Courtesy Austin Film Society

Lucky local cinephiles enjoyed a uniquely Austin experience this week at a special series hosted by the Austin Film Society. Taking place March 24-26 at the AFS Cinema, the program featured five Westerns featuring Paul Newman. Austin-born actor Ethan Hawke introduced each film in the series, adding context from Newman's life based on research he did for his recent HBO docuseries, The Last Movie Stars.

Hawke co-curated the series with AFS Head of Film Holly Herrick, with participation from AFS Lead Film Programmer Lars Nilsen. The five films in the program included: The Left Handed Gun, Hombre, Hud, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean,and Buffalo Bill and the Indians. With the exception of Buffalo Bill and the Indians, the films were shown in 35mm for an extra dose of nostalgia.

Giving the series the unofficial subtitle of "Paul Newman's Personal War with John Wayne," Hawke framed Newman's performances as substitutes for the previously established archetypes of earlier Westerns. Whereas Wayne's Westerns played into mythological portrayals of the American frontier, Newman's Westerns present more anti-heroic characters. Most of the films — if not all five — were neither box office successes nor critically acclaimed, but each one pushed the boundaries of its genre to present timeless elements audiences can still enjoy today.

After screenings of Hombre (March 25) and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (March 26), Hawke joined Adam Piron (Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and Mohawk), Director of the Sundance Institute's Indigenous Program, for deep dives on each film. The discussions gave viewers the chance to hear even more about Hawke's research in his recent docuseries and engage with some of the more difficult themes in the films.

For Hombre, the pair touched on how they felt Newman and director Martin Ritt's work on the film was an attempt to change cultural conversations around Indigenous communities. Hawke said, "I think [Newman and Ritt] are talking to white people ... and trying to wake them up at a place where they're available to be woken up, from the inside." With regards to one of the film's final scenes,Piron added: "It's Newman and Ritt's way of saying — in terms of a larger history of American genocide with Indigenous people — we have to give back what's of value that we've taken... "

Following The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, the pair explored Newman's portrayal of the masculine identity in Westerns. Referring to the film's cast and director John Huston, Hawke said, "These are some of the most macho guys you can imagine, and so you're like, do they even get the joke? We're not sure. They must; there's a certain intelligence to everything John Huston did."

Hawke also elaborated on Newman's relationship to fame and celebrity as seen through his performances in the Westerns chosen for the series: "There's this thing about celebrity that puts you in a glass box … One of the reasons why I like Newman in this movie is because it's him tapping with a hammer really hard on that box going, 'I'm not Paul Newman. I am a human being, and I'm going to be weird.' ... If you're not an actor, you don't know the pressure that gets put on performers to play into their mythology … That's why I love him, and that's why I care about him, care about his work, is because he's constantly breaking out of it … "

Through his research, Hawke said you can see Newman start making peace with that celebrity status in the latter part of his career: "He starts to allow himself to play likable characters again, and I find that kinda touching too in a personal way. He's really resisting being Paul Newman in these [Westerns], and I both love that and am happy he later decided it was OK to be Paul Newman."

Austinites who missed the series can still dive into Newman's career in The Last Movie Stars: Directed by Hawke, the six-part documentary on HBO chronicles Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s iconic careers and decades-long partnership.

Ethan Hawke

Courtesy Austin Film Society

Hawke added context to each film based on research he did for his HBO docuseries, The Last Movie Stars about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Courtesy Austin Film Society

Jonathan Majors joins Texas legends as a 2023 Texas Film Awards honoree

Texas Film Awards

Jonathan Majors has been busy. If you didn't already know him fromThe Last Black Man in San Francisco(2019), you might recognize him as Kang the Conqueror in MCU's latest Ant Man installment. His latest project, Creed III, just released on March 3, the same night Majors graced Austin with his presence at the 2023 Texas Film Awards.

