October 24, 2023

That’s a wrap! The first ever SXSW Sydney has come to a close

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Image: Nicole Kidman – photographed by Brendan Thorne


Wow. Thousands of sessions, hundreds of speakers, music everywhere you turn… the inaugural SXSW Sydney has finally closed its doors on what was a MAMMOTH week of innovation, creativity, tech and collaboration. 


Looking back on the week, we saw an incredible line-up of speakers share their stories, premieres of cinema excellence,  a look at our future through the Tech and Innovation Expo, and the US team FaZe claiming the trophy at the Intel Extreme Masters Grand Final. 


Not only did we see the first ever SXSW Sydney Pitch Winner (who now gets a chance to pitch next year at SXSW in Austin), but we saw the first awards handed in Music, Screen and Games, to creators conveying their stories and craft.


As the only city outside of Austin, Texas, to host SXSW, Sydney has solidified its status as the centre point for creativity in the Asia Pacific region.




Image: Charlie Brooker –  photographed by Brendan Thorne


This year’s conference saw conversations between some of the greatest minds in industry across all SXSW Sydney pillars, with over 400 sessions and more than 700 speakers from around the world.


Charlie Brooker in Conversation with Julia Zemiro

It was a full house at Charlie Brooker’s conversation with Julia Zemiro, discussing his diverse catalogue and his Black Mirror crystal ball. The pair reviewed show highlights and fielded questions from an enthusiastic audience. 


Nicole Kidman and Per Saari in Conversation – Spotlight on Blossom Films

Nicole and Per reflected on their friendship and business partnership and the content they have produced together under Blossom Films. They also discussed upcoming projects, their hopes for future works and the future of industry.


50th Anniversary of Hip Hop ft Chance the Rapper

With the Darling Harbour Theatre nearly full to the brim, Chance the Rapper spoke with Rolling Stone Australia’s Poppy Reid, about his incredible career and the celebration of 50 years of Hip Hop. They also discussed Chance’s personal experiences and how they have impacted his work and his incredible charity SocialWorks. 


Naomi Watts & Mia Freedman – Menopause and Midlife

The UTS Great Hall was filled with intrigued listeners for a panel hosted by Mia Freedman, with Naomi Watts, Dr Ginni Mansberg and Alison Brahe Daddo to talk about the “second act” – life pre-, mid-, and post-menopause.


Troy Baker in Conversation 

Following his performance at the Games Festival Opening Party, this conversation was a deep dive into Troy’s illustrious career spanning screen, games, and music and how his process for creating characters is impacted by the medium in which he is creating. 


Dodo De-Extinction And Other Lost Animals – Ben Lamm And Andrew Pask In Conversation

In an illuminating session, Ben Lamm, CEO of Colossal Biosciences, and Professor Andrew Pask, leader of the Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research (TIGRR) Lab at the University of Melbourne, discussed their work trying to bring back the Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine.


Coachella Co-Founder Paul Tollett & Michael Harrison, AEG In Conversation

Music lovers united at this comprehensive conversation between two industry stalwarts – Coachella Co-Founder / Goldenvoice President Paul Tollett and AEG’s Global Touring SVP Michael “Harry” Harrison. The pair also delved into the success of emerging music genres and Michael’s journey from Australian promoter to global industry leader.




Image: Actor Ursula Yovich – photographed by Brendan Thorne


A culmination of emerging talent productions and diversified reimaginings of iconic works, the Screen Festival gave voices to stories that have previously been untold. Attendees enjoyed an eclectic mix of features, documentaries, and short films, covering a broad spectrum of themes. Panel discussions and conversations with filmmakers provided unique insights into the world of cinema, storytelling, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.


Screen Festival Opening Night: The Royal Hotel

SXSW Sydney 2023 Screen Festival’s Opening Night film, The Royal Hotel had attendees on the edge of their seats. After the screening, attendees headed to Tumbalong Park for the official Opening Party of the SXSW Sydney Screen Festival. 


Hot Potato: The Story of The Wiggles 

Australian icons, The Wiggles, known for bringing a smile to children around the world, premiered Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles, providing a behind the scenes look at the lives of the four men who started it all and the powerful legacy they’ve built. 


Saltburn Premiere

The Australian premiere of Saltburn, by Academy Award winning filmmaker Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), took place with a gala screening at the Darling Harbour Theatre.  Fennell’s beautifully wicked tale of privilege and desire had a truly captivated audience exclaiming at her twisted scenes.


Screen Festival Closing Night: Faraway Downs

The world premiere of Baz Luhrmann’s, Faraway Downs, closed the Screen Festival on Saturday night at the ICC’s Darling Harbour Theatre. The inspiring epic adventure is a reimagined, extended version of his 2008 film, Australia, told in six chapters. Alongside performances from Electric Fields and Budjerah, Luhrmann rounded out the session with a Q+A that gave us incredible insight into the mind of a screen legend!


Screen Awards

The Screen Awards were created to celebrate the most outstanding projects at the SXSW Sydney 2023 Screen Festival:

  • Best Short: Basri & Salma In a Never-Ending Comedy. Honourable Mention: Hyperconnect
  • Best Feature: You’ll Never Find Me. Honourable Mention: All Ears
  • Best XR: LIBERTAS, VERITAS, Badfaith Studio. Honourable Mention: 444.2, Anatomy Studio




Image: Chance the Rapper and Inkabee – photographed by Jess Gleeson


The Music Festival showcased an incredible range of talent from across the world in all genres playing in iconic locations in Sydney including the Hollywood Hotel, the Lansdowne and Lord Gladstone. With over 250 artists and over 300 performances, the SXSW Sydney Music Festival was one to remember.


