Wow, this news threw me for a loop. According to indieWIRE, our mutual friend Matt Dentler, producer of the South By Southwest Film Festival since 2004, is leaving his post (and Austin) to move to New York City, where he will head the marketing and programming operations of Cinetic Media's new digital rights management unit. Replacing Dentler as SXSW producer will be Janet Pierson, long-time independent film producer and board member of the Austin Film Society.

I've never met Pierson (well, that I know of ... you do get introduced to so many people at film fests, it's hard to keep track of everyone sometimes ... ) but I feel like I know her, from watching the documentary Reel Paradise, which she made with her husband, John. That film documented the year the Piersons and their two children spent living on a remote island in Fiji running the only movie theater on the island. I also wrote last year about John Pierson smacking down on Michael Moore, whose film Roger & Me was sold by the Piersons to Warner Brothers for the then-unheard-of sum of $3 million.

Janet Pierson has fantastic indie street cred, she's a passionate lover of independent film, and I'm sure she'll do a stellar job heading up SXSW. We at Cinematical extend our warmest welcome to her, and wish our friend Matt great luck and joy in his new endeavor. Matt is one of our favorite indie-film-world people, and we hope that he'll come back to SXSW every year to just enjoy the fest for a change, rather than running to and fro introducing films and shepherding talent around. We'll save you a seat at the Alamo, Matt, and there's a five-dollar milkshake with your name on it when we see you there.

*Update: Check out indieWIRE's well-informed piece on Cinetic's plans for Dentler and Pierson on stepping into Dentler's shoes.