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Russell Brand cancels opening night appearance at SXSW, calls documentary about him 'oddly intrusive'

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Russell Brand will not be attending South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, this year, where a new documentary about his life, Brand: A Second Coming, is set to kick off the festival on Friday night.

Brand announced his decision in a statement on his website on Friday. The decision seems to stem from the fact that watching the documentary “was very uncomfortable” for him.

“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,” Brand said in the statement.

The documentary took seven years to complete and was started around the time Brand was recovering from drug addiction. It was directed by Ondi Timoner (Dig!), and funded by 21 different investors, but not Brand himself. However, there had been several directors attached to the project before Timoner signed on, and Brand had to relinquish the creative control he had previously had after Timoner took over.

“Ondi is a very beautiful person and a director of peerless integrity, 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,” Brand said. “Posthumously this is a great honor but while you’re alive, oddly intrusive and melancholy.”

Brand had also been asked to deliver a keynote speech, which he will not be doing either. “I apologize sincerely to the organizers of SXSW for my non-attendance, especially Janet Pierson, Brian Solis and Rynda Laurel from the interactive festival, who were responsible for the keynote talk that I was due to do,” Brand said in his statement.