Throughout much of the 1980s and into the '90s, the Sundance Film Festival was the undisputed king of American independent film showcases. But Robert Redford's mountaintop fete gained some serious competition in 1994 when South by Southwest—or SXSW to its friends—added a film component to what had previously been a music festival and conference series.
It didn't take long for word to spread to the independent film community that Sundance was no longer the only game in town. Particularly as the Park City stalwart's reputation as a breeding ground for truly independent artists was being increasingly called into question.
SXSW, on the other hand, seemed to embrace its hometown's official directive to "Keep Austin Weird." Though both attendance and the number of major films that choose to premiere here continue to grow, SXSW—which also features an Interactive component—keeps the vibe casual.
"We like to take chances," the fest's "head honcho," Janet Pierson, recently told Variety of their preferred type of content. "We like stuff that’s out there sexually, politically incorrect or not glossy, and there’s a bias towards naturalism and authenticity.”
Clearly that's not just marketing speak. From Oscar nominees to SNL stars (and hosts), these are The 10 biggest careers made at the SXSW Film Festival (so far).