SHOWING FILMS AND HELPING FILMMAKERS, 2022 EDITION
– A Message from our CEO, Rebecca Campbell –
We present our 2022 annual report to our stakeholders with gratitude. When reflecting on the year, what came into focus was the impact we were able to have across the entire Texas film ecosystem. That meant curating and presenting great art; funding and promoting the work of independent storytellers from Texas; and attracting and supporting the film industry. That also meant expanding the community’s access to the power of film through education, outreach, and engagement.
Having reopened the AFS Cinema in the summer of 2021, we were thrilled to share culturally significant programming while also bringing back annual collaborations with outside organizations. For example, we were able to work again with The University of Texas Center for Middle Eastern Studies to curate in-person screenings of The Children of Abraham/Ibrahim series, a partnership instigated by founding board member and former AFS Director of Programming Chale Nafus that goes all the way back to 2007.
We were also lucky enough to bring filmmakers from far and wide back onto the cinema stage. Special events, like our 35mm screening of DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME with Bill Morrison, featured Austin appearances by internationally renowned artists. AFS-supported filmmakers often took the spotlight at AFS Cinema as well, like Iliana Sosa presenting her Netflix-distributed film WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND.
Our grant program continued providing major opportunities to those making films, supporting the shorts and features being made by 25 filmmakers in 2022. Last year also marked the return of AFS Works-In-Progress, which gives directors and producers the opportunity to gain crucial audience feedback on their projects. A terrific SXSW party at Austin Public brought together the filmmaking community and our wide network of grant alumni to celebrate the work being exhibited in the 2022 film festival.
AFS’s workforce development program, Creative Careers, concluded its first year in 2022 with 30 graduates. This latest initiative plays a vital role in the industry by empowering emerging creatives from diverse backgrounds to find meaningful jobs in film and TV production while also building professional networks. Meanwhile, Austin Studios remained at 100% capacity for the third year in a row, helping keep production alive and well.
At the core of our mission is a desire to celebrate film culture in all its many forms, whether that’s through teaching someone how to use a camera, funding a project we believe in, giving filmmakers resources to complete their passion projects, or hosting screenings that Austin audiences won’t be able to see anywhere else. By combining these efforts with those of our amazing supporters, we can continue to make a difference in Texas’ vibrant film community.
CEO, AUSTIN FILM SOCIETY
AREAS OF IMPACT
GLOBAL FILM CULTURE
The AFS Cinema continues to be an important center for global film culture, a place for Austin’s diverse communities to connect through film.
AAAFF Unleashed Desires: Lost Films of Taiwan
Along with Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF), the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute’s Taiwan Cinema Toolkit, and the Taiwan Academy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston, AFS Cinema showcased a series of hard-to-find “Taiyupian” films made in Taiwan between approximately 1955 and 1981 in the native Taiwanese language (which is unique when compared to the Mandarin spoken by the era’s martial-law regime). These films, like THE FANTASY OF THE DEER WARRIOR (1961), have been re-appraised as efforts have begun to restore these culturally significant films for new audiences to see and appreciate.
New French Cinema Week
AFS partnered with the Festival Premiers Plans d’Angers of Angers, France, along with the Consulate General of France and Unifrance to screen new French-language films by emerging directors during New French Cinema Week. The festival included France’s Oscar submission, Alice Diop’s critically acclaimed SAINT OMER
Queer Cinema: Lost & Found
This year also marked the beginning of a new partnership with Elizabeth Purchell through her monthly series, Queer Cinema: Lost & Found. Purchell is a wearer of many hats — queer film historian, archivist, director, and programmer to name a few — all of which come together as she curates rare and hard-to-find films that celebrate all expressions of the LGBTQAI+ community. The series launched in February with CRUISING (William Friedkin’s 1980 film starring Al Pacino) and went on to include numerous films, shorts, and illuminating post-screening discussions.
