– A Message from our CEO, Rebecca Campbell –

We are here to make the art, industry, and culture of film accessible to the whole community, a mission that has AFS responding to some of the great challenges of our present moment. 

AFS was founded in 1985 to bring rarely seen films to Austin and exhibition remains our beating heart. So it was with great joy that we reopened the AFS Cinema in July 2021, following a crowdfunding campaign with a generous match from the Still Water Foundation. We are grateful to everyone, from our members and donors to our landlord and the government, for the outpouring of support that enabled us to weather the worst of the pandemic.

Filmmakers and filmmaking are the two other essential pillars of the film ecosystem. Fourteen of the 23 filmmakers receiving grants from AFS were funded for the very first time this year, meaning new voices are coming into and diversifying the scene, while previous grantees continued to make career leaps.

The film industry was heroic during the pandemic, adopting strict protocols early on that made it possible to put crews back to work. Every inch of soundstage, office, and tarmac at Austin Studios was full this past year, bringing prosperity to Austin at a critical time. We want to express our tremendous respect for the industry from our longtime tenants to productions like Walker and Queer Eye.

Access and education are thriving at AFS, with 2021 being the year we launched Creative Careers  and applied successfully for the renewal of our contract with the City to operate Austin’s community media production and education facility. For five more years, Austin Public’s  incredible, low-cost resources will continue to be available to the public via our friendly and knowledgeable staff and instructors. Creative Careers, which will provide an on-ramp to media-related jobs while compensating program participants, is positioned to propel Austin’s film and creative media industry into a more equitable and hospitable environment, and to serve people who have historically been overlooked or excluded by the industry.

Being able to tell stories is what defines us as human, and the moving image is the most powerful storytelling tool ever invented. Everybody should be able to access digital storytelling. The training, funding, and leadership provided by AFS is important because storytelling changes the world. As we say in our mission statement, we empower the community to make, watch, and love film and creative media. We thank our donors for supporting us in this critical endeavor. 




Film Culture

AFS Cinema Reopens!

This summer brought the moment that we had all been waiting for—the AFS Cinema officially reopened on July 15, 2021 with a spectacular lineup celebrating the great return to the movies and Austin’s singular arthouse theater experience. During the opening weekend, we welcomed more than 1,200 visitors through our doors to enjoy films that showcase the magic of the big screen—THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, RAN, SUMMER OF SOUL, among others. We heard from many of our visitors, both new and returning, that the AFS Cinema is a cultural touchstone for this community—a vital and necessary part of this city’s creative landscape. For film lovers and filmmakers alike, it is a place to discover and experience great cinema and to celebrate the work of our regional storytellers.

“There are few things more comforting than the flicker of a projector bulb, the smell of fresh popcorn and being surrounded by a captivated audience…that is an experience you don’t have at home or at other theaters. It’s AFS Cinema.” – Brian Gannon, Austin Film Commission

Leading up to the reopening, AFS launched The Next Picture Show — a crowdfunding campaign to help reopen the AFS Cinema and light up our two big screens with the classic, independent, and global films that bring the world of cinema to Austin. The response from the community was overwhelming with over $150K contributed by more than 800 donors in just six weeks. We extend a very special thank you to all who donated and to The Still Water Foundation, a champion of the AFS Cinema since it opened in 2017, for its matching contribution of $50K.


Austin Chronicle: Photo Gallery-Soft Opening at AFSThe Lights are On At AFS Cinema
Austin360: AFS Cinema to Reopen July 15
Cinapse: AFS Cinema to the World: We’ll Be Back



Film Culture’s Austin Home

From the 2021 AFS Doc Days festival featuring a conversation between Richard Linklater and Todd Haynes, to the Texas premiere of Sean Baker’s RED ROCKET, the AFS Cinema came alive with inspired programming and great artists. 

Doc Days 2021

Watch our trailer for the full 2021 lineup.


On November 9, AFS partnered with A24 for a member sneak preview of highly anticipated new release RED ROCKET with director Sean Baker and filmmakers in attendance.


This summer, AFS hosted a special premiere of WITHOUT GETTING KILLED OR CAUGHT, the SXSW award-winning film about Guy Clark, with directors Tamara Saviano and Paul Whitfield and producer Bart Knaggs in attendance. The film was named the 2021 Best Austin Film by the Austin Film Critics Association.

AFS Hosts the 2021 Sundance Film Festival

AFS kicked off 2021 in a big way by partnering with the Sundance Film Festival for the first time ever to debut new film selections from the annual program to Austin audiences. Normally hosted in Park City, Utah, the Festival took place both virtually and in person on Satellite Screens across the country. Over the course of the week, AFS hosted eight sold-out, world premiere screenings at our pop-up drive-in theater and led four online discussions as a part of the Sundance Beyond Film programming.

