Amazon Snags 40 Festival Films from SXSW

Amazon has turned the South by Southwest Film Festival into a buffet. The streaming giant has dropped nearly $2 million in upfront bonuses to acquire a slate of 40 films that screened at this year’s SXSW festival. The films include the narrative Grand Jury Award winner Most Beautiful Island (pictured above), which follows an undocumented immigrant trying to make ends meet in New York City.

According to Variety, Amazon snagged the 40 films through their Amazon Video Direct Film Festival Stars program. AVD is designed to acquire quality feature films from festivals around the world, having previously picked up 15 films from this year’s Sundance Film Festival. AVD is also scouting for talent at the Tribeca and Toronto International Film Festivals.

When a filmmaker signs on with AVD, they grant Amazon an exclusive two-year streaming window for their films to be in the Amazon Prime Video catalog. In exchange, the filmmakers receive an upfront bonus of up to $100,000 to use for marketing their films, or whatever else they decide to do with it. They could also technically blow it at a casino, but that won’t help get their film any eyeballs. Unless they do something stupid at the casino and it winds up on the news. Maybe this isn’t such a bad marketing scheme after all…

AVD participants also receive royalties based on how many times their film is viewed during that Amazon exclusive window. Variety’s story doesn’t provide any explicit numbers, but the total for the bonuses paid thus far is said to be around $12 million.

The full list of films Amazon picked up through the AVD program at SXSW this year includes:

Inheritance; Assholes; Win By Fall; Signature Move; Like Me; Sylvio; Satan Said Dance; Paa Joe & The Lion; A Bad Idea Gone Wrong; Maineland; The Cloud Forest; The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin; Bad Lucky Goat; Bill Frisell, A Portrait; Divine Divas; Pornocracy; Tormentero; Inflame; The Secret Life of Lance Letscher; I Am Another You; Most Beautiful Island; A Critically Endangered Species; Dara Ju; Spettacolo; Ramblin’ Freak; DRIB; Two Pigeons; Going to Brazil; Daphne; Meatball Machine Kodoku; The Honor Farm; The Light of the Moon; Flesh and Blood; Fits and Starts; La Barracuda; MFA; California Dreams; Easy Living; Let There Be Light; and Infinity Baby.