With COVID-19 running roughshod over the globe, some of 2020’s biggest festivals have cancelled or postponed their 2020 events. It sucks as a fan, but at least we get to sit at home and catch up on our streaming backlogs. Many of the supremely talented and hardworking people putting in the blood, sweat, and tears grinding out our entertainment are royally screwed. Most indie movies need the publicity generated at film festivals to help them find distribution. And even bigger productions need festivals to help create enough buzz to catch moviegoers’ fickle attention.
SXSW was one of the first major festivals that the coronavirus took down, and now, it’s one of the first festivals to bounce back. Earlier today, SXSW announced they were collaborating with Amazon Prime to create an online film festival (most likely taking place at the end of April). They’ve branded the one-time online festival, “Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection.”
The event gives the filmmakers who were screening films at SXSW an opportunity to screen their movies for an online audience. All viewers need to take part in the ten-day event is a free Amazon account, the festival will happen “in front of Amazon Prime’s” paywall.
Here’s the official press release straight from the folks at SXSW.
Amazon Prime Video and SXSW are joining forces to launch “Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection”, following the unprecedented cancellation of the South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference and Festivals by the City of Austin due to concerns surrounding the Coronavirus. “Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection” offers filmmakers in the 2020 SXSW Film Festival lineup an invitation to opt in to take part in this online film festival, which will play exclusively on Prime Video in the U.S. for 10-days. The one-time event will be available in front of the Prime Video paywall and free to all audiences around the country, with or without an Amazon Prime membership, all that is needed is a free Amazon account.
Filmmakers who choose to participate will receive a screening fee for streaming their film over the 10-day period. The launch date is yet to be announced, but SXSW and Prime Video are targeting a late April date. SXSW has shared details on the opportunity with 2020 filmmakers, who can opt in starting today.
Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios, said “We’re honored to be able to provide a space for the SXSW filmmakers to share their hard work and passion with audiences for the first time. It’s been a privilege collaborating with Janet Pierson and the SXSW team to bring these diverse and inspiring films to viewers around the country. We are supporters of SXSW and other independent film festivals, and hope this online film festival can help give back some of that experience, and showcase artists and films that audiences might otherwise not have had the chance to see.”
“Ever since SXSW was cancelled by the City of Austin, we’ve been focused on how we could help the incredible films and filmmakers in the SXSW 2020 Film Festival lineup,” said Janet Pierson, Director of Film, SXSW. “We were delighted when Amazon Prime Video offered to host an online film festival, and jumped at the opportunity to connect their audiences to our filmmakers. We’re inspired by the adaptability and resilience of the film community as it searches for creative solutions in this unprecedented crisis.”
“I’m thrilled that these two great champions of indie film (SXSW and Amazon Prime Video) are teaming up to resurrect this year’s canceled film festival,” said Jay Duplass, independent filmmaker and SXSW alum. “These are unprecedented times, and it’s going to take unprecedented solutions to carry on and celebrate these great films and the people who worked so hard to make them.”