One of the very coolest film festivals in the entire world has got to be Austin's South By Southwest. (Yep, the entire world. Why not?) Call it a combination of quality programming, the friendly people and awesome food/drink in a drop-dead kick-ass location, but if I had to give up every film festival but one ... this is the one I'd stick with. Anyway, hot off the presses is the full, extensive and rather impressive slate of SXSW feature films. So if you're still "on the fence" about heading down south in mid-March, you probably won't be by the time you finish reading this post. The offerings are as follows:

Spotlight Premieres

638 Ways to Kill Castro -- This documentary examines the incredible and controversial story of 638 alleged plots to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro. From CIA agents to Cuban exiles, exploding cigars to femme fatales, the film also provides a startling glimpse into the evolution of Cuban politics. (North American Premiere)

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane -- Popular teenager Mandy Lane seems to have it all, including a deadly killer who will stop at nothing to get to her. (U.S. Premiere)

Bella -- A soccer star and a waitress meet, and explore the world that surrounds them and connects them as they spend a day together in New York. (U.S. Premiere)

Big Rig -- A mesmerizing and beautiful look at the relatively unknown experience of the American "big rig" truck driver, as they struggle to stay relevant in today's digital age. (World Premiere)

-- This documentary reveals the divided world of competitive jump roping. The two top American teams belong to separate leagues that do not compete against one another. After 20 years of separation they finally meet at Apollo Theater in Harlem to face off. (World Premiere)

Election Day -- A verite examination, following a dozen voters (including an ex-felon, a poll worker, and more) over the course of November 2, 2004 - from dawn until long past midnight. (World Premiere)

Elvis and Annabelle -- A young mortician and a small-town beauty queen become unlikely romantic partners after the latter makes a mysterious return from the grave. (World Premiere)

Everything's Gone Green -- Ryan, twenty-something and not getting any younger, is tempted into a money-laundering scheme but struggles with his ill-gotten gains while trying to find happiness. (U.S. Premiere)

Exiled -- An exciting and modern gangster tale of brotherhood and betrayal on the streets of Hong Kong, Johnnie To's latest also pays homage to the classic American western. (Regional Premiere)

Does Your Soul Have a Cold? -- An artful documentary that looks at the issues facing modern Japanese citizens as they battle the reality of depression in a culture that only recently started to embrace it. (World Premiere)

Eagle vs. Shark
-- The tale of two socially awkward misfits and the strange ways they try to find love. (Regional Premiere)

Hannah Takes the Stairs
-- A group of Chicago writers are embedded in a tempestuous love triangle when Hannah inadvertently steals the hearts and minds of two close friends. (World Premiere)

He Was a Quiet Man -- An office drone returns from the brink of madness to become an unlikely savior and partner to a beautiful co-worker in need of the ultimate favor. (World Premiere)

Hell on Wheels -- The nonfiction tale of ambitious women who band together, doing their part to resurrect roller derby for the 21st century. (World Premiere)

Knocked Up
-- On the heels of 2005's blockbuster The 40-Year-Old Virgin, writer/director Judd Apatow again mines hilarity from the relatably human in a comedy about a one-night stand with unexpected consequences: Knocked Up. Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy, Roswell) joins Virgin alums Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann for a comic look about the best thing that will ever ruin your best-laid plans: parenthood.

Kurt Cobain: About a Son -- Juxtaposing stunning cinematography of present day Washington state and audio interviews with rock legend Kurt Cobain, this poetic documentary scratches beneath the surface of anything you think you know about this icon. (Regional Premiere)

A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar... -- A broad look at America's love/hate relationship with lawyers, and our fascination with suing one another. (World Premiere)

The Lookout
-- This intelligent crime drama is centered around Chris, a once-promising high school athlete whose life is turned upside down following a tragic accident. As he tries to maintain a normal life, he takes a job as a janitor at a bank where he ultimately finds himself caught up in a planned heist. (World Premiere, Opening Night Film)

Manufacturing Dissent -- A documentary that seeks to separate fact, fiction and legend tracks Michael Moore on tour during the release of the explosive Fahrenheit 911, all the while chronicling the politically supercharged climate in America that has fueled Moore's transition from mere filmmaker to icon of the political left. (World Premiere)

