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SXSW 2020 Will Still Hand Out Film Awards Despite Cancellation

The films in the festival lineup also remain eligible for Independent Spirit contention and the Academy Awards' short film categories.

The Paramount Theatre in Austin south by southwest

The Paramount Theatre in Austin

Shelley Hiam

The show goes on, even in strange times. As the concerns of the global coronavirus pandemic continue to reverberate throughout the entertainment industry, at least one event casualty is attempting to find a new path forward. The SXSW Film Festival has announced plans to hand out film awards to the films set to premiere at the festival. All films will remain eligible for Independent Spirit Awards, and the short films from the lineup will continue to qualify for the Academy Awards.

Last week, the annual Austin-based conference was canceled due to growing concerns over the worldwide coronavirus outbreak. At the time, the cancellation of the Texas mainstay was shocking: It was the first large-scale entertainment event to be shut down in the U.S. since the breakout — but in the following days, it became a harbinger of what came next, as dozens more events announced their postponement or cancellation.

In an official statement, SXSW’s Director of Film Janet Pierson shared that after the event’s cancellation, “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.” She added that “with the cancellation, the filmmakers were left stranded and scrambling.”

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As many of SXSW’s film awards are voted on by various juries, Pierson and her team made the decision 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.”

While the juries will be able to watch contenders via secure screening links, SXSW has also arranged for its many filmmakers to opt-in to a secure online screening library on the Shift72 platform if they so choose. All filmmakers were given the option to make their films available for “press, buyers, industry, or combinations of these audiences.”

The library will be available starting today and run through Saturday, March 21. Last night, account registration information for the Shift72-powered online screening library was sent to accredited press and select film industry professionals.

Pierson also added that the SXSW team has “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.” The event is still “continuing to explore other ways to support the paths of the SXSW 2020 Official Selection films and filmmakers in this new environment.”

Earlier this week, IndieWire announced that it would continue to cover the festival remotely. Ongoing coverage of the event can be found here. Additionally, the festival announced on Thursday plans for 2020 badge holders, including deferring badges until 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Per SXSW, all feature films selected for SXSW 2020 will still be eligible for the Film Independent Spirit Awards, which typically announces its nominees in the fall; meanwhile, winners of the SXSW 2020 Animated, Documentary, and Narrative Short Film categories will still be eligible for the Oscars.

SXSW will announce its 2020 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 HÖRNBLOWÉR AWARD
FINAL DRAFT SCREENWRITERS AWARD
LOUIS BLACK “LONE STAR” AWARD
VIMEO STAFF PICK AWARD
ZEISS CINEMATOGRAPHY AWARD

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