What to check out if you’re going to SXSW

Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in The Daily Texan’s March 10 print edition.


The Daily Texan’s team of South by Southwest Online reporters have created a list of must-sees for students if you’re overwhelmed by the hundreds of films, shows and sessions at SXSW on March 16-20.




There are five high-profile keynote speakers at the conference this year. The lineup includes Texas music icon Willie Nelson, author Priya Parker, author and screenwriter Charles Yu, UT alumna Stacey Abrams, and Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Each keynote presentation will be an hour long.

In the “Beyond the Gender Binary” session, musician Demi Lovato and writer Alok Vaid-Menon join to speak about the state of transgender rights in America, the power of gender diversity and creative self-expression against gender norms. Tune into this 11 a.m. CT session Friday, March 19.

Learn about how publishers use TikTok to engage young audiences in “How GenZ Duets the News on TikTok” at 10:30 a.m. CT on Friday, March 19. Speakers include The Washington Post video producer Dave Jorgenson (yes, the Washington Post TikTok guy), NowThis politics producer Ian McKenna and content creator Jackie James.



The featured session, “Alexi Pappas and Bill Hader on Being a Bravey” will be a conversation between Olympian and author of “Bravey,” Alexi Pappas, and actor and filmmaker Bill Hader about mental health in their professional and personal lives. The 3:00 p.m. CT session will be on Wednesday, March 17.


Looking for some frights and chills? Each film in the Midnighters film collection is curated for the late-night, thrill-seeking crowd and will surely get your adrenaline pumping. Some highlights include “Jakob’s Wife” (March 17) which stars horror icon Barbara Crampton (“Re-Animator”) and “Gaia” (March 16) which is set in a foreboding South African forest.


The lineup of the narrative feature competition includes eight world premieres and the work of some of 2021’s finest independent filmmakers. Don’t miss award-winning filmmaker Kelley Kali’s “I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking),” which follows a recently widowed mother thrust into homelessness with her 8-year-old daughter.




From her go-with-the-flow attitude to her melodic combinations of hip-hop, R&B and soul, Mama Duke is sure to give one of the best performances of SXSW. In an interview with The Texan as a Black queer woman, she pulls from personal experiences to give her audience a lyrical show like no other. She will be performing Tuesday, March 16 at 5 p.m CT.


The trash-glam-punk sibling duo, known as Lord Friday the 13th, will have every virtual head banging at SXSW. Though new to the realm of music, they’re dedicated to their authentic primitive sound and are a force to be reckoned with. Lord Friday the 13th will perform Friday, March 19 at 5 p.m CT.



The Heard Presents x We Gon’ Make It Showcase on Saturday, March 20 at 5 p.m. CT will feature four Austin artists: Sir Woman (rock), Golden Dawn Arkestra (rock), Nané (hip-hop/rap), and Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears (R&B/soul). This showcase features local artists performing the fluid melodies of soul to the crisp riffs of rock.


SXSW Online XR Exhibition


With live sessions and special cinema projects available through VRChat, SXSW Online XR is the newest virtual aspect of the event. The exhibit will allow attendees to explore a virtual Austin, whether it be walking the streets of South Congress or visiting The Contemporary’s rooftop.




The SXSW website offers a list of featured job opportunities for companies such as Dell Technologies, Bristol Myers Squibb, Brightcove and more. Students should attend the Creative Industries Exhibition to interact with companies and maximize networking opportunities.