‘Veronica Mars’ movie premiering at SXSW

Since the embargo is up, I can finally announce that I’m going to be moderating a one-hour onstage conversation with Alejandro Jodorowsky during SXSW this year in Austin.

I’ve moderated plenty of panels and interviews over the years, but Jodorowsky is one-of-a-kind. I think his work is beautiful and profane and surreal and silly and about eighty other adjectives. “The Holy Mountain,” “El Topo,” and “Santa Sangre” constitute a filmography so grand that even if he’d never done anything else, he would have secured his place as one of the greats. Last year, “Jodorowsky’s Dune” played the festival circuit, detailing his attempts in the early to mid ’70s trying to get a film version of Frank Herbert’s novel off the ground. I was just flattered to have been interviewed for that. But to get a chance to actually spend an hour in conversation with this brilliant artist? And to be able to do it in front of an audience? There are days I can hardly believe this is my job.

I love SXSW every year, and it just seems to keep growing and getting more interesting, more varied. Today’s announcement of the first batch of titles is a strong one, but this is all still just the warm-up for the big announcements coming soon.

Opening Night, they’re showing “Chef,” the new film by Jon Favreau. I’ve seen Favreau get his party on in Austin before, and I’m excited to see his new movie.

Throw in the premiere of “Veronia Mars” and a screening of the new “COSMOS” with special guest Neil deGrasse Tyson, and you get some sense of just how broad the focus of SXSW truly is

Here’s the press release about the festival that was just sent over:

Austin, Texas – January 9, 2014 – The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival announces the world premiere of Chef as its Opening Night Film, from director Jon Favreau, which will screen on Friday, March 7, 2014.

SXSW also revealed a diverse handful of titles that will premiere at the 2014 event, comprised of an array of topics that tap into the buzzing pulse of SXSW culture.

Additional films announced include the hotly-anticipated world premiere of Rob Thomas” Veronica Mars feature, COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey, FOX”s re-launch of COSMOS, the iconic 1980 television miniseries from Carl Sagan, and featuring a Q&A with host Neil deGrasse Tyson, Christian Larson”s Leave the World Behind, a documentary on EDM icons Swedish House Mafia, Creep, a twisted thriller starring Mark Duplass from Patrick Brice, first-time feature director Jay Karas” Break Point, a comedy set in the world of competitive tennis and screening as part of the new SXsports, and Doc of the Dead, a definitive look at Zombie culture, directed by SXSW Alum Alexandre O. Philippe.

The complete festival lineup will be announced Thursday, January 30, excluding Midnighter features, which will be announced with the Short Film lineup on Wednesday, February 5. This year marks the 21st edition of the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival, March 7 – 15, 2015 in Austin, Texas. For more information visit sxsw.com/film.

“Jon Favreau”s wonderfully entertaining return to independent filmmaking works beautifully as our 2014 Opening Night Film, with his sharp and funny take on the world of food, artistry, and family in the age of social media,” said Head of SXSW Film Janet Pierson. “We”re equally excited to share a few more highly anticipated projects and premieres with you in advance of our full slate, as well as reveal some terrific new discoveries.”

The 2014 SXSW Film Festival will feature:

Break Point (World Premiere / SXsports screening) Director: Jay Karas, Screenwriters: Gene Hong, Jeremy Sisto Two estranged brothers reunite to make an improbable run at a grand slam tennis tournament. The mismatched pair, with some unlikely help from a precocious 11-year-old boy, re-discover their game and their brotherhood. Cast: Jeremy Sisto, David Walton, Joshua Rush, J.K. Simmons, Amy Smart

Chef (World Premiere) Director: Jon Favreau, Screenplay & Story: Jon Favreau When Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman), he is left to figure out what”s next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), his friend (John Leguizamo) and his son (Emjay Anthony) to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Chef Carl goes back to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen — and zest for life and love. Producers are Jon Favreau and Sergei Bespalov. Executive producers include Molly Allen and Karen Gilchrist. Open Road Films will release Chef in May 2014. Cast: Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey, Jr. and young actor Emjay Anthony.

