Though Austin, TX's annual 10-day culture-fest SXSW is best known for its five days of crowded, sweaty, beer-soaked live music, the portion of the festival dedicated to film has become increasingly significant. A generation of young filmmakers like Joe Swanberg and Andrew Bujalski—the ones often lumped together under the term "mumblecore"—began their rise to micro-indie-film dominance with successful screenings at SXSW, and thanks to the looming presence of Ain't It Cool News honcho Harry Knowles, the fest tends to book some future cult classic genre flicks too.
The 2009 SXSW line-up was announced over the weekend, and it looks to be one of the strongest in years. Recent Sundance favorites Passing Strange, Moon, Grace, Sin Nombre, Adventureland, Humpday, We Live In Public, The Immaculate Conception Of Little Dizzle, You Won't Miss Me, Burma VJ, When You're Strange, Over The Hills And Far Away, The Yes Men Fix The World, and even the 2008 Sundance hit Anvil: The Story Of Anvil join Toronto '08 offerings Goodbye Solo, Blood Trail, Sounds Like Teen Spiritand The Hurt Locker. On the premiere side, SXSW will be debuting Swanberg and Bujalski's new features, as well as the Apatow-y comedies I Love You, Man (with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel) and Observe And Report (with Seth Rogen and Anna Faris), and a slate of potentially fascinating documentaries, including American Prince (about '70s hanger-on Stephen Prince, previously featured in Martin Scorsese's short doc American Boy), Monsters From The Id (about '50s sci-fi), For The Love Of Movies: The Story Of American Film Criticism (directed by longtime critic Gerald Peary), and Best Worst Movie (about the making of Troll 2). And Joe Dante fans will want to check out the director's live presentation of offerings from his website Trailers From Hell.
The film portion of SXSW begins March 13th and runs until March 21st, a day before the festival's closing day. I can speak from personal experience that if you attend the first weekend, before the music industry folks overrun Austin, you can see a lot of good movies and eat a lot of good food, relatively hassle-free. It's a good way to get a jump on what's shaping up to be an interesting year for film.