glued to the seats
Austin's long-standing signature film festival has revealed the first titles among its 2023 film slate, with more to come in late September.
The Austin Film Festival has spent the last three decades solidifying its place within the city's film culture through screenings and the Writers Conference, which features discussions with panels of noteworthy screenwriters, directors, and actors. The festival is one of the premiere events for the filmmaking and screenwriting community to gather and share experiences with up-and-coming storytellers.
Because of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike, festivals like this have to make some changes to their operations. The festival did not detail these, but it did declare support for the strike.
"We were the first organization of its kind to focus on the writer’s contribution to film and television, and we pursued this focus with the intention of creating not only a community for writers to engage with one another, but to build a bridge from craft to career," the festival's website says. "We have been lucky enough to build a family of storytellers from multiple mediums, who come together in both a pursuit and celebration of story."
The festival will take place from October 26 to November 2. The first wave of films that will be screened this year include highly-anticipated releases, eight world premieres, and more. Among the talented films is Cord Jefferson's directorial debut American Fiction, a dramatic comedy that challenges American culture's obsession with stereotypes.
Another highly-anticipated screening is a sophomore filmfrom Academy Award-winning filmmaker Emerald Fennell. Saltburn brings viewers a tale of privilege and desire starring Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, and Rosamund Pike.
These are the first 14 films that will be screened at the 2023 Austin Film Festival. Synopses from the release have been edited for brevity.
American Fiction (USA)
Writer/Director: Cord Jefferson
Cast: Jeffery Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Adam Brody, with Issa Rae and Sterling K. Brown
Monk is a novelist who’s fed up with the establishment profiting from stereotypical “Black” entertainment, and uses a pseudonym to write a book that propels him to the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.
Writer/Director: Emerald Fennell
Cast: Barry Keoghan Jacob Elordi Rosamund Pike Richard E. Grant Alison Oliver Archie Madekwe
Oxford University student Oliver Quick gets drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix Catton, who invites him to his eccentric family’s sprawling estate for an unforgettable summer.
Writer/Director: Brian Helgeland
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Foster, Jenna Ortega, Toby Wallace
Two differently-raised brothers are reunited as adults over a fateful summer where desperate circumstances force them to strike a deal with a violent Boston crime gang.
Not an Artist (USA) – World Premiere
Writers: Alexi Pappas, Jeremy Teicher, Matt Walsh; Directors: Alexi Pappas, Jeremy Teicher
Cast: Ciara Bravo, Cleopatra Coleman, Haley Joel Osment, Alexi Pappas, Matt Walsh & RZA
In an exclusive artist-in-residency program overseen by an enigmatic patron, artists in turmoil face a make-or-break ultimatum: unlock their full creative potential or abandon art forever.
The Trap (UK) – World Premiere
Writer/Director: Lena Headey
Cast: Michelle Fairley, James Nelson Joyce
Content in her life of solitude, Michelles’ simple world is interrupted by a stranger seeking to belong.
Grapefruit (USA) – World Premiere
Writer/Director: Chase Joliet
After a devastating divorce, Travis is forced to move back into his childhood home with his eccentric, newly sober mother.
Autumn (Portugal) – World Premiere
Writer/Director: António Sequeira
A bittersweet story about a small-town family adjusting to their new life, and some uncomfortable truths after their son leaves to attend university overseas.
For When You Get Lost (USA) – World Premiere
Writer: Jennifer Sorenson; Director: Michelle Steffes
June Stevenson drags her estranged sisters on a road trip up the Pacific Coast in order to make amends with their difficult father before he dies.
Bolt from the Blue (USA) – World Premiere
Writer/Director: Jack Martin
An overlooked engineer is sent to Alaska to investigate an eccentric scientist's claim that capturing lightning could be the next monumental source of renewable energy.
Soweto Blaze (South Africa) – World Premiere
Writer/Director: Brad Katzen
A small-time pot dealer's dreams go up in smoke when his clueless friends sweep him up in a wacky kidnapping caper, and their hostage flips the script on them with her own plans.
I’ll Be There (USA) – World Premiere
Writer: Cindy McCreery; Director: Andrew Shea
A large, blended family is thrown together unexpectedly against the surreal and nostalgic backdrop of their childhood hero's death.
The Battle (Brazil) – North American Premiere
Writer/Director: Vera Egito
During the Brazilian dictatorship in 1968, students and professors of the Left Student Movement face attacks by the Communist Hunting Command in a pivotal night known as The Battle of the Students.
The Philadelphia Eleven (USA)
Director: Margo Guernsey
In 1974, a group of women and their supporters organize their ordination as Episcopal priests in an act of civil disobedience and challenge the very essence of patriarchy within Christendom.
Egghead & Twinkie (USA)
Writer/Director: Sarah Holland
After coming out to her parents, an Asian American teenage girl takes off on a road trip to meet her online crush with the help of her nerdy best friend.