New films with AFS ties were well represented at this year’s festival. Two 2020 AFS Grant recipients premiered at the Festival—Maisie Crow’s AT THE READY, which screened at the AFS drive-in, and Clint Bentley’s JOCKEY. Carlson Young’s THE BLAZING WORLD, produced by AFS Advisory Board member Elizabeth Avellán, also made its premiere at our drive-in with cast and crew in person, including prolific actor Udo Kier.

SLACKER: 30 Years Later

On July 13, fans, friends, and movie lovers came out to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the most seminal films of the ’90s—Richard Linklater’s SLACKER—filmed right here in Austin. This special evening took place at the Paramount Theatre as part of its Summer Classic Film Series with a 35mm presentation of the film on the big screen and a reunion with cast and crew.

Written and directed by AFS Founder & Artistic Director Richard Linklater, his breakout feature SLACKER ushered in a pivotal movement of American independent film. Shot in the city over the summer of 1989 on a shoestring budget with a large band of creatives serving as both on- and off-screen talent, the film centered on the meanderings and chance encounters among a subculture of overeducated and underemployed college-town misfits—and became a touchstone for Gen X when it was released in theaters across the country in the summer of 1991.

The sold-out event included more than 25 members of the original cast and crew in attendance. Invited to the stage in two waves before the screening, each member introduced themselves and shared memories of being part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience and groundbreaking film.

Texas Monthly: Thirty Years After ‘Slacker’ the Film is an Austin Time Capsule—And a Hopeful Tribute to its Spirit
Austin 360: All of My Friends are in this Movie: Slacker Cast Reunites in Austin for 30th Anniversary


Filmmaker Support

(Pictured above: 2020 AFS Grant recipient WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND, directed by Iliana Sosa)


(Pictured above: Still from GUIAN, directed by Nicole Chi Amén)

2021 AFS Grant Recipients

One of the most significant ways we provide filmmaker support is through the AFS Grant, the annually renewed production fund for emerging Texas filmmakers. Since its inception in 1996, we have given out over $2.25 million in grants. The AFS Grant provides vital resources to Texas independent filmmakers, creating life-changing opportunities for artists from diverse backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in the film industry and who are working outside of large coastal centers.

“I’m inspired by these storytellers and really in awe of how supportive AFS is of independent film.”

—Panelist Cecilia Mejia, on reviewing the projects submitted for the AFS Grant for Short Films

In 2021, grants were given out to directly support 18 short and feature-length projects by 23 directors from across the state. Fourteen of the filmmakers received grants from AFS for the very first time this year. This underscores the very purpose of our grant program—to support and empower the incredibly diverse voices of our region’s emerging filmmakers and help them share their stories with Texas and the world.

“AFS has been such an important part of my journey as a filmmaker. From the days I was teaching after school film clubs at at-risk schools, like the ones I was raised in myself, to the post-production grant they awarded my short film PLANE PRETEND.”

– Sharon Arteaga, recipient of two 2021 AFS Grants, one for feature film UNTITLED TEXAS LATINA PROJECT and one for her new short film IN TOW

Through the Grant and other programs, AFS is focused on making it possible for filmmakers to build a career and continue to make innovative, groundbreaking work right here in Texas. 2021 AFS Grant recipient UNTITLED TEXAS LATINA PROJECT is a perfect example. The film is a new narrative feature exploring Latina/x identity in Texas through the lens of five Latina directors living and working in the Lone Star state. All five directors are award-winning filmmakers and past AFS Grant recipients: Jazmin Diaz, Lizette Barrera, Sharon Arteaga, Iliana Sosa, and Chelsea Hernandez.

2021 AFS Grant for Features recipients:
1: Jerod Couch, Starling Thomas, Fatima Hye, Nicole Chi Amén
2: Heather Courtney, Andrés Torres, Paloma Hernández, Renée Zhan
3: Kelsey Hodge, Jazmin Diaz, Lizette Barrera, Iliana Sosa, Chelsea Hernandez, and Sharon Arteaga

2021 AFS Grant for Shorts recipients:
1: Déjà Cresencia Berhardt, Edwin Oliva, Katy McCarthy
Megan “Megz” Trufant Tillman, Sharon Arteaga, Tay Mansmann
3: Paloma Martinez, Abby Ellis, Iris Diaz, Alejandra Aragón

Career Leaps

AFS’s ongoing support provides the next generation of Texas filmmakers with avenues for opportunities, propelling them into the next phases of their careers.

