These are the Feature eligibility requirements for SXSW:
Eligible: If your feature film HAS NOT screened in Austin, Texas, and has NEVER been available online or broadcast you are eligible to submit to SXSW.
Ineligible: Your feature film is not eligible for SXSW if it has had a public screening, will be publicly screened in Austin, Texas at another event or festival (i.e Austin Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, etc.) and/or if it has been publicly available as VOD/Digital Download/DVD or in any other form online or broadcast before SXSW 2018. Private screenings, like cast and crew screenings, are okay.
These are the premiere status definitions recognized by SXSW:
World Premiere: Your feature film has never screened publicly at any festival, in theaters, broadcast on television or online.
North American Premiere: Your feature film may have screened internationally, but has never been shown in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, in theaters, broadcast on television or online.
U.S. Premiere: Your feature film may have screened internationally but has never been shown in the U.S., in theaters, broadcast on television or online.
Not a Premiere: Your feature film may have screened publicly at any festival outside of Austin, but has never been made available to a general public audience theatrically, broadcast on television or online.
The 2017 SXSW Film Festival lineup included 85 World Premieres. The rest consisted of North American and U.S. Premieres, along with a limited number of non-US Premieres. Our Narrative and Documentary Feature Competition, as well as our Episodic section, consist solely of World Premieres.
So yes, the premiere status of your film is an important factor; and all things being equal, the premiere will get the slot. But it’s not absolute - we make exceptions for films we love regardless of where they’ve screened. For example, the majority of our 2017 Festival Favorites section was comprised of non-premieres. In past years, we have shown about 14 films from the Sundance lineup and 10 films from Toronto. So it is possible to have shown your film at other festivals and still make the SXSW lineup. Be sure to read here for advice on applying to multiple festivals and navigating deadlines.
If you'd like to submit your Feature Film to SXSW, click here.