateur porn. Newmarket will release the film in the U.S. “Horns and Halos” duo Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley team with David Beilinson and Zachary Werner in their latest project, “Code 33,” which follows two Miami detectives in their quest to find Miami’s serial rapist. Actor/director Emilio Estevez takes a look at the live tour of a well-known Latino comedy in, “Culture Clash in America,” while “Step into Liquid” director Dana Brown brings his film about an annual race through Baja California, Mexico in “Dust to Glory.” Titles that played the world festival circuit including “The Edukators” (Cannes), “Enron: The Smartest Guy in the Room” (Sundance) and “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things” (Cannes, Toronto) are also among the films screening in the section.

In addition to the competition, Emerging Visions and Spotlight sections, the festival will spotlight nine films in its music-oriented ’24 Beats Per Second’ sidebar, while seven will screen in its “Lone Star States” Texas fete. Also scheduled is a New Zealand round-up and five films in its ‘Round Midnight section.

The lineup of feature films, scheduled for the 2005 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. Shorts, special screenings, and panels to be announced soon.

Complete feature lineup (provided by the festival):

Narrative Feature Competition


Dir: Ian Gamazon and Neill Dela Llana; Cast: Ian Gamazon, Dominique Gonzalez.

An American citizen visiting his home country arrives at the Philippines Airport and receives a phone call letting him know that his mother and sister have been kidnapped and will be killed if he doesn’t comply with the caller’s demands.

Dir: Don McKellar; Cast: Don McKellar, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mark Rendall, Kristin Adams, Brendan Fehr, Dave Foley.

A spoiled and conflicted 12-year-old American TV star runs away from the set of his latest film production, only to be pursued by his reluctant limo driver.


Dir: Lexi Alexander; Cast: Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam, Claire Forlani.

An expelled Harvard student moves to London and finds himself embraced and disturbed by the dominant violence of English soccer culture.

“Max & Grace”

Dir: Michael Parness; Cast: David Krumholtz, Natasha Lyonne, Tim Blake Nelson, Lorraine Bracco, David Paymer.

A suicidal comedy about two young lovers who get married and escape from a mental institution in order to live.

“Mutual Appreciation”

Dir: Andrew Bujalski; Cast: Justin Rice, Rachel Clift, Andrew Bujalski, Seung-Min Lee.

Alan is a musician who leaves a busted-up band for New York, and a new musical voyage. He tries to stay focused and fends off all manner of distractions, including the attraction to his good friend’s girlfriend.

“Shooting Livien”

Dir: Rebecca Cook; Cast: Jason Behr, Sarah Wynter, Dominic Monaghan, Joshua Leonard, Ally Sheedy.

A dark psychological drama that explores the inner psyche of John Livien, a disillusioned New York musician who deals with a childhood trauma by claiming an alter ego.

“Southern Belles”

Dir: Paul S. Myers and Brennan Shroff; Cast: Anna Faris, Laura Breckenridge, Justin Chambers, Fred Weller, Judah Friedlander.

Best friends Bell and Belle try to get out of their trailer park lives and into the “big city” of Atlanta. Matters become complicated when Bell falls for a police officer and Belle struggles to keep a job.


Dir: Ben Rekhi; Cast: Christopher Masterson, Jake Muxworthy, Ajay Naidu, Magiena Tovah, Shabana Azmi, Jon Gries.

Three sets of L.A. residents unexpectedly throw their lives and destinies together after a terrorist attack against the city’s water supply.

Documentary Feature Competition

“A Life Without Pain”

Dir: Melody Gilbert.

An exploration of three families, each suffering with children that can feel no pain.

“The Boys of Baraka”
Dir: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady.

Twenty 12-year-old boys from the roughest ghettos of inner-city Baltimore left home for Kenya, East Africa to attend the 7th and 8th grade at the Baraka School, an experimental boarding academy.

“The Comedians of Comedy”

Dir: Michael Blieden.

Life on the road as four stand-up comics struggle to bring cutting-edge comedy to venues across America.

