South by Southwest (abbreviated as SXSW) 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 2011, the conference lasted for 10 days with SXSW Interactive lasting for 5 days, Music for 6 days, and Film running concurrently for 9 days.
SXSW is run by the company SXSW, LLC which organizes conferences, trade shows, festivals, and other events. In addition to the three main South by Southwest festivals, the company runs three other conferences, two in Austin: SXSWedu, a conference on educational innovation, and SXSW Eco, an environmental conference; and one in Las Vegas: SXSW V2V.
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.
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.
The SXSW Film Festival runs nine days, simultaneously with the SXSW Film Conference, and celebrates raw innovation and emerging talent.
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. 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.