Celebrities react after SXSW festival canceled over coronavirus concerns

Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista at SXSW 2019
Kumail Nanjiani, left, and Dave Bautista at the “Stuber” premiere at SXSW 2019. This year’s festival was canceled Friday amid the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.
(Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for SXSW)

The 2020 South by Southwest festival is the latest event to be canceled due to the continuing spread of the coronavirus.

On Friday, city and county officials in Austin, Tex. announced that the multimedia event was canceled in the interest of public safety. SXSW was scheduled to kick off next week.

Kumail Nanjiani, whose film “The Lovebirds” had been scheduled to screen at the festival, had already announced he would not be attending the event and praised the move as “the responsible thing” to do.


“SXSW is one of my favorite festivals,” Nanjiani said Friday on Twitter. “I know this sucks for many people for whom this was a massive opportunity. But we’re kind of in an unprecedented situation here and caution is key. Thank you for the making the right decision.”

Soledad O'Brien, executive producer of the documentary “Hungry to Learn,” was also among those on the SXSW programming lineup to express disappointment and understanding at the move.

SXSW is said to bring more than 250,000 people to the Austin area annually and $350 million in revenue. This is the first time in its 34-year history that the event has been canceled.

Filmmakers including Mark Duplass, Greg Pak and Jim Cummings chose to use their platforms to help support artists and businesses relying on SXSW to boost their projects.

“My heart goes out to all those affected by the SXSW cancellation,” Duplass tweeted. “So vital to so many artists, organizations, businesses, etc. Let’s order from local Austin businesses. Let’s support the SXSW artists. Let’s take care of each other.”