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When Austin's annual South by Southwest festival (SXSW) was cancelled early last month in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it was a huge blow to the movie industry. During SXSW, a ton of up-and-coming filmmakers compete every year to nab a spot in the festival. Premiering your own movie in SXSW is a filmmaker's dream come true because it offers exposure and opens up opportunities to make a name for yourself in the industry. The good news is now Amazon Prime is partnering with SXSW to still make it happen.

In lieu of the festival taking over Austin, Texas from March 13 to 22 as planned, it will now take place via Amazon Prime for 10 days sometime in late April. The online festival is a “one-time event” that will be free to all audiences, as opposed to being exclusively for Amazon Prime members, as SXSW detailed on Thursday.

Filmmakers can decide whether they’d like to be showcased in the festival starting today, and those who choose to be involved will receive a fee for streaming the film on the platform during the 10-day period. The head of Amazon Studios, Jennifer Salke, offered the below statement:

We’re honored to be able to provide a space for the SXSW filmmakers to share their hard work and passion with audiences for the first time. It’s been a privilege collaborating with Janet Pierson and the SXSW team to bring these diverse and inspiring films to viewers around the country. We are supporters of SXSW and other independent film festivals, and hope this online film festival can help give back some of that experience, and showcase artists and films that audiences might otherwise not have had the chance to see.

This year’s SXSW cancellation was the first change of plans for the festival in over 30 years. The Austin event not only features films, but live concerts, conferences and interactive exhibits. Along with new filmmakers debuting their work, studios headline their own movies at SXSW as well. Last year, Jordan Peele’s Us, Olivia Wide’s Booksmart and the Seth Rogen-produced Good Boys had their premieres during the festival.

Before plans changed, Jackass-esque prank comedy Bad Trip, A24’s The Green Knight, Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson’s collaboration The King of Staten Island, and The Lovebirds were set to be the festival’s headliners before hitting theaters in spring and summer.

The Lovebirds was going to come to theaters this weekend after gaining buzz from SXSW, but has since been delayed along with almost 30 theatrical releases after movie theaters closed down. The rom-com murder mystery is striking a deal with Netflix and is expected to hit the streaming platform soon.

So chances are The Lovebirds will no longer be a part of SXSW, but what about the rest of the more high-profile releases? And what debut gems will we get to see during the online festival? Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more news about this year’s online SXSW as it comes.

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