SXSW Filmmakers and Community React to Festival’s ‘Heartbreaking’ Cancellation


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With SXSW now cancelled, filmmakers and other talent with projects at the festival are now adrift, with nowhere to premiere their films, many of which were bowing for the first time at the Austin festival. The city is currently in a state of emergency over coronavirus concerns, with 19 reported cases of COVID-19 confirmed so far in the state of Texas. The virus has rocked the film industry from top to bottom, hitting especially hard at SXSW. While plenty of studio fare was originally slated to bow at the festival, from Judd Apatow’s “The King of Staten Island” to David Lowery’s “The Green Knight,” much of the program is made up of films seeking distribution. In the wake of the news, 2020 filmmakers and alumni directors took to Twitter to commiserate over a “heartbreaking” loss. See below, with more to come.

IndieWire recently spoke with filmmakers, sales agents, and publicists after the cancellation of the festival on Friday, all of whom are uncertain of what to do next. The news puts a question mark over the fate of similar upcoming festivals, both domestic and international, and where SXSW once was now lies a big hole in the annual festival calendar.

SXSW fest cancelled. This means world premiere of #TheOutpost cancelled. Damn it all. I SO wanted to honor the men who died in the Battle of Kamdesh & to dedicate the screening to my late son @hunterlurie. I love you, pal. I swear we’ll find another way to do this. @jaketapper

— Rod Lurie (@RodLurie) March 7, 2020
Others have said this but having premiered two of my films at @sxsw, I’m absolutely gutted for this year’s filmmakers. So much work and thought and $ goes toward your premiere, to have that yanked out from under you a week before your launch is devastating.

— AJ Schnack (@ajschnack) March 7, 2020
Heartbreaking that @sxsw had to shut down this year. It’s one of the great festivals in the world and @JanetPierson is among the very best in the business. We were unable to world premiere @ZappaMovie there and so many other filmmakers are suffering, but it was right to cancel.

— Alex Winter (@Winter) March 7, 2020
SXSW is cancelled. So sad for the filmmakers and my brother @DavidArquette Who was premiering his amazing documentary “You Cannot Kill David Arquette”

— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) March 6, 2020
We are those filmmakers. Our film was set to premiere at SXSW. It’s an important film, first ever with a fully integrated cast & crew of people with disabilities, if you’d care to help us out. This cancellation is devastating to our project. It’s our only festival. Devastating.

— Michael MPH
(@PhillyPartTwo) March 6, 2020
My heart goes out to all the filmmakers and workers who depend on this festival. Having my film premiere last year at #SXSW was a vital step in my career and I can only imagine the heartache of hearing your premiere is cancelled.
Stay safe everyone!

— Chelsea S. Hernandez (@pandabearfilms) March 6, 2020
Deeply saddened by the news of #SXSW being cancelled. My film “How Two Booties Gon’ Shake All The DICE
“ was supposed to screen at the festival. But, alas, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. There’s always next year.

— matt calamari (@OldYorkmatt) March 7, 2020