Taking place at Willie Nelson's ranch, Luck, TX — itself a part of film history as the former set of Nelson's Red Headed Stranger (1975) — the 21st Annual Texas Film Awards honored Texas-born, Texas-raised, and Texas-claimed legends who have had a deep impact on the film industry. Among the honorees were past Head of SXSW Janet Pierson, along with her husband John Pierson, as well as Margot Martindale (Cocaine Bear, among many others), and Warner Bros. CEO Mike De Luca.

Majors was there to receive the Rising Star award, following in the footsteps of other Texas greats such as Owen Wilson (2003) and Jessie Plemons (2016). Born in California, Majors grew up in Texas, with stints outside Austin in Georgetown, regular visits to his grandfather's farm in Waco, and high school years in Cedar Hill near Dallas.

CultureMap caught up with the ascendant Texas-raised actor on the red carpet before the ceremony, asking what Texas has meant to him in his journey and how it continues to shape the stories he tells.

"You raised me up," Majors said. "You kept me safe somehow; all my first teachers are here; all my first protectors are here: From teachers to parents, to siblings, this Texas sky holds a lot of memories for me, so it makes sense on a day like this to come back home and celebrate those who helped you get to where you are."

Majors also shared a glimpse of what it means to be a Texan in Hollywood, saying that "everybody in Hollywood knows Texans punch hard. When someone hears you're from Texas, they know stuff's gonna happen."

Beyond that reputation as individual Texans, Majors also praised the work of organizations like Austin Film Society for continuing to attract Hollywood's attention beyond the obvious coastal hubs of Los Angeles and New York. Events like the Texas Film Awards bring artists and producers together, ultimately creating a catalyst for more film work in the Lone Star State.

"We have the space here," he said. "I just started producing ... so I think maybe the first step is getting more artists together and saying 'hey, we want to shoot here; I know you have the space, and we know you’ve got the money, so let’s try to make that happen.'"

Majors first garnered critical attention for his performance in TheLast Black Man in San Francisco, which Barack Obama listed as one of his favorite films in 2019. But his first feature film was starring alongside Christian Bale in Hostiles (2017), directed by Scott Cooper, who also attended the Texas Film Awards to present Majors with the Rising Star award.

Sharing a few words to introduce the award, Cooper called Majors "an exceptional talent from the first moment he stepped on set," noting that Bale shared similar sentiments during and after their work on Hostiles. Cooper went on to say that Majors has not had an easy journey to his current status as one of Hollywood's hottest actors to watch, but that "he's never lost sight of what is truly important" along the way.

Accepting the award, Majors thanked the Austin Film Society for "seeing me, and loving my work, and consequently, loving me ... And the journey continues. I'm leaving here tonight, hitting the road again, but with a tank full of this love with this honor."

Jonathan Majors

Courtesy Austin Film Society

Jonathan Majors receives the 2023 Rising Star award at the Texas Film Awards.

Courtesy Austin Film Society

Austin Film Society announces honorees for 2023 Texas Film Awards

Texas Film Awards

Awards season is in full swing, and not just in Hollywood. On March 3, the Austin Film Society (AFS) brings back its annual Texas Film Awards to honor both rising stars and Texans who have significantly impacted the independent film industry. Fittingly, this year's ceremony takes place on a movie-set-turned venue, Willie Nelson's Luck, TX.

In a release announcing the 2023 honorees, AFS also announced this year's Master of Ceremonies, Texas native and actress Edi Patterson. Known for her roles in films and series including Knives Out, The Righteous Gemstones, Partners, and Vice Principals, Patterson performs in improv and sketch comedy shows for the Groundlings Main Company where she is a member. She is also a member of improvisational theater company Impro Theatre.

Emmy and Critic's Choice Award nominated actor Jonathan Majors will receive this years's Rising Star Award. Majors grew up in Cedar Hill, Texas and has starred in films including Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Jeymes Samuel’s The Harder They Fall, and Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods. Majors also starred in the series Lovecraft Country, for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award, and was most recently in J. D. Dillard’s Devotion. He will next appear in Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, in theaters on February 17, and Ryan Coogler’s Creed III, in theaters on March 3.

