SXSW to Stream and Give Awards to Films From Canceled Festival

All films will be eligible for Indie Spirits and Oscars, and filmmakers can opt in to festival’s Shift72 streaming platform

Last Updated: March 13, 2020 @ 1:34 PM

SXSW is making up for its canceled festival by offering to screen accepted films on its online streaming platform and will also still distribute awards to films that otherwise would’ve played in competition.

In a statement to TheWrap, SXSW’s Director of Film Janet Pierson said that the festival immediately started working to help and support the filmmakers affected by the festival’s cancellation as a result of the coronavirus.

Beginning Friday and running through March 21, SXSW will launch on its streaming platform Shift72 and online screening library with options to make the films available to press, buyers, industry professionals or other audiences. The festival arranged for filmmakers to opt-in to the process should they choose to allow their films to stream online in the absence of a live film premiere.

“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,” Pierson said in a statement. “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.”

SXSW will also award films that were in competition with a series of jury awards, and available jurors will be provided with their own private screening links.

Separately, all films meant to play at the festival will still be able to qualify for the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards Short Film Awards, despite the circumstances brought about by the coronavirus.

SXSW was forced to cancel by the City of Austin after the mayor declared a state of emergency. And it was one of the first major festival cancellations among what would be a wave of other postponements and cancellations for events like Tribeca, WonderCon and CinemaCon.

Award winners will be announced on Mar. 24. Below, read Pierson’s full statement, as well as see a list of film categories in which prizes will be awarded.

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:

Juried Awards
NARRATIVE FEATURE: Grand Jury Award
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Grand Jury Award
DOCUMENTARY SHORTS: Jury Award
NARRATIVE SHORTS: Jury Award
ANIMATED SHORTS: Jury Award
EPISODIC PILOT COMPETITION: Jury Award
MIDNIGHT SHORTS: Jury Award
MUSIC VIDEOS: Jury Award
TEXAS SHORTS: Jury Award
TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SHORTS Jury Award
EXCELLENCE IN POSTER DESIGN Jury Award
EXCELLENCE IN TITLE DESIGN Jury Award

Special Awards
ADOBE EDITING AWARD
ADAM YAUCH H?-RNBLOWÉR AWARD
FINAL DRAFT SCREENWRITERS AWARD
LOUIS BLACK “LONE STAR” AWARD
VIMEO STAFF PICK AWARD
ZEISS CINEMATOGRAPHY AWARD

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