Once an addendum to the overlapping music event, the SXSW Film Festival solidified itself in the top tier of U.S. film events in the mid-2000s after specialty distributors made it an annual mainstay. And they have been coming back.
SXSW’s not-so-secret trump card may be its overlapping music and tech-centric Interactive events. The throngs of people who attend all three big events certainly exacerbate the annual challenge of finding hotel rooms, making flight reservations and even getting a place to eat in downtown Austin, but the energy of thousands who come to the city has not only been a boon to the festival’s bottom line (it is a for-profit enterprise), but it has developed a creative dynamic that is rarely matched. And clearly so-called Indiewood and beyond have embraced the festival.
“(SXSW) almost always has the most recent innovation and all of a sudden, in the post-Twitter blow up, there were huge groups of people who had never been there going to these three siblings, Music, Film and Interactive,” said Tom Quinn, co-president of new Weinstein Company label Radius. “On any given night it’s hard to tell what is the lifeblood, but from a distributor POV it’s fascinating to see.” Quinn first attended SXSW eight years ago as an exec at Magnolia Pictures, picking up sci-fi feature Monsters at the festival in 2010, one of a number of watershed moments that has kept the event on the map.