#SXSW Is Canceled, and I’m Worried for Black Filmmakers

The Coronavirus outbreak is serious, but what will happen to creatives of color and all their hard work?

Numa Perrier


A photo of a SXSW banner on a pole in Austin, Texas.
SXSW 2020 banners are seen in the Red River Cultural District on March 6, 2020 in Austin Texas. Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images

A sinking feeling seeped through me, followed by confusion and fear — a cocktail for hysteria.

#SXSWCancelled was trending on my TL.

I scrolled slowly, confronting my own fears of the coronavirus. Each day the numbers are climbing. Just today I read that 16 million people in northern Italy are on travel quarantine, and here in the United States, the State Department has advised against anyone going on any cruises. I’m reevaluating my own travel plans for work and everyone seems unsettled overall.

With SXSW being canceled I knew a line had been drawn, and a precedent would ripple through my filmmaking community.

I am a Black woman filmmaker. Just last year SXSW put my film Jezebel and my career on the map.

SXSW is Sundance’s edgy stepsister. She’s the one who stirs things up at the holiday dinner. She’s unconventional and plays by her own rules. SXSW is for us filmmakers who do work often on the fringe — challenging linear structures — surprising audiences with a more raw take on any genre. Its 400,000 attendees throughout the 10-day festival bring…