30th: SXSW set to begin in Austin

Erik Calderon, A&E Editor

A group of people, sworn to secrecy in a meeting at the offices of the Austin Chronicle in 1986 founded the South by Southwest conference and festival.  It all started as they talked about the future of entertainment and media.  The main idea was to discover all the talent in Austin, share ideas, grow and network.  The first conference was initially had 150 registrants, which on opening day quickly grew to over 700.

The first SXSW conference was held in 1987 with 177 Showcasing Artists, 15 Panels, Workshops & Sessions located at 15 Venues & Stages.  Last year, SXSW had 68,000 registrants, 2,224 Showcasing Artists,378 Panels, Workshops & Sessions, located at 103 Venues & Stages.

Initially, the SXSW festival was geared towards performing artists, but in 1994 the interactive and film festivals were introduced.  This year during the nine days of SXSW 125 features will be shown, this will include 51 films from first-time filmmakers, 85 World Premieres, 11 North American Premieres and 5 U.S. Premieres. A total of 7,651 films were submitted this year.

Feature films  in  the  SXSW  lineup  screen  in  12  sections:  Narrative  Feature  Competition, Documentary  Feature  Competition,  Headliners,  Narrative  Spotlight,  Documentary  Spotlight, Visions,  Midnighters,  Episodic,  24  Beats  Per  Second,  Global,  Festival  Favorites,  and Special Events.

New this year is the Virtual Reality Programing.  “This year we have expanded our Virtual Reality programming, launching the Virtual Cinema and elevating the medium to its own category in the SXSW Film Festival,” said Blake Kammerdiener, VR Programmer. “We not only put an emphasis on storytelling and ingenuity but also showcase how other industries are embracing VR. With collaboration at the core of SXSW, this year’s Virtual Cinema includes industry leaders and independent creators who have come together with projects from the health, fashion, music industries and more.

From March 10th to the 19th will be 9 days, 24 hours a day, of music, film, interactions, workshops, conferences, meetups, networking, and more.  A few of the headliners are Game of Thrones co-creators and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, CNN political commentator Van Jones, organizational author Marie “KonMarie” Kondo, futurist Ray Kurzweil, SoulCycle CEO Melanie Whelan, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Senator Cory Booker, actress Julia-Louis Dreyfus and the cast of Veep, GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis, Fleetwood Mac namesake Mick Fleetwood, pop singer and songwriter Kesha, actor Bob Odenkirk(Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad), WWE superstar John Cena, Nick Denton and Jeff Goodby, featured in

Nobody Speak, the creative teams behind Animals and last year’s SXSW premiere of

Preacher, Frank Oz (Muppet Guys Talking) and Leonard Maltin, and more.

YouTube megastar with over 1.3 billion views, Casey Neistat will also be attending!

SXSW announced the World Premiere of ‘Life’ directed by Daniel Espinosa as its Closing Night Film on Saturday March 18, 2017 at the Zach Theatre. Columbia Pictures and Skydance’s ‘Life’ is a terrifying sci-fi thriller about a team of scientists aboard the International Space Station whose mission of discovery turns to one of primal fear when they find a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

“We are thrilled to close out the 2017 SXSW Film Festival with such a special film as Life,” said Janet Pierson, Director of Film. “Our audiences will love this taut space thriller’s twists and turns as well as its amazing cast.”

SXSW has become an amazing place to discover new talent, to be discovered, to network, to learn and to build relationships.  The festival is held annually in Austin, Texas.  For more information or to purchase tickets for this years festival visit www.SXSW.com.