Previous Rising Star Award recipients include Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart, Unbelievable), Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One, the X-Men franchise), Jesse Plemons (Fargo, Breaking Bad), among others. The award honors an actor who has made a lasting impact with their work early in their career.

For his impact on global cinema as a creative producer and executive, Warner Bros. Pictures Group Co-Chair and CEO Michael De Luca will be honored. A resident of Fort Worth, de Luca boasts over three decades in the business, three Academy Award® nominatios for Best Picture of the Year (The Social Network, Moneyball, and Captain Phillips), and three Emmy Award nominations (for producing both the 89th and the 90th Academy Awards® and for producing Escape At Dannemora).

Among his many esteemed positions in the industry over thirty years, De Luca served as one of the youngest heads of production in Hollywood history when he was appointed President and COO of New Line Productions at age 27. There, he helped launch lucrative franchises (Friday, Blade, Austin Powers and Rush Hour), release major hits (Seven, Wag the Dog, Pleasantville, Magnolia, I Am Sam and Boogie Nights), and produced the film adaptation of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which grossed over $1 billion internationally.

The ceremony on March 3 will also see independent cinema’s “first couple”, Janet and John Pierson, inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame. The honor will celebrate their impact on the independent film industry, and especially on the Austin and Texas community in helping to grow the SXSW Film & TV Festival to what it is today. Among their many projects as exhibitors and subsequently producer's reps/financiers for independents in the 1980s and 90s, the Pierson's also created the IFCtv show Split Screen, which involved 100 independent filmmakers and seeded new projects including The Blair Witch Project, American Movie and How’s Your News? The show has a permanent streaming home on the Criterion Channel. T

Moving to Austin in 2004, John Pierson joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin Radio-TV-Film Department, influencing a generation of students and offering his famed Master Class, which brought in high-profile industry guests to Austin. From April 2008 to Oct 2022, Janet Pierson was Head of SXSW Film Festival (now SXSW Film & TV Festival), taking the famed festival to new heights with talent discovery and launching major films. For her work at SXSW, Janet made The Guardian’s Film Power 100 list in 2010 and 2013’s Indiewire Influencers and now serves as Director Emeritus of SXSW Film & TV Festival.

Taking place in Luck, TX, the 2023 Texas Film Awards will feature a red carpet and cocktail party, followed by dinner and an awards ceremony. Sponsored by Blue Suitcase and Arts+Labor. annual event directly supports regional filmmakers and sustains AFS’s efforts to catalyze Austin and Texas as creative hubs.

More information about the Texas Film Awards can be found here, and tickets and tables are available for purchase here.

Edi Patterson

Courtesy Austin Film Society

Texas native and actress Edi Patterson will serve as the event’s Master of Ceremonies.

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8 Austin entrepreneurs rank among Forbes' richest self-made women for 2023

Elite entrepreneurs

Twelve of the country's 100 most successful female entrepreneurs live in Texas this year, and eight of them call Austin home. So says Forbes in its 2023 list of America's Richest Self-Made Women, released June 1.

"Bolstered in part by a rebound in the stock market, [the richest 100 female entrepreneurs] are cumulatively worth a record $124 billion, up nearly 12 percent from a year ago," says Forbes.

To make the Forbes list, women had to garner wealth on their own, rather than by inheriting or winning it.Texas' wealthiest women have made their fortunes in fields ranging from home health care, insurance, and aviation logistics to jewelry design, dating apps, and running the show at SpaceX.

With an estimated net worth at $4.8 billion, Thai Lee, of Austin, remains at the top of the list in Texas, and ranks No. 5 nationally.