The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair -- Using a comic-book motif, this documentary tells the story of an Iraqi journalist who was unjustly held captive at Abu Ghraib for nine months. (World Premiere of final version)

Running with Arnold -- Why did Arnold Schwarzenegger run for governor of California? This documentary seeks to answer that question, as well as reveal some of the behind-the-scenes tactics that created his unexpected political career. (World Premiere)

-- A pair of conjoined twins are separated and forced to live under the guidance of a controlling psychiatrist. (U.S. Premiere)

Smiley Face -- The hilarious saga of one woman's journey through an otherwise normal L.A. day, except she is very, very stoned. (Regional Premiere)

Steal a Pencil for Me
-- The touching true story of a man and woman forced to keep their love affair secret, while staying alive during the Holocaust. (World Premiere)

Suffering Man's Charity -- Alan Cumming's latest directorial effort features a stellar cast in this darkly funny portrayal of unrequited love and unfulfilled artistic ambition. (World Premiere)

The Ten -- In a series of vignettes, an all-star cast offers up new and hilarious interpretations of The Ten Commandments. (Regional Premiere)

What Would Jesus Buy?
-- From producer Morgan Spurlock comes this entertaining and enlightening documentary look at the commercialization of the Christmas season. The famous Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping serve as the anchor for a disturbing and humorous portrayal of the way Christmas has evolved over centuries in America. (World Premiere)

[After the jump: Documentary Competition, Narrative Competition, Emerging Visions, 24 Beats Per Second, 'Round Midnight, Lone Star States and Special Screenings!]

Documentary Feature Competition

Audience of One -- A Pentecostal minister receives a vision from God to create an epic science fiction movie based on the bible story of Joseph, sending he and his followers on a journey of extreme faith. (World Premiere)

Billy the Kid -- By turns humorous and disturbing, this portrait of a 15-year-old outcast named Billy, transcends diagnostic labeling and challenges the viewer to understand a triumphant teen on his own terms. (World Premiere)

Campaign -- Can a candidate with no political experience and no charisma win a Japanese city council election, if he is backed by Prime Minister Koizumi and his Liberal Democratic Party? (North American Premiere)

Cat Dancers -- The mysterious and bizarre story of Ron Holiday, an exotic animal trainer and performer who, along with his co-star/wife and their co-star/lover, found big fame until great tragedy struck in 1998. (World Premiere)

Greensboro: Closer to the Truth -- Despite extensive television footage of the Greensboro Massacre of 1979, involving the local KKK and Communist Workers Party, no one was ever convicted. The film portrays a number of the participants - five of the survivors and two Klansmen - who reveal their scars when the town decides to re-investigate the case 25 years later. (World Premiere)

Hard Road Home -- A cinema verite documentary that tells the story of the Exodus Transitional Community, an organization that was founded and is run by formerly incarcerated people, whose mission is to help recently released folks find their way back into society and keep them out of prison. (World Premiere)

Run Granny Run -- With just four months until the election, 94-year-old Doris "Granny D" Haddock and her motley crew of political aces and amateurs, begin a grassroots campaign for U.S. Senate and defy all expectations. (World Premiere)

When Adnan Comes Home -- After a prison fire leaves him horribly burned, 16-year-old Adnan makes a plea for his family's forgiveness and aid, despite their resistance to assist their troubled son. (North American Premiere)

Narrative Features Competition

Blackbird -- An unlikely junk-ballad-of-a-love story that follows a displaced veteran of the first Gulf War, and a 17-year-old Midwestern runaway amid the tough, lovelorn streets of mid-1990s New York City. (World Premiere)

Flakes -- The slacker manager of a New Orleans cereal bar must face his adulthood when a rival cereal shop threatens to steal his business and his girlfriend. (World Premiere)

Frownland -- A comedy frayed at the seams, about a door-to-door coupon salesman who eats popcorn & eggs off the folded-out door of his kitchen oven. (World Premiere)

Itty Bitty Titty Committee -- Dumped by her girlfriend, rejected from her college of choice and wearing an A cup in a C cup world, Anna soon joins a radical punk-feminist group that may end up leading to more disenchantment. (North American Premiere)

Orphans -- Two estranged, twenty-something sisters reunite five years after the death of their parents, and soon revisit their treacherous history. (World Premiere)

