The pop culture landscape continues to try to figure out what the hell it’s going to do with itself over the next several months, as large swathes of the entertainment industry abruptly shut down due to worries over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The film festivals started going early and often, of course, with SXSW being the first of the major elbow-rubbing opportunities to shutter its doors. (Note: Do not rub anyone else’s elbows. Or your own, if we’re being abundantly cautious.) But just because Austin won’t be playing host to tens of thousands of filmmakers, studio execs, and more this year, doesn’t mean that at least some aspects of SXSW Film won’t still be in place. Most notably? Awards!
The L.A. Times reports today that the film branch of SXSW has announced that it still intends to hand out accolades to the movies already slated to be in competition at this year’s fest—which means said films will also still be able to promote themselves as SXSW award nominees, as well as be eligible for major awards that require a festival showing in order to determine eligibility. Of course, that doesn’t make up for the massive networking opportunities that have now been replaced with “widespread toilet paper hoarding,” or the sheer “This is what we’ve been working toward” thrill of airing a film in front of a packed crowed of festival goers. Still, though, it’s presumably better than nothing.
Meanwhile, questions about how these movies might get to see the light of day remain open. SXSW has announced that it’ll be offering the movies set to air there—including films like the festival’s intended opener, Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson’s The King Of Staten Island—the opportunity to be added to an online streaming archive that’ll be made available to press, buyers, and other industry types. (No word yet on how many are taking the opportunity to do so, or choosing to hold off in the hope of getting a “real” festival premiere later on.) However, the calls for some kind of “online SXSW” that have made the rounds on social media—allowing regular folks to get the same deluge of content they might have received had the festival not been canceled—are still unlikely to reach fruition any time soon.