AFS Announces 2019 Feature Grant Recipients

Over $100,000 in cash and aid for next generation of filmmakers

Hurdle, one of the 2019 Austin Film Society Grant recipients announced today

When you're an independent filmmaker, a few dollars can be the difference between an abandoned project and a completed movie. That's why the Austin Film Society Grants are such a vital part of the state's moviemaking scene, and today's announcement of recipients for 2019 adds a dozen new supported projects to the hundreds already backed.

While the grants are administered by AFS, they actually support filmmakers all across Texas (and were originally called the Texas Filmmakers’ Production Fund). That's why, out of over $100,000 going to filmmakers in today's list, $35,000 has been set aside for the North Texas Pioneer Film Grant. However, the real diversity is not geographic, but in representation. In this year's list, 50% of recipients are female-identifying filmmakers (and they received 66% of funds); 42% identify with a community of color; and 42% were first-time grantees from this initiative.

This year's recipients were selected by a panel of industry experts residing outside of Texas, including documentarian Bernardo Ruiz (Kingdom of Shadows), filmmaker Ingrid Veninger (Porcupine Lake), and Sun Valley Film Initiative Director Laura Mehlhaff. They join a list of previous grantees that's basically a who's who of Texas filmmakers, including David Lowery, Kat Candler, Augustine Frizzell, Andrew Bujalski, Yen Tan, Heather Courtney, Keith Maitland, Annie Silverstein, Todd Rohal, and 400 others over the last 23 years who have shared in over $1.97 million in grants (and that's just the cash, not including in-kind support).

The grants and assistance cover the whole run of a production. For example, When We Were Live - John Spottswood Moore's history of Austin's cable access - ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2015, and now has received funds for post-production. By contrast, Michael Rowley's Hurdle is already in distribution, while several projects are still shooting.

This is just the first half of the grant process, covering features. If you're working on a short film, running 40 minutes or less, you still have time to apply for up to $10,000 in cash, as well as in-king post-production goods and services from MPS Camera and Lighting and Stuck On On. Apply through 5pm, Oct. 7 at recipients will be announced in December.

Now, here's the full list of highly deserving winners.


When We Were Live

Documentary Feature in production
D: John Fiege
A teenage African-American dancer in Houston must draw on her community and her own resilience when she sets out to choreograph a performance about her experience with Hurricane Harvey and environmental justice.

Documentary Feature in post-production
D: John Moore
When We Were Live is a feature documentary about the heyday of Public Access Television in the 1980's and 90's, and how it shaped the culture of a pre-internet America.

North Texas Pioneer Film Grant Recipients

Prairie Dogs

Documentary Feature in distribution
D: Michael Rowley
Hurdle is the story of a new generation of Palestinians using creativity as a form of resistance. Where walls were built to contain and control, Hurdle’s characters lack freedom of movement. Through the sport of parkour and the documentation of daily life, the characters tell an untold story of what it means to strive for freedom in the modern era.

Narrative Feature in production
D: Maria Padilla
Martinez, a cranky and lonely bureaucrat resisting retirement, receives a surprise gift from a deceased neighbor. He finally begins to enjoy life through a love affair with her through her old belongings.

Narrative Feature in production
D: Dex Decker
Two wayfaring strangers meet in a rest stop bathroom and learn over French fries that they have more in common than the road and need each other more than they’ll ever understand. Sometimes it’s the kindness of a complete stranger that changes the course of one’s life.

Narrative Feature in post-production
D: Morrisa Maltz
An unexpected invitation from her estranged Lakota family sends a young woman on a winding road trip through the Midwest all the way down to the Texas-Mexico border. A doc-drama observational film that takes a look at one less-traveled part of America, the people who live there and the complexity of a Native woman traveling alone in the current cultural climate.

Stuck On On Award Recipients

Recipients each recieve one theatrical digital cinema package, including a 2K DCP creation and 20% discount on a CRU formatted hard drive.


Narrative Feature in post-production
D: Mei Makino
Teenager Angie Chen finds herself in a cultural and personal identity crisis following her parents’ recent divorce. Caught between her equal-parts Chinese and American upbringing, life is only further complicated when she begins a romance with Liam, a popular jock who wants to keep their relationship a secret. As Angie contends with her burgeoning sexuality, she must face a troubled home life, a confusing romantic relationship, and a growing sense of isolation as she is left alone to determine the ultimate question: Who is the real Angie Chen?

Documentary Feature in post-production
D: Zuqiang Peng
Nan follows the last two years of a living situation in which the filmmaker’s uncle Nan shares an apartment with his parents, before the family of three separate and live in different homes. A reflection on time, aging, and the economies of care in contemporary China.

Warbach Lighting and Design New Texas Voices Grant

The Warbach Lighting and Design New Texas Voices Grant is a $10,000 cash grant for a filmmaker identifying with a community of color who is making his or her first feature length film.

Narrative Feature in post-production
D: Channing Godfrey Peoples
Centered around the Juneteenth holiday (commemorating the day slaves in Texas were freed – two long years after everybody else), Miss Juneteenth tells the story of Turquoise, a former beauty queen turned hard working single mother, as she prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the pageant, hoping to keep her from repeating her same mistakes.

Kodak Motion Picture Film Award

Recipients get $5,000 in either 16mm or 35mm film stock from Kodak. The stock must be used on their project.

Documentary Feature in production
D: Jim Hickcox
Names in the Pavement is an unconventional documentary about infrastructure and the history of Austin, Texas.

MPS Camera and Lighting Award

Recipient receives a credit for up to $10,000 in production services from MPS Camera.

Narrative Feature in production
D: Ryan Darbonne
Told over the course of one day, Austin's first POC punk festival provides the backdrop for three intersecting stories featuring a failed musician searching for his lost van, two strangers on an awkward road trip, and a Mexican punk band on the verge of a complete breakdown.

Harrison McClure Endowed Grant for an undergraduate filmmaker

"Flying in the Dark"

Documentary Short in production
D: Annika Horne
Why are we still surprised to see a woman pilot? Hear the stories of female pilots – their highs and lows – and see how they refused to be shut out of the skies, from World War II to the present.

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AFS, Austin Film Society, Non-profits, Austin Film Society Grants

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