South by Southwest 2014 kicks off with film festival

Kristen Bell stars in the big-screen adaptation of "Veronica Mars," making its debut at the 2014 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
Robert Voets

It's time once again to head to South by Southwest.

The film festival portion of SXSW 2014 kicked off Friday in Austin, Texas, with over 130 features set to be screened at this year's gathering, which draws an eclectic mix of artists to the Lone Star State every March.

The Jon Favreau-directed "Chef" will be opening SXSW Film, currently in its 21st year. In addition to being at the helm, the "Elf" and "Iron-Man" director is also starring in "Chef," along with Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey Jr., among others. Favreau plays an out-of-work cook who opens his own food truck while trying to patch things over with his family.

Another highly-anticipated release is the "Veronica Mars" big-screen adaptation, premiering much to the delight of "Marshmallows" everywhere. Kristen Bell reprises the titular role, which she played on TV from 2004-2007. Long since retired from her teen-espionage days, Mars finds herself returning to the grind when a case back home piques her interest.

Seth Rogen, Lisa Kudrow, Rose Byrne and Zac Efron are starring in "Neighbors," making its worldwide debut at the festival. The comedy centers around a married couple who are forced to move in next to a fraternity house following the birth of their child.

Rogen's "Pineapple Express" director David Gordon Green also has a release on the lineup this year. "Joe" stars Nicolas Cage and features a mix of action and drama. Set in the South, the screenplay was adapted from the Larry Brown novel of the same name.

Ethan Hawke is starring in the sci-fi thriller, "Predestination," about a secret government agency which hunts down criminals and terrorists before they can commit a crime. The film comes from Michael and Peter Spierig. The Australian brothers previously directed Hawke in the 2009 vampire sleeper hit, "Daybreakers."

The organizers behind SXSW Film will be trying something new this year, with showings of works meant to be seen on TV.

A screening will be held for the pilot episode of Robert Rodriguez's "From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series," ahead of the show's March 11 premiere on El Rey Network. The series is based on the 1996 horror film starring George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino.

"Silicon Valley" will also make its debut. The series, which comes to HBO on April 6, comes from Mike Judge and centers on the area's high-tech gold rush.

Another one to look out for is "Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey," an update to Carl Sagan's immensely-popular 1980s series "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage." Neil deGrasse Tyson will be stepping into Sagan's shoes for the new series, which will make its way onto Fox and several other networks on March 9. Seth MacFarlane serves as one of the executive producers.

There will also be live events to keep festival-goers occupied in between screenings. Stars expected to participate in live panels and workshops include Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Bateman, Robert Duvall, Tilda Swinton and Mike Myers, making his directorial debut with "Supermensch." The documentary chronicles the life of Shep Gordon, a manager who oversaw the careers of music acts like Blondie and Alice Cooper.

SXSW Film 2014 runs from March 7-15.

Click here for a complete list of this year's film lineup.

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    Ken Lombardi is an entertainment reporter for CBS News. He has interviewed over 300 celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.