Austin Film Society Announces 2017 Film Grants

$143,000 in cash and support awarded to 34 filmmakers

AFS awarded Yaphet Smith $3,000 to go toward post-production expenses on his documentary feature Love Is a Sensation.

The Austin Film Society supports Texas filmmaking in myriad ways – workshops, work-in-progress screenings, mentorships – but perhaps its biggest impact is in its annual doling out of cold cash to needy filmmakers. How much cash? Over $1.7 million since 1996.

AFS announced Monday this year’s class of AFS Grant recipients – 34 filmmakers in total, including 18 first-time awardees, receiving $110,000 in cash grants and another $33,000 worth of in-kind support (such as film stock and equipment). They join some pretty prestigious ranks: Previous winners of AFS grants include Texas film trailblazers like Jeff Nichols, David Lowery, Andrew Bujalski, Kat Candler, and Trey Edward Shults.

This year’s AFS jury included author, film programmer and critic Brandon Harris, documentary filmmaker Penny Lane, and narrative feature filmmaker and TV director Jennifer Phang.

The full list of recipients is below.


Narrative Feature in Post-Production
Director and writer: Yen Tan
$10,000 cash for Post-Production
Kodak Film Award (in-Kind): 35mm exhibition print
A terminally ill young man visits his hometown in Texas and struggles to disclose his dire circumstances to his conservative family.

Documentary Feature
Director: Yaphet Smith
$3,000 cash for Post-Production
Oprah Winfrey hails from Kosciusko, Miss., but most pilgrims trek there to visit The Unusual Artist Ms. L.V. Hull at her outlandish home. Now, as L.V.’s health fails, only one visitor would make her life complete: blues legend B.B. King. Will The Artist meet The King before time runs out?

Documentary feature Pahokee

Documentary Feature
Directors: Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas
$15,000 cash for Post-Production
Pahokee, Florida (pop.6,094): one hour by car across Palm Beach County from the presidential opulence of Mar-a-Lago. Against a backdrop of industrial agriculture and economic isolation, high school senior from diverse cultural backgrounds forge a sense of meaning and community via elaborate and colorful rites of passage.

Narrative Feature
Director and writer: Clay Liford
$5,000 cash for Production
After witnessing a murder at a prestigious theatre festival, a down-on-her-luck theatre teacher and her star pupil must decide what to do in order to still win.

Documentary Feature
Director: Sally O’Grady
The EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair
$5,000 cash for Post-Production
The Trouble I See explores the impact of mass incarceration on three families in Richmond, Va. Using the annual Father-Daughter Dance at the City Jail as the catalyst, the film examines the realities of life in the corrections system for Joey, Andre, and Rashaan.

Documentary Feature
Director: Travis Johns
$5,000 cash for Post-Production
The Trouble With Ray exposes the wild, untold history of LGBT activism in ultra-conservative Texas and its impact on the national stage as told by the movement’s ultimate outsider, Ray Hill: a labor activists’ son, ex-con, and “loud-mouthed queer,” whose 50 years of fearlessly protesting for LGBTQ equality energized a grassroots movement to take powerful, political action.

Untitled Jennifer Laude Documentary
Documentary Feature
Director: PJ Raval
INDIEpendents Grant
$15,000 cash for Post-Production
Grassroots activists in the Philippines are spurred into action when a local transgender woman is found dead in a motel room with a 19-year-old U.S. marine as the leading suspect. As they demand answers and a just trial, hidden histories of U.S. colonization come bubbling to the surface.

Narrative Feature
Director and writer: Rebecca Eskreis
The EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair
$10,000 cash for Production
During the summer of 1998, Sammy and Emily, both 15 years old, strike up a quick and deep friendship, in spite of their disparate backgrounds. But what should have been the best summer of their lives takes an unexpected turn when they become accidental accomplices in a fatal crime: the murder of Sammy's brother, Travis.

Documentary Feature
Director: John Moore
Stuck On On Post-Production Grant
When We Were Live is a feature documentary about the heyday of Public Access Television in the Eighties and Nineties and how it shaped the culture of a pre-internet America. The film weaves together hundreds of hours of archival footage to tell the stories of five former Public Access producers from Austin, Texas, the nation's longest running Public Access Television station.


Narrative short "Bad Things"

Narrative Short
Director: Mira Lippold-Johnson
$2,000 cash for Post-Production
When her older sister gets unjustly suspended from school, 8-year-old Sue Ellen starts to doubt that brains and hard work are enough to keep her out of trouble. Bad teachers, prejudices, a bully: There are impediments to success. So Sue Ellen takes a drastic, violent step to take control.

Narrative Short in Post-Production
Director: Artemis Anastasiadou
The EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair
$1,000 cash for Post-Production and Distribution
After a violent event comes to an end, a mother struggles to keep on being a caregiver to her handi-capable son.

Narrative Short in Production
Director: Brittany Reeber
Kodak Film Award: $5,000 in film stock
MPS Camera and Lighting Award: $5,000 in camera package and equipment rentals
Donna and Julianne search for ancestral connection in a place where consumerism has replaced culture, and life’s sweet moments tend to be at the bottom of a cheap drink. The fictional script is set in the very real Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, a small community in central Florida dedicated to Spiritualism and “mediumship,” or the ability to communicate with the dead.

