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SXSW goes ahead with online screenings and awards

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It was extremely disappointing for everyone when the mayor of Austin canceled SXSW due to coronavirus pandemic. The South-by-South-West festival is an event of great importance, for the local community and the filmmakers. For some, it was a chance to premiere their life’s work in front of a large audience. For others, it was their only chance at a break into the music industry. However, everything is not lost yet.

Cancelled SXSW festival 2020 canceled over coronavirus

Online screenings of films at SXSW

There were over 100 short films and episodes scheduled to appear at the SXSW. The event provided a great opportunity for small artists to present their work to a lively audience. However, it is extremely unlikely that those artists would earn a better chance elsewhere in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The event last year was able to draw in more than 417,000 people. But, the SXSW director Janet Pierson announced that:

The festival has arranged for filmmakers to opt-in to its Shift72 secure online screening library, with options to make available for press, buyers, industry or combinations of these audiences.

The festival has tried to do damage control by providing filmmakers an opportunity to reach out to audiences. Obviously, this is not a solution but a remedy for those who were completely left in the dark after the event’s sudden cancellation.

Canceled SXSW festival music performances

Related: Cannes Film Festival postponed under crisis

Online awards ceremony

SXSW director also reaffirmed that the awards ceremony will go on as planned online. The winners qualify for the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards short film categories. She said:

We had several Special Awards juries already in place via links. 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.

Considering that the livelihoods of the local community depended on this festival, SXSW is trying it’s best to reinvigorate everyone. IndieWire will still be covering all the screenings of the event. However, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic will ripple in the industry for years to come. With movie premieres and sports events being canceled left and right, nobody knows how long this gloomy period will last.

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