WATCH AFS SIGNATURE PROGRAM TRAILERS FROM 2022
The New York Times: A Queer-Film Historian Discusses Movies That Provoke
In 2022, AFS was honored to host many esteemed guests, including local and international artists and important changemakers.
RECOLORATION PROCLAMATION AND THE AFRO-DIXIE REMIXES with John Sims
AFS Cinema welcomed Detroit-born, Sarasota artist John Sims to present his films THE RECOLORATION PROCLAMATION and THE AFRO-DIXIE REMIXES. The two pieces explore Sims’ work as a multimedia artist challenging white supremacy in the United States, specifically through the use of Civil War iconography like the Confederate Flag and the song “Dixie,” both of which he reinterpreted through the lens of Black culture and heritage. Sims joined us for a post-film discussion with Chale Nafus, AFS founding board member and former programming director. Sims passed away in December of 2022 and will be remembered fondly by the Austin Film Society.
SHOUTING DOWN MIDNIGHT with Sen. Wendy Davis and Director Gretchen Stoeltje
AFS Cinema had the honor of hosting multiple screenings of this powerful AFS-supported documentary in 2022, the first of which was at its SXSW premiere. In October, the Cinema hosted a special screening of SHOUTING DOWN MIDNIGHT with director Gretchen Stoeltje, former senator Wendy Davis (whose historic filibuster was at the center of the film), and several of the film’s subjects whose stories have only grown since the film’s release.
Texas Writers Weekend with Tim O’Brien, Anne Rapp, and Aaron Matthews
Tim O’Brien, best known for writing The Things They Carried, is considered one of America’s most talented authors on the subject of war, and for that, he’s been recognized by the Library of Congress and won numerous awards (including the National Book Award and the Texas Writer Award). This year, he joined us on the AFS Cinema stage to discuss two documentaries as a part of the Texas Writer’s Weekend: HORTON FOOTE: THE ROAD TO HOME, with the film’s director Anne Rapp joined by Richard Linklater, and THE WAR AND PEACE OF TIM O’BRIEN with director Aaron Matthews. These inspiring films and post-screening discussions were part of a partnership with the Texas Book Festival and UT’s Harry Ransom Center where O’Brien’s papers are currently housed.
Sightlines: Film event: AFS will screen two documentaries about famed Texas writers
Lights Camera Austin: Interview: Tim O’Brien and Aaron Matthews
As a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing people together around film, we’re grateful for the opportunities we have to team up with other local groups to present programs featuring critical community issues.
PBS Indie Lens Pop-Up
In 2022, our partnership with PBS on their Indie Lens Pop-Up series gave audiences access to free community screenings of excellent new documentaries featuring pressing social issues. Organizational leaders and experts participated in post-film panels, providing audiences with real-world context around what they had just watched and connecting the films to key audiences.
The PBS Indie Lens Pop-Up series kicked off with MOVE ME, about a woman with mobility impairment searching for identity through dance, a special screening that included a pre-show performance by event partner Art Spark Texas Dance.
Partner Festivals and Events At AFS Cinema
The AFS Cinema is a community space, and AFS partners with various organizations to host film festivals, test screenings, and other community events. Recent community partners include the Austin Asian American Film Festival, Austin Jewish Film Festival, Austin Polish Film Festival, Black Leaders Collective, Cine Las Americas, Gallos Unidos (part of Rooster Teeth), Indie Meme, Sound Unseen, and so many others. Approximately 10,000 people participated in these events throughout 2022.
The Austin Chronicle: Five Musical Movie Moments at Sound Unseen
AFS SUPPORTED FILMMAKERS AT THE CINEMA
Each year, the AFS Grant gives Texas filmmakers crucial funding for their projects. And once they’re finished, those projects then make their way to the big screen. Screenings of AFS-supported films at the AFS Cinema are one of our favorite ways to celebrate the work being done right in our local community.
