Highlights from SXSW 2024

Music Protests, Movie Premieres, and AI Reactions

The South by Southwest (SXSW) festival is a meeting of ideas, art, technology, education and culture in the heart of Austin, Texas. The 2024 SXSW event took place from March 8-16. Join us as we recap some of the stories that captured our interest.


Some musicians, performers and speakers canceled their appearances at SXSW to protest the festival’s association with the U.S. Army. The Army was one of the festival’s sponsors and its support had drawn criticism due to ongoing tensions in the Israel-Hamas conflict. Artists, including singer Ella Williams (known as “Squirrel Flower”) and musician Mei Simmones, publicly expressed their disapproval. “A music festival should not include war profiteers. I refuse to be complicit in this and withdraw my art and labor in protest,” Williams announced on Instagram. In response, Texas Governor Greg Abbott took to his own social media and did not hold back his feelings towards those boycotting: “Bands pull out of SXSW over U.S. Army sponsorship. Bye. Don’t come back. Austin remains the HQ for the Army Futures Command. San Antonio is Military City USA. We are proud of the U.S. military in Texas. If you don’t like it, don’t come here.”


“The Fall Guy”, a movie that celebrates stunt work and the crews who make it possible, premiered at SXSW on March 12th. The project has some major star power behind it, with Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, and Hannah Waddingham being featured in the romantic comedy. “The Fall Guy” is directed by former stuntman, David Leitch, who hopes to inspire appreciation for movie crews and behind the scenes work with the film. Gosling, who plays a stuntman for a movie star, echoes Leitch’s sentiment. “It’s an opportunity to finally acknowledge the stunt performers, the incredible contribution they make to movies,” said Gosling.


As audiences at SXSW eagerly awaited world premieres of films like “The Fall Guy” and “Immaculate”, a sizzle reel including a collection of previous panels, premieres, and other festival highlights played. On Tuesday March 12, the spotlight was on AI and the video was met with boos from the audience, likely filled with writers and actors who are worried about the potential impact of AI on their careers. Within the feature, vice president of consumer product at ChatGPT-creator OpenAI, Peter Deng said, "I actually fundamentally believe that AI makes us more human." Let’s just say – the audience didn’t exactly agree with this sentiment.