SXSW 2020 Finds New Virtual Home With Free Amazon Prime Streaming Collection

The 2020 edition of the Austin, Texas festival may have been canceled, but its leadership continues to find ways to bring its movies to the masses.
The Paramount Theatre in Austin south by southwest
The Paramount Theatre in Austin after the last live SXSW in 2019
Shelley Hiam

After canceling its 2020 event, the SXSW Film Festival has continued to pivot into new spaces, first with the decision to allow editorial coverage to continue for interested films and filmmakers, then with the choice to still award jury-picked prizes to its competing films. Now, the festival has joined forces with Amazon Prime Video to stream numerous films from this year’s program for free.

The new initiative, Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection, offers filmmakers in the 2020 SXSW Film Festival lineup a chance to opt in to take part in this online film festival, which will play exclusively on Prime Video in the U.S. for 10 days. Filmmakers who choose to participate will receive a screening fee for streaming their film over the 10-day period.

While the official launch date and selected films are yet to be announced, SXSW and Prime Video are targeting a late April run. SXSW has shared details on the opportunity with 2020 filmmakers, who can opt in starting today. When it does go live, the one-time 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; all they need is a free Amazon account. (If you are interested in a Prime account, however, Amazon is offering a free trial right here.)

In an official statement, Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke said: “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.”

Pierson, SXSW’s director of film, added in her own statement: “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. 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.”

While the new streaming initiative will focus on feature films, a number of SXSW’s robust short films are already available for online viewing. And, until the Amazon Prime lineup is officially announced, feel free to spend some time diving into IndieWire’s remote coverage of the festival, including reviews, interviews, and much more.

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