South by Southwest

South by Southwest
SxSW logo.png
The official logo for SXSW, 2017
GenreConference and festival
DatesMarch (dates vary but generally coinciding with University of Texas at Austin spring break and also usually includes St. Patrick's Day)
FrequencyAnnual
Location(s)Austin, sxsw.com

South by Southwest (abbreviated as SXSW and colloquially referred to as South By) is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas, United States. It began in 1987, and has continued to grow in both scope and size every year. In 2017, the conference lasted for 10 days with SXSW interactive lasting for five days, music for seven days and film running concurrently for nine days. Comedy and gaming components to the festival are particularly fast-growing.

SXSW is run by the company SXSW, LLC which organizes conferences, trade shows, festivals, and other events.[1] In addition to the three main South by Southwest festivals, the company runs other conferences: SXSW EDU, a conference on educational innovation, held in Austin,[2] and (beginning in 2017) the me Convention, held in Frankfurt, Germany, in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz.[3][4] Former conferences run by the SXSW organization were SXSW Eco, an environmental conference held in Austin from 2011 to 2016;[5] and one in Las Vegas: SXSW V2V, a conference focused on innovative startups[6] which ran from 2013 to 2015.

Divisions

A view of 6th Street in downtown Austin, Texas, during SXSW 2013

Music

SXSW Music is the largest music festival of its kind in the world, with more than 2,000 acts as of 2014.[7] SXSW Music offers artist-provided music and video samples of featured artists at each festival via their official YouTube channel.[8][9]

The music event has grown from 700 registrants in 1987 to over 28,000 registrants. SXSW Film and SXSW Interactive events have grown every year, most recently bringing over 51,000 registrants to Austin every March.[10]

Bands must cover their own expenses for travel and lodging at the event. All performers are offered a cash payment or a wristband package that allows access to all music events.[11]

Film

SXSW Film Conference spans five days of conference panels and sessions, and welcomes filmmakers of all levels. Programming consists of keynote speakers, panels, workshops, mentor sessions and more, with expert filmmakers and industry leaders.[12]

In 2015, the SXSW Film Conference programmed over 250 sessions with 735 speakers. Past notable speakers include Jon Favreau, Mark Duplass, Ava DuVernay, Ryan Gosling, Nicolas Cage, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Tilda Swinton, Amy Schumer, Sally Field, Joss Whedon, Christine Vachon, RZA, Matthew McConaughey, Danny Boyle, Seth MacFarlane, Catherine Hardwicke, Richard Linklater, David Gordon Green, Harmony Korine, Henry Rollins, Sarah Green and Robert Rodriguez.[13] Although the film festival often highlights independently produced films and emerging directing talent with unique visions,[14] the festival has long served studios as a starting point for their comedies, using enthusiastic fans as a barometer of how they might play in wide release.[15]

The SXSW Film Festival runs nine days, simultaneously with the SXSW Film Conference, and celebrates raw innovation and emerging talent both behind and in front of the camera.[16] Festival programming categories include: Special Events, Headliners, Narrative Spotlight, Documentary Spotlight, Narrative Competition, Documentary Competition, Visions, Midnighters, 24 Beats Per Second, SXGlobal, Episodic, Festival Favorites and Short Film Programs. The SXSW Film Awards, which occur on the last day of the Film Conference, honor films selected by the Feature and Short Film Juries.

In 2015, the SXSW Film Festival programmed 150 feature films and 106 short films, selected from 7,361 submissions.[17] Past notable world premieres include Furious 7, Neighbors, Chef, 21 Jump Street, The Cabin in the Woods, Bridesmaids and Insidious, and the TV series Girls, Silicon Valley and Penny Dreadful.[18]

Interactive

SXSW Interactive is focused on emerging technology, a focus which has earned the festival a reputation as a breeding ground for new ideas and creative technologies.[19] The festival includes a trade show, speakers, parties, and a startup accelerator.[20] According to a festival organizer Louis Black, SXSW Interactive "has probably been the biggest of its kind in the world" since 2007.[21]