Creep (World Premiere) Director: Patrick Brice, Screenwriters: Patrick Brice & Mark Duplass When a videographer answers a Craigslist ad for a one-day job in the outer-exurbs, he finds his client is not at all what he initially seems. Cast: Mark Duplass, Patrick Brice

COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey (Special Event with Neil deGrasse Tyson) Director: Brannon Braga As with the legendary original series, FOX”s new COSMOS is the saga of how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time. The series is hosted by renowned astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and brings to life never-before-told stories of the heroic quest for knowledge, transporting viewers to new worlds and across the universe for a vision of the cosmos on the grandest — and the smallest — scale. Executive Produced by Ann Druyan, Seth MacFarlane, Brannon Braga and Mitchell Cannold.

Doc of the Dead (World Premiere) Director: Alexandre O. Philippe The definitive zombie culture documentary, from the makers of The People vs. George Lucas. Doc of the Dead traces the rise and evolution of the zombie genre, its influence on pop culture, and investigates the possibility of an actual zombie outbreak.

Leave the World Behind (World Premiere) Director: Christian Larson A documentary following the final tour of the hugely successful band Swedish House Mafia. The film depicts the EDM scene at its peak as well as telling a story of friendship and success. (United Kingdom)

Veronica Mars (World Premiere) Director: Rob Thomas, Screenwriters: Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero Years after walking away from her past as a teenage private eye, Veronica Mars gets pulled back to her hometown, an ex-boyfriend with baggage, and an unraveling murder mystery. Cast: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Krysten Ritter, Francis Capra, Percy Daggs III, Ryan Hansen, Gaby Hoffman, Chris Lowell, Tina Majorino, Jerry O’Connell

In addition to nine full days of film screenings, the SXSW Film Conference will feature over 150 informative and entertaining sessions, including its first-ever daily keynotes, previously announced to include Lena Dunham, Jason Blum and Casey Neistat.

On Monday, March 10, SXSW Film is proud to feature A Conversation with Alejandro Jodorowsky. One of the legends of ’70s cinema, a vanguard of the midnight movie, and just as famous for films he didn”t make as the films he did, Jodorowsky is not an artist whose body of work can easily be described. Cineastes around the world have been waiting for something new since the release of Santa Sangre in 1989, and in celebration of his new feature, The Dance of Reality, SXSW proudly presents this hour-long session with one of the masters of surrealist cinema, and moderated by HitFix”s Drew McWeeny.

Additionally, Jeffrey Tambor continues the tradition of his much loved acting and life workshop by returning to SXSW Film 2014 for Jeffrey Tambor”s Acting Workshop. Part one-man show, part seminar, part question and answer and endlessly entertaining, Jeffrey”s hilarious and empowering presentation inspires the viewer to discover the artist within.

For more confirmed Conference sessions, including details on programming for the all new SXsports, additional Conversations, Digital Domain, Future 15s, Mentor Sessions, Meet the Insiders, Workshops, Startup Alley, and Come & Capture Film Factory visit www.sxsw.com/film/sessions/about. The final Conference lineup will be released Wednesday, February 12.

As always, to take full advantage of the full range of sessions at SXSW Film, you must register for a Film, Gold or Platinum badge at www.sxsw.com/attend. Join us March 7-15, 2014 for unparalleled access to these energetic panels, exceptional films, exciting parties, the SXSW Trade Show and, of course, a creative and inspirational experience that only SXSW can deliver. Be sure to register soon, and gain access to conveniently located hotels. Register by 11:59pm CST on Friday, January 10 and save off the walk-up rate.

SXSW 2014 is sponsored by Miller Lite, Monster Energy, Esurance, Chevrolet, AT&T, IFC and The Austin Chronicle.

I’ll be there for every bloody minute of the festival this year, and I hope to see you there, too. I’m leaving for Sundance in less than a week, and yet my mind is already focused on Austin in March. 2014, you are off and running.