SXSW Announces Lee Daniels as Film Keynote

Featured speakers, a panel, and some music acts drop

Reminding us that it's never too early to think about that March behemoth that takes over Austin (whether you're a participant or not), SXSW released some tidbits on its 2017 Festival.

Empire's Taraji P. Henson with showrunner (and SXSW Film Keynote) Lee Daniels (Courtesy of Fox)

First up is the news that filmmaker Lee Daniels, executive producer of the Fox TV hit Empire and the upcoming (and amazing-looking) show Star, has been revealed to be next year's Film Keynote. Daniels established himself as a risk-taking director with 2009's Precious, but I've always had a soft spot for his criminally underrated Southern Gothic, 2012's The Paperboy. Daniels is announced with a group of featured speakers, including media technologies guru Kate Crawford and Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls & Sex, an illuminating book on contemporary female teenage sexuality. They are joined by Kimbal Musk, the younger brother of Tesla Motors CEO and Mars-colony enthusiast Elon Musk. Kimbal's thing is food, and how we can sustain it with providers who source locally. Other names include music supervisor Randall Poster (most known for his work with Wes Anderson, but a genius by any right) and of course Rachel Ray, who returns to SXSW for her ninth year, hosting her Feedback party in which many buzz bands will undoubtedly perform. Speaking of bands, SXSW dropped a few musical acts performing next year (a number of which are local) as well as revealed one of their panels, "Product Mavericks: Top Tips From Women Who Build," which brings in executives from Facebook, Lyft, and Hillary Clinton's America to discuss how they made it to the top. And while SXSW is still around six months away, it always helps to keep up with the changes, and one of the bigger changes this year has to do with badge types. I will let this video eloquently fill you in:

The SXSW 2017 Conference and Festival runs March 10-19, 2017. For more info, and to secure your badge, go to

Full announcement below:


Lee Daniels (Film) – Daniels is a widely recognized director, writer, producer, and philanthropist in both the film and television space.  He is perhaps best known for the 2013 critically acclaimed box office smash The Butler; Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire, which was nominated for six Academy Awards including “Best Motion Picture of the Year” and “Best Achievement in Directing”; and for his hit television series Empire. His new television series, Star, will premiere on Fox in early 2017.

Featured Speakers

Cheryl Boone Isaacs – Boone Isaacs is serving her fourth term as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She has represented the Public Relations Branch as a governor for 24 years. She produced the Academy’s 2012 4th Annual Governors Awards

Kate Crawford – Kate Crawford is a leading researcher, academic, and author who works on the social implications of data, machine learning and AI. In 2016, she co-chaired the White House symposium AI Now, and wrote about AI and discrimination in The New York Times.

Bill Ford & Doug Newcomb – As Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, William Clay Ford Jr. is leading the company that put the world on wheels into the 21st century. He joined the Board of Directors in 1988 and has been its chairman since January 1999. He will be in conversation with C3 Group President and co-founder Doug Newcomb, a respected journalist who has covered automotive technology for nearly three decades (Forbes, Wired, Popular Mechanics, Automotive, etc.) and is a leading authority on connected car and mobility.

Parag Khanna – Khanna is a leading global strategist, world traveler, and bestselling author. He is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre on Asia and Globalization at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

Kimbal Musk – Musk is on the boards of Chipotle, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX. His personal mission is to strengthen communities through food. Musk is a co-founder of the Kitchen, a growing family of restaurants that sources directly from local farmers.

Peggy Orenstein – Peggy Orenstein is the author of The New York Times bestsellers Girls & Sex, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, and Waiting for Daisy among others. She has written for dozens of prestigious magazines and newspapers, with her articles [appearing in] anthologies many times.

Randall Poster – Renowned music supervisor, perhaps best known for his longterm collaboration with director Wes Anderson, as well as directors including Harmony Korine, Todd Haynes, Richard Linklater, Todd Phillips, Martin Scorsese, and Sam Mendes.

Vivek Ranadivé – Entrepreneur, technology visionary, The New York Times bestselling author and philanthropist, Ranadivé is recognized for his outside-the-box thinking. He is the owner and chairman of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Rachael Ray – Television host, bestselling author and Austin enthusiast, Rachael Ray has hosted her annual Feedback food and music events in Austin during SXSW for the last nine years, which have played host to the likes of the Districts, J. Roddy Walston & the Business, Shovels & Rope, JEFF The Brotherhood, Blondie, Raekwon, and over 150 other acts.

Featured Session

Product Mavericks: Top Tips from Women Who Build
From leading video on Facebook to the CTO for the first woman presidential candidate, there’s no question that there are a group of female leaders taking over in the space of product development and they’ve without a doubt made it to the top. Hear from the women who are defying the numbers, building the products we’re all using each and every day, and are both figuratively and physically shaping our future.
Panelists: Merci Grace leads the Growth team at Slack; Stephanie Hannon, Chief Technology Officer, Hillary for America; Tali Rapaport, Lyft VP of Product; and Fidji Simo, Director of Product at Facebook.

Music Festival

The SXSW Music Festival is pleased to announce a small sample of artists scheduled to perform at the 2017 event. To whet the appetite, SXSW presents:
Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys (Austin)
Agosto (San Isidro, Argentina)
Alex Napping (Austin)
Rocky Banks (Houston)
Vera Blue (Forbes, Australia)
Booher (Austin)
Cory Branan (Nashville, TN.)
Allysen Callery (Bristol, RI.)
Alex Cameron (Sydney, Australia)
Laura Carbone (Mannheim, Germany)
Chain of Flowers (Cardiff, England)
Chain Wallet (Bergen, Norway)
Chelou (London, England)
Crater (Seattle, WA.)
Creepoid (Philadelphia, PA.)
Diet Cig (New Paltz, NY.)
Dubfire (Washington, DC.)
Forth Wanderers (Montclair, NJ.)
Foxtrax (Los Angeles, CA.)
Colin Gilmore (Austin)
Henry Hall (New York, NY.)
Hard Proof (Austin)
Hoops (Bloomington, IN.)
Jain (Paris, France)
Tameca Jones (Austin)
King Cayman (Madrid, Spain)
Alex Lahey (Melbourne, Australia)
Lazyeyes (Brooklyn, NY.)
Carlo Lio (Toronto, Canada)
Demi Louise (Boronia, Australia)
Elizabeth McQueen, (EMQ and Psiplay) (Austin)
Misimplicity (Austin)
My Education (Austin)
Never Young (Oakland, CA.)
Agnes Obel (Berlin, Germany)
Pastel Ghost (Brooklyn, NY.)
Sara ∏ (Barcelona, Spain)
Polarheart (Sydney, Australia)
The Quebe Sisters (Dallas)
Ratboys (Chicago, IL.)
Running Touch (Melbourne, Australia)
San Fermin (Brooklyn, NY.)
Oscar Key Sung (Melbourne, Australia)
Survive (Austin)
Tasha the Amazon (Toronto, Canada)
Throttle (Melbourne, Australia)
Adam Torres (Austin, TX)
Trudy and the Romance (London, England)
Wafia (Brisbane, Australia)
Miss Lavelle White & the L Men (Austin)
Yoke Lore (Brooklyn, NY.)
Jesse Colin Young (Aiken, SC.)
Yung Gordon (Miami, FL.)
Please note: This list is subject to change.

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