Accenture Music Festival Opening Party

SXSW Sydney music fans enjoyed a lineup of fresh new music talent at the SXSW Sydney Music Festival launch event at The Starship, presented by Accenture. The Music festivities began with a night of discovery featuring performances from Flyanna Boss and Ekkstacy,  with music industry leaders, creatives and marketers meeting those behind the ideas, trends and innovations that will shape the business in years to come.


SXSW Sydney And 3% Present Our People

Proud First Nations artists, Nooky, Dallas Woods and Angus Field celebrated their first single as Blak collective 3%, at their live debut and SXSW Sydney showcase at The Lord Gladstone. Featuring a surprise visit from Chance The Rapper introducing 11-year-old rap sensation, Inkabee, The “OUR PEOPLE” showcase featured an incredible lineup of First Nations artists such as Moss, Barkaa, Dobby, Yung Brother, Bars Of Steel legends – Inkabee and FLEWNT, and was headlined by 3%. 


Justin Cosby Music Prize

SXSW Sydney is thrilled to announce the winners of the inaugural Justin Cosby Music Prize, named in memory of an Australian music industry legend, Justin Cosby, who passed away in June 2021. Justin was the founder of Inertia Music, a passionate supporter and defender of independent music and new talent with an encyclopaedic, genre-defying knowledge of music. He was a regular attendee at SXSW and his meticulously organised spreadsheet planner was shared widely among Australian industry making the journey to Austin each year.


  • Best Emerging Artist: Miss Kannina
  • Best Performance: Otoboke Beaver


The Prize was judged by the SXSW Sydney Music team and a range of local and international media and industry.




Image: Intel Extreme Masters at SXSW Sydney – photographed by Brendon Thorne


With events across eight unique locations, this year’s Games Festival saw the inclusion of over 180 games, conversations with 100 international speakers, investors and developers, and the incredible Intel Extreme Masters Competition which came to an electrifying conclusion on Sunday night.


Games Festival Opening Night Party – Stray Gods In Concert Feat. Troy Baker, Anjali Bhimani and Montaigne

At Fortress Sydney, attendees immersed themselves in a night of pure magic as music and gaming intertwined on the stage of the Games Opening Night. Bringing together headliners Troy Baker and Anjali Bhimani to perform songs from the newly released game, Stray Gods and the sensational Australian artist and singer-songwriter, Montaigne to open the night, alongside a mesmerising performance from musical artist Sarah Wolfe.


Intel Extreme Masters 

The biggest esports tournament in the world returned to Sydney for the first time since 2019, as top Counter-Strike teams battled it out to make it to Sunday’s Grand Finalfor a prize pool of $250,000 USD. After an intense, extended match, FaZe were crowned this year’s champions.


Games Festival Awards

Presented by Suntory -196, The Games Festival Awards Night Hosted by Tom Cardy recognised the outstanding achievement of the developers and creators taking pride of place in the Games Showcase. The winners include:

  • Discovery Award: Nine Sols
  • Student Award: Echo Rush
  • International Award: Paper Trail
  • Tabletop Award: Aethermon
  • People’s Choice: Solium Infernum
  • Game of the Year: DREDGE




Image: VR experience at the Tech & Innovation Expo –  photographed by Brendan Thorne


SXSW’s reputation as a leading space for innovation has continued in Sydney, with attendees able to see what the future may be with innovative products and services from established companies to emerging startups. This was an opportunity for attendees to engage with new technology, discover innovative solutions, and explore exciting developments on the horizon. The Tech & Innovation Expo provided opportunities for entrepreneurs to network with potential investors and collaborators, helping them take their ideas to the next level.


Tech & Innovation Expo

The highly anticipated Tech & Innovation Expo presented by HP opened mid-week, transporting attendees to the future. HP opened The Discovery Stage, followed by Intel presenting the first global in person reveal of the new Intel® Core™ 14th Generation desktop processor family.


Startup Village

Startup Village and the daily Startup Hour on the Discovery Stage saw the introduction of many new and emerging technologies and companies set to change the world. Providing opportunities for companies to connect with investors, the Startup Village became a hub for new technology.


SXSW Sydney Pitch Grand Final

The six category winners from across the Tech & Innovation Festival came together on Thursday afternoon to crown a winner, Lisa Milani, Co-Founder of Nanocube Health.  Lisa and Nanocube Health now have the potential to join the winners from SXSW Pitch in Austin who are currently worth a cumulative value of over $9 billion dollars.


SXSW Sydney Pitch winners

  • Generative AI and Robotics: Lisa Milani, co-founder of Nanocube Health
  • Sustainability, Circular Economy & Urban Innovation: Camille Goldstone-Henry, CEO and co-founder of Xylo Systems.
  • Healthcare, Biotech, Future of Medicine, Augmenting Humans: Dr Chris Bladen, CEO and Cofounder of Zymedyne Therapeutics
  • Space Habitation, Travel and Transport: Kiriti Rambhatla, CEO and Founder of Metakosmos
  • Law and Order in Cyberspace, Security and Fintech: Sajid Bokhari, Founder and CEO of Geniepay
  • Game On, Let’s Play: Nilu Kulasingham, Founder and CEO of Stori


Keep Up With All SXSW Sydney Updates 

That’s a wrap on SXSW Sydney 2023 but we’ll be back before you know it. To make sure you’re staying across all the latest news, enter your email below.


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