Film Submission Tips: Film Eligibility

Written by Blake Kammerdiener | Monday, Sep 23, 2013

Photo by Jarod NeeceEvery film festival has their own specific rules concerning screening eligibility. Here are some important points we consider at SXSW Film.

Most important is your date of completion. To be eligible to submit to SXSW 2014 your film must have been completed in 2012, 2013, or be on track for completion in early 2014. The dates of production don’t matter - some films take 10 years to complete - but what matters is when you complete the film.

The next detail to consider is the status of your film’s public exposure. On this matter we separate the rules for short films and feature length films, as the landscape for exhibition is completely different for each.

Features may NOT be posted online or available for download or purchase on any platform, including but not limited to VOD, digital download, or DVD/BluRay. This touches on a gray area - DVDs being used as incentives for a film's crowdfunding campaign. This will NOT be considered as a “publicly available” film thereby keeping those films eligible for a screening at SXSW. However, we ask that when you give out these incentives you insist the DVDs not be used for any public screenings. We also advise that if you are considering creating this type of crowdfunding incentive, you do not make your DVD copies available until after your festival premiere and run.

Additionally, a film is ineligible if it has had any sort of public theatrical screening in Austin, TX, including any other festival in Austin. Cast and crew screenings or private invite-only screenings do not count as public exhibition, therefore will not count against the films eligibility.

Short films can be available online without affecting their eligibility. But a short film is ineligible if it has played in a theatrical setting here in Austin, TX. Again, cast and crew screenings do not count against your film’s eligibility.

What if your film has screened at another festival outside of Austin? It is still eligible for consideration at SXSW! While we do consider premiere status (read more about our premiere policies for features and shorts in our FAQ) it is not the only factor in our selection process.

And if you want to submit a film from outside of the United States? Please do! We play films from all over the world, without exception!

To find out more about film eligibility, check out our Submission FAQ!