2021 Film Festival Submission Guides: Features, Shorts, Episodics & More

Michael Fassbender cheers on a full house at the Paramount Theatre before the screening of "Alien" during SXSW 2017. Photo by MattWinkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW.

If you are submitting your film to the SXSW Film Festival you’ve made it past the hardest part – completing your film! Now it’s time to check off all the boxes. Below are our guidelines for submitting your film by screening section to this year’s festival for SXSW Online.

As part of our 2021 offerings, SXSW Online is a digital experience that will feature conference keynotes and sessions, screenings, showcases, networking, and exhibitions from March 16–20, 2021.

Submission Deadlines

Note important upcoming deadlines for submitting Features, Shorts, Music Videos, XR, Title Sequences, Episodics, and Texas High School Shorts. The Official Deadline is October 28, 2020, at 11:59pm PT.

Once you have submitted your project, you will receive a confirmation email from SXSW within 48 hours. This email will confirm that your film has been submitted correctly. If you do not receive this email within 48 hours, please follow up by emailing filmfest@sxsw.com to ensure your film has been submitted properly and is under consideration.

All applicants will be informed of the status of their project no later than Tuesday, February 16, 2021.

Premiere Status & Eligibility

For 2021, there are seven types of premiere status. This is an important factor so be sure to review the eligibility requirements for your screening section.

Explore the guidelines below and the Film Submissions FAQ for specific questions about submitting your film, premiere status, eligibility, and more.

Recently, Janet Pierson, Director of Film for SXSW, was joined by Senior Film Programmers, Jarod Neece and Claudette Godfrey, for a Film Submissions AMA – watch the video for more insight on frequently asked questions. If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to email filmfest@sxsw.com.

A Few More Things

Need some inspiration? Read interviews with some of our 2020 SXSW Film Festival directors in our Filmmaker in Focus series and explore more alumni stories in our 25 Years of SXSW Film series.

Browse the guidelines below for Features, Shorts, Music Videos, XR, Title Designs, Episodics, and Texas High School Shorts. Once you’ve completed the checklist, submit your film today for the opportunity to showcase your masterpiece. SXSW Film looks forward to viewing your work!

2021 Film Guides

Feature Films

  • Your film must be over 40 minutes in length.
  • If your feature film has NOT screened publicly in a theater in the U.S. at one or more non-festival screenings before SXSW and/or 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. For more information about premiere status and eligibility click here.
  • Your project must have been completed in 2019, 2020, or be on track for completion in early 2021.
  • SXSW does not accept trailers or rough assemblies, but will accept work-in-progress cuts (picture lock with temp sound, color, etc.) Please be aware SXSW will not screen multiple updates/versions of your film for programming consideration.
  • Please submit your application when you are ready to send your film in the most complete and finished form possible, as we will only watch the first cut submitted.
  • All feature-length films must be submitted via a secure URL link. Please note, if you change your submission link or any of your login information prior to March 2021 without contacting SXSW, your film may become ineligible for consideration.

Submit Your Feature Film

Episodics

  • The Episodic application is for a Pilot or First Season content (including the pilot) of your Episodic project.
  • Learn more information about premiere status and eligibility here.
  • Your project must have been completed in 2019, 2020, or be on track for completion in early 2021.
  • SXSW does not accept trailers or rough assemblies, but will accept work-in-progress cuts (picture lock with temp sound, color, etc.) Please be aware SXSW will not screen multiple updates/versions of your film for programming consideration.
  • Please submit your application when you are ready to send your Episodic project in the most complete and finished form possible, as we will only watch the first cut submitted.
  • All Episodics must be submitted via a secure URL link. Please note, if you change your submission link or any of your login information prior to March 2021 without contacting SXSW your film may become ineligible for consideration.

Submit Your Episodic

Short Films

  • Your film must be under 40 minutes in length.
  • For information about premiere status and eligibility click here.
  • Your project must have been completed in 2019, 2020, or be on track for completion in early 2021.
  • The shorts program consists of eight curated programs: Narrative Shorts, Documentary Shorts, Animated Shorts, Midnight Shorts, Music Videos, Texas Shorts, Texas High School Shorts, and Title Design Competition.
  • SXSW does not accept trailers or rough assemblies, but will accept work-in-progress cuts (picture lock with temp sound, color, etc.) Please be aware SXSW will not screen multiple updates/versions of your film for programming consideration.
  • Please submit your application when you are ready to send your film in the most complete and finished form possible, as we will only watch the first cut submitted.
  • All short films must be submitted via a secure URL link. Please note, if you change your submission link or any of your login information prior to March 2021 without contacting SXSW, your film may become ineligible for consideration.
  • SXSW is proud to be an official qualifying festival for the Academy Awards Short Film competition. The winners of our Narrative, Documentary, and Animated Short Film categories become eligible for the Academy Awards.

Submit Your Short Film

XR

  • SXSW requires that all VR/MR/AR projects submit a link to a 360 version of your project, or a 2D playthrough, at the time of submission.
  • You may also include a link to a downloadable build of your project.
  • If you change your submission’s link or any of your login information prior to March 2021 without contacting SXSW, your project may become ineligible for consideration.
  • For more information about premiere status and eligibility click here.
  • Your project must have been completed in 2019, 2020, or be on track for completion in early 2021.

Submit Your XR

Music Videos

  • All Music Video submissions must be under 10 minutes in length.
  • SXSW does not place any restrictions on the premiere status of music videos. The vast majority of music videos screened at SXSW will have premiered online prior to the festival.
  • It’s important to note that only OFFICIAL ARTIST APPROVED music videos are eligible for SXSW.
  • The music video should be the official music video for that song by that artist. As in, the artist and/or label commissioned the video and has their approval to be made.
  • Your music video must have been completed in 2019, 2020, or be on track for completion in early 2021.
  • SXSW does not accept trailers or rough assemblies, but will accept work-in-progress cuts (picture lock with temp sound, color, etc.) Please be aware SXSW will not screen multiple updates/versions of your music video for programming consideration.
  • All music videos must be submitted via a secure URL link. Please note, if you change your submission link or any of your login information prior to March 2021 without contacting SXSW your submission may become ineligible for consideration.

Submit Your Music Video

Texas High School Shorts

  • All Texas High School Short submissions must be under 5 minutes in length, and created and produced while the filmmaker was enrolled in a Texas high school between January 1 – December 10, 2020.
  • All shorts must be submitted via a secure URL link. Please note, if you change your submission link or any of your login information prior to March 2021 without contacting SXSW your submission may become ineligible for consideration.

Submit Your Texas High School Short

Title Design

  • Eligibility for the Title Design Competition is open to any Film, Television, Conference Title, Student Project Title, or Video Game title sequence.
  • The title sequence can stand alone, and does not have to be related to a feature or short film submitted to the film festival.
  • All title design submissions must be less than 10 minutes in length.
  • SXSW does NOT place any restrictions on the premiere status of title design entries.
  • Your title design must have been completed in 2019, 2020, or be on track for completion in early 2021.
  • All title design projects must be submitted via a secure URL link. Please note, if you change your submission link or any of your login information prior to March 2021 without contacting SXSW your submission may become ineligible for consideration.

Submit Your Title Design

To keep up with future announcements, program updates, and all things SXSW follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and SXSW News.

Michael Fassbender at the Paramount Theatre before the screening of Alien during SXSW 2017. Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW.

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