SXSW brings together artists in Austin

Zoe Roush

     With over 80 stages, 150 trade show exhibitors and about 300 different films, this year’s South by Southwest music and film festival was a must-attend event this past spring break. Over 2,000 bands and musicians performed and many different speakers shared their views on how to make it in their industry. SXSW is not only for those who want to pursue their career in the music, film or interactive industry, but it is also for those who love the entertainment business.                

     The four day music showcase took place from Wednesday March 17 until Saturday March 20 and was kicked off by Smokey Robinson, who delivered the keynote address. It featured artist of many  different genres from rap to Latin. Some venues offered free shows, such as Auditorium Shores, where The Cool Kids, Bajofondo, Cheap Trick and Kimya Dawson all played. Other shows required a wristband or badge to get in. The Day Stage Café offered day time shows for South by Southwest goers. The café  offered drinks and even a Bloggers Lounge for those listening to the showcasing bands.

     The SXSW Film festival showcased both feature films and short films. Some of the venues for this showcase included Alamo Draft House, The G-Tech Theater, The Hideout, The Paramount Theater and The Carver Museum. Headliners were films such as: Cyrus, Four Lions, Get Low and Mr. Nice. When You’re Strange received the 24 Beats per Second award, which is given to those films that bring together sounds, cultures, and the influence of music. NY Export: Opus Jazz received the Emerging Visions award, an award that is given to films that showcase talent in documentary and narratives features. Thunder Soul received the Lone Star States award for its connection to Texas. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil received the Midnighters award, which is given to only the best controversial films, and Richard Garriott- Man on a Mission received the Spotlight Premieres, which are given to new documentaries being premiered for the first time.  The award ceremony was held Tuesday at the Austin Convention Center. The showcase not only showed film, but it also featured discussions and panels with experts like cartoonist Gilbert Shelton, composer Gustavo Santaolalla and filmmaker Michel Gondry. These artists engaged in a stimulating, informative and productive dialogue with listeners. Panels, workshops and meetings were held as a way to explore and discover the art of film.

     During South by Southwest, over 100 companies come together to show off their new products. New video games were released in the ScreenBurn: Video Game Element, where independent developers, publishers, consumers, digital media professionals and internet trend setters from all around the world connect.  The ScreenBurn was three days long and was held on the first floor of the Austin Convention Center, the event was free and open to the public. The Microsoft BizSpark was also part of the interactive showcase. It featured new products by talents all over the world and new ideas to change technology. On March 15 and 16, a panel of judges discovered the many advancements in today’s technology such as the ChallengePost, an online market place for unsolved challenges that companies open up to the public for solutions and award prizes to whomever solves the problem. Another interesting product was Siri, a virtual personal assistant on the internet or phone. Siri engages in conversation, helps accomplish tasks and was the winner of the Innovative Web award.  These are only a few parts of the interactive showcase at South by Southwest, but there were many more trade shows and exhibits including the panels, the parties, and the thirteenth Annual Web Awards.

     Over all, South by Southwest was a place for musicians, filmmakers, video gamers and inventors to come together and share their ideas and art. Lasting from Friday, March 12 until Sunday, March 21 it brought together many creative people in this collaborative environment. Most student would agree it was one of the most successful years since South by Southwest first started. We can only wait anxiously and hope that next year’s event will be even better.