AUSTIN, TX – (August 28, 2017) The Austin Film Society (AFS) announces the recipients of the 2017 AFS Grants, which awarded $110,000 in cash grants and $33,000 of in-kind support to 34 filmmakers who reside in Texas. This year’s recipients range from rising stars of the independent film world to new discoveries. With this grant, AFS supports, and often launches, the careers of filmmakers.

The cash grants include $100,000 awarded to Texas-based filmmakers with projects in production and $10,000 awarded to filmmakers to present films and projects at festivals and events, including Sundance, Berlin, Tribeca, San Francisco International Film Festival and IFP. $33,000 of in-kind support also went to Texas filmmakers with projects in production.

Holly Herrick, AFS Head of Film and Creative Media, states “The Austin Film Society’s vision for this grant has remained on course since 1996–it should be a vital source of support for ambitious and creative emerging artists in our region. Each cycle, we see leaps forward in the quality and breadth of work being made in Texas. This year, we were thrilled to increase our cash grant by $5,000, bringing the grand total of cash awards to $110,000.”

The success of past recipients demonstrates the importance of the AFS Grant to a filmmaker’s career. Past recipients have included Jeff Nichols (LOVING, MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, MUD), David Lowery (A GHOST STORY, PETE’S DRAGON), Kat Candler (Queen Sugar, HELLION), Andrew Bujalski (COMPUTER CHESS, RESULTS), Trey Edward Shults (KRISHA, IT COMES AT NIGHT), Emmy Award winner Heather Courtney (WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM) and Spirit Award winner Margaret Brown (THE ORDER OF MYTHS, THE GREAT INVISIBLE, BE HERE TO LOVE ME: A FILM ABOUT TOWNES VAN ZANDT).

While many of this year’s recipients are brand new to the industry, the list also includes previous AFS-supported filmmakers who are now vetted rising stars on the film festival circuit. This group includes filmmakers Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas, who were awarded $15,000 for PAHOKEE, their feature film in post-production, directed by Bresnan and produced by Lucas. Writer/director Yen Tan received a $10,000 post-production grant for his new feature, 1985, which stars Cory Michael Smith, Jamie Chung, Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis. Actor and filmmaker Anna Margaret Hollyman, best known for her comedy roles in independent films such as GAYBY, WHITE REINDEER and SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME, received a “Stuck On On” post-production grant for her directorial debut, a narrative short called MAUDE. PJ Raval’s untitled feature documentary about the murder of a transgender Filipino woman by a US Marine received a $15,000 cash grant.

This year’s funded filmmakers included 18 first-time AFS Grant Recipients. One of the newcomers, Rebecca Eskreis, received a $10,000 grant in support of a thriller called WHAT BREAKS THE ICE, her first feature film as writer/director. Previously employed by Jonathan Demme’s company, Eskreis was an Associate producer on Demme’s final film, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE + THE TENNESSEE KIDS, and a producer on Bob Byington’s INFINITY BABY. Another first-time recipient, Yaphet Smith, will be finishing a documentary feature, LOVE IS A SENSATION, about Mississippi artist L.V. Hull and her quest to deliver one of her artworks to then-living B.B. King.

This year’s AFS jury included author, film programmer and critic Brandon Harris, documentary filmmaker Penny Lane and narrative feature filmmaker and TV director Jennifer Phang. The jury commented on this year’s selection, saying: “AFS’s commitment to fund artists in the state of Texas through this annual grant is inspiring. We were excited to review and fund soulful and spirited stories, many from underrepresented perspectives.“

Recipients hail from Austin, Houston, Katy, Round Rock and Lewisville, with the majority of the recipients residing in Austin.

Since 1996, AFS has awarded $1,777,311 in cash grants to 403 filmmakers, as well as $316,285 in in-kind awards.

Supporters of the 2017 AFS Grant include EBW2020 offering the EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair, which provides grants of cash support to young female filmmakers while celebrating filmmaker and past AFS Grant Recipient Sandra Adair, and the INDIEpendents, an AFS committee that raises funds for the AFS Travel Grant, which has also funded a Post-Production Grant in 2017, awarded to PJ Raval. AFS is also honored to offer a new grant this year made possible by the Harrison McClure Endowed Film Fund, an endowment being established at AFS that will remember and celebrate the life of Harrison McClure through an annual award. This grant provides financial support to rising junior and senior undergraduates students making a film to complete a course or degree requirement. In-kind AFS Grant packages are offered in partnership with Stuck On On, Kodak Motion Picture Film, MPS Camera and DJI Creative Studio.

