Smart move. Summit Entertainment has decided to world premiere Jodie Foster’s controversial Mel Gibson drama The Beaver at SXSW (March 11-19), which decided to let the film speak for itself. Said festival director Janet Pierson: “It’s an actress/filmmaker carefully and beautifully tackling a heartbreaking subject in her finest work yet.” The film starring Gibson as a man who talks to a sock puppet will be a centerpiece premiere on March 16. SXSW is a fest attended by film fans of every stripe who could send good buzz into the blogosphere and help to move the movie beyond Gibson’s toxic tabloid history. Foster will attend; no word on Gibson as yet. Summit releases the film limited on March 23, expanding on April 8.
Also joining the line-up are Greg Mottola’s comedy-adventure Paul, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, which is a soft lob down the middle for the SXSW gang, and Conan O’Brien’s summer tour doc Can’t Stop. SXSW will open March 11 2011 with Duncan Jones’ Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Vera Farmiga and Michelle Monaghan. Along with nine days of screenings, SXSW Film will feature over 80 sessions of panels and workshops (I am participating on one about blog journalism).
The SXSW Film Festival adds are below:
The Beaver (World Premiere)
Director: Jodie Foster, Writer: Kyle Killen
Summit Entertainment and Participant Media Present in Association with Imagenation Abu Dhabi and Anonymous Content – Two-time Academy Award® winner Jodie Foster directs and co-stars with two-time Academy Award® winner Mel Gibson in an emotional story about a man on a journey to re-discover his family and re-start his life. Plagued by his own demons, Walter Black was once a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can’t seem to get himself back on track…until a beaver hand puppet enters his life. Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin & Jennifer Lawrence
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (World Premiere)
Director: Rodman Flender
After a much-publicized separation with his former employers, did Conan O’Brien hit the road on a 32-City tour to connect with his fans or fill a void within himself? Filmmaker Rodman Flender followed O’Brien on his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” and returned with an intimate portrait of an artist trained in improvisation, captured at the most improvisational time of his career.
The Innkeepers (World Premiere)
Director and Writer: Ti West
Hotel clerks by day, amateur ghost hunters by night, the last two employees of the historic Yankee Pedlar Inn set out to prove that their place of business is as haunted as its reputation. Cast: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis
It’s About You (World Premiere)
Directors: Kurt & Ian Markus
First-time filmmakers, photographer Kurt Markus and his son, Ian, document John Mellencamp’s summer 2009 tour across America, and the recording of his new album, No Better Than This. This is a raw and personal film, celebrating the visual beauty and power of Super8 film and the human voice.
Paul (North American Premiere)
Director: Greg Mottola, Writers: Simon Pegg & Nick Frost
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) reunite for Universal Pictures’ comedy-adventure Paul as two sci-fi geeks whose pilgrimage takes them to America’s UFO heartland. While there, they accidentally meet an alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) who brings them on an insane road trip that alters their universe forever. Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner, John Carroll Lynch, with Sigourney Weaver and Seth Rogen as Paul.
Square Grouper (World Premiere)
Director: Billy Corben
A colorful portrait of Miami’s pot smuggling scene of the 1970s, populated with redneck pirates, a ganja-smoking church, and the longest serving marijuana prisoner in American history.