Lights, Camera, Action

Austin Film Festival's must-see movies, plus can't-miss panels and parties

Austin Film Fest's must-see movies, plus can't-miss panels and parties

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land.  Courtesy photo
Bryan Cranston Wakefield
Bryan Cranston in Wakefield.  Courtesy photo
The Golden Rut movie Austin
The Golden Rut, shot on location in Austin.  Courtesy photo
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land
Bryan Cranston Wakefield
The Golden Rut movie Austin

For aspiring Austin filmmakers, screenwriters, and film buffs, it's the most wonderful time of the year. During the annual Austin Film Festival, October 13-20, the city becomes the center of the universe for writers dedicated to film, television, new media, and, for the first time, stage plays.

With literally hundreds of film screenings, more than 20 world premieres, red carpet arrivals, panels, workshops, and star-studded parties, the biggest dilemma is choosing which ones to attend. We reached out to AFF insiders for a preview of the must-see films and must-attend panels and parties.

Best bets for getting the most out of the fest

Film & Food Fundraising Party
October 12, 7 pm at Driskill Hotel
See and be seen as you wine and dine with the glitterati in the elegant Driskill Ballroom. Austin’s culinary stars come together to support the film community and all of the funds raised go support the Young Filmmakers Program. Tickets are $100 and may be purchased separately from passes and badges.

Opening Night Film: Loving
October 13, 7 pm at Paramount Theatre
The highly anticipated love story of an interracial couple denied their right to live together as a married couple in their home state of Virginia focuses on a nine-year legal battle which went to the Supreme Court. Writer/director Jeff Nichols will be in attendance, and a discussion will follow the screening.

Additional recommended screenings:

  • La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone
  • Trespass Against Us, starring Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson
  • Wakefield, starring Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner, with writer/director Robin Swicord in attendance
  • The Edge of Seventeen, starring Oscar nominees Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson, with producer James L. Brooks and writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig in attendance
  • My Life as a Film, with Swiss writer/director Eva Vitija in attendance
  • Bleed for This, starring Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart, with writer/director Ben Younger in attendance for the closing night screening

World-premiere films with Austin ties:

  • Homestate, shot entirely in Austin, mainly at the home of writer/director David Hickey 
  • The Golden Rut, from writers/directors Joshua and Nick Holden, shot on location in Austin
  • Quaker Oaths, the first feature film from local filmmaker Lucy Kreutz

See the complete film schedule here

Must-attend panels

"The Script that Shagged Me: A Conversation with Michael McCullers"
October 13, 2:45 pm, Bethel Hall at Saint David’s Episcopal Church
Yeah baby. It’s that Michael McCullers, Saturday Night Live alum and writer of Austin Powers fame. Learn the secrets of his hilarity as he engages in a conversation with Austin Film Festival executive director Barbara Morgan.

"Script Reading: War Story"
October 14, 4 pm at the State Theatre
From Beau Willimon, award-winning playwright and screenwriter of House of Cards comes this play, a story of two soldiers, two bankers, a war overseas, and a war at home. 

"A Conversation with Nancy Meyers: The 2016 Distinguished Screenwriter"
October 15, 2:45 pm, Stephen F. Austin Hotel Ballroom
She's the trailblazing writer/director/producer with The Parent Trap, The Intern, What Women Want, Something’s Got to Give, The Holiday, and It’s Complicated to her credit. Moderated by Barbara Morgan.

"Script-to-Screen: The Motorcycle Diaries"
October 16, 3pm, Driskill Hotel Maximillian Room
Award-winning playwright and screenwriter Jose Rivera will discuss his translation and dramatization of Che Guevara’s memoir and adaptation for the big screen.

Other recommended panels:

  • "Writing for Hollywood Outside of Hollywood" — October 13, 1 pm
  • "Presidential Programming: A Conversation with Jennifer Salke" — October 13, 2:45 pm 
  • "Tuning In: Music in Television" — October 14, 3:15 pm 
  • "A Conversation with the 2016 Awardees" — October 15, 10:45 am
  • "Chicks with Bics" — October 16, 11:30 am

View the complete panel schedule here.

Party time

Heart of Film Conference Party
October 15, 11 pm at the Long Center Terrace
Open to capital badges and above, the Heart of Film Conference Party is the quintessential way to round out the conference weekend.

Film pass party
October 18, 10 pm at Fado Irish Pub
Must have an AFF film pass, lone star, capital, conference, producers, or press badge for entry. All parties are 21 and up.

Dove Chocolate Closing Night Party
October 20, 10 pm at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
Must have an AFF producers badge for entry.

Film passes, badges, and conference passes from $75 to $675. Although it is often a long shot, individual tickets for screenings are sold on a space-available basis. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit the Austin Film Festival website