The full list of recipients follows.


Narrative Feature in Post-Production
Director and writer: Yen Tan
$10,000 cash for Post-Production
Kodak Film Award (in-Kind): 35mm exhibition print
A terminally ill young man visits his hometown in Texas and struggles to disclose his dire circumstances to his conservative family.

Documentary Feature
Director: Yaphet Smith
$3,000 cash for Post-Production
Oprah Winfrey hails from Kosciusko, MS, but most pilgrims trek there to visit The Unusual Artist Ms. L.V. Hull at her outlandish home. Now, as L.V.’s health fails, only one visitor would make her life complete: Blues legend B.B. King. Will The Artist meet The King before time runs out?

Documentary Feature
Directors: Patrick Bresnan & Ivete Lucas
$15,000 cash for Post-Production
In the shadow of slavery and Jim Crow, and beset by the loss of jobs to mechanized agriculture, the citizens of Pahokee, FL look to their youth for meaning in the present and hope for the future. Annual rituals and rites of passage during senior year celebrate children growing up and prepare them for a better life elsewhere.

Narrative Feature
Director and writer: Clay Liford
$5,000 cash for Production
After witnessing a murder at a prestigious theater festival, a down-on-her-luck theater teacher and her star pupil must decide what to do in order to still win.

Documentary Feature
Director: Sally O’Grady
The EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair
$5,000 cash for Post-Production
THE TROUBLE I SEE explores the impact of mass incarceration on three families in Richmond, VA. Using the annual Father-Daughter Dance at the City Jail as the catalyst, the film examines the realities of life in the corrections system for Joey, Andre and Rashaan.

Documentary Feature
Director: Travis Johns
$5,000 cash for Post-Production
THE TROUBLE WITH RAY exposes the wild, untold history of LGBT activism in ultra-conservative Texas and its impact on the national stage as told by the movement’s ultimate outsider, Ray Hill: a labor activists’ son, ex-con, and “loud-mouthed queer,” whose 50 years of fearlessly protesting for LGBTQ equality energized a grassroots movement to take powerful, political action.

Untitled Jennifer Laude Documentary
Documentary Feature
Director: PJ Raval
INDIEpendents Grant
$15,000 cash for Post-Production
Grassroots activists in the Philippines are spurred into action when a local transgender woman is found dead in a motel room with a 19-year-old U.S. marine as the leading suspect. As they demand answers and a just trial, hidden histories of U.S. colonization come bubbling to the surface.

Narrative Feature
Director and writer: Rebecca Eskreis
The EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair
$10,000 cash for Production
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.

Documentary Feature
Director: John Moore
Stuck On On Post-Production Grant
WHEN WE WERE LIVE is a feature documentary about the heyday of Public Access Television in the 1980’s and 90’s and how it shaped the culture of a pre-internet America. The film weaves together hundreds of hours of archival footage to tell the stories of five former Public Access producers from Austin, TX, the nation’s longest running Public Access Television station.

Narrative Short
Director: Mira Lippold-Johnson
$2,000 cash for Post-Production
When her older sister gets unjustly suspended from school, eight-year-old Sue Ellen starts to doubt that brains and hard work are enough to keep her out of trouble. Bad teachers, prejudices, a bully: there are impediments to success. So Sue Ellen takes a drastic, violent step to take control.

Narrative Short in Post-Production
Director: Artemis Anastasiadou
The EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair
$1,000 cash for Post-Production and Distribution
After a violent event comes to an end, a mother struggles to keep on being a caregiver to her handi-capable son.

Narrative Short in Production
Director: Brittany Reeber
Kodak Film Award: $5,000 in film stock
MPS Camera and Lighting Award: $5,000 in camera package and equipment rentals
Donna and Julianne search for ancestral connection in a place where consumerism has replaced culture, and life’s sweet moments tend to be at the bottom of a cheap drink. The fictional script is set in the very real Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, a small community in central Florida dedicated to Spiritualism and “mediumship,” or the ability to communicate with the dead.

Narrative Short in Production
Director: Nazanin Shirazi and Katja Straub
The EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair
$5,000 for production
Every two weeks, 65-year-old Cindy searches for a moment of intimacy at Hao’s Nails.

Narrative Short
Director: Lizette Barrera
The EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair
$4,000 cash for Post-Production
An ill-tempered teenager attempts to find peaceful solitude on the day of her grandfather’s passing until an estranged friend pays her a visit.

