Eleven film projects made in part by UT students, faculty and alumni will be featured at this year’s 28th annual South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival, alongside projects from aspiring filmmakers and experts from around the world.
According to the SXSW website, film submissions have increased over the past few years, making the 133 feature film and 110 short film spots even more competitive than before. This year, 5,716 film submissions were considered for the spots. Nine features and two short films created by alumni and current University students and faculty will screen at the festival.
Paul Stekler, chair of the radio-television-film department, said SXSW helps grow the overall film community in Austin, and more people are staying because it’s been successful.
“The whole filmmaking world here knows about SXSW,” Stekler said. “UT and SXSW both reinforce each other.”
In 2013, more than 155,000 people attended the SXSW conference and festival from 58 foreign countries, breaking the event’s previous attendance records. The international vantage point is a key draw for filmmakers, said radio-television-film lecturer Kat Candler.
“Having a feature film at SXSW is always a phenomenal opportunity for exposure to new audiences,” said Candler, who has had three of her projects shown at the festival. “It serves as a launching off point for sending your film out into the world, and the folks at SXSW support their filmmakers every step of the way — before, during and months after the festival is over.”
Although attendees’ interest in SXSW is 75 percent industry-based as opposed to fan-based, exposure doesn’t necessarily equal employment, said radio television-film lecturer Steve Mims.
“I think the biggest benefit of the fest is the attention you get from the people in the industry — that’s a very real thing,” Mims said. “I don’t think you can say people walk into SXSW with a film and walk out with a job, but it’s certainly a great way to get your work out and meet the industry head-on.”
Mims’ SXSW feature film, “Arlo and Julie,” was produced in his radio-television-film class “Feature Film Workshop” at the University, with 15 students participating in the creative process.
The film portion of the festival will be open March 7-15 across Austin venues.