A supernatural thriller from John Krasinski, a bawdy sex-prevention comedy, a new TV project from Jordan Peele and odd Bill Murray stories are all part of the South by Southwest film festival lineup, organizers announced Wednesday.
Though movie distribution models are continuing to shift, the festival’s producer, Janet Pierson, said SXSW’s role was unchanged. “Our job is to connect talent with audience,” she said by phone from Austin, Texas, the festival’s home. “As the different means of delivery and formats change, we’re just looking for people who make compelling work.”
SXSW has long showcased new television series, and this year it will also screen independent TV pilots. But the movies are still the biggest thing. This year’s festival will run March 9-17. Here are five selections from the lineup that are likely to generate chatter.
‘A Quiet Place’: The chills are hushed in the festival’s pick for opening night. John Krasinski directs and acts alongside Emily Blunt, his wife, in this horror movie about a family that must stay quiet to ward off a menace that strikes at any sound. The film seems to be a stark contrast (both in tone and title) to that of Krasinski’s previous directorial effort, “The Hollars.” The festival does have enthusiastic horror audiences who should have fun with this concept, especially if the movie delivers the kind of tension that its trailer sustains.
‘Blockers’: SXSW often makes room for a fun R-rated comedy. “Bridesmaids” and “Sausage Party” have taken those slots in years past. Now comes the directorial debut of “Pitch Perfect” screenwriter Kay Cannon. It’s about parents who try to prevent their daughters from having sex on prom night. It features Leslie Mann and Kathryn Newton, as well as John Cena, who has been something of a scene-stealer in comedies like “Trainwreck” and “Sisters.”
‘Support the Girls’: Austin filmmaker Andrew Bujalski has made idiosyncratic films spanning quirky topics like computer chess and personal training. His new movie is set in the world of Hooters-style restaurants, featuring Regina Hall as a manager of one such establishment. An ensemble cast that includes Haley Lu Richardson, Lea DeLaria and James Le Gros certainly has us curious about what Bujalski has up his sleeve here.
‘The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From a Mythical Man’: Remember that time Bill Murray spontaneously tended bar during SXSW? Or when he joined a kickball game or gave a chef his watch? The stories of regular folks’ random encounters with the actor have piled up, and there’s now a movie about them. Director Tommy Avallone interviewed people worldwide who had fun Murray tales to tell, and includes plenty of footage of the actor.
‘The Last O.G.’: Fresh off his Oscar nominations for “Get Out,” writer and director Jordan Peele will be bringing episodes of this television project to Austin. The series, with some episodes written by Peele and John Carcieri, stars Tracy Morgan as an ex-con adjusting to life on the outside after 15 years in prison. This will be Morgan’s first major television role since he was critically injured in a traffic accident, and could be a fun return to the small screen (with a big screen premiere) for Peele, who first rose to prominence in the Comedy Central series “Key and Peele.” After the festival, “The Last O.G.” will begin running April 3 on TBS.