“Cowboy Del Amor”

Dir: Michele Ohayon.

Professional Cupid and former cowboy Ivan Thompson finds Mexican wives for disillusioned American men. Claiming love has no borders, the men are in for a few surprises.

“Our Brand is Crisis”

Dir: Rachel Boynton.

The verite story of the rise and fall of the last President of Bolivia, focusing on his James Carville-led American political consultants as they work to get him elected.

“Pucker Up”

Dir: Kate Davis and David Heilbroner.

A wild crew of passionate whistlers – including a turkey hauler, an investment banker and a Dutch social worker – keep this lost art alive as they descend on Louisburg, NC for the 31st annual Whistling Competition.


Dir: Alexandra Shiva.

250 kids, ages 8 to 18, put on 12 shows in three weeks at Stagedoor Manor, a theater camp in the Catskills where they come to bask in the glow of their personal spotlight – or escape from it.

“Strange Fruit”

Dir: Regis Trigano.

In May of 2003, a young African-American man was found hanging in a tree in the rural Florida town of Belle Glade. While the family claimed their son was lynched, the police ruled the suspicious death a suicide.

Emerging Visions


Dir: Jason Tomaric; Cast: Jeff St. Clair, Gary Skiba, James Kisicki, Bill Caco.

Mourning the death of his daughter, a chancellor of the future must find the one person whose genetic structure can bring life to thousands of dormant human clones.

“Four Eyed Monsters”

Dir: Nira Nasus; Cast: Nira Nasus.

“I want a relationship but I don’t want a relationship.” “I want someone but I don’t want a struggle.” “I want to be okay if I’m alone.” “I want to not have to want.” “I’m looking for someone who is looking for the same.”

“Highway Courtesans”

Dir: Mystelle Brabbee

What happens when an independent-minded young girl is born into a centuries-old tradition of prostitution? Against the rich backdrop of rural India, this documentary follows Guddi Chauhan from the age of 17 through 23 as she struggles against tradition.

“Kissing On The Mouth”

Dir: Joe Swanberg; Cast: Kate Winterich, Joe Swanberg, Kevin Pittman, Kris Williams.

Ellen is sleeping with her ex-boyfriend while trying to ignore the fact that he’s looking for more than just sex. Her roommate, Patrick, isn’t helping matters with his secretive and jealous behavior.


Dir: Svetozar Ristovski; Cast: Marko Kovacevic.

Amidst Macedonia’s tumultuous transition, a boy escapes into his world of hopes and dreams. Circumstances worsen and the boy takes matters into his own hands.

“Occupation: Dreamland”

Dir: Garrett Scott and Ian Olds.

A documentary profile of a unit in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division while deployed in Falluja, Iraq in early 2004. During daylight patrols, home raids and downtime in their bungalows, the soldiers reveal conflicted and complex feelings about their duty and purpose.

“The Puffy Chair”

Dir: Jay Duplass; Cast: Mark Duplass, Kathryn Aselton, Rhett Wilkins.

One man, his girlfriend, and his eccentric brother embark on a comical road trip to deliver one giant purple puffy chair.

“Straight Line”

Dir: Sean Ackerman; Cast: Sean Ackerman, Shannon Shultz, Monika Franzen, Sam Baker.

When Sophie leaves Bobby to follow her dream of going to Panama, Bobby decides to follow her in his old Buick, driving from Montana to Panama. Along the way, the search for Sophie becomes a search to find himself and come to terms with his mother’s death.


“A Hole in My Heart”

Dir: Lukas Moodysson; Cast: Björn Almroth, Sanna Bråding, Horsten Flinc, Goran Marjanovic.

In a run-down apartment, a teenager watches his father and friend shoot an amateur porn film as they explore issues of morality, reality TV, and friendship.

“The Ballad of Jack and Rose”

Dir: Rebecca Miller; Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Camilla Belle, Catherine Keener, Paul Dano, Jena Malone, Beau Bridges.

Jack has sheltered his teenage daughter Rose from the influences of the outside world, but now his fatal illness and Rose’s emerging womanhood pose troubling questions about the days ahead.

