Funny or Die friends Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Dave Franco are bringing their brand of humor to the SXSW Film festival this year in Neighbors, directed by The Muppets scribe Nick Stoller. Neighbors is about a young couple (Rogen and Rose Byrne) who are forced to live next to a fraternity house after the birth of their newborn baby. The comedy joins already announced films including Jon Favreau’s food truck sendup Chef and the much-anticipated premiere of the Veronica Mars movie at this year’s fest. The full lineup includes 68 films from first-time filmmakers, 76 world premieres, 10 North American premieres, and seven U.S. premieres.
Also debuting are Space Station 76, a sci-fi feature starring Patrick Wilson, Matt Bomer, and Liv Tyler; Cesar Chavez, the biopic about the iconic California labor activist from actor/director Diego Luna, starring Michael Pena; and We’ll Never Have Paris, written by The Big Bang Theory star Simon Helberg and starring Helberg and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
As for the choice of Neighbors to premiere at the fest, it’s hardly Rogen’s first time at SXSW, having appeared in Knocked Up in 2007 and Observe and Report in 2009. Comedies are not unusual for the festival, but Head of SXSW Film Janet Pierson says they have to have unique slant to work. “We like stuff that has an edge to it, where you can really feel the hand of the writer/director,” she says. “We try not to go too broad with comedy but we love to include it when we can.”
Space Station 76 is among several films that feature sci-fi and time travel prominently, Pierson points out, noting that Predestination starring Ethan Hawke, and Australian film The Infinite Man have similar elements. “Sometimes you don’t show a film because it has something another film has, but this time we went with it. It’s in the zeitgeist,” she says. Space Station 76 “is really unique, really different, and kind of wonderful,” Pierson adds.
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