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SXSW Online 2021: Here's what to watch on Day 1, March 16

Eric Webb
Austin 360
Pop singer Demi Lovato opens up about her struggles with addiction in the documentary series "Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil."

It's back, and it's more comfy than ever: The first digital-only edition of South by Southwest starts Tuesday. After the annual Austin conference and festivals had to cancel in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, SXSW returns with virtual programming March 16-20.

Here's what to catch on the first day of the fest, and check out our guide to how to watch the sessions, films and music showcases. Check the full schedule at online.sxsw.com.

Session picks

Kicking off this week's keynotes: voting rights activist Stacey Abrams. Her conversation with author N.K. Jemison starts at 1 p.m. Also keep on your radar: Austin Mayor Steve Adler speaks on a panel about homelessness at 10:15 a.m., "Moonlight" filmmaker Barry Jenkins and "Succession" composer Nicholas Britell have a conversation at 10:30 a.m. and Texas tycoons Kendra Scott and Mark Cuban hold a session at 3 p.m.

Stacey Abrams is the keynote speaker for the first day of SXSW Online 2021.

Film picks

SXSW's opening film is actually a docuseries from YouTube Originals: "Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil" premieres at 6 p.m., with a Q&A to follow. The limited-attendance screening is only available to view Tuesday night and spots are technically all reserved, so hopefully you snagged a seat. Other movies worth a look Tuesday: LGBT dramedy "Potato Dreams of America" at noon, celebrity documentary "Introducing, Selma Blair” at 2 p.m., domino-toppling documentary "Lily Topples the World" at 4 p.m. and spooky thriller "Broadcast Signal Intrusion" at 8 p.m. 

More picks:Here's what to watch at SXSW Film 2021, the fest's first online edition

Music pick

At 8 p.m., catch Jazz re:freshed Outernational. For close to two decades, the West London jazz residency has pushed to redefine the classic form for a diverse, post-internet generation. This showcase is a perennial SXSW fave for lovers of impeccable instrumental chops, heady electronics and soulful grooves. This year's bill includes tuba player Theon Cross, saxophonist Camilla George and pianist Doom Cannon. The showcase gets a venue upgrade, moving from the vacant Emo’s space on Sixth and Red River streets to legendary London recording studio Abbey Road. — Deborah Sengupta Stith

More SXSW music picks:Sample sounds from around the world

Our full coverage of SXSW is only possible thanks to Statesman subscribers. If you're not already a subscriber, become one today at statesman.com/subscribenow. New subscribers get a year of digital access at an introductory rate of $39 through March 18.