With the decision to cancel SXSW this year also came the decision to cancel the SXSW Film festival, leaving participating filmmakers with little to no options to find an audience for their films.
The SXSW Film Festival was the first film festival to cancel instead of postponing their event during the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite canceling the physical event, the organization decided to move forward with awarding participating films with Grand Jury Prizes.
Early this month, Amazon Prime announced that they would be partnering with the film festival to present films for free on its streaming service with no account required. People simply need an Amazon account to be able to stream the participating 39 films, short films, and episodic features from April 27 until May 6.
Originally, over 100 films in 22 categories were set to be screened during the festival in Austin. Amazon Prime and SXSW have teamed up with FREE THE WORK, a non-profit started by filmmaker Alma Har’el to increase the representation of under-represented groups in film making.
When the decision to screen films on Amazon Prime was announced, not all filmmakers were excited with some seeing it as a less than desirable way to grow interest and acquire future investments in their films.
SXSW has announced a plan to host panel discussions and Q&A’s virtually throughout the online screening dates. Some participating films which also were awarded Grand Jury Prizes are the documentary feature, My Darling Vivian and the documentary short No Crying At the Dinner Table.
My Darling Vivian delves into the life of the often misrepresented Viviam Libero, the first wife of Johnny Cash and features rare footage of the couple and their four daughters, including singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash.
Of the 39 participating films and short films, only a few revolve around music and the performing arts. The narrative feature film, Le Choc De Futur (The Shock Of The Future) tells the story of Ana, a female musician pushing the boundaries of electronic music in France in the ‘70s.
The documentary, I’m Gonna Make You Love Me is the life story of New York’s Brian Belovitch who gained fame in the 1980s performing as a trans woman named Tish. Belovitch authored a book titled Trans Figured where he described his journey through becoming a woman and then returning to his previous identity as a man.
Another arts centered documentary is Hiplet: Because We Can, a film showcasing the immense talent and adversity faced by black male and female dancers in the industry and the modern changes they have made to classical ballet.
It’s unclear what will become of all of the films that did not participate in the Amazon Prime screening. At least for now everyone at home can be involved in the SXSW Film Festival in a small way and experience these unique films safely at home.
For a complete list of participating films and descriptions visit the SXSW Film Festival website and stay tuned as they announce the schedule for panel discussions and Q&A’s with the filmmakers.
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.