After its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, AFS-supported film JOCKEY, directed by Clint Bentley, went on to win the Audience Award at the 2021 AFI Fest and was named one of the Top 10 Independent Films of 2021 by the National Board of Review.

Chelsea Hernandez’s AFS-supported film BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM was nominated for Best Documentary in the Outstanding Business and Economic Documentary category of the News and Documentary Emmy® Awards. Chelsea was also named a 2021 ‘40 Under 40’ honoree by Doc NYC, along with fellow AFS Grant recipient, Iliana Sosa.

Mei Makino’s AFS Grant-supported feature IN BETWEEN GIRL won the SXSW 2021 Visions Audience Award and secured national distribution.

Keith Maitland’s AFS Grant-supported film, DEAR MR. BRODY, premiered at Tribeca 2021 to rave reviews and secured national distribution.

AFS Grant-funded projects SUMMER ANIMALS, by Haley Elizabeth Anderson and WITHOUT GETTING KILLED OR CAUGHT by Tamara Saviano received major awards at SXSW 2021.

AFS-supported short film THE PAINT WIZZARD, directed by Jessie Auritt and Jessica Wolfson, was featured in The New Yorker this October.

Access & Education

Austin Public—A Resource for the Community

Austin Public, AFS’s community media center, returned to in-person operations in May of 2021, following a year of virtual-only instruction with limited access to equipment. New intermediate classes were added to the offerings, and the classes needed to enter the world of Austin Public—Orientation and Media Policy—are now offered in Spanish as well as English.

(Pictured above: Professional Director of Photography MJ Johnston teaches two students in our new RED Komodo camera class.)

 “If there was a “confidence meter,” mine would show that it’s getting a major boost with every class I take at Austin Public. Night and day difference!”
—Dawit Tariku

While interactions with the community slowed down for the pandemic, Austin Public staff took advantage of the time to focus on a variety of equipment, services, and studio upgrades, including AP’s Edit Bay. The new professional-level suite is the very same space where Robert Rodriguez edited EL MARIACHI some 21 years ago.

AFS Launches Creative Careers

Managing Austin Public and Austin Studios, our 20-acre production facility, AFS has been able to help hundreds of young people get a “foot in the door” to the industry over the years. Prior to the pandemic, AFS was recruiting 15 interns each semester to serve as office interns, learn, and build their network and resumes.

Interns received instruction on a range of real-world topics as well as film and TV production and other industry-related skills. Upon completion of a successful internship, they were eligible for our “Film Referral Program” connecting them to employment opportunities. By 2020, we could boast 700 placements on films and with production companies.

The limitations of the program were staffing and funding, so it boosted people who already had personal or family backing to learn and work without pay. While on pause for the pandemic, we reimagined our internship program through a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We were inspired by the City’s own vision for equity:

As it approaches its 200th anniversary, Austin is a beacon of sustainability, social equity and economic opportunity; where diversity and creativity are celebrated; where community needs and values are recognized; where leadership comes from its citizens and where the necessities of life are affordable and accessible to all.

Imagine Austin, The City of Austin’s vision for the City

The result was the new Creative Careers program which is now embedded in our partnership with the City of Austin to provide public access to the means of storytelling and production. Reframing the life-changing program through our equity lens, we sought to redress inequities by creating a paid program of learning and placement. Our first class of interns under the new program began in the fall of 2021. 

PHOTO: AFS Board member Kat Candler with Quincie Anderson, Jennifer Graves, and Kayla Garcia, members of AFS’s first class of Creative Careers interns (not pictured: Alicia Rivera-Clemente).

Industry & Jobs


Austin Studios — A Key Part of the Thriving Texas Film Scene

Here’s to 22 years going strong! Since 2000, Austin Studios has contributed greatly to Austin’s economic development and helped bring over $2.1 billion into the City’s economy through 700 productions and 8,000 jobs. Today, the 20-acre production facility is an important part of the Texas film ecosystem—a center for the region’s thriving film production scene and home to large and small independent film-related businesses that make up Austin’s creative sector.

Here is a look back at Austin Studios and a glimpse of all that continues to be possible:

Production news
In July 2021 the Austin Chronicle featured Austin Studios as part of a follow-up article from the previous year, focusing on how production in Texas continues to be affected by the pandemic. The good news is that production is back up across the state and flourishing in many areas, including Austin and Austin Studios. Here are a few highlights from this year:

Code 4

With Covid-19 safety protocols in place, Austin Studios was buzzing with activity in 2021 with short and long-term film/media productions bringing both jobs and revenue to the city. Our tenant Code 4 made it possible for Austin Studios to be the first production hub in the region to have a Covid Lab on-site with drive-up testing for crews. This became essential during the safe return to work protocols the film and TV industry launched.


