It began over three decades ago as a music conference, but over the years South By Southwest (SXSW) has evolved to become an exciting global summit for film, interactive-media and music; drawing thousands of visitors to Austin, Texas each year.
Every year the festival attracts A-listers from all creative spheres – for instance, Barack Obama dropped by in 2016. Keynote speeches have been given by the likes of Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen and Snoop Dogg. Twitter was actually first launched at SXSW back in 2007.
This year, SXSW lands between 10-19 March with a packed schedule of events broken down into festivals, conferences and exhibitions. Movie lovers will enjoy the film festival, which this year features the world premiere of Song To Song, starring Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett. The hilarious film The Disaster Artist (Work In Progress) will also screen, directed by and starring James Franco.
This year’s comedy festival line-up boasts some well-known names alongside hilarious newcomers. The opinionated and often controversial Janeane Garofalo will appear in the SXSW Comedy’s Completely Official Showcase of Comedy. The quick-witted Whitney Cummings will appear in @midnight with Chris Hardwick Live, an evening of improvised fun and games. Wanda Sykes will take part in Talk Show the Game Show!, which will see comedians and celebrities face off against each other in various talk show-inspired challenges.
SXSW has its roots in music, and it’s still very much a major part of the programme so prepare to have your horizons broadened. Last year’s SXSW music festival featured more than 2,200 performers from over 67 countries across a broad range of genres. Throughout SXSW, clubs, bars and outdoor sites right across Austin buzz with DJs and live music sets. Cindy Wilson from the B-52s will bring her synth beats and soft psychedelic sounds. Expect high energy from dance-punk band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). For something different, Pussy Riot Theatre will present their new psych-rock theatre production called ‘Revolution’, which tells the story of Pussy Riot’s arrest, corrupt trial and subsequent imprisonment in Russia.
Alongside the festivals are the conference events which will explore a broad range of topics. Everything from driverless cars to feminism, entertainment to food, journalism to virtual reality, style to social impact will be covered.
In addition, this year sees the launch of a special Tech Under Trump programme, which aims to examine how the tech / startup scene is likely to change during the next four years of Trump’s presidency.
Regardless of where you are in your career, whether you’re talent scouting or seeking inspiration and guidance from your peers, SXSW is where the agenda is set for the 12 months to come. Walk up tickets to events are still available.