Narrative Short in Production
Director: Nazanin Shirazi and Katja Straub
The EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair
$5,000 for production
Every two weeks, 65-year-old Cindy searches for a moment of intimacy at Hao’s Nails.

Narrative Short
Director: Lizette Barrera
The EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair
$4,000 cash for Post-Production
An ill-tempered teenager attempts to find peaceful solitude on the day of her grandfather's passing until an estranged friend pays her a visit.

Narrative short "June"

Narrative Short
Director: Huay-Bing Law
$5,000 cash for Production and Post-Production
An immigrant Chinese wife does her best to fit in at her husband's graduation ceremony in 1950s segregated Texas.

Documentary Short in Post-Production
Director: Field Humphrey
$2,500 cash for Post-Production
A forgotten basketball pioneer and NBA record holder, Jim Tucker reveals what is truly worth remembering as he struggles with Alzheimer's disease.

Narrative Short in Post-Production
Director: Anna Margaret Hollyman
Stuck On On Post Production Grant
"Maude" is a comedy about a woman named Teeny who is surprised to learn that she is babysitting the daughter of a former college classmate, Priscilla, a successful Gwyneth Paltrow-esque lifestyle guru. Over the course of the day, Teeny begins to take on the other woman’s identity with hilarious consequences.

Animated Short in Production
Director: Renee Zhan
The EBW Grant, Empowering Female Filmmakers, by Sandra Adair
$5,000 cash for Production
"Reneepoptosis" follows the adventures of three Renees at various points of their lifespan as they go on a spiritual journey to find God (who is also Renee). Along the way, the Renees discuss and experience in full glory the trials, tribulations, and wonders of being Renee.

Documentary Short
Director: Benjamin Altenberg
$5,000 cash for Production
Mental health care patients and providers in New Mexico struggle to find a path forward after the state government makes false accusations of Medicaid fraud that result in widespread closures of clinics and the disruption of life-saving services for thousands.

Documentary Short
Director: Amy Bench
MPS Camera and Lighting Award: $5,000 in-kind
"Things We Left Behind" is a visual diary film that touches on the refugee experience, through the objects that connect them to their former lives. It is a series of portraits of women living in the United States, who came to this country with no more than a carry-on bag or a couple of suitcases.

Narrative Short
Director: Kent Juliff
$1,000 cash for Production and Post-Production
On a lazy summer, two lifeguard friends get caught up in a small-town mystery after their boss is kidnapped.


Derek Allison, DJI Creative Studio Grant recipient

DJI Creative Studio Grant Recipient: Derek Allison
Derek Allison is a writer, director and producer from Philadelphia who recently completed his thesis film, "Mensch," at the University of Texas, and he looks forward to utilizing the DJI Creative Studio Grant to bring Canonical Victims to the screen – a new story that explores Jack the Ripper in America from the perspective of a prostitute. Allison will receive a production budget (up to $10,000) as well as an in-kind rental package of DJI products (drones, camera, stabilizer packages). DJI will produce behind-the-scenes video and photo content on the project and promote it upon release on DJI channels.

Recipient of the Harrison McClure Award, a grant made possible by the Harrison McClure Endowed Film Fund in support of an undergraduate filmmaker: PERDÓNAME
Narrative Short, $2,500 in grant support
Filmmaker: Tani Shukla
A Catholic woman is put at odds with her faith when her cancer-afflicted sister asks her to commit the ultimate sin.


Micah Barber, Into the Who Knows!
Sarasota Film Festival

Lizette Barrera, Mosca
NALIP Latino Media Festival

Robin Berghaus, Stumped
Frameline Film Festival

Documentary short "The Rabbit Hunt"

Patrick Bresnan & Ivete Lucas, The Rabbit Hunt
Sundance Film Festival
Berlin International Film Festival

Bob Byington, Infinity Baby
San Francisco International Film Festival

Sam Douglas, Through the Repellent Fence
MoMA Doc Fortnight

David Fenster, Opuntia
Los Angeles Film Festival

Jose Luis González, Ensueño
San Francisco International Film Festival

Kent Juliff, Last Night
Slamdance Film Festival

Daniel Laabs, Jules of Light and Dark
IFP Rough Cut Labs

Joel Pena, Pedazos

PJ Raval, Untitled Jennifer Laude Documentary
Sheffield Doc Fest Lab

Todd Rohal, The Suplex Duplex Complex
Seattle International Film Festival

Brittney Shepherd, Eye, Camera
Hot Docs Film Festival

Drew Xanthopoulos, The Sensitives
Tribeca Film Festival

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Austin Film Society Grants
AFS Announces 2021 Feature Grant Recipients
AFS Announces 2021 Feature Grant Recipients
Ten projects reflect talent and diversity in Texas film

Katherine McNevins, Sept. 7, 2021

Austin Film Society Announces 2016 Grants
AFS Announces 2016 Grants
Program gives much-needed funds to Texas filmmakers

Josh Kupecki, Aug. 29, 2016

More by Kimberley Jones
Election Day, STEM Day, Amplify Austin Day, and More Days to Remember This Week
Election Day, STEM Day, Amplify Austin Day, and More Days to Remember This Week
Our guide to community events for the week

March 1, 2024

Opera Fights, Puppet Plays, and More Arty Events
Opera Fights, Puppet Plays, and More Arty Events
Get an arts fix this week

March 1, 2024


Austin Film Society Grants

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle