The annual South by Southwest film festival kicks off in Austin today. The 10-day fest features more than 89 world premieres and a total of 133 feature films. Janet Pierson heads SXSW Film. And it’s ultimately her job to weed through the thousands of submissions to come up with the slate of film offerings.
Janet Pierson stopped by KUT to talk about this year’s lineup.
On What Makes a Good SXSW Film:
"It's a total picture that we're looking for. You know, you look for a lot of things. Original voices is a big deal, something that surprises you, something that really works - that has a depth. We look for a transformational experience. We want to be moved somehow."
On This Year's Trends or Themes:
"We don't program for the trends, the trends emerge after the fact... this year we've got at least six or eight really amazing environmentally active films, plus a lot of personal issue films - "Vessel" and "The Case Against 8" are about abortion rights and gay marriage. And there are two films by Austin filmmakers - "Above All Else" by John Fiege and "The Great Invisible" by Margaret Brown - one is about the BP oil spill and one is about taking on the Keystone Pipeline. They are really the personal effects of dealing with these huge issues."
Tips for Film Lovers:
"All the information is on the website... you don't have to stand in line for hours... South by Southwest has become large and people get overwhelmed by it. But, actually, going to the movies is great and we hope you come with us."
On How She Defines Success When It's All Said And Done:
"If people have transformative experiences here, we're happy. Whether that's the audience, whether that's the press, whether that's the filmmakers. If people feel like they came here and something happened that was worth the trip that was exciting, that was inspiring, that they were inspired by - that's how we view it."