Everything You Need To See And Do (For The Culture) At SXSW 2023

by Shaye Wyllie
sxsw 2023 film festival

If you’re heading to Austin, Texas for the South by South West (SXSW) 2023 Film Festival, there’s a ton of dope films and tv shows to see, and a few cool film + tv related events to attend. But with so much happening, a lot of the awesome stuff gets lost in the sauce … or in this case in all of the emails I’ve received over the last few weeks heading up to the event. And if you’re *ahem* of color … dare I say BIPOC … ew, never mind, that was awful — but if you are, then I know you’re probably in search of creatives of color you can support (for the culture).

So here’s a list of the coolest films, tv shows, and events for everyone of color to watch and do while at the SXSW 2023 Film Festival. And in the words of our Canadian friend, you can thank me now.

SXSW 2023 Film Festival: Everything You Should See And Do If You’re Looking To Support Creatives Of Color

What To Watch At SXSW 2023

Swarm

This new Prime Video series about an obsessed, Houston-based fan who goes to increasingly violent lengths for her fave R&B singer, stars Dominique Fishback and Chloe Bailey, and is one of my most anticipated premieres of the fest.

Story Ave

Desperate to join “Outside The Lines”, a graffiti gang, South Bronx native Kadir Grayson, attempts to rob Luis, an older Puerto Rican MTA conductor on the Story Ave subway platform. But when Luis offers him the cash he needs – for the first time in his life, Kadir entertains the possibility of his artistic talent being a conduit to a better life. The film stars Asante Blackk and Luis Guzmán, and as a Native New Yorker who also happens to love graffiti, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this one plays out.

Flamin’ Hot

Directed by Eva Longoria, “Flamin’ Hot” is the story of Richard Montañez, the Frito Lay janitor who channeled his Mexican American heritage and upbringing to turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a snack that disrupted the food industry and became a global phenomenon.

The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster

Vicaria is a brilliant teenager who believes death is a disease that can be cured. After the brutal and sudden murder of her brother, she embarks on a dangerous journey to bring him back to life. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, “The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster” thematically challenges our ideas of life and death. And I’m totally here for a “Black Frankenstein”.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton) and Justice Smith (Pokémon Detective Pikachu) star in this story of a charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers who undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic, and I can’t wait to see them both on screen again!

“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” brings the rich world and playful spirit of the legendary roleplaying game to the big screen in a hilarious and action-packed adventure.

Love To Love You, Donna Summer

“Love to Love You, Donna Summer” captures a richly complex picture of the woman, the artist, the wife, and mother whose iconic voice changed music forever. An archive of exclusive, previously unseen film, home video, photographs, artwork, personal audio, and other recordings form the film’s vibrant exploration of the life and career of one of the most extraordinary performers ever to shake a room to its timbers.

I’m A Virgo

Directed by Boots Riley, and featuring Jharrel Jerome, Brett Gray Olivia Washington, and Mike Epps — “I’m a Virgo” is a fantastical coming-of-age joyride about Cootie, a 13-foot tall young Black man in Oakland, California. The series is a mythic examination of what happens when the oppressed finally rise up – and asks why we are so often asked to identify with the oppressors in our stories, rather than the true heroes we often overlook.

If You Were the Last

Starring our Captain America … I mean, Anthony Mackie — “If You Were The Last” tells us the story of Adam and Jane, who are three years into a NASA mission that has gone very wrong. One day, Adam poses that maybe they should sleep together, thus beginning a friendly, flirty debate about whether they’re better off spending their remaining days as friends or something more.

Bottoms

“Bottoms” follows two unpopular girls in their senior year who start a fight club to try to impress and hook up with cheerleaders and features Ayo Edebiri (from Hulu’s “The Bear”).

The Young Wife

Directed by Tayarisha Poe, who gave us “Selah And The Spades” and starring Kiersey Clemons, Leon Bridges, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Lovie Simone — “The Young Wife” is the story of a young woman grappling with the meaning of love in the face of an uncertain world. It’s a sunny day panic attack and a wholly new take on the wedding film following her over the course of her “non-wedding” day.

