Austin Film Festival

Courtesy of the Austin Film Festival

The 22nd Annual Austin Film Festival is getting underway. This year’s lineup includes more than 180 films – 20 of which are world or North American premieres.

The film festival and conference is unique because it was founded to recognize some of the less talked about people behind films – screenwriters. And that’s still true after 22 years. But the festival has also evolved a lot in recent years.

"Phantom Halo"/Station 8 Films

KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

Antonia Bogdanovich is filmmaking royalty.

Her dad is Peter Bogdanovich – the director of films including “Paper Moon” and “The Last Picture Show.” Antonia’s mother – the late Polly Platt – also worked on that film among many others. She produced “Bottle Rocket” – the movie that launched Wes Anderson's award winning career.

But while Antonia Bogdanovich has worked in and around the film business for decades – it took her a while to get behind the camera.

She's making her feature directorial debut at the Austin Film Festival with “Phantom Halo.”

"That Which I Love Destroys Me"

KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

Austin-based filmmaker Ric Roman Waugh got his start in the stunt business. His film credits include "Gone in 60 Seconds," "Total Recall," and "Hook." He then went on to work with tough guys including Val Kilmer and Dwayne Johnson as a director and screenwriter.

"That Which I Love Destroys Me" is Waugh's first documentary. It follows two special operations soldiers as they explore the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It screened at the Austin Film Festival.

KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

“The Texas Promise” is screening at the 2014 Austin Film Festival. It tells the story of the $5.4 billion in cuts to education that the Texas Legislature made in 2011 and follows the ongoing legal challenge to that cut and efforts to restore some of that funding.

It’s an ongoing issue Texans ought to be very familiar with but producer/director Vanessa Roth came to this story from the outside.

Roth's documentary work has mainly focused on education and the foster care system. She says the story about how Texas is funding education is one the country needs to know about.


KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The 21st Annual Austin Film Festival Starts today. The fest celebrates screenwriting and is equal parts conference, competition and screenings.

AFF Executive Director Barbara Morgan sat down with KUT's Laura Rice to talk about what's exciting to her about this year's fest.

On Television at the Fest:

"We have been doing television for a long time at the festival and, like everybody I think, I too, have become quite obsessed with a lot of different TV shows. We've really done a lot this year with marrying that television into both the conference and the festival. We've got panels with Noah Hawley, who created this year 'Fargo' for television - which was a really cool show. And then, of course, Cary Fukunaga of 'True Detective.'

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival. 

Although it's featured through different film genres, the topic of immigration has a solid presence in the lineup of this year's Austin Film Festival. 

Derrick Terrell Williams

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

There are plenty of funny and flashy films at this year's Austin Film Festival but also many that deal with what you might call "big issues."

A documentary about abortion was honored at the festival. Other documentaries track issues like immigration, obesity and a Jewish person converting to Islam. Some narrative films are also highlighting "big issues."

Ya'Ke Smith is the writer of the upcoming film "Heaven." It's a follow-up to Smith's critically-praised film "Wolf." It's part of a trilogy dealing with children and sexuality. "Wolf" is about a child who is molested by his pastor. "Heaven" is about a young woman who is manipulated into sex trafficking.

KUT's Laura Rice talked with Smith before a cast reading of that script on Wednesday.

Jorge Corona for KUT

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The Austin Film Festival is underway. Many famous actors and filmmakers are in town for the event.

Update: If actor Paul Sorvino looks like a mobster to you, there's good reason. He's played those types of roles in movies such as "Goodfellas" and "Romeo + Juliet."

Sorvino was in Austin for the Texas Premiere of "Last I Heard." In the new film, he plays another mafia-type. But this story follows his exit from prison and his entrance back into modern life and into the lives of family and friends.

Update (Oct. 29, 7:20 a.m.): The new film by Joel & Ethan Coen had its Texas Premiere last night at the Austin Film Festival. The star of "Inside Llewyn Davis" – Oscar Isaac – was on hand to walk the red carpet. Music producer T-Bone Burnett also walked the red carpet outside of the Paramount Theatre. He's won multiple Grammy and Academy Awards for his work.

Mose Buchele, KUT News

In a recent editorial in the entertainment industry magazine Variety, the headline seemed to say what a lot of people have been thinking recently: TV needs to get over its inferiority complex. 

"Breaking Bad." "House of Cards." "Mad Men." "Homeland." Those are just a few recent series made for the small screen which may be giving the big screen a run for its money and for critical acclaim.

KUT's David Brown sat down with industry experts to find an answer to the following question: does size still matter?

KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

Food trucks are white hot in Austin – and the story’s similar across the country.

Mobile restaurants feed a trend of quickly-served, affordably-priced gourmet food – perfect whether you’re at the bar, or barely have time to leave your office for lunch. 

But for those in the traditional world of street vending – old school hot dog carts parked on street corners – this new wave of mobile food vendors is a major disruption.

