Austin Film Society announces the 2017 AFS Grant panelists

(AUSTIN, TX)–The Austin Film Society (AFS) announces this year’s AFS Grant Jury who will determine the recipients of this year’s AFS Grant, which includes $105,000 in cash awards and more than $40,000 of in-kind goods and services. The AFS Grant Jury will convene in Austin in late August to make final decisions on Grant recipients for the 2017 cycle.

Each year, AFS selects a panel of jurors from the film community outside of Texas, a mix of accomplished independent filmmakers and influential film curators. The 2017 jury includes Jennifer Phang, director of ADVANTAGEOUS, a U.S. Dramatic Competition Special Jury Prize Winner at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival; Brandon Harris, filmmaker, critic, programmer and author of Making Rent In Bed-Stuy; and Penny Lane, director of NUTS!, a Special Jury Prize Winner for Editing at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Holly Herrick, AFS Head of Film and Creative Media commented, “AFS utilizes the AFS Grant review to introduce the work of Texas-based artists to influential filmmakers from around the country who can become advocates for the work being done here. This year, we’re proud to host Penny Lane and Jennifer Phang, visionary filmmakers who each have made exceptional work through inspired approaches and brilliant resourcefulness. Brandon Harris is a multi-hyphenate cinephile whose critically celebrated works include films and now a memoir. He has lent his many talents in writing, film criticism and curation to the service of independent artists and audiences.  We look forward to leading our talented panel in the hard work of selecting this year’s AFS grant recipients from a highly competitive pool of applicants.”

Applicants for the AFS Grant are notified of the panel decisions in late August each year, and an announcement of winners is made prior to September 1.  Supporters of the 2017 AFS Grant include EBW & Sandra Adair, offering a cash grant to female filmmakers. In-kind AFS Grant packages are being rewarded in partnership with Stuck On On, Kodak Motion Picture Film, MPS Camera and DJI Creative Studio.

For those interested in meeting the 2017 panelists during their visit, Brandon Harris, author of Making Rent in Bed-Stuy, is guest speaker at a special AFS screening ofHal Ashby’s THE LANDLORD on Wednesday, August 16 at the AFS Cinema. A book signing will take place before the screening, with copies Making Rent In Bed-Stuy available for purchase.

The full panelist bios are below.

Jennifer Phang
Jennifer Phang’s sophomore feature ADVANTAGEOUS won a U.S. Dramatic Competition Jury Prize at Sundance 2015. The film became a Sundance favorite of Wired, The Verge, Salon, and Business Insider. ADVANTAGEOUS was released by Netflix on an exclusive worldwide streaming deal and nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. A sci-fi drama about the future of women, ADVANTAGEOUS stars Jacqueline Kim, Jennifer Ehle, James Urbaniak and Ken Jeong — who also produced the film. The feature was an adaptation of Phang’s award-winning short by the same name. Phang’s debut feature HALF-LIFE premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at SXSW, and was released by SundanceTV. Phang has recently directed on FOX’s THE EXORCIST series and will be directing episodes of a number of shows including the acclaimed space opera THE EXPANSE — an adaptation of the James S.A. Corey novels, and RIVERDALE — the teen noir adaptation of the Archie Comics.

Brandon Harris
Programmer, Critic & Author of Making Rent In Bed-Stuy
Brandon Harris is the author of the book “Making Rent In Bed-Stuy,” which was released in June by Amistad Books. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Harris has worked in the world of American independent film as a critic and programmer, producer and director, screenwriter and educator. His writings about cinema, politics, culture, and the intersections between them have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Guardian, VICE, The Daily Beast, Variety, N+1, The New Inquiry, Brooklyn Rail, In These Times, Hammer to Nail, and Filmmaker Magazine, where he is a contributing editor.  Harris is the festival programmer at the Indie Memphis Film Festival and a Visiting Assistant Professor at SUNY Purchase. His feature directorial debut, REDLEGS, which opened theatrically in 2012 and is available on iTunes, Amazon, and other streaming video platforms through Cinetic FilmBuff, was a New York Times Critics Pick.

Penny Lane
Director (NUTS!, OUR NIXON)
Penny Lane’s most recent feature documentary film NUTS! premiered at Sundance 2016, where it won a Special Jury Prize for Editing. Her debut feature documentary OUR NIXON premiered at Rotterdam, had its North American premiere at SXSW, won the Ken Burns Award for “Best of the Festival” at Ann Arbor, and was selected as the Closing Night Film at New Directors/New Films. Lane was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2012. Lane has been awarded grants from Creative Capital, Cinereach, TFI Documentary Fund, Jerome Foundation, LEF Foundation, NYSCA, Experimental Television Center, IFP and Puffin Foundation. Lane has taught film, video and new media art at Bard College, Hampshire College and Williams College. She is currently a professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Colgate University, where she lives in a very old house and shows movies in her barn. And yes, Penny Lane is her real name.

Thanks to our 2017 AFS Grant supporters: 
City of Austin’s Cultural Arts Division
DJI Creative Studio
MPS Camera and Lighting Austin
National Endowment for the Arts
Stuck On On
Texas Commission on the Arts