The Austin Film Festival (AFF) was launched in 1994 under the name The Heart of Film Screenwriters Conference, a title that highlights the importance placed on writers at the festival. The AFF is technically an organisation rather than a dedicated film festival, although the October festival has grown in status over recent years to become the highlight of the movie calendar in Texas.
Last year, Kenneth Lonergan took home the Distinguished Screenwriter Award for the Oscar-winning Manchester by the Sea (2017), and previous notable winners include Barry Levinson, Shane Black and Harold Ramis.
This year cult director Roger Corman is set to attend and accept the award for Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking at a retrospective presentation of 1957’s Rock All Night. Texas native Robert Rodriguez is to host the evening alongside Corman himself.
Boy Erased, directed by Joel Edgerton and starring Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe, will headline the festival this year. The plot follows a teenager (Lucas Hedges, star of the aforementioned Manchester by the Sea) who is forced to undergo a church-approved gay-conversion program.
Other highlights this year include Melissa McCarthy as celebrity biographer and forger Lee Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Tessa Thompson alongside Lily James in modern western Little Woods.
Cannes Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters will also screen at AFF. The Japanese film about a family struggling to make ends meet was a surprise hit with critics at the French festival earlier this year, even though director Hirokazu Koreeda was hardly an unknown.
As ever at AFF, and given its placing at the end of October in the international film-festival calendar, there will be a few horror films to enjoy as well. One that stands out is The Black String starring Frankie Muniz as a lonely store clerk who convinces himself that he is being stalked by a mysterious cult following a night of passion with a strange woman.
The Austin Film Festival runs from 25 October-1 November.