Jorge Corona for KUT News

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

Will Forte of Saturday Night Live fame is probably best known for his character and film "MacGruber" – a mullet-sporting, inept version of MacGyver.

But the comedian takes on a serious role in “Nebraska” – a black and white film from director Alexander Payne about a father-son road trip. Forte is David Grant – a stereo salesman from Montana with a lackluster love life and a rocky relationship with his family.

Forte’s Grant is not only the straight-man through much of the movie but, in many scenes, seems to be the only sane-man.

KUT's Laura Rice talked with Forte before the movie's Texas Premiere at the Austin Film Festival.


Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon has a storied career of longer than four decades. She was in Austin this weekend to receive yet another accolade.

The Austin Film Festival honored Sarandon for her “extraordinary contribution to filmmaking.”

KUT’s Laura Rice talked with Sarandon shortly after she accepted her award.

On Being Honored for Her Overall Achievements:

"I would like it to be a mid-life achievement award because I get nervous getting on a plane after a life achievement award."

Photo by KUT News

It’s festival season, y’all – and with autumn weather cooling the city, it’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy a good book, film, or concert.

There are a number of exciting events this weekend, including the Texas Book Festival, the Austin Film Festival, a Halloween Children's Concert by the Austin Symphony Orchestra, the Run for the Water 5K and 10-mile race, and the 5th Annual Pittie Pride parade and festival ("pittie" is apparently short for pitbull dogs).

While this means that this weekend will be a great opportunity to pack up the family and head out for some quality fun, it also means that thousands of people will be pouring into the city. You can expect ample road closures in and around the Capitol and Congress Avenue area.

Laura Rice, KUT News

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

Actors, writers and directors will be making their way to Central Texas over the next week for the Austin Film Festival.

The 20th annual festival will screen more than 180 films and feature more than 80 panels with industry pros.

About a dozen staffers work year-round to make it all happen. But the Austin Film Festival also relies on hundreds of volunteers. A contingent of those volunteers have been doing this for years – and donate countless hours to the fest.

Sara Ricke has been volunteering with the Austin Film Festival for the past seven years. And it’s safe to say, she loves it.

Image courtesy the Austin Film Festival

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The Austin Film Festival will kick off tomorrow tomorrow night. And, while this year's festival will screen some of the year's most talked-about films, such as the Coen Brothers' 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' Steve McQueen's '12 Years a Slave' and the star-studded 'August: Osage County,' the festival had humble beginnings.

Where has “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan chosen to take a post-finale victory lap? Here in Austin – resurrecting his feature-length screenplay “2 FACE” with none other than Will Ferrell reading the lead role.

In honor of its 20th anniversary this year, the Austin Film Festival has pulled out all the stops. Besides the staged reading of Gilligan’s “2 FACE,” the eight-day festival also recently announced feature appearances by director Jonathan Demme, “Freaks and Geeks” and “Mad Men” actor Linda Cardellini, and this year’s Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Actor awardee, Susan Sarandon

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Austin Film Festival – one of the first fests to focus on screenplays and writers’ contributions to film. 

Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Austin Film Festival has released the full lineup of films slated for this year's event. AFF says this 20th anniversary lineup features more world and U.S. premieres than ever before in the festival's history.

At the top of the lineup is "Inside Llewyn Davis." The new film by Joel and Ethan Coen won the Grand Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It stars Oscar Isaac as the title character. Isaac will be in Austin for the festival. Academy and Grammy Award-winning music producer T-Bone Burnett will also be in attendance.

CBS Films

For writer-director Maggie Carey, having the "The To Do List" in theaters nationwide is the last box she has to check off on her own To Do list.

The movie takes places in Idaho, but has roots in Austin. Carey is a graduate of UT's School of Radio, Television and Film, and the movie's script got off the ground at the Austin Film Festival in 2010. 

Here's Carey's own To Do List to make the "The To Do List," based on her interview with KUT News.

Disclaimer: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The Austin Film Festival is underway, and KUT News is featuring guest blogs from festival staffers. Today we hear from Stephen Jannise, AFF film program director. “Every year when the Austin Film Festival rolls around, my passion for film pretty much overwhelms all the other interests in my life,” Jannise says. “That's why I'm so excited that we are presenting several films related to sports and fine arts, two of my ’second loves.’"

GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling – The year is 1986, and Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) is about to burst onto the scene as the first ever all-female wrestling show on television. GLOW was a prime-time wrestling series, complete with elaborate costumes, skits, personalized raps, and, most importantly, incredible characters like Mountain Fiji, the Samoan giant with a heart of gold, and Matilda the Hun, the evil German with a taste for raw meat, battling it out for the GLOW crown. By 1989, the GLOW girls were an international phenomenon, attracting over seven million viewers worldwide, touring the nation, and making big bank for the show's producers. One year later, GLOW was gone. This remarkably well-researched documentary chronicles the rise and fall of this once-successful television show through the stories of those who lived it. Playing Sunday, Oct. 21, 3:45 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz.