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From Weird Startups to Lucky Goats: SVA at SXSW 2017

As tens of thousands of filmmakers, designers, musicians, technologists and general creators descend on Austin, Texas on March 10 – 19 for the 2017 South by Southwest Conference and Festival, a solid sampling of SVA alumni are included in those ranks. While many will attend as conference-and festival-goers, hoping to catch the next big indie band or hear former Vice President Joe Biden speak, eight graduates and one current student are scheduled to take the stage to participate in panel discussions or screen recent projects. Since its debut in 1987, the annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences has markedly grown in size and scope, becoming a preeminent destination for premiering work and making connections. Here's a look at SVA's presence at this year's SXSW.

March 10, 6:45pm – 8:00pm: Bad Lucky Goat

Samir Oliver (BFA 2013 Film) raised over $60,000 on Kickstarter to fund his first feature (for which he is also the screenwriter), the specifically sited, warmly comedic Bad Lucky Goat. It chronicles the 24-hour adventure of two bickering teenage siblings as they make their way around their Colombian Caribbean hometown, trying to cover up a truck accident that left a bearded goat dead and meeting a slew of characters along the way. The coming-of-age story was shot in Oliveros' native Colombia, and screens in Creole with English subtitles. Victoria Rivera (BFA 2011 Film) assistant directs.

March 12, 11:00am – 12:00pm: Social Video and the Future of Consumption

Senior Producer at VICE Media Adam Banicki (MFA 2012 Social Documentary) joins colleagues from Vox and The New York Times to discuss the rapidly changing face of video journalism on social media. The prioritization of video across media platforms has affected editorial processes as well as consumption habits; Banicki and his fellow panelists will address the various forms video-journalism takes—from highly produced pieces to unfiltered live streams of breaking events—and how they see it developing in the future.

March 12, 12:30pm – 1:30pm: The Art of Selling Out

This diverse panel of working creatives—from the co-founder of Drunk History to a development manager at Annapurna Pictures—will try to dispel the time-honored myth that "selling out" equals bad artist (or worse!). Director Mickey Duzyj (BFA 2004 Illustration) and co-panelists consider the possibilities and realities of work-for-hire, making and managing money, and realizing artistic goals without feeling like a sucker, or a moral failure. Duzyj is an Emmy-nominated artist and director whose Brooklyn-based production company, The All-Nighter Room, specializes in inventive documentary storytelling and animated shorts.

March 12, 12:30pm – 1:30pm: Empathy Lab

Sarah Henry (MFA 2015 Interaction Design) takes part in a prototyping session centered around the newly developed content lab from Refinery 29 and Columbia University Digital Storytelling Lab. Their initiative seeks to promote active social change through the use and engagement of empathy, specifically in new media formats like AR and VR, honing the technical and narrative craft of multidimensional production. Henry brings her experience as UX Strategist at Accela, a technology company that provides civic engagement solutions for government, to the panel of designers and producers.

March 12, 1:15pm – 2:35pm: Most Beautiful Island

March 13, 11:30am – 12:50pm: Like Me

Peter Phok (BFA 2003 Film) serves as executive producer on two films making their world premieres in the Narrative Feature Competition. Most Beautiful Island is a psychological thriller that follows a day in the life of an undocumented female immigrant hoping to escape her past by making it in New York City. As Luciana, played by writer and director Ana Asensio, struggles to get by, a series of unforeseen events leaves her in the middle of troubling game; the super 16mm format lends a voyeuristic intimacy to the chilling portrait of the woman.

In Like Me a young loner gains a massive following by broadcasting her crime spree on social media. Desperately searching for online validation and real human connection, Kiya ends up experiencing the compulsion of celebrity and traveling to the outer edges of sociable behavior, ultimately confronting the limits of both.

March 14, 12:30pm – 1:30pm: Weird Startups from the University of Tokyo

Past SXSWs have featured 3D-printed hands, water-purifying shower curtains, and other maybe odd, definitely innovative designs from Tokyo University, all part of a program that lets Japanese start-ups come to Austin to exhibit their products. This year, Yuka Fukuoka (MFA 2018 Design for Social Innovation) presents STACHA, a wearable device that aims to enlighten people as to the experience stuttering. Worn around the neck, STACHA simulates a speech barrier and induces the physical response of stuttering, in hopes of deepening an awareness and understanding of the cognitive disorder. Panel participants will showcase their products and discuss how universities and local communities can encourage and support start-up ecosystems.

March 18, 11:00am –12:00pm: Storytelling in Game and Animation

With a string of hit animated shows and several Emmy nominations between them, Chris Prynoski (BFA 1994 Animation) and George Krstic (BFA 1994 Film and Video) join forces—not for the first time—to apply their expertise to questions of engaging gameplay and good storytelling. As long-serving members of both the gaming and television/film industries, the two will debate the delicate balance between narrative and player experience in current and future gaming executions. Prynoski is the founder of animation production company Titmouse (Scott Pilgrim vs. The Animation, Metalocalypse, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Venture Bros.), and Krstic (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Afro Samurai, Megas XLR) currently serves as the supervising writer for Blizzard Entertainment. Titmouse will also premier an experimental film at the festival with art created in Tilt Brush, a VR application.

The more information about SXSW 2017 and the full schedule of programming, click here.

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