She falls behind only No. 1 Diane Hendricks of Wisconsin (co-founder of ABC Supply, $15 billion net worth); No. 2 Judy Loveof Oklahoma (chairman and CEO, Love's Travel Stops And Country Stores, $10.2 billion); No. 3 Judy Faulkner of Wisconsin (founder and CEO, Epic Systems, $7.4 billion); and No. 4 Lynda Resnick of California (co-founder and co-owner of Wonderful Company, $5.3 billion) among America's richest self-made women.

For some additional perspective, Oprah Winfrey lands at No. 13 on the list for 2023. The TV titan (and most famous woman on the planet) has an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion, Forbes says.

Austin's Lee, a native of Bangkok who holds an MBA from Harvard University, is founder, president, and CEO of SHI International Corp., a provider of IT products and services with a projected revenue of $14 billion in 2023. Fun fact: "Lee majored in both biology and economics," Forbes says, "in part because her English was less than perfect and she wanted to avoid writing and speaking in class."

The other seven Austin women on the list are:
  • Lisa Su, No. 34, Austin. Forbes pegs Su’s net worth at $740 million, tying her with April Anthony of Dallas. The native of Taiwan is president and CEO of Santa Clara, California-based semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices.
  • Kendra Scott, No. 47, of Austin.Forbes says she has amassed a net worth of $550 million as founder of Kendra Scott LLC, which designs and sells jewelry in more than 100 stores (and is worth $360 million). The celebrity entrepreneur is also a judge on TV's Shark Tank.
  • Whitney Wolfe Herd, No. 52, of Austin. She is worth an estimated $510 million. Herd is co-founder and CEO of Bumble Inc., which operates two online dating apps: Bumble and Badoo. She owns a 17% stake in Bumble and became the youngest self-made woman billionaire after it went public in February 2021.
  • Paige Mycoskie, No. 73, of Austin. She is worth an estimated $380 million. Mycoskie created founded her 1970s-inspired California lifestyle brand, Aviator Nation, which took off during the pandemic and now has 16 retail locations across the U.S. If the name sounds familiar, that's because she's the sister of TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie, with whom she competed on TV's The Amazing Race.
  • Imam Abuzeid, No. 77, of Austin. Her net worth is estimated at $350 million. Abuzeid is the co-founder and CEO of Incredible Health, which she started in 2017 to help alleviate America's nursing shortage. Forbes describes it as "a souped-up version of LinkedIn for nurses." Abuzeid is one of only a handful of Black female founders to run a company valued at more than $1 billion, Forbes notes.
  • Julia Cheek, No. 92, of Austin. Her net worth is estimated at $260 million. Cheek founded at-home testing company Everly Health in 2015 "out of frustration at having to pay thousands for lab testing to diagnose issues related to vitamin imbalance," Forbes says. It got a Shark Tank deal with Lori Greiner and is now worth roughly $1.8 billion.
  • Belinda Johnson, No. 96, of Austin. She is worth an estimated $250 million. Johnson was Airbnb's first chief operating officer and led many of its legal disputes. She stepped down from that role in March 2020, Forbes says, and left the company's board in June 2023.

The remaining Texas women on the list include:

  • Gwynne Shotwell, No. 27, of Jonesboro (Coryell-Hamilton counties). Her net worth is estimated at $860 million. Shotwell is president and COO of Elon Musk's SpaceX. She manages the operations of the commercial space exploration company and owns an estimated stake of 1 percent, Forbes says.
  • Robyn Jones, No. 29, of Fort Worth. Her net worth is estimated at $830 million. Jones is founder of Westlake-based Goosehead Insurance Agency LLC. She started the property and casualty insurance agency in 2003 after being frustrated with her truck-driver husband's "road warrior lifestyle," Forbes says. He joined her in 2004 and they took the company public in 2018. It has nearly 1,000 franchised offices.
  • April Anthony, No. 34, of Dallas. Forbes puts her net worth at $740 million. She founded the Dallas-based home health and hospice division of Encompass Health Corp and sold it for $750 million to HealthSouth. In 2022, she was named CEO of VitalCaring, a home health and hospice care firm.
  • Kathleen Hildreth, No. 44, of Aubrey. Her net worth is estimated at $590 million. Hildreth is co-founder of M1 Support Services LP, an aviation logistics company based in Denton. A service-disabled Army veteran, she graduated from West Point in 1983 and was deployed all around the world as a helicopter pilot.

