A sense of belonging in Austin at SXSW

I'm fond of telling filmmakers that friendships and business relationships are the real rewards of the film festival circuit. Seeing a dozen or so collaborators stand up in front of the awards audience at this year's South By SouthWest reaffirmed that feeling. They were the filmmakers who came together to help Lena Dunham make the festival's 2010 grand prize winner, "Tiny Furniture."

Typical of the smaller films premiering at the festival is "Tiny Furniture," a story of female post-collegiate ennui playing as part of this year's narrative feature competition. The movie marks a personal and professional leap that could only have been achieved through the support of SXSW, which played filmmaker Lena Dunham's debut feature, "Creative Nonfiction," in last year's lineup.

While at the festival in 2009, Dunham not only met cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes, but also her key collaborators for "Tiny Furniture," producers Alicia Van Couvering and Kyle Martin, editor Lance Edmands and costar Alex Karpovsky.

The festival "was really the connective tissue for my relationships with a lot of these people," Dunham says. "I just wanted to connect with other filmmakers but I don't think I expected it would be such a gold rush."