Austin Film Society Announces Recipients of the 2019 AFS Grant for Short Films

(Film still from BIRDS)

Brady Dyer, Communications Manager

December 17, 2019

Austin Film Society Announces Recipients of the 2019 AFS Grant for Short Films

Surpasses the $2 Million Mark in Grants to Texas Filmmakers since 1996

Ten emerging Texas filmmakers and projects highlight the organization’s commitment to diversity, gender equity, and artistic achievement

(Austin, TX) — The Austin Film Society is proud to announce ten recipients of the AFS Grant for Short Films, the annually renewed production fund for emerging Texas filmmakers. With this round of grants, AFS is surpassing the $2 million mark in grants awarded to independent filmmakers in Texas since starting the program in 1996. These grants have created life-changing opportunities for artists working in Texas, outside traditional industry centers.

Richard Linklater, Artistic Director of AFS, acknowledged the AFS Grant milestone and said the following: “Filmmakers know that even small grants of a few thousand dollars make all the difference when you are trying to piece together a project. As we surpass the $2 million mark in cash grants to artists, we’re humbled by the support we’ve had from the community to continue this important lifeline for Texas filmmakers, and by the brilliant people and projects we’ve been involved with over the years.”

Six narrative and four documentary shorts were selected from more than 100 applicants for this round of funding, specifically for short form films. The AFS Grant open call for feature films opens in April.

Some of Austin Film Society’s most successful program alumni over the years received grants for short form work. While sources of funding for shorts are scarce, generally speaking short films can be less expensive to produce, and so are an excellent platform for filmmakers to practice their craft and refine their voice. Filmmakers Kat Candler (showrunner of O Network’s Queen Sugar), David Lowery (PETE’S DRAGON, A GHOST STORY), Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas (SKIP DAY, Director’s Fortnight Winners) and Annie Silverstein (BULL, Cannes 2019) were all awarded AFS Grants for short work prior to completing their break out feature films.

This year’s projects reflect the Austin Film Society’s commitment to funding exceptional artistic voices that often come from backgrounds traditionally under-represented in the film industry. Six of the ten projects are directed by filmmakers identifying with a community of color. Female-identifying filmmakers are directing six of the nine projects. Nine of the ten recipients are receiving AFS production grants for the first time.

The full list of 2019 AFS Grantees for Short Films is below. Headshots and stills can be downloaded here.

The AFS Grant selections are made by a panel of industry experts residing outside of the state of Texas. This year’s panelists for short films included filmmakers Christopher Radcliff (THE STRANGE ONES) and Dan Schoenbrun (COLLECTIVE: UNCONSCIOUS and The Eyeslicer), and programmer Ina Pira (Vimeo). This year’s grant was administered by AFS Director of Programs Erica Deiparine-Sugars and AFS Program Manager Michael Thielvoldt.

This year’s awards for short films were made up of approximately $40,000 cash and in-kind grants from AFS partners. In-kind grants were provided by Stuck On On. Cash grant partners included the Harrison McClure Endowed Film Fund for the undergraduate student award.

The AFS Grant is generously supported by Warbach Lighting and Design, Stuck On On, Kat Candler, Sailor Bear, Kodak Motion Picture Film, MPS Camera and Lighting, Ley Line Entertainment, Oak Cliff Film Festival, Art Works, City of Austin Economic Development Department/Cultural Arts Division and the Texas Commission on the Arts.


Director: Katherine Propper
A hybrid narrative short film featuring five moments in the lives of teenagers during the Texas summer.
Recipient of a Stuck On On Award for Post-Production

Director: Tramaine Townsend
The story of a young black boy who is obsessed with cowboy culture. The film takes on the journey of him growing up with this secret obsession and the cultural differences between blacks and whites he encounters.GREEN WATER
Director: Carlos Estrada
Once their undocumented mother goes missing, 18-year-old Erik must learn to care for his younger sister during a hot summer day.

Director: Liz Moskowitz & Riley Engemoen
A compassionate and effective female leader uses equine therapy to help military veterans transcend traumatic pasts.

Director: Cristin Stephens
At 18, Vinicius Dias began to see himself as a Black man. At 38, Dias helps other men in Brazil understand what blackness means in a racially fluid society. MEN WHO TALK follows black men who tell stories of their past to understand their present.

Director: Kenya Gillespie
A shy 10-year-old Asian American girl fights off her bullies with a little help from her idol: decorated US Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan.

Director: Jessica Wolfson & Jessie Auritt
The Paint Wizard is a transgender housepainter who lives in a bright yellow motorhome in Austin, Texas. A few years ago, at the age of 58, she gained the courage to leave “Michael” behind and embrace her authentic self, cat ears and all.
Recipient of a Stuck On On Award for Post-Production

Director: Jonathan Caouette
Experimental filmmaker Jonathan Caouette reflects on his relationship with his grandfather Adolph.

Director: Katie Graham & Andrew Matthews
An existential horror/comedy short from the point of view of a cat, forced by his Instagram-influencer owners to travel the country with them in a backpack.
Recipient of a Stuck On On Award for Post-Production

Director: Rachael Acosta
In the midst of 8th-grade band practice, a girl is harassed by her peers and forced to give up her instrument to one of her perpetrators.
Harrison McClure Endowed Film Fund Grant for a Texas undergraduate student 

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 supports filmmakers 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.

# # #

Thanks To Our Annual Sponsors