SXSW 2020 Online Festival Will Be Completely Free to Watch


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…To Amazon Prime members. It is sad that many fans of cinema and pop culture won’t be able to visit the event in person. The coronavirus outbreak obviously forced many event organizers to forgo their plans and focus on recouping their losses. Some events can be postponed but many will be just huge hits to bottom lines of many companies. SXSW decided to go in another direction and partnered up with Amazon to deliver an online SXSW experience directly to people who are currently sitting in lockdowns all across the globe.

This is great news for people who love SXSW. It is a festival that usually brings a lot of interesting new filmmakers closer to the spotlight and features some really cool short films, videos, and technology that can be utilized to craft movies and animations. It is an event where professionals and amateurs meet to share their experiences and tricks. It is great and usually attracts thousands of visitors as well as many advertisers.

The sad part is this year is very different for obvious reasons. The unique situation we find ourselves in could not have been anticipated. It is great that SXSW managed to find a way to bring their event to people regardless of what has been happening outside. The online version of the festival will certainly interest a lot more people than usual. Just imagine how many people are sitting at home with nothing to do and very little fresh content to consume. Then, Amazon suddenly says: “Here! Watch this amazing festival for free!”

The huge conference for artists from all across the globe is a huge opportunity for filmmakers to make their works available to wider audiences. The online environment will allow them to do it faster and potentially show it to an even bigger crowd of people. On the other hand, it is hard to overestimate the influence of having a meeting in person with one of your favorite creators. It is a source of inspiration for many aspiring filmmakers. SXSW is usually attended by industry professionals who are scouting for talent.

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Will it be the same when the festival will air on Amazon video service for free? It is hard to imagine that it will. However, it is much better than nothing. This move effectively achieves two important goals at once:

  1. The festival will still take place and allow thousands of creators to show off their works to huge audiences.
  2. People who are currently sitting at home isolated from the whole world will have something meaningful and entertaining to watch.

We hope that this initiative will be picked up by other event organizers in case the lockdowns will be extended. In some US states, stay-at-home orders are issued indefinitely and may not be lifted until June, as suggested by doctor Fauci. The crisis may be very long, much longer than we anticipated in the beginning of March when lockdowns were only a distant possibility. In a situation when large gatherings have been forbidden some events will have to either postpone or go online just like SXSW did.

It is important to note that this festival’s success or failure will definitely affect the way organizers approach the ongoing coronavirus quarantine. If the event attracts viewership and creates some buzz online, it will most likely be considered a good example of how one can turn their offline event into a streamed one that will be accessed by thousands of people locked down in their households.

Sadly, not all intended participants of the festival will be able to present their works during the online event. However, most of them were invited. Videos and films that will be streamed via Amazon video service will receive fees and financial compensations.

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