LOS ANGELES — A comedy about the first year of marriage, a documentary about Stephen Hawking, and Joss Whedon’s adaptation of a Shakespeare play are among the eclectic mix of 109 films set to screen at this year’s South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival, organizers announced Thursday.
“I Give It a Year,” which makes its North American premiere at the Austin festival, is the directorial debut of “Borat” and “Bruno” screenwriter Dan Mazer, and stars Rose Byrne, Anna Faris, Rafe Spall and Simon Baker in a comedy about falling out of marital love.
It’s one of many comedies premiering at the March festival, such as the previously announced “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” (Dan Scardino’s magician satire starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey), and “Drinking Buddies” (Joe Swanberg’s workplace romance with Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston and Jake Johnson).
“We’re always strong on comedy,” said SXSW Film Conference and Festival producer Janet Pierson. “But there’s a lot of joy and fun in the program this year, and maybe a wider appeal.”
Another strength at SXSW is its documentaries, and this year’s slate includes the world premiere of “Hawking,” Stephen Finnigan’s portrait of paralyzed British physicist Stephen Hawking; “The Network,” Eva Orner’s chronicle of an Afghan TV network; and “Milius,” Zak Knutson and Joey Figueroa’s story of filmmaker John Milius.
The lineup is also heavy on theater entries, Pierson noted, with the U.S. premiere of Whedon’s take on “Much Ado About Nothing,” and world premieres of “Some Girl(s)” (Daisy von Scherler Mayer’s adaptation of the Neil LaBute play), “Improvement Club” (Dayna Hanson’s tale of an avant-garde performance group) and “We Cause Scenes” (Matt Adams’ documentary about the comedy troupe Improv Everywhere).
The festival is light this year on one of its traditional mainstays — genre films — with the previously announced “Evil Dead,” director Fede Alvarez’s remake of the 1981 cult horror film from Sam Raimi, the most high-profile horror title. More titles will be announced when the Midnighters section and short film programs are finalized Wednesday.
The conference and festival is March 8-16. For more information, go to sxsw.com/film.