Mustache

It’s the mid-90’s in Northern California and 13-year-old Pakistani-American Ilyas is facing a major crisis — public school. Ilyas’ fears about joining public school are made worse by insecurities due to his inescapable, prepubescent mustache. Ilyas hatches a hilarious plan to return to his old school — but on the way learns, he must also accept himself. The film features Rizwan Manji and Hasan Minhaj.

Demascus

We meet Demascus in a moment of great inner strife. He’s just turned 33 and he’s suffering from arrested grief after the death of his mother. His career, his love life (or lack thereof), his identity is all up for debate. While I’m not entirely sure of the plot, I do know it stars the great Janet Hubert and Martin Lawrence, and my dear Twitter friend Kirk Moore is the showrunner, so it’s definitely on my list!

Blindspotting Season 2

This Starz series is not to be missed! It stars Jasmine Cephas Jones, Benjamin Earl Turner, and Jaylen Barron, and is executive produced by Daveed Diggs. If that’s not enough for you to tune in, clearly you haven’t seen any of them on screen before and therefore this is now a must! Stream Season 1 on Starz before you jump in to Season 2, but know that it’s artistic cinematography alone is worth watching this!

Black Barbie: A Documentary

Love her or hate her, almost everyone has a Barbie story. Even if they don’t have a story, there’s a story as to why they don’t have a story. In this film, the story behind the first Black Barbie is told, because yes, she has a story too. And it all started with the filmmaker’s 83-year old aunt, Beulah Mae Mitchell and a seemingly simple question, “Why not make a Barbie that looks like me?”

What To Do At SXSW 2023

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Tavern Experience

Gather at the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Tavern Experience in Austin, TX, during South by Southwest 2023. Taking place at The Highball at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, attendees can enjoy a fluorescent “Dragon’s Brew” amidst the immersive wooden interior and of course, the antagonistic Gelatinous Cube. And yes I’m just going for the drinks.

Camp Yellowjackets

SHOWTIME® will host Camp Yellowjackets, a 3-day interactive experience that will celebrate the release of the second season of the Emmy® Nominated series, Yellowjackets. This multi-day event will take place during the first weekend of South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference and Festivals beginning Friday, March 10th through Sunday, March 12th and at the Fair Market in Austin, Texas. I won’t be going because of a schedule conflict, but it looks awesome.

Welcome to Prime, TX

Prime Video is putting down roots with the newly incorporated Prime, TX, at Hotel San Jose in Austin’s hotspot South Congress neighborhood. Just like Prime Video transports you to different worlds with its hit shows, Prime, TX is a portal to the Lone Star State of your dreams.

Enjoy craftier cocktails at “The Boys” XXXclusive Bar, southern hospitality from the American Country Music Awards, and harmonic vibes inside “Daisy Jones & the Six’s” recording studio, all set to some boot scootin’ boogie vibes from DJs Disko Cowboy, CRG, Kimmy K and more.

Come *grow* with the flow in “Harlem”, unleash your inner strength with “The Power”, and find your otherworldly side with “Carnival Row”. After you get a made-to-fade semi-permanent tattoo repping your favorite show, swing by Prime Denim Co. for a customized vintage stitch-shop experience. Finally, don’t forget to indulge at “The Summer I Turned Pretty” pie stand & cruise next door to Austin Motel for snacks & lotto prizes at the “Swarm” Mini Mart popup.

SWARM MINI MART

Prime Video’s new limited series “Swarm” is taking over the Austin Motel’s main lobby with an in-world convenience store pop-up, creating a sensory experience that illustrates the darkly indulgent tone of the series. Attendees of the pop-up activation will be able to immerse themselves in the world of “Swarm” with Dre’s getaway car photo moment complete with blood-stained seats, a wrapped dead body, and the ominous buzz of bees overhead. 

Upon entering the fluorescently lit and air-conditioned mini-mart, guests will receive custom cash to purchase their favorite snacks and refreshments off the shelves and stocked refrigerators, as well as exclusive, screen-printed t-shirts. All of Dre’s favorite junk food snacks and drinks with “Swarm” branded souvenir cups will be available for them to snag. While checking out, visitors can watch never-before-seen clips of the series on the surveillance monitors and will be given a lottery ticket for a chance to win various prizes, including a “Swarm” branded-bucket hat like Dre’s in the show.

Be sure to follow my Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Letterboxd accounts for photos, views, and reviews during SXSW 2023 (and after).

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