With all the major blockbusters being delayed this year, you would think that smaller indie films that will still be around in 2020 will now get their time to shine as they make use of less-traditional release channels. Problem is, to get a movie released, you still need somebody with some decent pocket-depth to help you out. And usually, how these indie filmmakers and distributors get together is by the former screening their films for the latter at film festivals. Problem is: There are no film festivals in 2020 thanks to Covid-19.
This includes the South by Southwest Festival that happens in Austin, Texas each year and is arguably the biggest indie film showcase outside of Sundance (and the highest annual revenue-producing event in Texas outside of sporting events). For the first time since its inception in 1987, SXSW is not happening this year, which is a devastating blow to American indie filmmakers… luckily, the organizers have come up with a brilliant plan.
Announced via press release on the festival’s official site, SXSW is going digital. The organizers are teaming up with Amazon Prime to launch the rebranded “Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection,” which will be a one-time 10-day long streaming event in which indie filmmakers will be able to get their film out in front of viewers in the hopes of landing a distribution deal. And by viewers, I mean a lot more than just the folks who would normally be lucky enough to travel to Texas for the usual festival. The SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection “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.” So if you’re based in the USA (sorry, Saffers!) and have an Amazon account of any form, you’re golden!
Janet Pierson, Director of Film at SXSW, revealed that this unprecedented event was actually Amazon’s idea.
Ever since SXSW was canceled 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. 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.
Head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke also spoke about partnering up with SXSW to give indie filmmakers the platform they need to get their creations out there.
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.
The film lineup is still being finalized as filmmakers need to submit entries first. Those that are selected will earn a screening fee for their film being available to stream over the 10-day period. Just when that period will be is also not locked down yet, but SXSW and Prime Video are eyeballing a date closer to the end of April.
Last Updated: April 3, 2020