South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals, taking place March 9 to 18, 2018, has added Keynote Melinda Gates and the newest round of Featured Speakers including visionary film director Richard Linklater and writer/director Olivier Assayas to the programming lineup. The other Featured Speakers include founder and CEO of Dell Technologies Michael Dell; Elvis Presley: The Searcher documentary executive producer Priscilla Presley and director Thom Zimny; hacktivist Joséphine Goube; futurist Ray Kurzweil; former U.S. Chief Technology Officer and shift7 co-founder Megan Smith; Westworld showrunners and creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy; designer and entrepreneur Rachel Zoe; and more.
As SXSW celebrates the 25th year of Interactive and Film, and its second year with a unified conference that features Interactive, Film, Music, and Convergence Tracks, Melinda Gates and the Featured Speakers announced today reflect the current and coming trends through the lens of tech and culture.
Melinda Gates (Convergence Keynote) – Philanthropist Melinda Gates has dedicated her life to achieving transformational improvements in the health and prosperity of families, communities and societies. Core to her work is empowering women and girls to help them realize their full potential. As co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is guided by the belief that every life has equal value, Gates shapes and approves strategies, reviews results, and sets the overall direction of the world’s largest private foundation. Gates recently launched an executive office, Pivotal Ventures, which enables her to bring together the different strands of her advocacy and philanthropic work and create meaningful change.
Olivier Assayas and Richard Linklater (Making Film & Episodics) – Olivier Assayas is a French author, screenwriter and director. He’s written and directed notable films such as Demonlover, Something in the Air, and 2016’s psychological thriller Personal Shopper starring Kristen Stewart. Richard Linklater is an award-winning filmmaker best known for such visionary works such as Slacker, the Before Trilogy with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, Boyhood, and many others. Linklater also serves as the Artistic Director for the Austin Film Society, which he founded in 1985 to showcase films from around the world that were not typically shown in Austin.
Joe Berlinger, Tamron Hall, and Ryan White (Making Film & Episodics) – There is no denying our national fascination for true crime content, and the appetite for these stories continues to grow, among audiences and filmmakers alike. A stellar lineup of documentary filmmakers discuss what drew them to these emotional stories and highlight some of the unique challenges they face when crafting deeply personal narratives about life and death, innocence or guilt. With a life potentially hanging in the balance, non-fiction storytellers are keenly aware of how they represent their subjects – but how do they balance that with their responsibility to victims? What burden does a filmmaker willingly take on when developing relationships with individuals whose lives or livelihood are on the line? Is there a cost that comes from exposing the cracks in our justice system?
Michael Dell and Clay Johnston (Health & Wellness) – Michael Dell is chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies, a unique family of businesses encompassing Dell, Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream and VMware. Dell Technologies is an innovator and technology leader providing the essential infrastructure for organizations to build their digital future, transform IT and protect their most important information. Dell is also the founder and board member of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the private family foundation which provided lead donor funding to build the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. Clay Johnston is the inaugural Dean of the Dell Medical School. His ambitious vision includes building a world-class medical school by creating a vital, inclusive health ecosystem that supports new and innovative models of education and health care delivery – all with a focus on improving health and making Austin a model healthy city. He is also a neurologist, specializing in stroke care and research.
Elvis Presley: The Searcher Featured Session (Music Culture & Stories) – Priscilla Presley (Executive Producer), David Porter (legendary Memphis music writer and producer) Thom Zimny (Director), Jon Landau (Producer), and moderator John Jackson (SVP A&R, Sony Music) will discuss the three-hour, two-film presentation of Elvis Presley as the musical artist which will premiere on HBO on April 14, 2018. The films take the audience on a comprehensive creative journey from his childhood through the final 1976 Jungle Room recording sessions.
Joséphine Goube (Social Impact) – Joséphine is a hacktivist for migrants and refugees’ social inclusion. As CEO of Techfugees, a non-profit coordinating the tech community to respond to the refugee & migrant challenge in 25 countries over the world, Goube promotes the use of mobile & new digital technologies to empower the displaced and provide them access to information, healthcare, and education. Joséphine Goube will be the opening speaker of SXSW 2018.
Kim Jackson and Alex Winter with Logan Hill (Film & TV Industry) – Blockchain is a buzzword across industries as diverse as finance, insurance, and green energy, but what is it really, and how will it impact our world? Join journalist Logan Hill in a conversation with filmmaker Alex Winter and producer Kim Jackson, the team behind the upcoming blockchain documentary from SingularDTV and Futurism Studios, as they explore what blockchain and decentralization actually is, who are the innovators building real world applications for this technology, and how it will affect our everyday lives in the years to come.
Ray Kurzweil (Intelligent Future) – Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a thirty-year track record of accurate predictions. Called “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes magazine, he was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. Magazine, which described him as the ”rightful heir to Thomas Edison.” PBS has selected him as one of the “sixteen revolutionaries who made America.”
Megan Smith (Intelligent Future) – Megan Smith is an award-winning entrepreneur, engineer, and tech evangelist. As the third U.S. chief technology officer, Smith helped the President and federal teams harness the power of technology, data, and innovation to advance the future of our nation and the world. Smith has recently co-founded a company, shift7, focusing on tech-forward networked innovation for impact and economic inclusion. Smith joins the session Democratizing AI for Individuals & Organizations with Dr. Fei-Fei Li and Joanne Chen.
Whitney Wolfe Herd (Startup & Tech Sectors) – As Founder and CEO of Bumble, Whitney Wolfe Herd helms one of the fastest-growing social networks in the world. In 3 years, her strategic vision has led to Bumble’s growth of nearly 26 million users worldwide and has singlehandedly disrupted the way people connect on- and offline. Wolfe Herd’s mission for Bumble was simple: create a female-first platform grounded in positive behavior, which would strive to fix the broken system surrounding antiquated gender norms when it comes to connecting. In 2016, Bumble launched Bumble BFF as a friend-finding feature, and launched Bumble Bizz in 2017, which connects users for professional networking.
Westworld Featured Session (Entertainment Influencers) – The HBO drama series Westworld is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin. Join showrunners and creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy along with cast (TBA) for an inside look at the award-winning show, which will return for its second season this spring.
Rachel Zoe and Hillary Kerr (Style) – Rachel Zoe is a distinguished designer, editor, author, and entrepreneur, renowned for her effortless take on glamour. As a designer, Zoe makes her exceptional taste and expertise accessible to the fashion-savvy as Creative Director of the Rachel Zoe Collection. Hillary Kerr is the co-founder and Chief Ideation Officer of Clique a media, marketing, and consumer brands company recently named to Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list for 2017.