“Code 33”

Dir: Michael Galinsky, Suki Hawley, David Beilinson, Zachary Werner.

Cameras follow two detectives as they lead a manhunt to find Miami’s notorious serial rapist.

“Culture Clash in America”

Dir: Emilio Estevez.

A performance film from the live tour of acting troupe Culture Clash. Through various characters and monologues, the trio explores American culture and stereotypes.

“The Dreams of Sparrows”

Dir: Hayder Mousa Daffar.

A team of Iraqi filmmakers document a perspective of their country, after the capture of Saddam Hussein and before the reconstruction.

“Drop Dead Sexy”

Dir: Michael Philip; Cast: Crispin Glover, Jason Lee, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Melissa Keller, Xander Berkeley.

When their money scam goes awry, a group of would-be thieves turn to kidnapping in an attempt to blackmail their target.

“Dust to Glory”

Dir: Dana Brown.

Every fall since 1967 a hearty and eclectic band of adventurers have gathered in Ensenada, Mexico in Baja California for one of the roughest, toughest and most exhilarating rides ever concocted.

“The Edukators”

Dir: Hans Weingartner; Cast: Daniel Brühl, Julia Jentsch, Stipe Erceg.

Three activists hatch a kidnapping plot after they encounter a businessman in his home.

“Emmanuel’s Gift”

Dir: Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern.

Of the 20 million people in Ghana, two million are disabled. This is the story of one disabled man whose mission – and purpose – is to change all that forever.

“Enron: The Smartest Guy in the Room”

Dir: Alex Gibney.

This is the inside story of one of history’s greatest business scandals, in which top executives of America’s 7th largest company walked away with over one billion dollars while investors and employees lost everything.

“The Grace Lee Project”

Dir: Grace Lee.

A humorous documentary essay that contrasts the world of stereotypes with the real-life experiences of several women named Grace Lee, a very common Asian American name.

“The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things”

Dir: Asia Argento; Cast: TK

A young boy is pulled from his foster home and finds himself on the road with his teenage mother as they encounter disturbing characters.

“High School Record”

Dir: Ben Wolfinsohn; Cast: Jenna Thornhill, Dean Allen Spunt, Bobby Sandoval, Jennifer Clavin.

Like most high school students, these four ride a continual wave of embarrassment: crappy after-school jobs, attempted sex in the science room, tinfoil shorts, guitar-strumming hippie teachers, and brushes with the law.


Dir: Nimrod Antal; Cast: Sándor Badár, Eszter Balla, Sándor Csányi, Lajos Kovács.

A humorous and suspenseful tale of rival ticket inspectors in Hungary’s underground transit system.

“Kung Fu Hustle”

Dir: Stephen Chow; Cast: TK

1940s China is transformed into a world of action-packed hysteria as gangsters use superhuman strength to battle over their turf.

“The Last Mogul”

Dir: Barry Avrich.

A biography of the fascinating life of legendary Hollywood player Lew Wasserman as he built an empire still thriving today.

“Layer Cake”

Dir: Matthew Vaughn; Cast: Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney, Kenneth Cranham, George Harris, Jamie Foreman, Sienna Miller.

A successful cocaine dealer planning an early retirement is lured back into business by a love interest and an international drug ring.

“The Life and Times of Guy Terrifico”

Dir: Michael Mabbott; Cast: TK

A faux documentary about the rise and fall of fictional country/western singer Guy Terrifico, featuring some legendary real-life balladeers.

“Lila Says”

Dir: Ziad Doueiri; Cast: Vahina Giocante, Mohammed Khouas, Karim Ben Haddou, Lotfi Chakri.

The sexual awakening of two teenagers in France is only heightened by the forward advances of a girl named Lila.

“Mana: Beyond Belief”

Dir: Peter Friedman and Roger Manley.

What do the American flag, a cherry blossom tree, a frozen tuna, and a Rembrandt painting have in common? They are all “power objects.”


Dir: Harry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro.

