The last time I was in Austin to attend South By Southwest, the world was a different place. I just got on a plane from my home in Western Canada, stayed with some friends in a house and went to as many movies and photo ops as I could. Little did I know that in 2020 I would not be able to attend in person and it would take all the way until now to return to movies and fun in Austin, Texas, a city that is a second home to me since first attending in 2007. Now that I flew back down here with a much more complicated and expensive flight, Austin is still Austin and my friends and family are still here, for the most part.
I have seen the festival grow and expand in many ways, some good and some ways giving a major headway to more events. Especially in the last few years, TV and series have made such an impact that this festival is now dubbed the SxSW Film & TV Festival to support all of the emerging talent going to other platforms than theatrical. I admit that the latter is not my forte and I am years behind (someone recently reminded me that I still need to watch the Disney+ series THE MANDALORIAN, and I’ll need to start from Season One), but I am also happy that there is a theatrical and festival audience for this. I still champion the theatrical experience, of course, and seeing a movie with an SxSW audience is one of the best experiences in the world.
The 2023 edition is off to a loud start is the World Premiere of Paramount’s new picture DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOUR AMONG THIEVES, which is on my radar as it comes from the same people who did GAME NIGHT (Jonathan Francis Daley and Patrick Goldstein). To think that Daley was Sam Weir in FREAKS & GEEKS and is now a major filmmaker is pretty awesome, and he with Goldstein is here is with a major cast including Chris Pine, Sophia Lillis (most famous for the IT movies) and Michelle Rodriguez.
For me, the discovery of Indies is one of the main reasons to come to Austin to check out SxSW. There are even a few Canadian movies making a splash here from TIFF entry UNTIL BRANCHES BEND which was also shot in BC along with Toronto feature I USED TO BE FUNNY starring what I am assuming will be the IT girl Rachel Sennett (also here with a feature she wrote with SHIVA BABY director Emma Seiglman). On the American front I’m excited to see the likes of MOLLI & MAX IN THE FUTURE and BROOKLYN 45 which are created by Ted Geoghegan, no stranger to Austin with a lot of projects.
There are also a lot of solid documentaries this year covering a lot of angles of music, political topics and very personal. There will be a reaction coming up soon, but I’ll sneak that one of my favourites of 2023 so far is a doc called IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE? about a young woman with a special condition who searches for others around the world with her same condition. Definitely a highlight here that you will not want to miss.
This is my 16th year attending festival (including a few goes at the virtual festival; a surprising highlight was doing five marathon days of movies in 2021 through my Chromecast and a 65” 4k monitor while I was going through a lockdown in my home in British Columbia) and it is no surprise to see SxSW roaring back to life. There are still a few digital events taking place online this year and of course the YouTube channel will be streaming some events if you can’t make it here.
Attending the Film & TV section of the festival is overall pretty easy if that is just what you are doing. This year as there are a few less screenings I also intend to attend more interactive and music events, especially if they are tied to movies somehow. Just remember to have your badge ready and get ready to spend some time in lines, but this is also where you meet fellow attendees and hopefully strike up a conversation or two.
We hope you also enjoy our SxSW 2023 coverage! Watch this week for our reactions, pictures and our annual Filmmaker Interview Series with a nice assortment of American and International features. Yay SxSW!
Watch my Instagram (jason.whyte) and Twitter (@jasonwhyte) for live updates during the festival. For more information on the festival, movies playing and all of the events in both film, TV, music and interactive point your browser to www.sxsw.com!
Our thanks as always to SxSW PR (Jody Arlington and crew, supporters of our site for many years) for assistance with this article.