SxSW is far more than a new music and film festival and party gathering in Austin TX each March. Rarher the annual music, film, and interactive media festival, that began back in 1987, has steadily grown to become a relevant cultural and political gathering. Among this year's hot cultural topics is the new documentary Stranger Fruit. containing previously unseen security footage of Michael Brown, that premiered at SxSW over the past opening weekend of the ten day festival. Since that SxSW screening the controversial documentary has been grabbing news headlines and reviving discussion on the August 2014 fatal shooting in Ferguson that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.
Another hot button political topic at this year's SxSW is the ContraBanned #MusicUnites concert showcase and panel discussion, happening Friday March 17th. Self-described as "artists from the diaspora of the banned nations," ContraBanned is the collective of artists (including Emmanuel Jal pictured above/interviewed below) that came into being following the January 27th Executive Order issued by the new White House administration's banning entry into the U.S. for ninety days by citizens from seven majority Muslim countries as well as to banning entry to Syrian refugees indefinitely. Even though that controversial Executive Order from six weeks ago, that singled out the nations of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, had been temporarily suspended plans for the SxSW showcase this Friday (March 17th) remained firmly in place. Similarly even after the March 6th updated Executive Order that removed Iraq from the list of nations affected plus exempted lawful permanent residents and green card holders.