Amazon Is Teaming Up With SXSW To Create A Virtual Film Festival For 2020

Image Courtesy Of SXSW

Every time you go to check the news in the entertainment industry, it’s a mix of good or startling. Movies consistently pulling away from prime 2020 release dates, to find a new home. Some of which land on VOD. Others slapped with “indefinitely shelved” status. Film festivals crumble, by the week. Now, in the midst of confusion, something strange is occurring. Potentially good, but potentially divisive. Amazon Prime is stepping up to help SXSW launch a virtual festival.

Hearing those words together, is almost unprecedented. We have the full press release below, but wanted to point out a few things first. As of now, there’s no telling what films may “opt-in” to have their film shown. Obviously, if a company like Netflix, Hulu had a movie slated to play the fest, it won’t be included here. Couple that without a set event date (to allow filmmakers to decide what course they want to take), and a bunch is up in the air. Regardless though, this is an incredibly audacious and unexpected move.

Here’s the full presser:

Culver City, CA and Austin, TX (Thursday, April 2, 2020) – 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.

This is a huge and monumental move. One that will showcase the talents of so many filmmakers, robbed of the chance to have their work shin before a large audience, as was initially planned. It really stinks that it didn’t get to be in a theater though. The other sticking point here, is what this does from a distribution side. If people tune in, in mass, to watch the free showcase, what are the chances they can get picked up for a future release? Either a short run in theaters or being dumped immediately on VOD? That will probably the biggest hold up, when it comes to this event.

As soon as more info becomes available, including when this will take place and what movies will be showcased, we’ll run a new article. For now, keep your eyes peeled.

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