When the rest of the world was canceling events last year, South by Southwest was one of the major events that joined. More than 400,000 people were expected to be in Austin, TX starting on March 12, 2020, but yet the city sat empty causing the loss of income for local venues, bars, and restaurants. SXSW decided to try to move forward this year by having an all-virtual event, so what will that look like?
SXSW is normally held over the span of two weeks with events of conferences and festivals that cover the film, music, and tech industries. The events attract top talent, celebrities, brands, and marketers to Austin, TX every year for over 30 years. This year one of the keynote speakers will be Stacey Abrams, a political leader, and entrepreneur. Joining her will be U.S transportation secretary best-selling author Charles Yu, and country music legend, Willie Nelson. With the event going online this year, it will change the way in-person networking has worked in the past. With the help of virtual reality tech, they will be attempting to take place of experiential marketing, concerts, and film screenings. Most of the prerecorded keynotes and panels will be available on-demand throughout the week.
Attendees will be able to use a VR headset to be able to attend panels, shows, and screenings at virtual venues like Mohawk Austin, Empire Control Room, Garage, and The Paramount Theatre, the places that would usually be completely booked for the two weeks of SXSW.
SXSW will be rolling out the red carpet for the Film Festival, the full lineup has been announced along with the Opening Night Headliner Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil; Centerpiece film Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free, and Closing Night film Alone Together. Experience 75 features, 53 films from first-time filmmakers, 84 Short Films, 20 Virtual Cinema projects, 30 Special Events, and more. SXSW Online 2021 pass holders are able to now build their schedule. RSVP for Film Festival screenings with capacity limits is now open.
Beginning Tuesday, March 16, the Film Festival will launch seven different films at a time in two-hour increments from 10:00 am – 8:00 pm CT, most of the films launching during the first three days of the event (Tuesday – Thursday). Once a film is available, it remains available on-demand until it hits its audience capacity or the event ends on Saturday, March 20.
HBO will be bringing a new way of activation to life by using motion-detecting technology. HBO Max Orbit is accessible through desktop web browsers, iOS, or Android devices. This immersive experience will be able to track facial movements and verbal cues to offer ultra-personalized recommendations for the shows available on HBO Max’s stream service, including an unreleased clip of Godzilla vs. Kong.
CNN usually will take over a bar on Rainey Street, but instead, they have figured out how to bring the festival home to attendees. The news network will be sending gift boxes to around 100 influencers, partners, and press that would usually be the in-person activities during the festival. In the gift box, there will be local Austin goodies and include cocktail recipes from the Bungalow and Parlor Room, which have both hosted the CNN SXSW house in previous years.
There’s still time to join the festival! The SXSW Online Pass will be your key to all things SX — with the opportunity to connect with attendees, speakers, and exhibitors across multiple industries. Register today to be able to get the exclusive digital experience from March 16-20.