New Names for the Texas Film Hall of Fame

Who is the first Austin Chronicle Champion of the Arts?

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Still Alice, Son of Saul and Miles Ahead: Just a fraction of the movies that Texas Film Hall of Fame inductee and inaugural Austin Chronicle Champion of the Arts Michael Barker has brought to U.S. screens. (Images courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

The Texas Film Hall of Fame is the Lone Star State's most prestigious award for the cinematic arts. This year, The Austin Chronicle will join the Austin Film Society in the festivities, presenting a special award to indie cinema industrialist and UT alum Michael Barker.

The hall of fame, run by the Austin Film Society, will induct Barker on March 10, but he won't be taking to the stage alone. AFS has already announced that television legend Carol Burnett will enter the hall this year, and the pair will be joined by:

Chandra Wilson, star and multi-time director of Grey’s Anatomy. A household name as Dr. Miranda Bailey and a Screen Actors Guild, People’s Choice, Prism, and NAACP Image winner, the Houston native earned plaudits for her early supporting roles in pivotal dramas like Philadelphia and Lone Star.

• Rising Star Award recipient Jesse Plemons has come a long way from playing sweet-natured good guy Landry Clarke in Friday Night Lights. A game-changing performance as the monstrous Todd Alquist in Breaking Bad has made the Dallas native one of Hollywood’s go-to character actors, with chameleon turns last year in Bridge of Spies and Black Mass, before headlining season two of Fargo.

As part of his induction, Barker will receive the inaugural Austin Chronicle Champion of the Arts award. To many in the industry, he is probably most famous for his role as co-founder and president of Sony Pictures Classics, and so responsible for getting titles as diverse and significant as Orlando, Vanya on 42nd Street, The City of Lost Children, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Devil's Backbone, Dogtown and Z-Boys, Moon, Blue Jasmine, Son of Saul and hundreds more into cinemas. However, before he became a pioneer and leader in indie distribution and arthouse promotion, he cut his teeth at UT Austin as student chair of the Texas Union film committee. During his pre-Sony time at Orion Classics, he helped get Slacker into cinemas, thus helping establish Austin as a regional film center and starting Richard Linklater's trip to Oscardom. He's kept a close eye on Austin cinema: in 2014, he endowed the AFS Ed Lowry Student Film Program, named after Chronicle co-founder and Austin film inspiration, the late Ed Lowry.

All this, and AFS has confirmed that Wooden Wisdom, aka all-vinyl DJ duo Zach Cowie and Elijah Wood, will soundtrack the Texas party after the big show.

The Texas Film Hall of Fame awards ceremony and afterparty take place March 10 on Stage Seven at Austin Studios, 1901 E. 51st. More details and tickets at

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Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards, Austin Film Society, Austin Studios, Michael Barker, Jesse Plemons, Chandra Wilson, Carol Burnett

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