DEAR MR. BRODY with Keith Maitland
In April of 2022, we had the pleasure of hosting AFS-supported writer/director Keith Maitland (TOWER) and his producer-cinematographer Sarah Wilson for a screening of their new documentary, DEAR MR. BRODY, which premiered in competition at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival. The film was supported by AFS Grant funding and tells the story of Michael Brody Jr., heir to a margarine fortune, who decides to give his money away to anyone who asks. In present day, boxes of these request letters are discovered unopened, casting a strange light on an even stranger moment in our culture’s history. Maitland has received funds for travel and distribution as well as production through the AFS Grant, really showing the impact this type of support can have on the careers of Texas filmmakers.
DESCENDANT with Margaret Brown
Margaret Brown, a longtime AFS-supported filmmaker, started generating buzz around her documentary DESCENDANT at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. It was there that Higher Ground (a production company owned by the Obamas) acquired the film for Netflix. As it screened across the country, Brown visited AFS Cinema for a very special screening of the film, which was followed by a Q&A moderated by author and racial justice educator Virginia Cumberbatch. In addition to gaining critical acclaim and being short-listed for an Academy Award®, DESCENDANT went on locally to win the 2022 Austin Film Award from the Austin Film Critics Association.
WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND with Iliana Sosa
Iliana Sosa’s AFS-Grant supported documentary feature focuses on Sosa’s own grandfather, whose story paints the picture of life as a farmer/migrant worker and as someone whose family is spread across both sides of the US-Mexico border. The film premiered at SXSW 2022, where it won multiple awards, and it went on to be nominated for a Gotham Award for Best Documentary.
[Pictured above: 2022 AFS Grant recipient LOST SOULZ, directed by Katherine Propper]
2022 AFS Grant Recipients
Funding Texas filmmakers is an essential part of AFS Founder and Artistic Director Richard Linklater’s original vision for the Austin Film Society. AFS Grant funds provide vital support to Texas’ independent filmmakers, creating life-changing opportunities for artists from diverse backgrounds, including those who are traditionally underrepresented in the film industry and are working outside of the large coastal hubs.
[Pictured above: Still from TUSHURAI (THOSE WHO STAY), directed by Robert Hope]
“The art of short filmmaking is alive in Texas! All the projects are very different but share an inspiring level of fearlessness, questioning, and humanity. They got me excited about making movies.”
—2022 AFS Grant for Feature Films panelist Amanda McBaine, director and producer (BOYS STATE, MAYOR PETE, THE OVERNIGHTERS)
Since the AFS Grant was created in 1996, we’ve given away more than $2.4 million, impacting the careers of 487 filmmakers in the process. In 2022 alone, we helped 25 filmmakers (14 for feature-length projects and 11 for shorts), and 16 of them were first-time grant recipients.
- STATE CHAMPS EAT FREE — Adriane McCray (recipient of the North Texas Pioneer Grant)
- WHERE THE TREES BEAR MEAT — Alexis Franco
- TONKAWA: THEY ALL STAY TOGETHER — Andrew Richey
- PROFESSIONAL TEXAN — Don Swaynos
- HUMMINGBIRDS — Estefanía Contreras and Silvia Castaños (recipient of the New Texas Voices Grant)
- PRECIOUS CARGO — Hammad Rizvi (recipient of the North Texas Pioneer Grant)
- THE MOTION — Huay-Bing Law and Sam Mohney
- LOST SOULZ — Katherine Propper
- STEM ROOTS — LaTasha Taylor Starr and Ariel Leslie (recipient of the North Texas Pioneer Grant)
- THE CHRISTMAS CARD — Lucy Kerr
- UNTITLED PHILIPPINES PROJECT — PJ Raval
- BREAKING SILENCE — Amy Bench and Annie Silverstein
- ON DYING OF DEMENTIA IN A CAPITALIST SYSTEM — Anne Lewis
- PASTURE PRIME — Diffan Norman
- ROOFTOP LEMPICKA — Hang Nguyen
- THE SON WHO CAN’T PLAY TRUMPET — Isaac Garza
- GIVE — Kenya Gillespie
- DABNEY — Monika Watkins
- HIJO — Oscar Perez-Chairez
