AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Film Festival is less than a month away, beginning Oct. 26 and running through Nov. 3.
Barbara Morgan, the executive director of the Austin Film Festival, joined KXAN’s Jennifer Sanders to tell us a little bit more about the festival.
Read a full transcription of the discussion below or watch the interview in the video player above.
SANDERS: Thirty years—A huge accomplishment! What can people expect this year?
MORGAN: It’s really exciting here. I feel like the whole industry has been a little bit in disarray. And obviously, people know about the strike and then streaming. The world of streaming has changed so much. But actually, for us, I’ve seen so many great movies this year that we’re programming. It’s probably one of the best crops of films. It’s a great way to have a 30th anniversary, right, to have such great storytelling that we are really excited about. And the conference is going to be great too because we have so many writers that are here. Hopefully, the strike will be entirely done with, and the conversations we’re expecting at the festival are pretty exciting.
SANDERS: And talk to me about those conversations because something that really piqued my interest when I was looking through the website—the Writers Conference and the people that you all are able to bring here and really expand the knowledge of local and people who travel here to come.
MORGAN: Yeah, I mean, the really funny thing is an awful lot of people travel from Los Angeles to meet people in Los Angeles at the festival so we become that for sure. But a lot of it is simply because writers love being around their own crew, and they love talking about the craft, and they share the craft with our registrants. And we get so many great people here from all the major shows that you’re watching like “Yellowjackets” and “Watchmen” and “The Bear,” like all these people are going to be here, and then those are just shows like the movies that are gonna be represented are incredible. We’re opening with Saltburn, and we have Emerald Fannell, who won an Academy Award for writing and directing Promising Young Woman. We are really excited about Cord Jefferson, and he’s getting an award at the festival. He won an Emmy for “Watchmen,” and he’s now got a new movie called “American Fiction.” Super awesome. People buzzing about it after Toronto. We have a whole lineup like that—Lena Headey—Cersei Lannister, right? She’s written and directed a film, and we’re doing the world premiere. And she’s got other cast in it from Game of Thrones. You know, Michelle Fairley, I think is one of the other houses that were not friendly with the Lannisters. And that’s going to be a big night for us. We have so much—”The Holdovers”—a new Alexander Payne movie, so there’s a big schedule.
SANDERS: Okay, in 30 years, I know that you have a lot of success stories. I was going through some of those on the website. Talk to me about those success stories, films that start out at the Austin Film Festival, and then make it to a larger stage.
MORGAN: Yeah, we have a lot of films that have been obviously picked up through the competition, the film competition, but we’re kind of a stealth place. Like, we get about 12,000 scripts into our screenplay competition. We get like 6,000 films into the film competition. And we’re choosing our programming out of that. And so those garner attention because they’re, they’re curated. And the screenplays are really where we shine. There are so many people who are coming into the festival, who are coming in with their script that’s reached a certain level. And there are a lot of people from the industry here, studio people showrunners, people who are interested in finding new talent. And that’s where we’ve put so many people on TV shows, to be writers to be working writers on to fit into film. That’s kind of what our stock and trade is, but it’s film.
SANDERS: And so, something that I think that people know, where they might not know is you all support young filmmakers. And so all of this goes back and really helps the next generation.
MORGAN: We do. Yeah, we’re really always pushing our writing to youth as well. We have programs in a number of schools in Austin, but in writing programs, screenwriting programs, and we also have a camp that goes on every summer, and we have hundreds of kids that come through that camp to learn to make film and write. And that’s really where our focus is trying to get kids to understand that communication this way may not you may not be a filmmaker, but to learn to communicate an immediate world is important, and because we’re all in a media world now.
SANDERS: We absolutely are. Okay, lastly, as we wrap up, what are you looking forward to most?
MORGAN: Oh, wow, there’s a couple of things I’m very excited about. But I’m actually excited about some of the movies that I was talking about here. I’ve seen most of them, and one of my favorites I’m gonna say is a movie called “All of Us Strangers.” It’s got Paul Mescal in it, and I know everybody knows who he is. But it is really an incredible film, and I’m excited for the crowd to be able to participate in some of these great movies.