Austin Film Society Announces the 2022 Artist Intensive Participants and Mentors

(2022 Artist Intensive participants, left to right: Déjà Cresencia Bernhardt, Barbara Cigarroa, and Paloma Hernández)

Cecilia Conti

May 4th, 2022

Austin Film Society Announces the 2022 Artist Intensive Participants and Mentors 

Mentors include Acclaimed Show Creator and Filmmaker Noah Hawley, Richard Linklater, Elizabeth Avellán, Jennifer Phang and Toby Halbrooks. 

Austin, TX—The Austin Film Society announces the participants and mentors for its annual Artist Intensive (May 11-15th), a weekend of work, focus, and mentorship for emerging narrative feature filmmakers poised for career leaps. The weekend, which includes screenplay readings, works-in-progress screenings, and rehearsals with guest actors, has been instrumental in providing artists with creative feedback, resources, and momentum for their projects. Past project alumni include Morrisa Maltz’s THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY (SXSW) Channing Godfrey Peoples’ MISS JUNETEENTH (Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Gotham award-winner), and Augustine Frizzell’s NEVER GOIN’ BACK (Sundance Film Festival, Independent Spirit Award-nominated). Past mentors have included Jonathan Demme, Catherine Hardwicke, Charles Burnett, Athina Rachel Tsangari, So Yong Kim, James Ponsoldt, Caroline Caplan, Toby Halbrooks, and Sandra Adair among others.

This year’s selected Artist Intensive Filmmaker Participants include:

Paloma Hernández- PASTICHE
Barbara Cigarroa- El OTRO LADO
Déjà Cresencia Bernhardt- LAST HAWAIIAN SUGAR

Creative advisors and producing mentors who will work with the filmmakers throughout the weekend this year include: AFS Artistic Director Richard Linklater (BOYHOOD, DAZED AND CONFUSED); director/writer/producer Noah Hawley (Fargo, Legion, upcoming Alien television series); producer Elizabeth Avellán (SPY KIDS FRANCHISE, SIN CITY, MACHETE); producer Toby Halbrooks (THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN, A GHOST STORY, writer, PETE’S DRAGON); writer/director Jennifer Phang (ADVANTAGEOUS, HALF LIFE; tv’s The Boys, Foundation, The Flight Attendant) 

The Artist Intensive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

More about the 2022 selected projects and filmmakers:
Headshots available here

Directed by Paloma Hernández 
A struggling art student inadvertently takes part in an art forgery scheme and stumbles into a world of corruption that tests her identity, moral boundaries, and her true talents. 

Paloma Hernández is a Mexican-American Filmmaker, Writer, and Editor with a passion for creativity. She received her Bachelor of Arts in TV & Film Production from the University of North Texas where she discovered her affinity for storytelling. As a Mexican immigrant raised in Texas, Paloma uses her unique experiences to tell stories about identity, cultural heritage, and social issues. Last year she finished her debut feature screenplay, “Pastiche”, which was awarded the 2021 Austin Film Society North Texas Pioneer Grant.

Directed by Barbara Cigarroa
Lucy (17) tries to look and act like she’s already seen it all. She lives with her single father, Rey. Incredibly close, the two share a dysfunctional relationship as Rey acts more like a friend than a guardian to Lucy. When two vulnerable brothers – Tomás (17) and Lalo (4) – move out of an immigrant shelter and into their cramped home, Lucy and Rey’s relationship is turned upside down. Lucy is forced to see her life through Tomás and Lalo’s eyes. As the purity of Tomás and Lalo’s bond stands in sharp contrast to the chaos Rey imparts on her life, Lucy begins to crave more from her father and the world.

Barbara Cigarroa is a Mexican American filmmaker from South Texas. She holds an MFA in screenwriting from Columbia University and a BA in English from Yale. Cigarroa’s screenplay El Otro Lado was selected for the 2019 Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Lab. It was also chosen to be a part of The BlackList’s inaugural Latinx List. Her short film Dios Nunca Muere had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival; and in 2019, Cigarroa was celebrated by Filmmaker Magazine as one of the “top 25 new faces of Independent film.” El Otro Lado is set to be Cigarroa’s first feature. Additionally, Cigarroa works as a writer and consultant for various narrative, documentary, and TV projects.  She also teaches screenwriting at Columbia University and NYU. 

Directed by Déjà Cresencia Bernhardt 
Fifteen year-old Nua escapes abuse at a shelter she’s placed in by her well meaning but troubled social worker sending him on a desperate search for her in the paradise lost of Waikiki. Set in the final days of ‘Big Sugar’ production in 2016 in Hawai’i. 

Déjà Cresencia Bernhardt was raised on Maui and travels between her disparate homes in Bali, Indonesia, and Austin, Texas. Déjà draws upon her mixed Asian and Pacific Islander heritage — finding inspiration to tell both narrative and  documentary stories, often informing one another. Her films have screened in festivals worldwide, won  numerous awards, catapulted humanitarian work into the forefront of the global public eye, and her film,  The Midwife’sHusband (2012), was nominated for a Student Academy Award. Déjà’s documentary work has been globally influential in promoting humanitarian efforts in Africa, Indonesia, Haiti, and beyond, including the award-winning documentaries, Guerrilla Midwife(2010), and Tsunami Notebook(2009, both inspired by the humanitarian work of her mother, Ibu Robin Lim(CNN Hero). Déjà studied film & video as an undergraduate at Maharishi International University where she received her BFA and received her MFA from the University of Texas Radio-Television-Film in Film Production as well.   Déjà was both a New York Women in Film From Script to Pre-production fellow(2019) and a Los Angeles  Women In Film & Blacklist feature film lab fellow with her feature screenplay, Half Angels(now titled Last Hawaiian Sugar)  which was also named one of the top ten unproduced screenplays by CAPE:  The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment and The Black List(2019) amongst other awards. Déjà’s  prelude short for Half Angels, Last Hawaiian Sugar (short), was the ‘Ohina Labs Greenlight Winner (2019), a  PIC (Pacific Islanders in Communication/PBS) funded project (2020), an Austin Film Society granted film and  Santa Fe Film Institute grant recipient. Last Hawaiian Sugar(short) is currently making its festival rounds while  Déjà is in development of the feature version of the same title. Déjà currently teaches advanced narrative directing at Texas State University.  

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, special events, 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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