Jon Favreau’s restaurant comedy “Chef,” Rob Thomas’ crowd-funded “Veronica Mars” movie and a documentary about zombies in film and popular culture will premiere at the 21st edition of the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas, organizers announced Thursday.
The festival, which runs March 7-15, also will host an event with prominent physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who will discuss his new Fox series “Cosmos,” as well as an hourlong conversation with surrealist filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky.
"I think the through-line is always that we feel like we're on the cultural pulse," said film conference and festival producer Janet Pierson of the eclectic mix of programming. "When we're looking, particularly at documentaries, we're looking for things about the culture, cultural moments."
"Chef," which arrives as the first film from Favreau since 2011’s “Cowboys & Aliens,” opens the festival on a comedic note, with the writer-director playing a chef who leaves behind his position at a prominent L.A. eatery to stirke out on his own in Miami operating a food truck. The ensemble cast includes Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt and Robert Downey Jr.
The festival will explore other cultural niches with the documentaries “Leave the World Behind,” which tracks the final tour of EDM sensations Swedish House Mafia, and “Doc of the Dead,” about the modern fascination with zombies. Both documentaries are premiering at SXSW.
“Break Point,” a comedy from first-time director Jay Karas set in the world of competitive tennis, will premiere as part of the festival’s Sxsports banner.
Also premiering is the horror film “Creep,” starring SXSW veteran Mark Duplass.
It's the "Veronica Mars" movie, though, that's likely to create the loudest buzz. Funded via an attention-grabbing 2013 Kickstarter campaign, the film sees Kristen Bell return to the career-launching role she originated on the cult TV series, with resourceful Veronica returning to her hometown after years away, dealing with an ex-boyfriend and a murder mystery.
The complete lineup for the film festival will be announced Jan. 30.
More information is available at sxsw.com/film.