Russell Brand cancels SXSW appearance

Russell Brand, (pictured), British comedian and star of Ondi Timoner's latest doc, Brand: A Second Coming, pulled out of his slated appearance at the Austin festival hours ahead of the doc's premiere.
March 13, 2015

UPDATED 3/16/15
Hours ahead of the March 13th SXSW premiere of Ondi Timoner‘s documentary Brand: A Second Coming, the doc’s subject British comedian Russell Brand (pictured) has pulled out of his slated appearance at the Austin festival.

In a statement posted on his website, Brand – who is profiled in the festival’s opening night film as he travels on his Messiah Complex tour, launches a YouTube channel and fights with critics – wrote: “I know Ondi is an artist and I’m told the film is good but for me watching it was very uncomfortable.”

Timoner spoke to realscreen about the doc prior to the premiere, noting the difficulties faced in gaining creative control of the project.

In a statement shared with realscreen regarding Brand’s withdrawal from SXSW, Timoner says, “I think that it is just difficult for him because it’s a very personal film, and he is vulnerable in it. He will come to realize people love him for it, but I do think reliving his life on screen is just not a pleasant experience for someone who has lived such a tumultuous life and is now in a very different place and so actively engaged in the present tense.”

The director previously worked with Brand on doc short Russell Brands the Bird. The comedian notes she’s a “very beautiful person” and “of peerless integrity,” but adds, “I suppose what I didn’t consider was that in letting go of the film, I was agreeing to be the subject of a biography. Posthumously this is a great honor, but while you’re alive, oddly intrusive and melancholy.

“You’d think a narcissist would like nothing more than talking about themselves and their ‘rags to riches,’ ‘hard luck’ story but actually, it felt like, to me, my life was hard enough the first time ’round and going through it again was painful and sad,” he writes.

Brand went on to apologize to SXSW organizers for his non-attendance, adding that he will also be pulling out of a keynote he was scheduled to deliver at the interactive festival.

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.