Austin Film Society Announces Its 2023 Artist Intensive Participants and Mentors

Three Filmmakers and Five Mentors Will Attend the Annual Five-Day Retreat 

October 30, 2023, AUSTIN, TX— The Austin Film Society announces the participants and mentors involved in its annual Artist Intensive, which will take place between November 1–5. The Artist Intensive is a multi-day invitational retreat for Texas filmmakers to be paired with experienced mentors from the industry to guide their work on their feature-length narrative films over the course of the retreat. Participants are selected from the applicant pool for the previous year’s AFS Grant, and those invited to participate in the retreat are writer-directors in the development phase of projects that have not yet gone into production.

AFS’s programs for filmmakers aim to support the conditions where filmmakers can make Texas their career-long home. Through the Artist Intensive, AFS supports the careers of emerging Texas-based narrative filmmakers through networking and creative development, helping with their project advancement while also building a creative community from within the region. 

The Artist Intensive includes mentorship sessions, screenplay readings and rehearsals with guest actors. The program is instrumental in providing participants with creative feedback, resources and momentum for their projects. Over the course of the long weekend, each writer/director team is matched with a writer/director creative advisor and a producing mentor. Each script is read in full with a cast of professional actors and workshopped.

Past project alumni include Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth (Sundance, Independent Spirit Award-nominated), Annie Silverstein’s Bull (Deauville winner and Cannes Un Certain Regard competition) and Augustine Frizzell’s Never Goin’ Back (Sundance, Independent Spirit Award-nominated) among others. Past mentors have included Jonathan Demme, Catherine Hardwicke, Charles Burnett, Athina Rachel Tsangari, So Yong Kim, James Ponsoldt and Toby Halbrooks.

This year’s selected Artist Intensive Fellows include:

Lizette Barrera — Chicle

Arturo R. Jiménez — A Thousand Particles of Light

Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda — A Silent Wave

The creative advisors and producing mentors who will work with this year’s filmmakers throughout the weekend include: AFS Artistic Director Richard Linklater; creative advisors Rashaad Ernesto Green (writer/director of Premature and Gun Hill Road) and Kat Candler (writer/director of Hellion, producer/director of Queen Sugar) as well as producing mentors Toby Halbrooks (producer of A Ghost Story and The Green Knight, producer and writer of Peter Pan and Wendy) and Jacob Jaffke, whose producing and line producing credits include Dream Scenario, Pearl and Uncut Gems.

More about the 2023 selected projects and filmmakers:

Headshots available here.


Written and directed by Lizette Barrera

Chicle is a story about Kari, an ill-tempered young woman who attempts to regain the trust of her best friend after a drunken relapse while navigating the looming death of a family member. Lizette Barrera is a filmmaker whose films have played at festivals and networks worldwide, including her HBO previously-licensed short films Mosca (Fly) and ¡Cóme!, ESPN-licensed short documentary film Mr. Pastor Jones and her short film Chicle (Gum), which has its world premiere at SXSW. She received the 2020 AFS Development Grant for her upcoming feature Chicle (Gum) and is participating in this year’s AFS Artist Intensive. She is also a recipient of WarnerMedia’s 150 Grant and the 2021 SFFILM Rainin Grant and is a past participant of the 2022 Gotham Market for the anthology feature Untitled Texas Latina Project, which she is co-directing with four other directors. She has worked as a showrunner’s assistant to Kat Candler on the Untitled Joshua Jackson & Lauren Ridloff Project by ARRAY/WarnerBrothers/STARZ. In addition, Barrera has produced and directed branded content for Prelude Films, where several of their commercials have garnered numerous awards, including their Emmy-award-winning video for the Allen Fire Department. She received her MFA in Film Production at The University of Texas at Austin and has previously served as a Senior Lecturer and Adjunct Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Arlington.


Written and directed by Arturo R. Jiménez

A Thousand Particles of Light is a coming-of-age narrative feature film that follows fifth-grader Yahir, an only child with a wild imagination, as he makes a discovery in their unique hometown of Xico that will change his life forever. The film is a Magical Realist adventure seen through the eyes of a young dreamer right on the precipice of adolescence. Arturo R. Jiménez is a Mexican filmmaker, journalist and educator with international film experience in documentary and narrative projects. Jiménez is interested in exploring how Mexico’s history has shaped the personality and culture of its people and its ties to a border world. His most recent fiction short film is El Fantasma, a narrative account of Lee Harvey Oswald’s visit to Mexico City two months before the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The film stars Ellar Coltrane as Oswald and Fernanda Rivera as Silvia Durán, and it has screened at Camerimage, the Rhode Island International Film Festival, Palm Springs ShortFest and CineFestival San Antonio. In 2022, Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) selected Jiménez for their inaugural Latino Emerging Filmmakers Fellowship. He is currently in post-production on a documentary he co-directed with Edna Diaz for LPB that delves into the heart of the current feminist movement in Mexico. Arturo Jiménez currently lives in Austin, Texas.


Directed by Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda (story by Lakshmi Bharadwaj and Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda and written by Dini Parayitam and Jerika Marchan)

Lonely housewife Charulata is a fish out of water in post-Roe Texas until she befriends outspoken Amal, a Muslim-American woman torn between career aspirations and family obligations. Together, the two women form an unlikely but indelible bond that will force them to risk the lives they’ve built for a chance to create a future all their own. Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda is a DGA Student Award-winning filmmaker who studied at The University of Texas at Austin as part of their MFA program in Film & Media Production. His work has been screened at prestigious film festivals such as Hot Docs, Raindance, EnergaCAMERIMAGE and Krakow. He strives to tell stories that demand an urgent conversation and seeks to engage with people, places and communities that are slowly disappearing. He aims to affirm their existence through cinema by preserving their lives and memories. His pre-thesis film, Testimony of Ana, won the National Film Award (Swarna Kamal/Golden Lotus) for the Best Non-Feature Film issued by the Government of India and was qualified for the 95th Academy Awards in the Best Documentary Short category. The film also secured distribution on reputed platforms such as MUBI and Kinoscope. He received the prestigious President’s Award for Global Learning at UT Austin and funding from the AFS Grant in 2020 as well as the New Texas Voice’s Award, part of the AFS Grant, in 2023. Mudigonda won the competitive Panavision New Filmmaker Program Equipment Grant and the UT Graduate Continuing Fellowship (an award given to support the final year of an outstanding graduate student) to implement his MFA thesis project, Men In Blue, which was shortlisted for the 2023 Yugo BAFTA Student Awards.

About Austin Film Society

Founded in 1985 by filmmaker Richard Linklater, AFS creates life-changing opportunities for filmmakers, catalyzes Austin and Texas as a creative hub, and brings the community together around great film. AFS is committed to racial equity and inclusion, with an objective to deliver programs that actively dismantle the structural racism, sexism and other bias in the screen industries. AFS supports filmmakers from all backgrounds towards career leaps, encouraging exceptional artistic projects with grants and support services. AFS operates Austin Studios, a 20-acre production facility, to attract and grow the creative media ecosystem. Austin Public, a space for our city’s diverse mediamakers to train and collaborate, provides many points of access to filmmaking and film careers. The AFS Cinema is an ambitiously programmed repertory and first run arthouse with broad community engagement. By hosting premieres, local and international industry events, and the Texas Film Awards, AFS shines the national spotlight on Texas filmmakers while connecting Austin and Texas to the wider film community. AFS is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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