- BURY ME SOFTLY IN THIS WORLD — Ramina Ramazani (recipient of funds from the Harrison McClure Endowed Film Fund)
- TUSHURAI (THOSE WHO STAY) — Robert Hope
The Austin Chronicle: Best of Austin 2022: Best Boost for Budding Moviemakers – AFS Grants
AFS Grantees on the World Stage
At SXSW 2022, we saw the premieres of five AFS-supported projects, including three short films: BIRDS by Katherine Propper, which went on to win Best Short at Los Angeles’ prestigious AFI Festival; MORE THAN I REMEMBER by Amy Bench, which went on to win an NAACP Image Award and Best Animated Short at Tribeca Film Festival; and ACT OF GOD by Spencer Cook and Parker Smith, which won the Audience Award in the Texas Shorts competition, and was the springboard for the filmmaking duo to be invited to Sundance’s Screenwriter’s Lab earlier this year. The AFS-supported feature-length films THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY by Morrisa Maltz and the documentary WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND by Iliana Sosa made their debuts as well, the latter of which won the Louis Black Lone Star Award and the Fandor New Voices Award.
Producer Gerard Elmore was chosen to be a 2022 fellow for the Sundance Institute’s Producers Intensive for his work on LAST HAWAIIAN SUGAR (dir. Déjà Bernhardt), recipient of a 2021 AFS Grant for Short Films. And on the international stage, AFS Grant recipient and 2017 Texas Film Hall of Fame honoree Jeff Nichols served as a jury member for the 2022 Cannes Festival.
The AFS Works-In-Progress program is back! After a two-and-a-half-year hiatus during the pandemic, we were able to restart this crucial program that helps connect filmmakers with meaningful feedback on rough or fine cuts of their work. In September of this year, we relaunched this monthly program at Austin Public with WHEN WE WERE LIVE, a documentary directed by John Spottswood Moore and produced by Keeley Steenson. And the icing on the cake? The film was about Austin public access TV and the facilities at Austin Public based on the duo’s involvement with both over the years.
The Artist Intensive, AFS’s workshop and retreat for narrative filmmakers with a new project in development, has an incredible track record of supporting important artists at a critical phase in their careers. Past participants have included Augustine Frizzell, who went on to be a director and Executive Producer of HBO’s Euphoria, and Channing Godfrey Peoples, whose workshopped film MISS JUNETEENTH premiered at Sundance and was nominated for Gotham and Independent Spirit Awards.
2022 Artist Intensive Filmmakers and Projects:
- Barbara Cigarroa, EL OTRO LADO
- Déjà Cresencia Bernhardt, LAST HAWAIIAN SUGAR
- Paloma Hernández, PASTICHE
The mentors for the 2022 Artist Intensive included Richard Linklater, Elizabeth Avellán, Jennifer Phang, Bryan Poyser, and Toby Halbrooks.
The Austin Chronicle: AFS Announces Filmmakers for its Artist Intensive Program
We love bringing filmmakers together, and SXSW provides the perfect opportunity to do so. In 2022, we brought together the film and creative communities, Austinites and SXSW visitors alike, to join us in celebrating the AFS filmmakers premiering work at this year’s festival. The party was hosted outside at Austin Public, where we had a popsicle cart, food trucks, complimentary drinks, and a live DJ helping to keep the good vibes going.
The 2022 Texas Film Awards
In 2022, at A Toast to Texas Film, we inducted Evan Smith — former editor of Texas Monthly and founder and former CEO of Texas Tribune — into the Texas Film Hall of Fame. The evening’s festivities were hosted by Troublemaker Studios and included appearances by special guests including Elizabeth Avellán, Mehcad Brooks, Richard Linklater, Glen Powell, and Robert Rodriguez. Evan Smith was a board member of the Austin Film Society for nine years and its board president for two. During that time, he co-founded the Texas Film Hall of Fame and raised more than $4 million for Texas film. It was an honor to commemorate the impact Smith has made toward supporting independent voices in both film and journalism as well as a rousing tribute to a man who has done so much to embolden artists across Texas throughout his career.