Murderball, now called “quad rugby,” is a highly competitive, physically violent game played in armored wheelchairs worthy of Mad Max. Following the quadriplegic players, this is a film that will shatter every stereotype you have ever had about what it is to be handicapped.

“Old Boy”

Dir: Chan-wook Park; Cast: Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Gang Hye-jung.

A man is mysteriously kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years before his release. Once out in the real world, he enacts his revenge on those who seek to punish him.


Dir: Todd Solondz; Cast: Ellen Barkin, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Richard Masur.

Aviva is an awkward young girl, navigating through a bizarre set of characters and a disturbing trail of events.

“Promedio Rojo”

Dir: Nicolas Lopez.

Roberto is a freak addicted to comics. He uses them to escape his sad reality. He finds that love, besides being blind, is also hard of hearing.

“Reel Paradise”

Dir: Steve James.

A portrait of the Pierson family, as they leave their film industry lives in New York to run a remote movie theater in Fiji.

“Saint Ralph”

Dir: Michael McGowan; Cast: Campbell Scott, Jennifer Tilly, Adam Butcher.

The beautifully bittersweet story of a boy who has the temerity to believe he can make a miracle happen.

“Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic”

Dir: Liam Lynch.

The controversial and acclaimed comedian riffs on everything from religion, sex, 9/11, and more.

The Self-Made Man”

Dir: Susan Stern.

77-year-old Bob Stern finds out he’s seriously ill – possibly terminal, and decides to take his own life. His family tries to stop him. But first, they set up a video camera.

“Seoul Train”

Dir: Jim Butterworth, Aaron Lubarsky, Lisa Sleeth.

With its riveting footage of a secretive underground railroad, this gripping documentary exposes the life and death of North Koreans as they try to escape their homeland and China.

“Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party”

Dir: Robert Brinkmann.

Normally out of the limelight, character actor Stephen Tobolowsky is front and center in a performance at his birthday party recounting stories of his experiences behind the scenes of Hollywood movies.

“Tell Them Who You Are”

Dir: Mark Wexler.

The son of acclaimed cinematographer Haskell Wexler confronts his complex father by turning the camera on him.

“The Thing About My Folks”

Dir: Raymond DeFelitta; Cast: Peter Falk, Paul Reiser, Olympia Dukakis, Elizabeth Perkins.

The story of a father and son who, over the course of several stressful yet meaningful days, rediscover their love for each other while coping with a family crisis.

“The Wendell Baker Story”

Dir: Luke and Andrew Wilson; Cast: Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Eva Mendes, Eddie Griffin.

Wendell Baker is a good-natured ex-con who tries to win back his ex-girlfriend while fighting corruption at a retirement community.

24 Beats Per Second

“All We Are Saying”

Dir: Rosanna Arquette.

A compilation of thousands of hours of footage from in-depth personal interviews with the greatest icons in musical history.

“Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt”

Dir: Margaret Brown.

The bittersweet, tragic and destructive life of one of the most respected songwriters in the history of country music.


Dir: Josh Rubin.

The daily life and chaotic history of an unlikely rock ‘n’ roll icon, suffering from a rare form of self-sabotage.

“The Devil and Daniel Johnston”

Dir: Jeff Feuerzeig.

An intimate portrait of the incredibly strange but true life of underground songwriter, illustrator, and cult hero Daniel Johnston.

“The Fearless Freaks”

Dir: Bradley Beesley.

From college radio staples to international rock stars, here’s the story of how some Oklahoma boys called The Flaming Lips changed the face of indie rock.

“Press On”

Dir: Gillian Grisman.

An entertaining look at how one church and an obscure instrument turned Robert Randolph & the Family Band into celebrities.

“Rock School”

Dir: Don Argott.

Everyone at some point in their life dreams of being a rock star – to feel the roar of the crowd, the adoration of the fans, and the trials of life on the road. One can only imagine fulfilling this fantasy as a kid.

“Scratch: All the Way Live”

Dir: Doug Pray.

From the creators of the doumentary film, “Scratch,” comes an explosive live concert film which documents the Los Angeles stop of the Scratch Tour.

