Austin Film Festival (AFF) announced the first wave of screenings to be included in their 2020 film slate, taking place virtually October 22-29.
AFF will feature world premiere screenings including vaunted writer/director Anne Rapp’s latest film Horton Foote: The Road to Home, chronicling the life and work of the legendary Academy Award winning writer of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Also screening at AFF are premieres from second-round writers through the Festival’s Screenplay competitions, including the world premieres of The Catch starring Katia Winter, Bill Sage, Kyle Gallner, and James McMenamin, by first-time director Matthew Ya-Hsiung Balzer, as well as the directorial debut of writer/director Paul Kowalski with Paper Tiger. Rounding out the Screenplay Competition alums is writer/director Khaled Ridgeway’s film with the Texas Premiere of his title Death of a Telemarketer starring Lamorne Morris, Haley Joel Osment, and Jackie Earle Haley.
AFF will spotlight Texas filmmakers and productions with this year’s North-American premiere of Blinders, directed by former Terrence Malick collaborator Tyler Savage and written by Savage & Dash Hawkins, along with the US Premiere of Fugitive Dreams, written and directed by Jason Neulander and The Get Together directed by Will Bakke and starring Johanna Braddy and Alejandro Rose-Garcia (Shakey Graves) joining the Festival slate.
The Festival will host the World Premiere of the delightful comedy Reboot Camp, written and directed by Ivo Raza, starring David Lipper, Keli Price, David Koechner, Maya Stojan, Ed Begley Jr., Lindsey Shaw, Chaz Bono, Eric Roberts, and Ja Rule. Lastly, AFF will offer World Premieres for alumnus & writer/director Aldo Miyashiro’s Wake Show and the feature documentary directorial debut of Open Field by Kathy Kuras.
The 2020 Writers Conference will welcome a strong roundup of prominent screenwriters in film and television including Tanya Barfield (writer Ms. America), Paul Feig (director Last Christmas, Bridesmaids), Scott Frank (writer Get Shorty; writer/director Godless), John Logan (creator Penny Dreadful; writer Skyfall, Gladiator), Gina Prince-Bythewood (writer/director The Old Guard, Love & Basketball), Kevin Willmott (co-writer BlacKkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods), and Tracey Scott Wilson (writer Respect). AFF’s Writers Conference, which will feature over 30 virtual panels on the art, craft, and business of screenwriting, will be held the first five days of the Festival (October 22–26).
Austin Film Festival’s Senior Film Program Director Casey Baron is looking forward to this new format taking place this year: “We’re excited to support our selected filmmakers and continue championing such wonderful storytellers in an incredibly challenging time for our industry. It’s an added bonus that AFF will welcome back some good friends from our alumni community, and give all involved an opportunity to find their audience on an international stage.”
AFF FIRST WAVE
Director: Tyler Savage
Writers: Tyler Savage & Dash Hawkins
In the wake of a messy break-up, Andy Escobedo decides to start fresh, relocating from Austin to Los Angeles. Eager to make new connections, he befriends Roger, an unusual rideshare driver. But when Roger’s behavior gets too strange for comfort, Andy blows him off, choosing to focus on a budding relationship with Sam. This unhinges Roger, who begins to torment Andy, ensuring that his stay in L.A. is short-lived.
Death of a Telemarketer
Writer/Director: Khaled Ridgeway
When a smooth-talking Telemarketer preys upon the seemingly perfect mark, he must pass a twisted test on ethics if he wants to live to sell another day.
Writer/Director: Jason Neulander
In this allegorical road movie touching on themes of homelessness, mental health, and addiction, two lost souls embark across a dreamscape America. Their darkly strange journey confronts them with their traumatic pasts, and bonds them in compassion and love.
Horton Foote: The Road To Home
Director: Anne Rapp
Horton Foote: The Road To Home is a documentary that chronicles the creative journey of acclaimed Texas writer Horton Foote through his own eyes and voice at the end of his life. Foote, who was born and raised in Wharton, Texas, went on to become a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, the winner of two Academy Awards for screenwriting, an Emmy Award for television writing, and was recipient of the National Medal of Arts among numerous other theatrical and literary prizes. His long and successful 70-year career of writing consisted primarily of stories set in the small town of Harrison, Texas, a fictitious version of Wharton. Horton was known for his delicate yet deeply-layered and profound storytelling— about family, human connections, struggles, resilience and redemption.
Director: Kathy Kuras
She plays by NFL rules in NFL stadiums. She wins world championships. She’s at the top of her game. What does she have to do to level the playing field?
Writer/Director: Paul Kowalski
A widowed immigrant mother in LA fears her schizophrenic teenaged son is turning into a school shooter. Inspired by true events, Paper Tiger unfolds as a timely conversation about gun violence, mental illness and immigration; it also plays as a riveting psychological thriller, showcasing Paul Kowalski’s feature debut as a crafted and cinematic roller coaster.
Writer/Director: Ivo Raza
After losing his life savings and his wife to a self-help guru, Seymour is on a mission to expose false prophets who fleece people for money. He teams up with his brother Danny, a filmmaker, and they start a fake self-improvement group called Reboot Camp. While Seymour transforms into the charismatic Gordon St. Pierre, a larger than life persona who teaches a path to bliss through a process called “rebooting,” Danny films. They succeed handsomely as even the most ludicrous group activities are met with unbridled enthusiasm from the members. But as Reboot Camp grows, Seymour and Danny must request additional funds from the producer, who pushes them to hire his niece Claire to supervise.
Writer/Director: Matthew Ya-Hsiung Balzer
A troubled woman returns to her estranged family in coastal Maine. With her lobsterman father caught up in a turf war at sea, she and an ex-boyfriend make plans to hijack local drug runners.
The Get Together
Director: Will Bakke
Writers: Will Bakke & Michael B. Allen
A recent college post-grad, a soon-to-possibly-be-engaged couple, and a failing musician all deal with the realities of growing up as their three stories intersect over the course of one night at a house party in Austin.
Writer/Director: Aldo Miyashiro
Leonardo Oviedo is an ambitious theatre director, whose plays haven’t accomplished the success he dreamt of. Seeking for some recognition, he decides to write a play for four characters; a one-performance only, where all actors have to die onstage. On that matter, he casts an old has-been actor, who is an alcoholic, an overweight actress, an endearing and intellectually disabled boy, and a black actor, who has only been cast for the color of his skin. The play brings on a media hype never seen before, is an instant success and everyone is eager for the opening night. With defenders and detractors, the whole country talks about Leonardo Oviedo, and he will be willing to get to the very end, to fulfill this sickening artistic ideal.