Filmmaker and SXSW alum Jeanne Stern is circulating a petition regarding the festival’s reorganization of shorts programing. The Film Stage followed up with SXSW Festival Publicity director Rebecca Feferman who confirms that the experimental shorts program, which the festival had included in years past as its own program, has been incorporated into the festival’s Narrative, Documentary, SXGlobal, Animated, Midnight, Music Videos, Texas Shorts and Texas High School Shorts programs. Citing the word “experimental” is open to debate.

“We select films based on merit…there was never an experimental category this year for filmmakers to apply specifically to” said Feferman on the subject, signaling an experimental film could be programed specifically into the festival’s eight categories, verses the other large festivals such as Toronto’s Wavelengths and New York Film Festival’s Views from the Avant Garde.

In response to the programing change, filmmaker Jeanne Stern is circulating the following open letter:

Dear SXSW,

I’m very disappointed to learn that there will be no experimental film screening this year at SXSW. This screening, along with the animated shorts, are the highlight of the festival for me. I have attended the experimental screening religiously for the last 5 years. My enjoyment of the films I see goes beyond the 90 minute slot in which they occur, they influence me and inspire my work throughout the coming years. I take notes about my favorites and often attend the screening twice. The experimental shorts showcase is full of innovation, beauty, and stimulation. They are sometimes hypnotic, sometimes funny, sometimes deeply moving. In a time when it seems that everything artistic is being cut, from NPR funding to cuts of the National Endowment of the Arts, I am particularly sad to see this essential SXSW showcase lost. Experimental film is not an isolated island, the discoveries that occur within them affect and inspire all other forms of filmmaking. I truly hope that the experimental film screening will be returning in future years.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Jeanne Stern

SXSW filmmaker, 2007 & 2008

Badge holder, 2010, 2011

Are you upset the experimental film section got cut? Do you agree this is a vital genre for film festivals to show?

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