Step aside Sundance and Tribeca, a younger, hotter, cooler version of you has arrived. Nestled in the conservative mass of Texas lies an oasis named Austin, home of the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival. Next March marks the 26thanniversary of the festival, which grows dramatically every year.
Photo by Katie Lemon
Artists and innovators flock to SXSW from around the world to showcase projects and share ideas. After experiencing the festival multiple times, here are the reasons why I think you too should attend SXSW:
1. You’ll get a sneak peak at upcoming hot mainstream and indie films.
In the past, SXSW was known as a hub and launching point for indie films, but recent program lists have included Hollywood hits such as 21 Jump Street and The Cabin in the Woods. Though some loyal festival fans shake their heads at the new blockbuster trend, SXSW programmers leave plenty of room for indie films, which make up a majority of the festival.
2. The networking opportunities are unmatched.
Most SXSW attendees hail from New York or Los Angeles, and are the big wigs in journalism, public relations and entertainment. During last year’s festival, I was fortunate enough to have a random coffee meeting with a film producer and a popular writer from the Huffington Post and had a casual conversation while waiting in line for a film with the writer behind the major LA food blog Consuming LA. The friendly atmosphere of the festival makes networking fun, easy and casual.
Photo by Katie Lemon
3. Austin is totally cool.
The city’s slogan, “Keep Austin Weird,” says it all. Don’t expect Austinites to do a double take if they see a naked guy biking on a city street or an art car clad in creative garbage. The strange, eclectic culture of Austin makes it the perfect destination for a hip film festival. In between screenings, hop between the multiple bars on 6th street, such as the locally famous Casino El Camino and Maggie Mae’s. Downtown is rich with theaters, coffee shops, sidewalk cafes and art museums… and you thought Los Angeles was hipster!
4. Interactive conferences give you the inside info on the latest in social media and the arts.
Interactive Panel at SXSW 2012 / Photo by Katie Lemon
Last year’s interactive lineup was stellar – from the founders of Pinterest to the editor in chief of the New York Times, there was something for everyone. The 2013 lineup will not disappoint. The list already includes Chuck Lorre, executive producer of The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men, along with Dennis Crowley, co-founder of foursquare.
5. You’ll be inspired.
The sheer diversity of programming guarantees that everyone will find something exciting. If you’re looking to expand your cinema repertoire, check out the documentary and short film screenings. Do you love emerging music artists? Attend a showcase for a band you think sounds interesting. If social media and the digital revolution is what makes you tick, check out the wide variety of panels on those topics. There’s so much to do that you won’t want (or have time) to sleep.
Have you ever been to/heard of SXSW? If you’ve been to any film festival, what was your experience?
For more information about SXSW, visit www.sxsw.com