After Coronavirus Cancellation, SXSW Partners With Amazon Prime on Online Festival

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SXSW may have been cancelled due to coronavirus, but the filmmakers who were traveling to Austin to share their films with audiences will still get a chance to lift the curtain on their work.

That’s because Amazon Prime Video is joining forces with the festival to launch “Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection.” The tech company is inviting filmmakers to take part in this online film festival, which will play exclusively on Prime Video in the U.S. The 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. SXSW was originally slated to take place in March, but the city government in Austin cancelled the event due to public health concerns. SXSW laid off a third of its staff following the cancellation.

Filmmakers who do participate will get paid. Amazon didn’t reveal how much they will make, but said they’ll receive a screening fee for streaming their film over the 10-day period. SXSW and Prime Video are hoping to begin screening movies by late April. To that end, SXSW has begun reaching out to filmmakers who were invited to the 2020 festival and given them details about making their films available.

“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,” said Jennifer Salke, bead of Amazon Studios, in a statement. “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.”

The public health crisis has upended the festival circuit. Tribeca has been pushed back, Cannes has been postponed, and even fall festivals such as Toronto and Venice are in question. In a public statement, SXSW thanked Amazon for helping them improvise.

“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.”