If "Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW" were any more inside-baseball in its focus, the interviewees would be wearing catcher's mitts.

If “Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW” were any more inside-baseball in its focus, the interviewees would be wearing catcher’s mitts. Still, filmmaker Alan Berg’s journeyman docu may interest anyone at least moderately curious about the origins of South by Southwest, a set of film, interactive and music festivals held annually in Austin, Texas. Pic reportedly was made without editorial or financial input from fest organizers, but world premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.

Pic concentrates almost entirely on the music fest, which kicked off in 1987 with the goal of providing much-needed exposure to indie artists. Over the ensuing decades, the fest has grown into one of the world’s largest music-industry events and, perhaps inevitably, has faced charges of selling out, going commercial, etc. There are surprisingly few extended musical performances, perhaps due to problems with rights clearances, but a few anecdotes by fest founders are amusing, and some archival footage of iconic artists like Johnny Cash (shown here launching his epochal “American Recordings” CD in 1994) is fascinating. Expect to see DVDs on sale as souvenirs during future SXSW fests.

Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW


An Arts+Labor production. Produced by Dawn Cooper Johnson, Jason Wehling. Executive producers, Alan Berg, Kristin Johansen-Berg, Craig Parks. Directed, edited by Alan Berg.


Camera (color, HD), Yuta Yamaguchi; art director, Garrett Johnston. Reviewed at SXSW Film Festival (24 Beats Per Second), March 19, 2011. Running time: 84 MIN.


Louis Black, Louis Meyers, Roland Swenson, Nick Barbaro, Michael Corcoran, Bill Davis, Mojo Dixon, Johnny Cash.
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