CBS/Eye Productions Incorporated

After a successful debut in January 2021 and brief summer hiatus, the second season of the CW’s Walker is underway and will film 22 episodes through summer 2022. The first season spent over $17 million on local payroll, employing hundreds of professionals from the Austin area, and spent an estimated $30 million for services such as catering, housing, production equipment, security, transportation, and more.

For the second year in a row, Walker was a recipient of the Creative Content Incentive Program—the City of Austin’s program to incentivize qualifying film, television, and media productions that create good-paying local jobs for Austin creative professionals.

Rooster Teeth & RTX

Global media company and Austin Studios tenant Rooster Teeth hosted their second annual virtual conference RTX At Home from July 8-17, featuring the best in animation, gaming, and comedy with live shows, special events, and online meet-and-greets. RTX 2021 drew over 2.5M views, a 44% increase over 2020.


Fiscal Year 2021



Carol and Chris AdamsBelva GreenLinda Roark and Ford Turner
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationJeffrey HalesRiki Rushing and Allen Gilmer
Sarah André and Jason NeulanderPhilip HardageAlice and Anuj Saigal
Adelaide and Nathaniel ArcherMonica Harrison and David McNettScott Saldaña
Evonne Atlas and Abe ZimmermanKyle and Noah HawleyCharlie Schlafke
Joy AuthurFrancis HellyerRobin Schneider and Dick Davis
Hector BarrientosShanaz Hemmati and Rubik AbbassiJeanette Scott and Don Sembera
Blair BaxterLisa and Matt HickeyAmanda Seats
Becky BeaverHolt Atherton Education FoundationSermoonjoy Fund
Diana and Tom BentleyRaina HornadayShelly Sethi
Joanie BentzinLynn Hubbard and David ZapotskyBonnie Shanks
Alka and Narinder BhanotHumanities TexasJane Shepperd
Diane and Stephen BienemanNathan IdaisAmy Shimota
Kathy Blackwell and Steve ScheibalITVSIrene and Alexander Shoghi
Tim BlackwoodJoe B Foster Family FoundationLauren and Phil Siegel
Juliet Blake and Mark ShepherdMartin JonesNancy and Mike Simpson
Karen and Mike BlizzardBeth and Lowell KeigTalon Skibsrud
Blue SuitcaseBarbara and Bart KnaggsJamie and Eric Skinner
Jocelyn and Bradley BrandtKiki Lambden-Stout and Stephen StoutYa'Ke Smith
Noelle Buhidar and Brian DornElena and Robert LancasterJulia and Evan Smith
Lize Burr and Chris HyamsTracy LaQuey Parker and Patrick ParkerLewis Smithingham
Jim ButlerLey Line EntertainmentRyan Snedegar
Layla CampbellRichard LinklaterDan Stasiewski
Kat Candler and Mark OsbornEleanor and Ron LukeSusan Sutton and David McAuley
Elizabeth Cates and Dave BellagioHeidi Marquez SmithTexas Capital Bank
Alfred CervantesJoe McSpaddenTexas Commission on the Arts
City of Austin Economic Development DepartmentEmma Mercado and Andrea AlfaroThe Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation
Judy CookePaul MerrymanThe Rea Charitable Trust
Cynthia CoulsonMUBITito's Handmade Vodka
Chris CowdenChale NafusLaurie and Douglas Vander Ploeg
Paige and Scott CoxNational Endowment for the ArtsVickie and David Vogel
Suzanne Deal Booth and LeMel HumesNetflixTodd Waldron
Susanne and Eric DeJernettHeather Page and Todd McMullenSkye Wallin
Matt DeMartinoAdrienne and Rick PappasCarol Walsh-Knutson and Kelley Knutson
Katy Drake and Paul BettnerKatherine and Peter PardiniMarc Winkelman
Dr. Jaquelin DudleyMelissa Plunkett and Richard WhittakerMargaret and Matt Winkler
John DwyerPäivi Pütsepp-Seufert and Eric SeufertJoe Woskow
Kerry Edwards and Stephen MarshallCeleste and Adrian QuesadaW. Andrew York
Hannah FidellLisa RamirezSteven Zakarian
Kendra Flenniken and Charles HoldenMindy RaymondChristie Zangrilli and Berndt Mader
Katrine and Bill Formby
Augustine Frizzell and David Lowery

The Austin Film Society is funded and supported in part by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and in part by the City of Austin Economic Development Department/Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future.

The Austin Film Society is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and is made possible with funding from Humanities Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021.

The Austin Film Society is generously funded by Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Donors listed contributed at the $500 level and above in 2021. Please contact us at to make a contribution.

Thanks to our Sponsors