The walls are closing in. Our favorite festivals, conventions, and movies are being canceled one after another. Our physical media shelves are appearing smaller and smaller. The cupboards are getting barer and barer. In America, we haven’t even hit three weeks of self-isolation, and the idea of a few more months of such an environment (meaning our tiny box apartments and homes filled with family equally on edge) seems unbearable.
Don’t panic. That’s the new mantra. Listen to Douglas Adams.
We cannot break. We must flatten this curve. Our lives, and more importantly, our loved ones’ lives depend on our ability to stay still and enjoy our alone time.
Thankfully, we’re starting to see several businesses, artists, and organizations rise up to cool our worries. The postponement of SXSW 2020 was one of the first blows to affect a lot of us movie maniacs, but the shutting of its doors was also a grand indicator of how serious we should all be taking the new world order. While it was a bummer both creatively and emotionally, we all hopefully know how crucial it is that we keep a good distance from others.
Now, some seriously good news. Cinema is not canceled. Having to wait for F9 and Black Widow does not mean we won’t have plenty of films to obsess over in our very near future. SXSW is partnering with Amazon Prime Video to bring you a 10-day virtual film festival. The date and time of launch are still being worked out as the pre-selected 2020 filmmakers consider joining this venture; they will receive a screening fee for participating in the program. However, SXSW and Amazon Prime Video are feeling confident and targeting a late April release. I have my fingers crossed.
More good news, you do not have to have a subscription to Prime Video to partake in the series either. Amazon is marking the films as free to the public, only requiring the viewer to sign up for a free account. No hassle gang, your end-of-the-year lists are saved. Better yet, since the film festival is easily accessible to everyone, we all have a chance to see a wave of innovative independent cinema – not just the usual batch of film critics.
Economically, festivals like SXSW cannot simply lay down and play dead. The same goes for movie theaters, which is why you’re seeing many companies scramble to think creatively. The most successful endeavors will be the ones that attract our bored, bloodshot eyes. We’re screaming for content, and we’re eager to give our money to those developing virtual solutions.
The real test will be several months down the line. As some of us can manage to work from home, many others cannot. My beloved retail warriors are finding themselves in a tough spot, with incomes shrinking or straight-up evaporating. Institutions like SXSW need to act fast. They have to get these events into April or sooner, because who knows what May and June will bring.
In the meantime, while we can, we must support the art we love. Movies are going nowhere, but their delivery system is changing, and the festivals and theaters we adore need whatever cash we can afford to give them right now. As the saying goes, vote with your dollars. The monetary choices we make today shape our future.
The resuscitation of SXSW in 2020 is a bright spot of hope. Yes, we need their distraction, but our participation in this 10-day festival also goes a long way into making sure that SXSW 2021 happens as well. The platform matters less than the content, but some platform is required.
You can read the official word on the SXSW/Amazon Prime Video partnership HERE.