FEATURES: What is the SXSW premiere and eligibility policy for feature films?

These are the Feature eligibility requirements for SXSW:

Eligible: If your feature film has been completed in 2019, 2020,  or is on track for completion in early 2021 an has NOT been acquired and released via any public online distribution platform (streaming, VOD, SVOD, etc.) outside of a limited-time virtual festival event before SXSW it is eligible for SXSW 2021.

Ineligible: Your feature film is ineligible if:

  • it has screened publicly in a theater in the U.S. at one or more non-festival screenings before SXSW. Private screenings, like cast and crew screenings, are okay.
  • it has been acquired and released via any public online distribution platform (streaming, VOD, SVOD, etc.) outside of a limited-time virtual festival event before SXSW.
  • it has been released in the U.S. via television broadcast before SXSW.
  • it has been released via home video, Blu-ray, or DVD before SXSW.  

These are the SXSW Feature Film Premiere Status Definitions:

  • World Premiere:  Your project has not screened theatrically prior to SXSW, whether at a film festival or other ticketed public theatrical exhibition, and has not been broadcast or streamed on television or the Internet or released via any home video or other public distribution platform (Blu-ray, DVD, streaming, VOD, etc.) in any country prior to SXSW.
  • International Premiere: Your project has not screened theatrically outside of its country or countries of origin prior to SXSW, whether at a film festival or other ticketed public theatrical exhibition, and has not been broadcast or streamed on television or the Internet or released via any home video or other public distribution platform (Blu-ray, DVD, streaming, VOD, etc.) in any country prior to SXSW.
  • North American Premiere: Your project has not screened theatrically in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico prior to SXSW, whether at a film festival or other ticketed public theatrical exhibition, and has not been broadcast or streamed on television or the Internet or released via any home video or other public distribution platform (Blu-ray, DVD, streaming, VOD, etc.) in any country prior to SXSW.
  • U.S. Premiere: Your project has not screened theatrically in the U.S. prior to SXSW, whether at a film festival or other ticketed public theatrical exhibition, and has not been broadcast or streamed on television or the Internet or released via any home video or other public distribution platform (Blu-ray, DVD, streaming, VOD, etc.) in any country prior to SXSW.
  • Texas Premiere: Your project has not screened theatrically in Texas prior to SXSW, whether at a film festival or other ticketed public theatrical exhibition, and has not been broadcast or streamed on television or the Internet or released via any home video or other public distribution platform (Blu-ray, DVD, streaming, VOD, etc.) in any country prior to SXSW.
  • Austin Premiere: Your project has not screened theatrically in Austin prior to SXSW, whether at a film festival or other ticketed public theatrical exhibition and has not been broadcast or streamed on television or the Internet or released via any home video or other public distribution platform (Blu-ray, DVD, streaming, VOD, etc.) in any country prior to SXSW.
  • Not a Premiere: Your project has screened theatrically in Austin at a film festival prior to SXSW, it has been released in a country other than the U.S. via television broadcast or theatrical screening before SXSW, or has been broadcast, streamed on television or the Internet as part of a limited-time virtual festival event.

The 2020 SXSW film festival was canceled by the City of Austin. Prior to cancellation, we had programmed 102 World Premieres. The rest consisted of North American and U.S. Premieres, along with a limited number of non-US Premieres. In the past, our Narrative and Documentary Feature Competition has consisted solely of World Premieres.

The premiere status of your film is an important factor; however, due to these challenging times, we will be more flexible on premiere status for SXSW 2021. 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, our 2020 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.

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