Austin Film Festival Announces First Wave of Films for 2023 Festival

Not An Artist still
Not An Artist


Austin Film Festival (AFF), the premier film festival recognizing writer’s and filmmaker’s contributions to film, television, and new media; supporting creatives at all levels, including its support for the WGA and SAG-AFTRA in their ongoing strike efforts. For 30 years, AFF has been a platform for open discussion, a place where the screenwriting community comes together to pass on experience, craft, and the writers’ journey from script to screen. Today AFF announced its first wave of screenings to be included in their 2023 film slate, taking place Thursday, October 26 – Thursday, November 2.

Opening the 30th Annual Festival is the MGM and Amazon Studios film, Saltburn, a thrilling tale of privilege and desire from Academy Award®-winner Emerald Fennell, who will be in attendance. Fennell’s highly anticipated sophomore film stars Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, and Rosamund Pike. AFF will also screen the debut feature American Fiction from writer/director Cord Jefferson, which perfectly encapsulates the writer’s dilemma between preserving the integrity of their voice and catering to the marketplace, starring Jeffery Wright, Sterling K. Brown, and Tracee Ellis Ross. In addition, 2015 Distinguished Screenwriter Brian Helgeland returns to Austin Film Festival with his newest project, Finestkind, that takes him back to his roots and tells the story of two brothers set against the backdrop of commercial fishing and crime syndicates of Massachusetts, starring Ben Foster, Tommy Lee Jones, Toby Wallace, and Jenna Ortega.

This year’s festival includes exciting new World Premieres including Lena Headey’s feature directorial debut, The Trap, featuring Michelle Fairley and James Nelson Joyce. AFF will be also hosting the World Premieres of satirical comedy Not An Artist, the Portuguese heartfelt drama Autumn, the stoner comedy Soweto Blaze from South Africa, and a family drama from Texas, I’ll Be There.



Written/Directed by: Cord Jefferson 

Cast: Jeffery Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Adam Brody, with Issa Rae and Sterling K. Brown 

Synopsis: Cord Jefferson’s hilarious directorial debut, which confronts our culture’s obsession with reducing people to outrageous stereotypes. Jeffrey Wright stars as Monk, a frustrated novelist who’s fed up with the establishment profiting from “Black” entertainment that relies on tired and offensive tropes. To prove his point, Monk uses a pen name to write an outlandish “Black” book of his own, a book that propels him to the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.

In attendance: Writer/Director Cord Jefferson


SALTBURN (US/UK) – MGM/Amazon Studios 

Written/Directed by: Emerald Fennell  

Cast: Barry Keoghan Jacob Elordi Rosamund Pike Richard E. Grant Alison Oliver Archie Madekwe 

Synopsis: Academy Award® winning filmmaker Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) brings us a wicked tale of privilege and desire. Struggling to find his place at Oxford University, student Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) finds himself drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), who invites him to Saltburn, his eccentric family’s sprawling estate, for a summer never to be forgotten.

In attendance: Writer/Director Emerald Fennell


FINESTKIND (USA) – Paramount+ 

Written/Directed by: Brian Helgeland 

Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Foster, Jenna Ortega, Toby Wallace 

Synopsis: Finestkind tells the story of two brothers (Ben Foster & Toby Wallace), raised in different worlds, who are reunited as adults over a fateful summer. Set against the backdrop of commercial fishing, the story takes on primal stakes when desperate circumstances force the brothers to strike a deal with a violent Boston crime gang. Along the way a young woman (Jenna Ortega) finds herself caught perilously in the middle. Sacrifices must be made and bonds between brothers, friends, lovers, and a father (Tommy Lee Jones) and his son are put to the ultimate test.

In attendance: Writer/Director Brian Helgeland


NOT AN ARTIST (USA) – Utopia Distribution 

Written by: Alexi Pappas, Jeremy Teicher, Matt Walsh 

Directed by: Alexi Pappas, Jeremy Teicher 

Cast: Ciara Bravo, Cleopatra Coleman, Haley Joel Osment, Alexi Pappas, Matt Walsh & RZA 

Synopsis: In an exclusive artist-in-residency program overseen by an enigmatic patron (RZA), artists in turmoil face a make-or-break ultimatum: unlock their full creative potential or abandon art forever. Yet, the unexpected intrusion of an outsider (Matt Walsh) jeopardizes the program’s delicate balance.
World Premiere



Written/Directed by: Lena Headey 

Staring Michelle Fairley, James Nelson Joyce 

Synopsis: Content in her life of solitude, Michelles’ simple world is interrupted by a stranger seeking to belong.

World Premiere



Written/Directed by: Chase Joliet 

Synopsis: After a devastating divorce, Travis is forced to move back into his childhood home with his eccentric, newly sober mother.
World Premiere


AUTUMN (Portugal) 

Written/Directed by: António Sequeira  

Synopsis: 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.

World Premiere



Written by: Jennifer Sorenson 

Directed by: Michelle Steffes 

Synopsis: In this coming-of-middle-age dark comedy, 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. Along the way, she distracts herself with picturesque landmarks, craft breweries, and picturesque men in craft breweries, but ultimately, she must face the fact that there’s more to her family’s fractures than she thought. Inspired by a real road trip.

World Premiere



Written/Directed by: Jack Martin 

Synopsis: 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.

World Premiere


SOWETO BLAZE (South Africa) 

Written/Directed by: Brad Katzen 

Synopsis: A hyper-stylized stoner-comedy set amidst South Africa’s vibrant streets in Soweto: 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 fiery hostage, a feisty young woman, flips the script on them with her own plans.

World Premiere



Written by: Cindy McCreery 

Directed by: Andrew Shea 

Synopsis: A large, blended family is thrown together unexpectedly against the surreal and nostalgic backdrop of their childhood hero’s death.

World Premiere


THE BATTLE (Brazil) 

Written/Directed by: Vera Egito 

Synopsis: October 1968. During the Brazilian dictatorship, students and professors of the Left Student Movement face attacks by the Communist Hunting Command coming from across the street, in a pivotal night known as The Battle of the Students.

North American Premiere



Directed by: Margo Guernsey 

Synopsis: 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



Written/Directed by: Sarah Holland 

Synopsis:  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


The complete list of Festival programming, including over 100 films as well as hundreds of panels, will be announced in late September.

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