NEW YORK — South by Southwest, the sprawling Austin, Texas, conference and festival, was one of the first major gatherings canceled by the coronavirus pandemic. But its organizers, eager to lend a hand to the movies that had been set to premiere at SXSW, on Tuesday went ahead with the festival’s film awards.
The announcement Tuesday made for a strange anomaly: prizes handed out, virtually, for a film festival that never happened.
But SXSW and its film director, Janet Pierson, wanted to salvage some of the lost exposure and buzz that are so vital for independent films in securing distribution or stoking word of mouth. SXSW, which had been scheduled to run March 13-22, plays a significant role in boosting the profiles of smaller, scrappy films, along with being a springtime launchpad for Hollywood genre fare.