Pretty in the Face -- United through anxiety, 26-year-old Maggie and 14-year-old Daniel help each other recognize the ways in which they sabotage their potential, either through sexual exploration or weight concerns. (World Premiere)

Skills Like This
-- In this inventive comedy, three friends have their lives turned upside down as soon as one of them realizes that larceny might be his best skill. (World Premiere)

When a Man Falls in the Forest
-- Three former schoolmates reconnect during their mid-life crises, as they seek the road less traveled before life's cut short. (North American Premiere)

Emerging Visions

American Zombie -- Two filmmakers team up to shoot a documentary about high-functioning zombies living in Los Angeles and their struggles to gain acceptance in human society. (Regional Premiere)

Arranged -- Two young women - one an Orthodox Jew, the other Muslim - meet and become friends as first-year teachers at a public school in Brooklyn. Over the course of the year they learn they share much in common, not least of which is that they are both going through arranged marriages. (World Premiere)

August the First -- The party to celebrate Tunde Ibirinde's graduation is the backdrop for a far more momentous occasion: the return of estranged father Dipo, after over a decade of absence. Each family member must face their feelings before they face Dipo. (World Premiere)

Confessions of a Superhero -- A documentary on the lives of four mortal men and women, who work as characters on the sidewalks of Hollywood Blvd. This deeply personal view into their daily routine reveals the hardships, and triumphs, that these characters endure in pursuit of becoming famous. (World Premiere)

Crazy Sexy Cancer -- ???

Fall From Grace -- The first documentary to explore the hate-filled world of Rev. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS. (World Premiere)

Fish Kill Flea
-- Once thriving, a dead mall in upstate New York is now home to a ragtag flea market, living proof that the American Dream is in perpetual decay, as depicted in this engaging documentary. (World Premiere)

Great World of Sound -- A young man answers an ad, thinking that he will be joining the music business and discover new talent until he realizes this new job isn't what he expected. (Regional Premiere)

Helvetica -- A documentary exploration of typography, graphic design and global visual culture that looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which will celebrate its 50th birthday in 2007) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives. (World Premiere)

Kamp Katrina -- A disturbing documentary portrayal of the makeshift camp constructed in a married couple's backyard, as a means of creating a safe haven and community in post-Katrina New Orleans. (World Premiere)

King Corn -- Two recent college graduates travel to their ancestral home in rural Iowa, plant a single acre of America's most powerful crop, and attempt to follow its fate as food in this probing nonfiction account. (World Premiere)

Lost in Woonsocket -- A group of filmmakers conducting a humanitarian experiment for a TV series find themselves helping two homeless alcoholics found living in a tent. The question of how deep to go with their help is tested as the series is cancelled but the mission is called on to continue. (World Premiere)

Monkey Warfare -- A bohemian couple does its best to make due with their slacker selves and a new revolution, while living in the modern Canadian cityscapes. (Regional Premiere)

The Price of Sugar -- Breaking a centuries old taboo, a charismatic Spanish priest working in the Dominican Republic, ventures into the sugar plantations and makes a shocking discovery: thousands of dispossessed Haitians tirelessly working the cane fields under backbreaking and inhumane conditions. (World Premiere)

Quiet City
-- Jamie meets Charlie when she asks him for directions after arriving lost in Brooklyn. Nothing to do and nothing but time leads them to bowls of coleslaw, footraces in the park, art shows, and after-parties. (World Premiere)

Scrambled Beer
-- Vladimir lives a highly chaotic life, while Jorge is very neurotic about order and control. Their two visions of the world collide as Vladimir starts time-traveling, waking up every day on a random date, and getting involved with Jorge's girlfriend. (World Premiere)

Trigger Man
-- Inspired by true events: The story of three hunters who mysteriously became the hunted. (World Premiere)

Twisted: A Balloonamentary -- A documentary uncovering the world of balloon-twisting conferences and competitions, while exploring how eight balloon twisters' lives are dramatically changed by a little piece of latex. (World Premiere)

24 Beats Per Second

1 More Hit -- The filmmaker finds her friend, a once-successful rap producer, homeless and addicted to crack. For two and half years, the two try everything to overcome the musician's 10-ton habit. (World Premiere)

Companeras -- An intimate profile of America's first all-female mariachi band: Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. Taking on a male-dominated culture and musical tradition, this group has been shatters stereotypes while expanding the popularity of mariachi music. (World Premiere)

