SXSW 2015 to open with doc 'Brand: A Second Coming' on Russell Brand

'Brand: A Second Coming,' a documentary on Russell Brand, is the opening-night film of the SXSW film fest

The South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival on Thursday announced the world premiere of "Brand: A Second Coming," a documentary on comedian and author Russell Brand, as the opening-night film of its 2015 SXSW film fest running March 13-21 in Austin, Texas.

Brand is a stand-up comedian, actor, author and activist who has recently become controversial for his increasingly politicized work. Besides appearing in the films "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Get Him to the Greek" and "Paradise," Brand is known to some as the ex-husband of pop music star Katy Perry.

Director Ondi Timoner is a two-time winner of the Sundance Grand Jury prize for documentaries, for her films "Dig!" and "We Live in Public."

"Ondi Timoner's bold and lively documentary on Russell Brand knocked us out with its humor, insight and raw energy, pulling back the curtain on a truly passionate figure as he grapples with fame, influence and where we are as a 21st century society," Janet Pierson, SXSW's head of film, said in a statement.

The festival also announced a few other initial titles for this year's event, including the world premiere of Karyn Kusama's "The Invitation," starring Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michiel Huisman and Lindsay Burdge. It also plans to feature the North American premiere of Alex Garland's sci-fi thriller "Ex Machina," starring Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander.

Other selections announced Thursday as world premieres for the festival are Sara Hirsh Bordo's doc "A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story"; Michael Showalter's "Hello, My Name Is Doris," starring Sally Field; Jessica Edwards' doc "Mavis!" on legendary soul singer Mavis Staples; and Adam Hootnick's doc "Son of the Congo."

SXSW previously announced keynote addresses for this year's festival from Mark Duplass, Ava DuVernay and RZA. The rest of this year's program is to be announced in Feburary.

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