SXSW Sydney 2023 Screen Festival’s Robust Program Has Just Landed

September 20, 2023

It’s finally here! The full program for the inaugural SXSW Sydney 2023 Screen Festival, with Official Major Sponsor Telstra, has been revealed. For the first time ever, the Screen arm of the famed futurist event is heading to Sydney – bringing with it a host of new content from all corners of the globe, with a heavy spotlight on Asia-Pacific.

On the ticket are 75 Feature Film and TV screenings, 40 Shorts, including the newly announced Winda Film Festival shorts, 20 Music Videos and 13 XR Projects, with more still to be announced. If you like a bit of popcorn with your movie, we recommend you start stocking up now.  

Catch a glimpse of the next frontier of screen-based entertainment as screen creatives from different specialties present everything from traditional film and TV projects to hyper-real XR experiences and hybrid forms and genres. The Screen Festival offer is supported by an unmissable Conference, profiling some of the leading voices of the global screen community. It’s here where badge holders can catch headline and featured speakers including Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker, filmmakers Leah Purcell, Jub Clerc, Bruna Papandrea, and more.

The first ever SXSW Sydney Screen festival aims to platform the most exciting new voices, new forms and new ways of creating on screen and captivate audiences with the unlimited opportunities available in the space of screen and entertainment,” said Head of Screen, Ghita Loebenstein.

Like our Austin counterparts we will present the best global content while also offering a distinctive Asia Pacific focus, including the best new work from the oldest storytellers, First Nations and Indigenous People.

Telstra’s Principal of Media, Sponsorship & Awards, Genelle Sharples says: “SXSW is known around the world as the pinnacle festival that celebrates creativity and we look forward to celebrating and showcasing this creativity in film and screen content from Australia, the Asia Pacific, and across the globe.”

If this wasn’t enough to pique your interest, opening night is filling-up with a number of new screenings being announced: Saltburn (Emerald Fennell), ONEFOUR: Against All Odds and Ryuichi Sakamoto: Opus, about the lauded late Japanese composer, all make their premier on opening night. To top it off, a  special presentation of the highly-anticipated 4K re-release of Talking Heads 1984 concert film, Stop Making Sense, directed by Jonathan Demme will be shown for all the music fans among us.

Festival-goers can navigate the week long festival through breaking down the screenings in theses categories:


Big names, big premieres. Gala film events with major and rising names in new cinema including:  

  • Hot Potato: The Story of The Wiggles (AU), directed by Sally Aitken
  • ONEFOUR: Against All Odds (AU), directed by Gabriel Gasparinatos
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus (Japan), directed by Neo Sora
  • Saltburn (UK), directed by Emerald Fennell
  • The Royal Hotel (AU), Opening Night Gala, directed by Kitty Green  

First Nations Program

For the First Nations spotlight, founder and Artistic Director of Winda Film Festival, programmer Pauline Clague has curated a celebration of Blak and First Nations storytelling from across the world, including both features and shorts.


Short, sharp, bright, bold. The next gen of screen creators. Four Shorts programs, previously announced here, are now joined by a program of Bush Shorts co-presented by Winda Film Festival and programmed by Pauline Clague.


Visions is the Screen Festival’s main slate. Bold, emerging cinema across narrative, doc and hybrid forms.   

Highlights from the Visions section include: South Korea’s official entry for Best International Feature Film in the 2024 Academy Awards, the disaster epic Concrete Utopia; black comedy horror, Sleep, starring Lee Sun-kyun (Parasite) plus many more.

SXSW Sydney Midnighters

Expect a mix of scary, funny, and culty films, for night owls and the genre-curious. Highlights from Midnighters include: a nostalgic kids-caper shot on 16mm, Riddle of Fire; unforgettable, lo-fi-sci-fi techno-tech thriller Divinity, produced by Steven Soderbergh with music composition by DJ Muggs and a queer, bloody, monster-infested road movie, Satranic Panic to name a few.


With SXSW Sydney’s natural affinity to all things sonic, the Screen Festival’s Music section celebrates the sounds, culture and influence of music and fandom on screen.

Highlights from Music include: a rich archival account of the devastating, infamous undoing of the former superstar pop duo in Milli Vanilli to the intimate documentary on America’s best-selling girl group, TLC Forever.

Special Presentations

The Screen Festival will also host several Special Presentations, including Lake Mungo (AU) and Stop Making Sense (US).

TV Premieres

Witness premieres of prestige episodics. From a Korean romantic comedy Doona!, starring retired K-pop sensation Suzy Bae to the Indian/Pakistani love triangle drama The Pink Shirt, there’s no better place to find your next bingeable series than SXSW Sydney.  

Music Videos

Showcasing the breakout stars of Asia Pacific music video culture, and the SXSW Sydney Screen playlist includes: A world of magical realism in Isyana Sarasvati – “My Mystery;” diasporic Filipinx contemporary fantasy in BVT – “Lalaki;” Korean-Australian hip hop from Western Sydney with 1300 – “Rocksta;” and the joyously camp story of a “Ghetto Popstar,” Rodney Chrome – “To the Money”.

The SXSW Sydney XR Showcase

A spotlight on outstanding immersive projects using virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) technologies in narrative and non-fiction storytelling. These experiential works demonstrate new ways of amplifying how we perceive and interact with the world around us.

In Competition

Recognising APAC creatives at the leading edge of creativity, imagination and innovation, SXSW Sydney is pleased to announce a range of feature films, short films and XR projects, are in competition at the inaugural SXSW Sydney Screen Festival.  

Free Outdoor Screenings at Tumbalong Park

The SXSW Sydney Screen Festival will also host free outdoor screenings at Tumbalong Park as part of its public program across the Festival week. The program is based on highlights from SXSW (Austin)’s own back-catalogue of crowd favourites, including:

  • Taika Waititi’s endlessly quotable vampire comedy What We Do In The Shadows  (Premiered in Austin at SXSW 2019)
  • American coming-of-age comedy written and directed by Richard Linklater Dazed & Confused  (1993)
  • The original much-loved anime Ghost in the Shell  (1995) follows a cyber-enhanced police officer who hunts down a rogue hacker, blurring the lines between humanity and artificial intelligence. (Premiered in Austin at SXSW 1996).

There’s still more to be announced so keep checking here for updates.  

Be Part of the Action

Secure your access today to be part of the action and connect with a global creative community. SXSW Sydney 2023 Screen Festival grants you access to all of these screenings and more over 7 days and nights in October.

Here’s All the Ways You Can Enjoy the SXSW Sydney Screen Festival 2023

A wristband is your key to the ultimate Screen experience with the SXSW Sydney 2023 Screen Festival. It’ll get you access to all of the screen events around Sydney, including red carpet premieres at the ICC’s Darling Harbour Theatre and cinemas across the inner city and an XR showcase with your wristband.

There’s a difference between a badge and a wristband. In addition to the Screen Festival access mentioned above, Platinum and Screen badges will also give you access to conference keynotes and panels, industry showcases, workshops, parties, launches, networking events and mentoring sessions.

Wristbands, on the other hand, grant access to all the Screen Festival events. You can check out this blog for the full run down or check out all the options available here.  

Whether you choose a Wristband or Badge, you’re in for some cutting-edge entertainment brought to you from all corners of the globe.

Changes to the conference line-up

Due to unavoidable scheduling conflicts, Tan France will no longer be able to attend SXSW Sydney 2023.