SXSW to stream and continue giving awards to canceled 2020 lineup
Last Friday, the 2020 South by Southwest Film Festival was officially canceled for the first time in 33 years. The festival was one of the first events that made an early cancellation due to the ongoing COVID-19 (formerly named as Coronavirus) pandemic that has been affecting the world. Since then, most major film events like movie releases, productions and conventions have also been canceled or delayed within the week including WonderCon and the 19th Annual Tribeca Film Festival.
In SXSW’s statement last week, the organizers mentioned that they’re quickly trying to come up with plans to accommodate their 2020 participants. Now in a statement through The Wrap, SXSW’s Director of Film Janet Pierson has finally addressed their alternate plans, revealing that they’re offering the participants the option to stream their chosen films on SXSW’s own secured streaming platform called Shift72 which will launch beginning today, March 13 and run through Saturday, March 21. Shift72 is also described as an online screening library that will be available for press, buyers, industry professionals or other audiences.
In addition, Pierson has also confirmed that they will still be distributing the festival’s Special Awards to films that were included in the juried competition as special screening links will be available to jurors which will allow them to see and hand out awards. Pierson also assured that all films included in the SXSW 2020 lineup will still be eligible for the Film Independent Spirit Awards while winners of the festival will also still be able to compete for the Academy Awards.
Her full statement is as follows:
Faced with the cancellation of SXSW 2020 by the City of Austin because of health risks associated with COVID-19, the SXSW Film Fest immediately hunkered down to figure out what could we do to help and support the filmmakers whose work we love so much, and who put their trust and faith in SXSW for their launch. Many of them have spent years on the work they were bringing to SXSW.
This was going to a transformative event, and with the cancellation, the filmmakers were left stranded and scrambling. We had several Special Awards juries already in place via links, and since we are not able to present the event, we decided to continue and expand to all the juried competitions, if the majority of the filmmakers opted in and juries were available. We know it’s no substitute for the live SXSW event with its unique and fantastic audience, but at least it’s some way to get attention for these wonderful films.
SXSW is proud to be an official qualifying festival for the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards® Short Film Awards and has confirmed with both organizations that given the extraordinary circumstances that SXSW’s qualifying status still stands.
All Feature films selected for SXSW 2020 will still be eligible for the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Winners of the SXSW 2020 Animated, Documentary and Narrative Short Film categories will still be eligible for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards.
We have also arranged for filmmakers to opt-in to our Shift72 secure online screening library with options to make available for press, buyers, industry, or combinations of these audiences. It will launch on Friday, March 13 and run through Saturday, March 21.
We have been heartened by the efforts of so many in the film industry and wider film community to come together with offers to help SXSW projects by offering screening rooms, fee waivers, and so many ways. We are continuing to explore other ways to support the paths of the SXSW 2020 Official Selection films and filmmakers in this new environment.
We will announce the Award Winners on Tuesday, March 24 for the following categories:
(Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)