By Caroline MacNeille ’16 with contributions from Aditi Kini ’13
We caught up with fourteen alumni who spoke, performed and screened at South by Southwest – an annual music, film and interactive festival that just took place in Austin, TX in March. Himanshu “Heems” Suri ’07 performed music from his new album Eat Pray Thug and Andrew Berends ’94 premiered his film Madina’s Dream. Alumni spoke on panels including “El Nuevo Latino: Fusing Cultures and Values,” “Disrupting Innovation: Book Publishing & New Media” and “Taste Talks.”
Did we miss out on someone? Let us know!
Here’s a mostly-complete list of alumni who attended:
Blue Man Group co-founder Chris Wink ’83 connected the looking glass with branding in a conceptual conversation for Using Brands to Create Cultural Identity. Chris discussed what he learned creating a beloved brand, what makes a brand iconic and how to build a loyal audience. He gave a special shoutout to Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 for Hamilton, and posed with a #THISISWHY bottle.
Jenina Nuñez ’04, U.S. Communications Manager at McDonald’s Corporation, who was a South By newbie, spoke at El Nuevo Latino: Fusing Cultures and Values about “how Hispanic millennials are expressing themselves and helping shape a new American landscape.” Jenina focuses on public relations and social media for McCafe and the National Hispanic Consumer Market. She gives a special “hats off to all Wes alums who had a role there too!”
Filmmaker Andrew Berends ’94 premiered his latest documentary Madina’s Dream. The film details the ongoing struggles of people living inside the war in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains. “Although heart-wrenching, Madina’s Dream isn’t depressing. The film is lovely, actually,” said Jessie Cape of the Austin Chronicle.
Will Levitt ’12 presented at Food, Brand & Community: Food’s Big Moment. Will is the business development director of Taste Talks, a food and drink festival celebrating the future of taste. Will shares: “it’s a totally incredible festival, so many different people coming together around so many different ideas, so many incredible people to meet!”
Musician Himanshu “Heems” Suri ’07 performed music from his new album Eat Pray Thug and spoke at Hip Hop’s Evolution in India – Why You Should Care. Himanshu, formerly of Das Racist, founded Greenhead Entertainment.
GTFO: Get The F&#% Out, from director Shannon Sun-Higginson ’10 and Editor and producer Ian Park ’11, premiered at South by. The much-anticipated movie is a “look into 20 billion dollar industry riddled with discrimination and misogyny” asks the question: What does the future hold for women in gaming? Shannon spoke on a panel about the film.
Cinematographer Catherine Goldschmidt ’05 was in Austin for the premiere of her film Disaster Playground, which “investigates future outer space catastrophes.” The Austin Chronicle found the movie “engaging and visually dynamic.” “We wanted to film certain scenes and re-enactments as if they were staged, cinematic events, in spite of the fact that virtually everything in the film is un-rehearsed verité,” Goldschmidt said.
“SXSW was its usual blur of meetings (day) and shows (nights),” said Julie Yannatta ’91, who was there for Mentor sessions and as part of her work in merchandising. She is the President of Sandbag, which does merch for Daft Punk, The XX, Radiohead and many others. Musical highlights for her were Hippo Campus (Grand Jury Music) and Broncho (Dine Alone Records); The War on Drugs lived up to the hype.
Louis Willacy ’93 is the Head of Legal, Talent and Corporate Development at if(we), a company “building social products to enable meaningful connections between people.” If(we) held a panel called Mobile: How to Build Beyond the Phone, discussing the future of mobile devices and how companies are building “the next wave of user experience.”
Jane Randel ’89, senior advisor for the NFL, spoke at SXsports: Hitting the Sweet Spot of Interactive & Film. Jane is also a Co-Founder at NO MORE, “a public awareness and engagement campaign focused on ending domestic violence and sexual assault.”
Aaron Lammer ’03, co-founder Longform Media, moderated Disrupting Innovation: Book Publishing & New Media, a panel looking at innovations in publishing and the ways in which the industry is evolving.
Digital publishing expert Molly Barton ’00 spoke at What Would Wu Tang Do? Build a Creative Collective. Molly has over a decade of experience working in digital publishing, striving to best connect content creators with their audience. She founded The Proper Company and served as a visiting professor at Wesleyan in the Spring of 2014.
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- Yannatta ’91: Amnesty’s ‘Chimes’ CD ‘was like a rent party’
- Write Better Together: an inside look at a new generation of social networks and websites that empower writers
Penguin Publishing Global Digital Director Barton ’00 on campus for conference, co-teaching
- Restaurant critic Will Levitt ’12 blogs from Under the Egg
- Levitt ’12 documents his ‘Great American Road Trip’
- Himanshu Suri ’07 reflects on race and ‘Life of Pi’
- Suri ’07 blogs about Greedhead Music and Khalif Diouf ’11
- Blue Man Group and founder Chris Wink ’83 entertain Wesleyan audience in Boston
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