SXSW Venues

The SXSW Film Festival has a whopping eight venues for moviegoing this year. They range in size and style from the cozy Alamo Ritz second theater to the temporary but convenient Vimeo Theater in the Austin Convention Center to the majestic Paramount. Some theaters are walking distance from the convention center and from one another, some are remote satellite venues aimed at pleasing Austin filmgoers.

If you're trying to figure out how to see six movies a day, or how to manage meals and parties around a few films you're dying to watch, this guide can help you get organized ... at least a little.

Some of the info in this venue guide has been excerpted (with permission) from the Slackerwood Guide to SXSW 2011 Film Festival Theaters/Venues. Check out that online guide for more detailed information about places to eat near theaters, parking options and theater pros and cons. In addition, SXSW Film badge-holders can attend the Beginner's Guide to SXSW Film panel on Friday (which I'm on) and feel free to pelt the panelists with questions.
Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz (320 E. 6th)
Alamo Ritz is probably the most popular SXSW theater -- everyone wants to see something here. Make sure you get in line at least an hour before the movie starts. While you wait, you can people-watch on Sixth Street, which turns into one big party after the Music fest starts on Thursday.
Best Reason to Go: Booze ... OK, and pretty good food, too, so you can watch movies all day without having to schedule a lunch or dinner break.
What to See: Get a taste of films from around the world with the SX Global series, which Alamo Ritz is hosting this year.
How to Get There: Walking distance from all downtown theaters and Film Shuttle stops.

Alamo South LamarAlamo Drafthouse on South Lamar (1120 S. Lamar)
This year, Alamo South Lamar is showing SXSW movies on three screens: two seat 118 people, the big one seats 218. Like Alamo Ritz, this theater also has a full restaurant menu and serves beer and wine (no liquor) ... plus weekend brunch.
Best Reason to Go: The milkshakes. Not to mention the projection and sound quality here are usually excellent.
What to See: Stay up late for the SXFantastic films at midnight. You never know what crazy stunts Alamo staff will pull as part of these screenings.
How to Get There: Alamo South Lamar is a stop on the SXSW Film Shuttle. Don't try walking here; it's too far even if you're a super-amazing NYC pedestrian.

Austin Convention Center (ACC)/Vimeo Theater (501 E. 4th)
ACC is SXSW Conference Central, but it also holds the second-biggest festival theater, which has been expanded to hold 600 seats this year. If you've got a badge, you can also hang out at the trade show, and you don't need a badge to visit the Flatstock poster gallery from Wednesday through Saturday.
Best Reason to Go: On a rainy day, this is the one theater that has indoor lines ... and on any day, it's convenient and rarely sells out.
What to See: The Documentary Competition features will primarily screen here.
How to Get There: Walking distance from all downtown theaters. ACC is also a stop on the SXSW Film Shuttle.

Paramount Theatre (713 Congress)
The largest SXSW venue and the oldest by far is the Paramount Theatre, which seats nearly 1,200 people. The seats may not be the most comfy, but it's a lovely old theater convenient to just about everything you want to do downtown.
Best Reason to Go: How often do you get to see movies with more than a thousand other eager audience members?
What to See: Splashy gala premieres with red carpet events outside, and celebrity Q&As after the movie. Line up early for the opening-night film; last year the line wrapped entirely around the block, and the theater filled quickly.
How to Get There: Walking distance from all downtown theaters. You can catch the SXSW Film Shuttle at 7th and Congress.

Paramount Theatre

Rollins Theatre at the Long Center (701 W. Riverside Drive)
Rollins is a small theater in the huge Long Center for the Performing Arts complex, and it's normally not used for showing movies. The temporary setup for SXSW seats 210, and should be a good place to watch films, away from the downtown crowds.
Best Reason to Go: So you can walk across the street after the movie to Sandy's Hamburgers for frozen custard.
What to See: The Lone Star States features and Texas Shorts program are screening here ... cowboy boots optional.
How to Get There: Rollins is a stop on the SXSW Film Shuttle. It's halfway between downtown and Alamo on South Lamar, and a long-ish walk to either of those areas.

State Theatre (719 Congress)
The State Theatre hasn't officially reopened since it flooded in 2006, but it's in good enough shape to show movies at SXSW this year. It'll seat almost 300 people and movies will be projected in HD on a standard theater screen.
Best Reason to Go: It's right next to the Paramount.
What to See: The Narrative Competition features will primarily screen here.
How to Get There: Walking distance from all downtown theaters. You can catch the SXSW Film Shuttle at 7th and Congress.

Regal Westgate/Regal Arbor at Great Hills
Westgate and Arbor are SXSatellite venues this year, aimed at appealing to locals. The theaters are too far away to walk and are not on the SXSW Film Shuttle. The SXSW 2010 films screening in these theaters also will play downtown theaters, which are a better choice for visitors.
Best Reason to Go: Avoid the downtown crowds and parking difficulties, especially once the Music fest is underway.
What to See: Encores of popular SXSW films from previous years, as well as this year's feature and documentary award winners.
How to Get There: Drive or take a cab. You can also take the #338 bus to Westgate.

Check out this video from SXSW to see all the SXSW Film venues on a map.

Need to know more about SXSW? Our pals have got you covered with their own guides:
  • At UGO - The Must See Panels
  • At JoBlo - The Late-night Screenings
  • At Gordon and the Whale - The Food Around Austin
  • At FSR - A Dirty Guide to Picking What to See
  • At AICN - A guide to cool places to hang out in Austin