Life&Arts live coverage team reflects on best moments at SXSW

Angela Lim, Life&Arts Editor

The 10-day festival marathon began with artist interviews at hotels and ended at Paramount Theatre, a venue this musically inclined editor had never stepped foot in until last week. Speaking to Steven Yeun and Ali Wong on the red carpet felt surreal. Netflix’s dark comedy series “Beef” impressed with superb acting performances from the pair, expressing sheer, hysterical anger and humor. Additionally, the cheers and applause that erupted the moment Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh appeared on screen in “American Born Chinese” will forever be memorable. Seeing more nuanced Asian stories receive the spotlight meant the world.

The music festival boasted a splendid lineup. Accompanied by a backup vocalist, brass section and other instrumentalists, Houston-based singer-songwriter Micah Edwards conveyed honeyed renditions of his Texas soul tracks. Taiwanese indie rock trio The Chairs captivated a Cheer Up Charlies crowd with a dreamy, halcyon aura, sending them to sunlit days. The best panel this editor saw was “Don’t Be a Drag, Just Be a Queen,” which featured top drag queens from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

SXSW beamed an amalgamation of sleepless nights, constantly fluctuating weather and indelible experiences.

Sage Dunlap, Life&Arts Associate Editor

This year’s SXSW festival brought an incredible lineup of filmmakers to Austin for a celebration of storytelling. Standouts included Julio Torres’ directorial debut “Problemista” and Emma Seligman’s knockout comedy “Bottoms” — two headliners that left the audience’s laughter echoing from Paramount Theatre’s floor to its balcony. Taking a turn toward the paranormal, horror flicks “Evil Dead Rise” and “Talk to Me” both made a splash at the Film & TV Festival but thought-provoking ghost story “Chronicles of a Wandering Saint” left a lasting impression on this editor.

Until next year, a collection of queue cards and Alamo Drafthouse receipts will serve as reminders of energized SXSW venues packed with festival-goers relishing in a shared love for the arts. This editor left the festival filled with gratitude for the opportunity to report on Austin’s busiest week and with fond memories of the impromptu music showcases caught along the way.

Mimi Calzada, Life&Arts Desk Editor

An electrifying week of fascinating UT panels and endlessly entertaining movie screenings started out with chemistry professor Hal Alper’s presentation on the progression of plastic-eating enzyme technology, closely followed by an enlightening and educational conversation between UT President Jay Hartzell and venture capitalist Jim Breyer. 

Unsurprisingly, the film festival stood out above all else. This editor watched nearly a dozen films in different theaters across Austin, including Paramount Theatre, Alamo Drafthouse and Rollins Studio Theatre. From lining up two hours early for “John Wick: Chapter 4” to rushing into Paramount Theatre right off the red carpet, not a single movie disappointed. Standout titles included Julio Torres’s “Problemista,” Imran J. Khan’s “Mustache” and Adele Lim’s “Joy Ride.” The range of genres proved most impressive and demonstrated SXSW’s ability to provide something everyone can enjoy. The most memorable experiences this editor will forever cherish include red carpet interviews with the likes of Rachel Sennot and Tilda Swinton and a one-on-one interview with Imran J. Khan.

This editor’s first SXSW proved to be an entirely unforgettable experience and has left her hungry for more. 

Trisha Dasgupta, Life&Arts Senior Reporter

SXSW kicked off with a touching speech from Simran Jeet Singh, who emphasized the virtue of finding the light in times of darkness. Through the last 10 days of interviewing musicians, actors, directors and artists, it became clear that everyone had that same goal: perpetuating optimism and holding onto that light. 

Through talking to musicians such as the English indie rock band Circa Waves, whose new album touches on ideas of disillusionment and pushing through it, as well as scientists from Johns Hopkins University who are harnessing the powers of AI to address climate change, every interview, panel and movie screening seemed to echo similar sentiments: Despite the division that seems to define modern culture, there is a reason to have hope. 

Filled with long nights, early mornings, educational talks, incredible live music and laugh-out-loud movies, this reporter’s first SXSW proved to be a valuable and enlightening experience. 

Ryan Ranc, Life&Arts Senior Film Columnist

Public relations emails, red carpet invitations and eager tweets sent left and right from press and filmmakers across the globe showed how much anticipation was building for SXSW’s film lineup.

While many films made their debut, two stood out amongst the rest. Julio Torres made his directorial, feature-film debut with “Problemista,” starring both himself and the legendary Tilda Swinton. Audiences were whisked away into the chaotic, creative mind of Torres as he told a story on the immigrant experience all while incorporating elements from stunning visual metaphors to weird visual characterizations of Craigslist. Days after, Lee Cornin’s “Evil Dead Rise” made its blood-curdling entrance into the Paramount Theatre. This return to a long dormant franchise created the most energetic audience SXSW had ever seen. Everyone laughed, gagged and screamed as the next entry into one of horror’s biggest franchises made its debut on the silver screen.

Through many carpets and even more press emails, this reporter’s film festival adventure proved to be the boost he needed to revitalize his creative thinking.