Endless creativity of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse keeps superhero story in overdrive

Movie Review

The blast of pure fun that was 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse accomplished several goals, but none more important than reclaiming the character from being part of just the Marvel Cinematic Universe. By not participating in the never-ending connecting stories of the MCU, the filmmakers could do whatever they wanted, first and foremost using Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) instead of Peter Parker as its main character.

It was also at the forefront of multiversal storytelling that has become the rage in the MCU and elsewhere. Given the multitude of Spider characters that have existed in the comics over the years, it was uniquely suited to telling a story with people from multiple universes. That concept is taken to the nth degree with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, a film that has seemingly limitless levels of creativity.

Miles, having separated from Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), and other Spider-people at the end of the first film, is doing well as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, casually protecting people from threats big and small. But when a highly unusual villain named The Spot (Jason Schwartzman) proves especially tricky, a series of events has Miles follow Gwen into a portal where he encounters every other Spider character in existence.

Lest you think that’s hyperbole, among the people he meets are Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman (Issa Rae), Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac), Hobie Brown/Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya), Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider (Andy Samberg), and Spider-Man India (Karan Soni), and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Revelations made while meeting all of them lead Miles to a whole new understanding of himself and the multiverse in general, with far-reaching consequences.

The filmmakers, once again led by writers/producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, fill the screen with so many visual elements that at times it can be overwhelming, but in the best possible way. Unlike most animated films, there are multiple different styles employed throughout, and never knowing what to expect gives the film a kineticism that borders on manic, although it always stops short of being incomprehensible.

The storytelling is much more complex this time around, no surprise since it involves so many more characters. But the personal stories of each of the Spider characters, especially Miles and Gwen, maintain a grounded nature that keeps the plot anchored even while delving into increasingly fantastical territory.

Although this film deals with some darker themes, there is still plenty of humor to be had. The intersection of so many Spider characters highlights their differences, and the way they interact can’t help but be entertaining. Miles is still a 15-year-old kid, and the way he navigates the world(s) has a lightness to it that is a sharp contrast to the various adults in his life.

Moore, who’s not as well-known as some of his co-stars, has proven to be the perfect voice for Miles, making him relatable and powerful at the same time. Everyone else gives similarly great performances, although the fact that many of them are famous for their non-voicework doesn’t really play a factor in how well they come across here.

A third film, Beyond the Spider-Verse, is teased with a cliffhanger, and unlike other franchises where multiple films are unnecessary, there are no such reservations here. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse equals the success of the first film, and there is no doubt that the filmmakers will bring the same level of attention to detail to the end of the trilogy.


Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse opens in theaters on June 2.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Dip your toes into these 7 Austin pools with passes, snacks, and summer events; plus more top stories

hot headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From hotel pools, to museums, to a show-stopping Hill Country rental, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Dip your toes into these 7 Austin pools with passes, snacks, and summer events. The city is getting unreasonably hot again; It's time to start planning poolside hangs, which are even better with a cocktail.

2. Breathtaking Hill Country hideaway is one of Vrbo's top 10 vacation homes in the country. The retractable floor-to-ceiling glass windows are a nice touch in this $400-a-night house.

3. 6 Austin museums are offering free admission for military families all summer long. These organizations want to help military families spend more time together without breaking the bank.

4. Space-inspired screenings invade Austin Film Society ahead of Wes Anderson's upcoming release. Austinites looking forward to the June 16 release of Asteroid City can soak up the inspirations and watch a sneak peek screening.

5. Texas ranks No. 2 best state to start a small business in new report. The state's tax framework makes the finance side of running a business relatively easy.