Hollywood has pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic, largely moving big-budget blockbusters and mainstream movies to streaming platforms or pushing their release dates back to 2021. But independent cinemas are still struggling to get arthouse films to audiences amid the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Here in the Capital City, Austin Film Society has long been a champion for independent and Texas-made films. Its North Austin movie theater remains shutdown (though it says it is working on reopening plans!), but a newly launched at-home streaming service should help fill the indie-sized hole in our movie-loving hearts.
AFS@home streaming service brings the best of global and independent film directly to your television. Like the theater, users buy a movie ticket from the theater's lineup and are then directed to stream using the AFS@home platform or through a partner site.
Each lineup is curated by AFS Cinema, just like at the theater. Rentals range in price — most are between $10-$12, about the price of a movie ticket — and the rental time varies. Proceeds go directly to AFS, the nonprofit started in 1985 by Richard Linklater, and the umbrella organization overseeing AFS Cinema and Austin Studios.
AFS@home's current lineup includes a mix of newer documentaries and narratives like This is Not A Movie, Martin Eden, and White Riot alongside classics like Native Son. And, like when catching a flick at the cinema, AFS programmers, staff, and guests will give virtual introductions for many of the films.
Earlier this year, AFS announced a partnership with Virtual Cinema, which will continue, notes a release. Lone Star Slate, a mix of Texas-based film curated by AFS, can be found on that virtual streaming platform.
As for that reopening date, AFS Cinema says the theater reopening isn't a matter of if, but a matter of when.
"There is nothing more we’d rather do than welcome the community back through our doors," the theater says in a release. "But we know that it isn’t time yet, and we will not reopen until Austin is ready to return to the movies. While this extends our closure period and pushes the reopening further down the road, we believe it keeps our focus on the right things. We’re doing the work now to return as a stronger organization, better positioned to serve the entire community."