AFS Announces 2017 Artist Intensive: Acclaimed Filmmakers and Producers Mentor Emerging Artists

AUSTIN, TX – (October 11, 2017) The Austin Film Society (AFS) announces the participants and mentors for its fifth annual Artist Intensive (October 19-22), a weekend of work, focus and mentorship for emerging narrative feature filmmakers poised for career leaps. The weekend, which includes screenplay readings and rehearsals with guest actors, has been instrumental in providing artists with creative feedback, resources and momentum for their projects.

This year’s selected artist intensive projects, all at a development phase, include the following:

  • LITTLE MOUTH from writer director Lauren Pruitt
  • THE RUTH MOVEMENT from writer/director Lauren Kinsler
  • WHAT BREAKS THE ICE from writer/director Rebecca Eskreis

Creative advisors and producing mentors who will mentor the filmmakers throughout the weekend include AFS Artistic Director Richard Linklater, acclaimed filmmakers Athina Rachel Tsangari (CHEVALIER, ATTENBERG) and James Ponsoldt (THE SPECTACULAR NOW, THE END OF THE TOUR, THE CIRCLE), and producers Jay Van Hoy (THE WITCH, AMERICAN HONEY, BEGINNERS) and Suzanne Weinert (HELLION, WINDSOR).

Previous Artist Intensive projects include BARRACUDA (Julia Halperin & Jason Cortlund, SXSW 2017), SLASH (Clay Liford, SXSW 2016), THE HONOR FARM (Karen Skloss, SXSW 2017) and the works-in-progress BULL (Annie Silverstein, 2016 Sundance Labs selection) and MISS JUNETEENTH (Channing Godfrey Peoples, 2017 Sundance Labs selection).

“The AFS Artist Intensive paired us with world-class filmmakers for direct feedback, brainstorming, workshopping, and strategizing. It made our story stronger and our team smarter about how to get the damn thing made,” state Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin, Directors of BARRACUDA and past Artist Intensive participants. BARRACUDA, distributed by Samuel Goldwyn and Amazon Studios, is now in theaters and opens at the AFS Cinema this Friday, 10/13.

High-resolutions images available.

More about this year’s Creative Advisors and Producing Mentors:
Independent Spirit Award nominated filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari is the director of CHEVALIER, which was a selection of the Toronto and New York Film Festivals, winner of the BFI London Film Festival, and Greece’s submission to the Academy Awards. Tsangari’s previous film, ATTENBERG was honored with awards at Venice and AFI Festival. She is a co-founder of Haos Film, with producing credits on DOGTOOTH, ALPS and BEFORE MIDNIGHT.

Writer/Director James Ponsoldt’s films include THE SPECTACULAR NOW, THE END OF THE TOUR, THE CIRCLE, SMASHED and OFF THE BLACK. Films that Ponsoldt has written and/or directed have won multiple awards at the Sundance Film Festival, been nominated for Independent Spirit Awards, and been honored by the National Board of Review. Ponsoldt directed the pilot for the Netflix series “Master of None,” co-wrote the graphic novel Refresh, Refresh (selected by Alison Bechdel for Best American Comics) and is developing films with Disney, A24, Fox, and Plan B.

Jay Van Hoy has produced over 20 independent films, including Mike Mills’s Oscar-winning BEGINNERS (starring Ewan McGregor and Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer); Robert Eggers’s THE WITCH (winner of the Best Director award at Sundance 2015 and several Independent Spirit Awards); Ira Sachs’s LITTLE MEN, LOVE IS STRANGE, and KEEP THE LIGHTS ON; Andrew Dosunmu’s MOTHER OF GEORGE; David Lowery’s AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS; Aaron Katz’s COLD WEATHER; Kelly Reichardt’s OLD JOY; photojournalist Shaul Schwarz’s documentary NARCO CULTURA; Andrea Arnold’s AMERICAN HONEY (winner of theJury Prize at Cannes 2016); Matthew Ross’s FRANK & LOLA; Joshua Marston’s COMPLETE UNKNOWN and Russell Harbaugh’s LOVE AFTER LOVE.

Suzanne Weinert began her career as the VP of Shoelace Productions, participating in the development and production of over 14 narrative features, including MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING, NOTTING HILL and ERIN BROCKOVICH, as well as several award-winning documentaries. She is writer/producer of EXTERMINATORS, starring Heather Graham and Amber Heard (SXSW 2009), Executive Producer of HELLION (Sundance 2014) and the Producer of recent award-winning indies THE DOO DAH MAN (2015) and WINDSOR (2015). She serves as President of the AFS Board of Directors.

More about the selected projects & filmmakers:
LITTLE MOUTH: Young and flirty Dave wants to grow up to be a plus-size model. Her grandmother, Ronda, has a hard time controlling her behavior with the boys at school. LITTLE MOUTH is a coming-of-age musical about one girl’s pre-pubescent years and the parallels in exploration that she shares with her conservative grandmother. Writer/director Lauren Pruitt attended The University of Texas where she studied screenwriting and has worked in production and camera departments for the past decade. She has also written an array of pieces from ad campaigns and commercial scripts to short films and feature-length films. She has directed commercials, short and fashion films and shot a number of music videos and commercials as director of photography. Her work has screened at film festivals across the US and Europe including the AFS ShortCase at SXSW.

THE RUTH MOVEMENT: This film follows an art heist that spans fifty years and the three generations of women who make it happen.  Writer/director Lauren Kinsler grew up in Tampa, Florida and currently lives in Austin, Texas. She made her first movie, about a girl who falls in love with a computer, when she was a teenager. Her work is influenced by science fiction, surrealism, disabilities culture, feminism, literature and art. Her films have played SXSW, Hot Springs Doc Fest, CinemaEast and more. She is the recipient of an AFS Grant and has an MFA from The University of Texas at Austin where she intermittently teaches. She is in development on several television projects in collaboration with other writers.

WHAT BREAKS THE ICE: During the summer of 1998, Sammy and Emily, both 15 years old, strike up a quick and deep friendship, in spite of their disparate backgrounds. But what should have been the best summer of their lives takes an unexpected turn when they become accidental accomplices in a fatal crime: the murder of Sammy’s brother, Travis.  Writer/director Rebecca Eskreis is an Austin-based filmmaker, with roots in the Los Angeles and New York filmmaking communities. Her credits include: INFINITY BABY (Producer, SXSW 2017); JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE + THE TENNESSEE KIDS (Associate Producer, Toronto International FF, 2016); NOODLING (Deadcenter FF, 2012); and INTO THE UNKNOWN (Producer, Palm Springs FF 2009), which toured the U.S. as part of the Tribeca Film Institute’s “America Now + Here.” Rebecca earned her BA from Barnard College and her MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.