Dirty Country -- Meet Larry Pierce: a small-town factory worker and family man who happens to be the raunchiest country music singer in America. (World Premiere)

The Gits -- The story of a promising underground Seattle band, fronted by charismatic vocalist Mia Zapata. Poised to explode onto the national music scene, a cold-blooded killer destroys their dreams. (World Premiere)

James Blunt: Return to Kosovo -- Platinum-selling musician (and former soldier) James Blunt, returns to the battlefield at which he served, for an emotional journey of reflection. (World Premiere)

The Last Days of Left Eye -- An in-depth look at the sad tale of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, from revolutionary pop act, TLC. Weaving video-diary footage of Lopes' last days before dying in an automobile accident, with the story of her personal and professional roller-coaster ride, this new film is both a memorable music doc and a personal account of the fragilities in fame. (North American Premiere)

Robyn Hitchcock: Sex, Food, Death and Insects -- British singer/songwriter Hitchcock and band The Venus 3, featuring Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Bill Rieflin (Ministry, REM), and Scott McCaughey (Minus 5, REM, The Young Fresh Fellows), as they spend a week in July of 2006 recording an album of new material at Hitchcock's house in West London. (World Premiere)

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man -- A journey into the mind and studio of reclusive musician, and modern-rock hero, Scott Walker as he continues to make acclaimed recordings decades into his career. (North American Premiere)

Silver Jew -- An intimate portrait of reclusive poet/musician David Berman and his band the Silver Jews, in the midst of their first-ever world tour. Berman, his wife Cassie, and the rest of the group traveled to Israel to play two shows and visit Jerusalem. (World Premiere)

Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Rock Club -- The story of a truly original New York rock club, which fused music with activism, earning an army of famous fans in the process. (Regional Premiere)

'Round Midnight

Black Sheep
-- Peter Jackson's Weta Workshop injects dazzling effects in this New Zealand black comedy about a herd of mutant sheep on the rampage in a quest for human blood. (US Premiere)

Borderland -- A road trip vacation becomes a nightmare, as a trio of young graduates run afoul of an ancient blood cult looking for human sacrifice. (World Premiere)

The Devil Dared Me To -- A stunt-fuelled action-comedy from the Kiwi cult-comedy team Back of the Y, this is the story of daredevil stuntman Randy Cambell, and his quest to follow in his late father's footsteps and become New Zealand's greatest daredevil stuntman. (World Premiere)

-- Young Timmy Robinson's best friend in the world, is a rotting pet zombie named Fido. (Regional Premiere)

Grimm Love
-- An American student living in Germany becomes obsessed with a cannibal killer who advertised on the Internet for a lover willing to be murdered and devoured as the ultimate act of love and self-sacrifice. (North American Premiere)

-- We follow Kenny Smyth, as he juggles family tensions, fatherhood, and his sewage business with charm, humor and unflinching dignity. (Regional Premiere)

Mulberry Street
-- Something is changing in this New York neighborhood. A virus is spreading. A rat attacks someone in the subway. Another victim is bit downtown. And slowly the community faces a big problem. (North American Premiere)

Murder Party
-- A random Halloween invitation leads a lonesome man into the hands of a rogue collective intent on murdering him for the sake of their art, sparking a bloodbath of mishap, mayhem and hilarity. (Regional Premiere)

-- A team-building exercise in the woods becomes a hack-and-slash nightmare when a mysterious presence lays often-hilarious waste to a group of co-workers.

The Signal
-- Its New Year's Eve in the city of Terminus and all forms of communication have been jammed by an enigmatic transmission that preys on fear and desire, driving everyone in the city to murder and madness. (Regional Premiere)

Them -- When darkness falls one unsuspecting night, Clementine and Lucas will come face to face with THEM. They are everywhere, even in their home, and they will stop at nothing. Who are they? What do they want? Based on true events. (U.S. Premiere)

Undead or Alive: A Zombedy
-- When two misfits rob the corrupt sheriff of an Old West town, they have no idea that a plague of zombies is sweeping the country, or that Geronimo's sexy niece may be their only hope of survival. (World Premiere)

Lone Star States

-- An ex-con tries to manage his way back into society, reunite with his high school sweetheart, and commit one more crime. (World Premiere)

