SXSW: March 10 2017

Bill and I started our first SXSW day early since we wanted to get SXpress movie passes. The line was long, but we got our passes just in time to get to the first session for SXSW Interactive. We spent most of the first day in the Austin Convention Center, except for lunchtime and the evening movies.

Opening Remarks – Hugh Forrest
The Chief Programming Officer, Hugh Forrest, opened this year’s conference by thanking the participants for their creativity. He talked about the new badge system with primary and secondary access lines based on badge type. This change was applauded by the audience…we’ll see how everyone feels at the end of the conference. The Health Expo is now part of the big Trade Show (good, that Expo was boring.) SXSW Gaming is now a separate event. 2017 trends: artificial intelligence, transportation, health, international participation, and startups.

Cory Booker
US Senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker, started his session with a speech on love, particularly as it relates to our country. He quoted President Lincoln: “with malice towards none, with charity for all,” and noted that we are not called, to tolerate each other, but to love each other.  Actually seeing each other tears down the walls that divide us. Service, not celebrity, is the purpose of life. Senator Booker was then joined onstage by Google’s Senior Counsel for Civil and Human Rights, Malika Saadi Saar. She noted how technology has influenced public discourse: for example, phones and police brutality, social media and the Women’s March. They discussed the current tendency to live in your own bubble, and noted that each person has a responsibility to be the change in the world. Senator Booker explained his decision to testify against now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, primarily due to his stand on justice and prison reform issues. He didn’t really answer the audience question on whether he would run for President in 2020.

At lunchtime, we went over to nearby Rainey Street to look for food. We ended up eating at Bangers, which is currently h Nerdist. We looked around South Bites, the SXSW food trailer park. While Bill went looking for ice cream, I had some free guacamole, courtesy of Mexico. Love the free SXSW food, but there wasn’t much time to search it out today.

Cory Richards
Cory Richards is a professional photographer and climber. He climbed Mt. Everest without oxygen in May 2016. He talked about his problems during adolescence and how he was homeless for a while. He had always enjoyed climbing and turned back to this eventually. He survived an avalanche in 2012, but this also gave him an entry to work for National Geographic. Through his photographs, he described his various assignments to countries such as Angola, Bosnia, Botswana, and Myanmar. Woven throughout his stories were his struggles with his marriage, alcoholism, and PTSD.

Unprecedented: The Election that Changed Everything
CNN anchor and Washington correspondent Jake Tapper was interviewed by MTV Senior Political Correspondent Ana Marie Cox (her title sounds like an oxymoron). They opened with discussion about a quote from Press Secretary Sean Spicer about the jobs numbers which were released today.  How has Trump changed news? Jake believes that some news organizations are rising to the current challenge. This White House wants to delegitimize any threat to their power. He first realized this would not be a typical election cycle when he moderated the September 2015 Presidential Republican debate. It is much more tense in Washington now.

The Messy Truth with Van Jones
Another CNN journalist, Van Jones, started by saying that he is a ninth generation American, but the first one in his family who was born with full rights. He was part of CNN’s 2016 election coverage. He noted that the entire conversation today seems to be “I’m right, you’re wrong.”

Song to Song
This was the world premiere of Song to Song. This film was mostly shot in and around Austin. Director Terrence Malik was not there, but the producers and some of the film’s actors were there: Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, and Bérénice Marlohe. We also saw Michael Fassbender on the red carpet before going into the Paramount Theatre.

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