By Simon de Bruyn

Steven Kastrissios’ feature The Horseman is one of eight Australian films to have secured spots at the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival in March, with the screenings also marking the North American premiere for the gripping revenge thriller.

The Horseman has also been selected as one of six films to screen as part of the inaugural Midnight Screening program presented by Fantastic Fest at SXSW this year.

So far the film has only screened locally at the Melbourne International Film Festival last year, and the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, where Kastrissios was awarded Best Australian Director and tied with Acolytes for Best Australian Film.

At this year’s SXSW, The Horseman will join The Square, Lake Mungo, Rats and Cats, Three Blind Mice, Intangible Asset Number 82, and short film Children of the Eclipse in a special ‘Discoveries from Down Under’ programme.

Three Blind Mice has also scored premieres on the Independent Film Channel and in select US cinemas at around the same time.

Kastrissios told INSIDEFILM he was excited the film resonated with American festival selectors, and was looking forward to flying to Austin, Texas for the festival, hopefully with the film’s lead Peter Marshall.

“It will be great to launch the film at such a big festival which will hopefully put the film on the map in the international market. We’ve had a great response so far; word of mouth really spread from the MIFF screening, I underestimated who was there,” he said.

He added that he is currently in talks with Australian distributors, with the view to release the film in cinemas, although he said there is “not a lot of confidence in the theatrical market at the moment”.

Shot on a shoestring in Queensland, The Horseman has been quickly building buzz in the film industry, with Wolf Creek director Greg McLean calling it “a balls to the wall, edgy thriller. Think Get Carter in ‘stubbies’ crossed with Tarantino.”

To find more about the film visit: http://www.thehorsemanfilm.com

Now in its 16th year the SXSW Film Conference and Festival will run prior to its sister SXSW Music Festival from 13-21 March 2009.