Alright, it's 2011, people. Time to get in with the new. The Sundance Film Festival is just right around the corner, but not far off in March is the SXSW Film Festival, which continues to get better and better each year. While the opening night film has already been announced -- Duncan Jones' "Source Code" -- new editions to the line-up have been made including Jodie Foster's "The Beaver," starring persona non grata Mel Gibson, Greg Mottola's alien roadtrip comedy "Paul," starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop," a documentary that follows the behind-the-scenes of the talk show host's summer tour, among others.
Six films have been added in total, including Ti West's "The Innkeepers," his follow-up to the highly successful 2009 horror-indie, "The House of the Devil." Below the jump is deets on all six pictures, plus a bit of our own speculation as to what's coming in future announcements. The South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival runs March 11 – 19, 2011 in Austin, Texas.
The 2011 SXSW Film Festival will feature:
"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 and 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, 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.
Alright, considering what's already been announced and when their proper release dates are, here's some guesses. So "Paul" hits theaters regularly on 3/18, "Source Code" on April 1, so that's the type of ballpark release date you need to think about. The fest runs March 11 – 19, so films released before that -- Universal's "The Adjustment Bureau" for example, that could likely use the help -- is out. "Battle: Los Angeles" opens on 3/11, but since they've already announced the opening night film, is likely not gonna happen. Sony is thinking much wider and bigger regardless. One small possibility is Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch" which arrives 3/25. It's perfect for the SXSW crowd that went ape over "Kick-Ass," but it's unclear whether WB will want to risk it. It's a huge movie, it's expensive, if they're not 100% sure it's going to go over like gangbusters they may not debut it then and wait for regular release. Cary Fukunaga's "Jane Eyre" would have been a safe bet if it was released later (3/11) as SXSW loved him and "Sin Nombre" played extremely well there. Other possibilities include Relativity's "Limitless," Fox Searchlight's "Win Win." TWC's "Miral," Max Winkler's "Ceremony," Universal's "Your Highness" (frankly, we're surprised this one wasn't already announced), Joe Wright's "Hanna," "Meek's Cutoff" and maybe, maybe Steven Soderbergh's "Haywire" if we're lucky, but that's probably too soon and wishful thinking (it hits 4/22).