The Austin Chronicle

Austin Film Festival Leading the Charge on Diversity

By Richard Whittaker, September 6, 2018, 5:57pm, Picture in Picture

On the day that Warner Bros. announces it will be building inclusion riders into all its future projects, there's a reaffirmation that Austin Film Festival is already leading the way on diversity, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made it a FilmCraft Grant recipient for the second year in a row.

The grant program is designed to break conventional and outmoded wisdom about who can and can't be a filmmaker, and is intended to spotlight and support artists from nontraditional backgrounds and underrepresented communities. The money will go to AFF's Diversity Focus Program, with its stated aim of fostering increased representation for marginalized voices, through providing travel assistance and accommodation for screenwriters and filmmakers, as well as programs including marketing material supporting underserved demographics.

AFF's commitment goes beyond one program: At last year's festival, 50% of the 215 panelists were people of color or women, and since then, the festival has sponsored and organized several special events relating to diversity, including (with the Academy's Education and Nicholl Fellowships Programs) the Launching Your Writing Career: Finding Representations event in Los Angeles last March, and (with Baylor University and the Washington National Cathedral) the three-day Long, Long Way: Race and Film 1968-2018 conference, with follow-up events scheduled for D.C. and New York in February 2019.

Announcing the award, AFF Executive Director Barbara Morgan stressed the festival's commitment to "challenging the status quo. ... In addition to serving up a program steeped with diverse viewpoints and approaches, the Diversity Focus Program also provides a platform for underrepresented artists from all over the world to be heard, to have access, and to add their voices to the fabric of the industry’s future.”

Austin Film Festival runs Oct. 25-Nov. 1. Tickets and info at

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