Tribeza: Texas Film Awards To Honor Journalist and AFS Supporter Evan Smith
The Austin Chronicle: A Night at the Movies With Evan Smith
Austin American-Statesman: Pre-SXSW event ‘A Toast to Texas Film’ held in Austin
CultureMap: Austin Film Society presents A Toast To Texas Film
Access & Education
Growing the filmmaking community starts with providing access points to the filmmaking process. At our Austin Public facility, AFS offers accessible training and resources in the form of a workforce training program alongside community classes, equipment, content distribution, and studio space to people looking to bring their creative projects to life.
Creative Careers: Year One
This year, we wrapped up the first year of our unique workforce development program, AFS Creative Careers. Starting in the fall of 2021, our goal has been simple: to give emerging creatives a leg up as they start their careers in the competitive field of media production. Our paid program participants get access to immersive training, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Our goal is to launch the careers of talented creatives traditionally underrepresented in the industry, and in 2022, 79% of program participants identified as BIPOC, 57% as female, and 10% as non-binary. Based on the income data we received from participants in 2022, we found that 100% of individuals reporting qualified as economically disadvantaged based on the HUD LMI (low-to-moderate) individual income limits for the Austin-Round Rock area.
Creative Careers by the Numbers
Through this year’s program, we offered 341 hours worth of courses, which yielded 2,000+ hours of cumulative classroom training across everyone enrolled. On top of that, we also provided 847 hours of practical training to those enrolled in the AFS Internship and Immersive Training pathways.
You can hear more about the impact this vital program had on its participants in the video below.
Opening Credits: An AFS Creative Careers Capstone Celebration
To close out a successful first year of the program, we threw our very first Creative Careers Capstone Celebration. The evening was part graduation ceremony, part showcase, starting with a mixer in the AFS Cinema lobby where guests were able to grab light bites and drinks while they mingled with program participants.
Then the program began in the theater, featuring heartfelt statements from AFS CEO Rebecca Campbell and Director of Community Education Rakeda Ervin who underscored the value Creative Careers has for the Austin community and the industry state-wide. Then, the festivities continued with live panels featuring Creative Careers instructors Christian Nelson and Jacob Ramón as well as a group of 2022 graduates (Alekka Hernandez, Andrew Luna, Jeremiah Sudarmanto, and Aster Fohl). Interspersed between discussions were videos featuring testimony from participants and highlights from projects they worked on as part of the program, both their creative endeavors and some of the work they completed through our production services program.
The Capstone event concluded back in the lobby where, for one final time that night, guests and graduates came together to enjoy the afterglow of that evening’s program (and do a bit of networking). To us, the Capstone represented the film community coming together to support a new generation of media makers taking the first step in what will hopefully be long and successful professional journeys.
Photos by Heather Leah Kennedy.
Hybrid Class Offerings at Austin Public
This year, classes came roaring back at Austin Public as we offered our media production community a hybrid of in-person and online class options. In fact, 67 of the 222 classes we taught in 2022 (about 30%) were online, allowing people to learn in the ways they felt most comfortable. That led to over 1,200 people taking courses with Austin Public in a range of topics, including operating our studio space, lighting and grip equipment, and “Cinematography Techniques and Aesthetics.” To top it off, some got to take advantage of the newly finished editing suite celebrating the famous Austin-based director Robert Rodriguez who used the space himself as he was editing his first micro-budget film, EL MARIACHI.
Industry & Jobs
Austin Studios represents a vital connection to the film, television, and digital media production industries through its tenants and the jobs those tenants create for people throughout Central Texas.
