SXSW Film Festival Will Happen on Amazon Prime Video

Festival films will get their chance to shine for 10 days

The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled, among many other things, the annual SXSW film festival in Austin, TX. This unprecedented online, and free, festival is a way for all these films to be seen by a potentially huge audience.

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SXSW and Amazon announced on Thursday a one-time-only, opt-in Amazon Prime Video streaming film festival to replace the annual SXSW 2020 film festival in Austin that was cancelled over COVID-19 pandemic concerns.

A virtual theater: SXSW and Amazon started accepting submissions for the opt-in festival on Thursday.

Can I watch? Amazon is moving the 10-day event in front of its paywall, which means that anyone, even non-Amazon Prime subscribers, can watch as long as they have a free Amazon account. Prime Video is part of the $119-a-year Amazon Prime 2-day shipping service.

What will I see? Here’s the rub; original film festival participants must choose to show their films on this platform. The festival often features a mix of major studio releases and a lot of smaller, indie films. It seems unlikely that, even with the short, 10-day window, major studios will want anyone watching their movies for free. Indies and documentaries, which struggle to get visibility, may feel differently.

SXSW’s perspective: “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,” said Janet Pierson, Director of Film, SXSW, in a release.

When can I see it? Amazon and SXSW organizers have not settled on a date beyond “late April.”

Bottom Line: Many artists, creators, and attendees were devastated when Austin officials cancelled SXSW literally days before the festival was set to kick off. This Amazon Prime SXSW Festival opportunity may be their second chance. Plus, it’ll be an awesome opportunity for people who never normally attend SXSW to see the kind of content typically presented at the trippy Austin event.

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