Inside the Circle -- In this kinetic documentary capturing the raw power of a home-grown Texas hip-hop movement, we follow the journey of talented "B-boys" Josh and Omar (best friends turned rivals), as they struggle to keep dance at the center of their lives. (World Premiere)

Love and Mary -- Struggling businesswoman Mary is forced to find a decoy for her fiancé, so that she can return home to Texas and collect what promises to be a valuable gift. (World Premiere)

Third Ward, TX -- After more than a decade of building a community that is safe, livable and desirable, they've attracted forces that may destroy what they made-- real estate development and gentrification. Will it survive the blind force of gentrification playing out in Houston and across America? (World Premiere)

The Unforeseen -- The controversial saga of one community's struggle to come to terms with business developments on a beloved natural landmark. (Regional Premiere)

Weaving Worlds
-- Navajo tales of how the west was spun, exploring the personal stories of Navajo weavers and their complex relationship with reservation traders. (World Premiere)

Special Screenings

After the Wedding -- A Danish man returns home after 20 years to attend a wedding that becomes a landmark meeting between past and future, putting him in the dilemma of his life. (Regional Premiere)

August Evening -- We follow an aging undocumented worker, Jaime, and his young widowed daughter-in-law, Lupe, as their lives are thrown into upheaval. Lupe is more of a daughter to Jaime than his own children, and the two try to stick together... but change is inevitable. (Sneak Preview)

Blindsight -- An emotional account of one visually-impaired man's journey to climb Mt. Everest, with a collection of visually-impaired children. (Regional Premiere)

Call of the Hummingbird -- A documentary look at a gathering a thousand earth-lovers who have come together to experiment with a new sense of politics that aims to break out of old-school boundaries by politicizing the spiritual, and spiritualizing the political. (World Premiere)

-- To pass the long hours of the night while suffering from insomnia, an English art student starts working the late-night shift at the local supermarket. There he meets a colorful cast of characters, all of whom have their own "art" in dealing with the boredom of an eight-hour-shift. (Regional Premiere)

Cherry Valley -- Three film students travel to the small town of Cherry Valley to investigate a ghost in their friend's house. Expecting to find nothing, they arrive to find that the entire town may be haunted. (World Premiere)

The Devil Came on Horseback -- A politically-charged documentary look at the conflict in Darfur, through the eyes and camera of one disillusioned American soldier. (Regional Premiere)

Diggers -- The story of two generations of hard-living clam diggers, trying to maintain their way of life in the midst of the enormous changes swirling around them. (Regional Premiere)

Electric Apricot: The Quest for Festeroo -- In the spring of 2005, a UCLA graduate student gets more the he bargains for when he sets out to document an aging Northern California Jam band on the cusp of an apparent career break-through. (Regional Premiere)

Everything's Cool
-- A documentary about America finally understanding global warming, in the wake of the most dangerous chasm ever to emerge between scientific understanding and political action. (Regional Premiere)

Imprint -- A contemporary Native American dramatic supernatural thriller that tells the story of Shayla Stonefeather, a prominent Native American attorney who has turned away from her people and the dreams of her youth. (World Premiere)

The King of Kong
-- An entertaining nonfiction glimpse at the rivalry that brew between two men as they battle for the world record in the Donkey Kong video game. (Regional Premiere)

The Lather Effect -- On the eve of the sale of her parents' home, thirty-something Valinda throws an 1980's rager, reuniting high school friends for one last chance to relive their wild youth - and the hangovers that went with it. (Regional Premiere)

The Truth in Terms of Beauty
-- A documentary journey with acclaimed photographer Herman Leonard, as he guides us on a tour through his adventurous life: the jazz scene in New York, high fashion in Paris, Ibiza the Spanish island, and New Orleans in its full glory. (World Premiere)

Who Loves the Sun -- An innocent misunderstanding reveals a family secret, which suggests that the younger generation is much like the older one, and that the human problems don't get solved. They simply get handed down. (Regional Premiere)

Zoo -- An artful and beautiful documentary that weaves stunning cinematography with audio interviews detailing what led to the controversial evening in the Pacific Northwest, when a family man died after engaging in sexual acts with a horse. (Regional Premiere)

[Plot synopses come from the SXSW folks and/or the filmmakers. For (a lot) more info, visit the SXSW website.]