“You’re Gonna Miss Me”

Dir: Keven McAlester.

The story of rock legend Roky Erickson: A manic singer who was Janis Joplin’s primary influence, fronting a band called the 13th Floor Elevators, considered by many to be the creators of psychedelic music.

Lone Star States


Dir: Jonathan Walls; Cast: Jamie Anne Brown, Jennifer Ferguson, Brandy Howard, Sean O’Bryan.

Six people at different stages of life and love, driven by various motives, desires and emotions such as half-sisters and brothers, dreams; shattered and unshattered, and second chances.


Dir: Yen Tan, James M. Johnston, Nick Prendergast, David Lowery.

In this tragic tale, a man helps a young woman remember her past. A husband and wife confront each other about their infidelities. A journalist interviews a famous author about the mysteries hidden in his novel. A girl visits her former colleague to tell him how much she’s always loved him.

“The Education of Shelby Knox”

Dir: Marion Lipschutz, Rose Rosenblatt.

This documentary follows a high school student as she battles the line between her conservative community and her liberal beliefs in Lubbock, Texas.

“Fall to Grace”

Dir: Mari Marchbanks; Cast: Kira Pozehl, Jessica Roque, Gabriel Luna, Bhagirit Crow.

This intricate narrative subtly plots its way through the lives of three teens and their families, showing the connections that turn disparate households into a neighborhood.

“La Sierra”

Dir: Scott Dalton.

An intimate, unflinching portrait of three lives defined by violence, and a community wracked by conflict. Over the course of a year, in a Columbian barrio where thousands are killed each year, these lives each undergo profound changes ranging from victory, to death, to hope.

“Light from the East”

Dir: Amy Grappell.

In August, 1991 a troupe of young American actors travel to Ukraine to participate in one of the first cultural exchange theatre projects in Soviet history.

“Troop 1500”

Dir: Ellen Spiro.

The story of a unique girl scout troop whose mothers are in prison in Gatesville, Texas.

Discoveries From Down Under

“Giving it All Away”

Dir: Paul Davidson.

The remarkable story of philanthropist Sir Roy McKenzie and his father JR. A beautifully crafted film telling a story of wealth, achievement, generosity and caring about others.

“Josh Jarman”

Dir: Pip Mushin.

Josh Jarman is a struggling playwright desperate to make it big. One day, out of the blue, Josh’s luck changes.


Dir: Cate Shortland; Cast: Abbie Cornish, Sam Worthington, Lynette Curran, Erik Thomson.

New experiences help a young girl learn the differences between sex and love.


Dir: Darren Ashton.

Five boys, all devoted AC/DC fans, make a pact to bury their best friend next to the grave of Bon Scott.

‘Round Midnight

“The Aristocrats”

Dir: Paul Provenza.

Dozens of famous comedians tell different variations of the same, legendary joke in filthy and graphic detail.

“Dead Birds”

Dir: Alex Turner; Cast: Henry Thomas, Isaiah Washington, Patrick Fugit, Nicki Lynn Aycox.

After robbing a bank, a group of Confederate soldiers seek refuge in an abandoned plantation haunted by supernatural forces.


Dir: David Payne; Cast: Eric Mabius, Scott Whyte, Tina Illman, Derek Richardson, Devon Gummersall.

When a lonely highway is inexplicably closed, five students sharing a ride to a desert rave find themselves trapped at a recently deserted travel oasis. Led by a blind grad student with heightened senses, they must survive the night and confront what appears to be a terrifying abyss between the living and the dead.

“The Roost”

Dir: Ti West.

Four friends on their way to a wedding find themselves marooned on a mysterious farm. Creatures of the night awaken and the undead rise, as a night of relentless horror begins.


Dir: Louis Leterrier; Cast: Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins, Kerry Condon.

Danny, is raised by a gangster to be a violent killing machine. When he has a chance encounter with a blind piano tuner, he experiences true kindness and compassion for the first time – and breaks from the underworld to go live with the piano tuner and his family.

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