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By Film Threat Staff | October 27, 2008

The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference & Festival has announced the first round of confirmed speakers for the 2009 event, to be held March 13-21, 2009 in Austin, Texas. The event will feature acclaimed writer/directors Todd Haynes and Richard Linklater in conversation together, as well as a rare appearance by Col Needham, Founder and Vice President of IMDb Service Limited to discuss the nature of information in the entertainment industry. Longtime Stanley Kubrick producer, Jan Harlan rounds out the group and will speak on his vast filmmaking experience.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with this first round of speaker announcements, “said Janet Pierson, Producer of SXSW Film Conference and Festival. “These are vital innovators, and true ambassadors for the spirit of SXSW. In these turbulent times we feel this is more important than ever as we head further and faster into unknown territory.”

SXSW is thrilled to welcome, for the first time, the groundbreaking and innovative filmmaker, Todd Haynes. Fresh off the critical and artistic triumph of last year’s “I’m Not There,” Haynes will converse with Austin’s own visionary artist, the singular Richard Linklater whose upcoming “Me and Orson Welles,” has already garnered much critical acclaim. Both are fierce independents, taking broad creative risks as they hone their craft through sustained, ever-evolving careers. SXSW will host a rare discussion between two fascinating artists as they discuss their influences, inspirations, their innate sensitivity to actors, and their working methods; both within and outside the system.

Is there anyone in the entertainment industry who doesn’t use IMDb every day? was the first database and news website of its kind, and is one of the most popular online entertainment destinations, evolving to include increasingly wide-ranging information and media platforms. As definitive and important as the site has become in the world of film and entertainment, surprisingly little is known about its visionary founder, Col Needham. SXSW aims to bring to light the fascinating origins of this go-to database as it welcomes Needham as a guest speaker for 2009. An early adopter of the youthful Internet’s burgeoning potential, native Brit Needham developed his essential site from a simple spreadsheet that turned into an established online stalwart, with over 57 million unique visitors each month. Following its 1998 acquisition by, IMDb has grown dramatically, boasting well over a million entries.

Most recently, its implementation of digital video hosting and free video streaming has secured IMDb’s reputation at the forefront of the savvy cinephile’s online experience. SXSW is delighted to host Col Needham at next year’s event.

Though his name may be unknown to many, German producer Jan Harlan has truly earned his place in cinema history through close collaboration with late brother-in-law, the legendary Stanley Kubrick. At SXSW ’09, Harlan will discuss his work with Kubrick, from his contributions to the abortive Napoleon biopic through producing masterpieces including “Barry Lyndon” (1975) and “The Shining” (1980). Harlan is also a talented director in his own right, most recently directing and producing an acclaimed documentary portrait of actor Malcolm McDowell (“O Lucky Malcolm!,” 2006). SXSW is excited to present a unique conversation with one of the great unsung heroes of modern cinema, as well as providing an intimate glimpse into one of the great artistic minds of the 20th century, from the man who knew him best.

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