The South by Southwest Film Festival announced their features lineup for 2014 and the Chicago-made drama ANIMALS will make its world premiere at this year's festival. Chicago stage veteran David Dastmalchian (who broke onto the national scene with his memorable role in THE DARK KNIGHT and more recently in the Hugh Jackman thriller PRISONERS) stars in and produced this feature, and that's just the start for the wealth of Midwest talent featured in this film. Director Collin Schiffli is a Fort Wayne native, production team includes Wisconsin filmmaker Chris Smith (AMERICAN MOVIE, THE POOL) Chicago native Mary Pat Bentel and Chicagoan Amanda Pflieger, with David O'Connor heading up Chicago casting... not to mention plenty of additional Chicago/Midwest talent on cast and crew.

ANIMALS tells the story of a young couple that exist somewhere between homelessness and the fantasy life they imagine for themselves. Though they masterfully con and steal in an attempt to stay one step ahead of their addiction, they are ultimately forced to face the reality of their situation.

Dastmalchian is understandably elated, as he posted this week that "there aren’t really words to properly describe this right now so we won’t even try. needless to say – incredibly grateful and humbled by the massive support and force of talented people who have come together to tell this story."

You can check out the complete SXSW lineup here and visit the ANIMALS official website here.

Much more to come, I'll keep you posted, see you in Austin!

Mike McNamara is the Co-Founder of The Midwest Independent Film Festival, Mike pays his rent as an actor in Chicago in theatre, commercials, television and film. More from Mac at