Opening the New Creative Media Center
2022 saw the final transformation of the old Texas National Guard into a 20,000 sq. ft. Creative Media Center, supported by the City of Austin via the 2012 bond election. Working with our tenants, we were able to finish construction and obtain an official certificate of occupancy in March 2022.
Community Outreach and Incentives
The CW’s Walker began filming their third season in 2022, which included 18 episodes (carrying into 2023). AFS supported their outreach to City Council to help them gain access to film-incentive funds from the City of Austin totaling over $200K. It was a huge boost to their production and a great example of the teamwork that happens when members of the local production community support each other.
We also continued our collaboration with the Texas Media Production Alliance (TXMPA) on incentives planning for 2023. This included work with the state-wide production community in Ft. Worth, Dallas, Houston, and throughout Texas to develop a strategy to help ensure that the Texas Legislature’s 88th session would include crucial funding to attract a consistent flow of independent and studio productions to Texas. Our collaborative efforts helped create $200 million in incentives over the next two years, the largest investment in Texas history by the state legislature, helping establish our region as a place to make movies, television shows, and video games outside of the main coastal industry centers.
THANKS TO OUR 2022 DONORS
|Carol and Chris Adams
|Linda Roark and Ford Turner
|Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
|Riki Rushing and Allen Gilmer
|Sarah André and Jason Neulander
|Alice and Anuj Saigal
|Adelaide and Nathaniel Archer
|Monica Harrison and David McNett
|Evonne Atlas and Abe Zimmerman
|Kyle and Noah Hawley
|Robin Schneider and Dick Davis
|Shanaz Hemmati and Rubik Abbassi
|Jeanette Scott and Don Sembera
|Lisa and Matt Hickey
|Holt Atherton Education Foundation
|Diana and Tom Bentley
|Lynn Hubbard and David Zapotsky
|Alka and Narinder Bhanot
|Diane and Stephen Bieneman
|Kathy Blackwell and Steve Scheibal
|Irene and Alexander Shoghi
|Joe B Foster Family Foundation
|Lauren and Phil Siegel
|Juliet Blake and Mark Shepherd
|Nancy and Mike Simpson
|Karen and Mike Blizzard
|Beth and Lowell Keig
|Barbara and Bart Knaggs
|Jamie and Eric Skinner
|Jocelyn and Bradley Brandt
|Kiki Lambden-Stout and Stephen Stout
|Noelle Buhidar and Brian Dorn
|Elena and Robert Lancaster
|Julia and Evan Smith
|Lize Burr and Chris Hyams
|Tracy LaQuey Parker and Patrick Parker
|Ley Line Entertainment
|Kat Candler and Mark Osborn
|Eleanor and Ron Luke
|Susan Sutton and David McAuley
|Elizabeth Cates and Dave Bellagio
|Heidi Marquez Smith
|Texas Capital Bank
|Texas Commission on the Arts
|City of Austin Economic Development Department
|Emma Mercado and Andrea Alfaro
|The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation
|The Rea Charitable Trust
|Tito's Handmade Vodka
|Laurie and Douglas Vander Ploeg
|Paige and Scott Cox
|National Endowment for the Arts
|Vickie and David Vogel
|Suzanne Deal Booth and LeMel Humes
|Susanne and Eric DeJernett
|Heather Page and Todd McMullen
|Adrienne and Rick Pappas
|Carol Walsh-Knutson and Kelley Knutson
|Katy Drake and Paul Bettner
|Katherine and Peter Pardini
|Dr. Jaquelin Dudley
|Melissa Plunkett and Richard Whittaker
|Margaret and Matt Winkler
|Päivi Pütsepp-Seufert and Eric Seufert
|Kerry Edwards and Stephen Marshall
|Celeste and Adrian Quesada
|W. Andrew York
|Kendra Flenniken and Charles Holden
|Christie Zangrilli and Berndt Mader
|Katrine and Bill Formby
|Augustine Frizzell and David Lowery