Richard Linklater

The South by Southwest Film Festival always delivers fun, spirit and this year Obama

If audiences have come to expect one thing from the South by Southwest Film Festival, it is the unexpected. Even as it has grown in size and stature, the festival has worked hard to maintain a rambunctious spirit that one returning filmmaker describes as "warm-hearted subversion."

Based in Austin, Texas, the film festival kicks off Friday and runs through March 19. The larger South By Southwest event also includes interactive and music components with conferences, keynote speeches and live performances. Underlining the heightened profile of the overall event are scheduled appearances by President Obama and the first lady for separate talks on civic engagement and...