Austin Film Festival to Honor James Ivory and Ron Bass

Oscar winners joined by The Farewell, Seinfeld writers

Howard's End, one of the works by Austin Film Festival honoree James Ivory that defined an era of British prestige filmmaking

The term “leviathan” gets bandied around too easily when it comes to filmmakers, but James Ivory – who, along with producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, defined 1980s’ prestige cinema – deserves the description.

That’s why he’ll be joining Ron Bass, the scriptwriter/producer who played an equally pivotal role in Hollywood’s character-lead dramas in the late 1980s and 1990s, as they are honored by Austin Film Festival alongside previously named award recipients David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (Game of Thrones).

As a core of the Merchant-Ivory team, Ivory played a vital role in depicting the end of the British Empire, and the class tensions that held the U.K. together and tore it apart. In that time, he directed landmark films including A Room with a View, Howard's End, and The Remains of the Day, before finally winning an Oscar for his adapted screenplay for Call Me by Your Name. This year, he will receive the AFF Extraordinary Contribution to Film award at the festival lunch on Oct. 26.

As for Bass, he'll be on hand to receive “Distinguished Screenwriter” Award. The writer had one of the most extraordinary runs starting with his sophomore effort in 1987's Gardens of Stone, Black Widow, Rain Man (for which he won an Oscar), Sleeping with the Enemy, and culminating in The Joy Luck Club. However, that's not where his resume ends, with titles as diverse as Snow Falling on Cedars and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

That’s just the start of the programming announcements for AFF (running Oct. 26-31), with six major panels and screenings added.

• Writer-director Lulu Wang in conversation about her international family dramedy The Farewell.

Sofia Alvarez, who adapted Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before for Netflix, will discuss the script-to-screen process, and how the film has helped revitalize the modern rom com.

• Writer-director Alec Berg (HBO’s Barry, and Silicon Valley, which enters its sixth and final season on Oct. 27) and Veep showrunner David Mandel will look back on their time as series writers on Seinfeld with episode screenings and a special Q&A.

• Ahead of its sixth and final season, a special Inside the Writers Room panel on Fox’s Empire with writers Joshua Allen, Eric Haywood, Attica Locke, and Malcolm Spellman.

Telling True Crime Stories, a panel on the current fascination with, and changes to, the genre, with Michelle Dean (co-creator, The Act), Guinevere Turner (writer, Charlie Says), and Michael Werwie (writer, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile).

• A conversation with scriptwriter Liz Hannah (The Post, Long Shot, season two of Mindhunter).

Austin Film Festival, Oct. 24-31. Tickets and info at

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Austin Film Festival, Austin Film Festival 2019, James Ivory, Ron Bass, Merchant-Ivory, Sofia Alvarez, Lulu Wang, Liz Hannah, David Mandel, Alec Berg

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