SXSW 2015: Ava DuVernay and RZA to deliver film keynotes

Ava DuVernay and RZA announced as keynote speakers at the 2015 South by Southwest Film Conference & Festival

As her new film "Selma" begins to surge in the year-end awards race on its way to a Christmas Day opening, filmmaker Ava DuVernay was announced today as keynote speaker for the upcoming South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival. The festival runs March 13-21 in Austin, Texas.

Musical artist, producer and actor RZA also was announced Tuesday to deliver a keynote speech. Filmmaker, producer and actor Mark Duplass had been a previously announced speaker.

Last week DuVernay became the first black woman nominated in the Golden Globes director category. "Selma," a dramatization of the 1965 voting rights campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was nominated for four Globes overall.

"Ava DuVernay’s career evolution is fascinating," Janet Pierson, head of SXSW Film, commented in a statement. "She began directing independent films while running her own successful marketing firm before expanding into distribution and now she is helming a groundbreaking studio picture. Her passion, fearlessness, and excellence are extraordinary."

Though RZA was initially known as a member of the rap group the Wu-Tang Clan, he has gone on to score works for Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, Jim Jarmusch and Michael Mann and has appeared as an actor in such films as "American Gangster" and "Funny People."

"RZA may seem like a somewhat out-of-the-box choice for a film keynote given his prominence as a musician," Pierson said. "What is inspiring is how his love of film has informed his entire career and creativity. We're intrigued by his increasing work as a multi-hyphenated filmmaker, actor and curator."

Further programming announcements are expected to come in early January.

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