SXSW Revives Film Competition Digitally After Festival Cancellation

SUZANNE CORDEIRO / AFP

Organizers said Friday that the juried awards will still take place with people viewing submissions via links.

The SXSW Festival is making its film competition digital after the Austin festival, due to kick off on Friday, was canceled over health risks pertaining to the coronavirus

Festival organizers said Friday that the juried awards scheduled for this year's festival will still take place, with jury members viewing submissions via links. All the feature films selected for SXSW this year are eligible for the Independent Spirit Awards next year, while the winners of the animated, documentary and narrative short film categories are eligible for Oscars next year. 

"This was going to be a transformative event, and with the cancellation, the filmmakers were left stranded and scrambling," said Janet Pierson, director of the film festival. "We had several Special Awards juries already in place via links, and 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."

There are 10 films in its narrative feature competition, which include Kelly Oxford's Pink Skies Ahead and Justine Bateman's Violet. Among the 10 movies competing in the documentary feature competition are Alice Gu's The Donut King, about a Cambodian refugee's thriving empire of donut stores in America, and Todd Chandler's Bulletproof, which looks at safety in schools in an age of gun violence.

The competition will run online from March 13 to March 21, and winners will be announced in the following categories on March 24. 

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