Prairie Home CompanionNews from Matt Dentler, the SXSW film festival producer, always brightens my day. Today he announced a preliminary list of films premiering at SXSW 2006. The big opening-night event will be the North American premiere of A Prairie Home Companion, directed by Robert Altman and featuring an all-star cast including Lindsay Lohan. As posted earlier, Karina is happy the lineup includes loudQUIETloud: A Film About Pixies, a documentary about the Pixies reunion tour. I am a little more interested in The Notorious Bettie Page, a biopic starring Gretchen Mol in the title role as well as David Straithairn and Lili Taylor, even though it's received mixed reviews. Other big-name premieres include The King, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal (as a guy named Elvis, natch) and William Hurt, and the world premiere of Tales of the Rat Fink, a documentary narrated by John Goodman about hot-rod designer Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.

I'm sure I'll like seeing some of these movies at SXSW in March, but my favorite films from the festival tend to be the movies I can't see anywhere else, the ones that may never receive wide distribution. For example, last year I enjoyed The Aggressives, which has not played Austin outside of SXSW. If I miss any of the big-name films, I usually can catch them in a theater later in the year. Still, it's fun to see the star-studded lineup of premieres that SXSW attracts, and even more fun to join the crowd lining up outside the Paramount to see a couple of these premieres before anyone you know.