Narrative Short
Director: Huay-Bing Law
$5,000 cash for Production and Post-Production
An immigrant Chinese wife does her best to fit in at her husband’s graduation ceremony in 1950’s segregated Texas.

Documentary Short in Post-Production
Director: Field Humphrey
$2,500 cash for Post-Production
A forgotten basketball pioneer and NBA record holder, Jim Tucker reveals what is truly worth remembering as he struggles with Alzheimer’s disease.

Narrative Short in Post-Production
Director: Anna Margaret Hollyman
Stuck On On Post Production Grant
MAUDE is a comedy about a woman named Teeny who is surprised to learn that she is babysitting the daughter of a former college classmate, Priscilla, a successful Gwyneth Paltrow-esque lifestyle guru. Over the course of the day, Teeny begins to take on the other woman’s identity with hilarious consequences.

Animated Short in Production
Director: Renee Zhan
The EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair
$5,000 cash for Production
RENEEPOPTOSIS follows the adventures of three Renees at various points of their lifespan as they go on a spiritual journey to find God (who is also Renee). Along the way, the Renees discuss and experience in full glory the trials, tribulations and wonders of being Renee.

Documentary Short
Director: Benjamin Altenberg
$5,000 cash for Production
Mental healthcare patients and providers in New Mexico struggle to find a path forward after the state government makes false accusations of Medicaid fraud that result in widespread closures of clinics and the disruption of life-saving services for thousands.

Documentary Short
Director: Amy Bench
MPS Camera and Lighting Award: $5,000 in-kind
THINGS WE LEFT BEHIND is a visual diary film that touches on the refugee experience, through the objects that connect them to their former lives. It is a series of portraits of women living in the United States, who came to this country with no more than a carry-on bag or a couple of suitcases.

Narrative Short
Director: Kent Juliff
$1,000 cash for Production and Post-Production
On a lazy summer, two lifeguard friends get caught up in a small town mystery after their boss is kidnapped.


DJI Creative Studio Grant Recipient:
Derek Allison
Derek Allison is a writer, director and producer from Philadelphia who recently completed his thesis film, MENSCH, at the University of Texas, and he looks forward to utilizing the DJI Creative Studio Grant to bring CANONICAL VICTIMS to the screen – a new story that explores Jack the Ripper in America from the perspective of a prostitute. Allison will receive a production budget (up to $10,000) as well as an in-kind rental package of DJI products (drones, camera, stabilizer packages). DJI will produce behind-the-scenes video and photo content on the project and promote it upon release on DJI channels.

Recipient of the Harrison McClure Award, a grant made possible by the Harrison McClure Endowed Film Fund in support of an undergraduate filmmaker:
Narrative Short, $2500 in grant support
Filmmaker: Tani Shukla
A Catholic woman is put at odds with her faith when her cancer-afflicted sister asks her to commit the ultimate sin.


Sarasota Film Festival

Lizette Barrera, MOSCA
NALIP Latino Media Festival

Robin Berghaus, STUMPED
Frameline Film Festival

Patrick Bresnan, THE RABBIT HUNT
Sundance Film Festival
Berlin International Film Festival

San Francisco International Film Festival

MoMA Doc Fortnight

David Fenster, OPUNTIA
Los Angeles Film Festival

Jose Luis González, ENSUEÑO
San Francisco International Film Festival

Kent Juliff, LAST NIGHT
Slamdance Film Festival

IFP Rough Cut Labs

Joel Pena, PEDAZOS

PJ Raval, Untitled Jennifer Laude Documentary
Sheffield Doc Fest Lab

Seattle International Film Festival

Brittany Shepherd, EYE, CAMERA
Hot Docs Film Festival

Drew Xanthopoulos, THE SENSITIVES
Tribeca Film Festival

About Austin Film Society

Founded in 1985 by filmmaker Richard Linklater, the Austin Film Society’s mission is to empower our community to make, watch, and love creative media. AFS curates and screens hundreds of repertory, international, and art house films annually at the AFS Cinema; delivers financial support to Texas filmmakers through the AFS Grant; operates Austin Studios, a 20-acre production facility, and Austin Public, a space for our city’s diverse media makers to train and collaborate. Through its award-winning after school classes, intern training, and the Ed Lowry Student Film program, AFS encourages media and film literacy and provides a place for youth of all backgrounds to learn the craft of filmmaking and gain access to tools for media production. 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. To learn more about the AFS Cinema or about Austin Film Society’s mission visit: and follow @AustinFilm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.