Austin Film Festival Announces First 10 Films

New films from Tilda Swinton, Steven Yeun, plus honorees added

The Humans, one of the first wave of titles announced for Austin Film Festival 2021

Ghosts, sounds in the earth, bad boyfriends: Austin Film Festival (Oct. 21-28) the celebration of cinema that puts writers first, has just announced its first 10 films for its 2021 edition.

It's a star-studded selection among the seven world premiere and three Texas premieres, including the Texas debut of The Humans, Stephen Karam's big-screen adaptation of his Tony-winning play of the same name starring Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun, Richard Jenkins, and Amy Schumer.

There's an equally extraordinary array of talent both behind and in front of the camera in Everything I Ever Wanted to Tell My Daughter About Men, directed by an incredible array of women directors including Maryam d'Abo and Saffron Burrows, and starring Jason Isaacs, Alan Cumming, Nathan Fillion, and a whole list more.

And what's a marquee title without a major star? This year it's Tilda Swinton in the Texas premiere of Memoria. The uncanny drama, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethaku (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives) and scheduled to be released later this year by Neon, star Swinton as a woman drawn to a strange sound in Colombia.

The festival also announced two new honorees, joining Scott Frank (winner of this year's Bill Wittliff Award for Screenwriting). Michael Schur, creator of The Good Place and co-creator of Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Rutherford Falls, will receive the Outstanding Television Writer Award. Meanwhile film producer Stephanie Allain, who launched the directing careers of John Singleton (whose Boyz n the Hood she personally pitched to studios), Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow, Black Snake Moan, and Justin Simien (Dear White People) is this year's recipient of the Polly Platt Award for Producing.

Here's that opening wave of films. Expect many, many more titles to be added before opening night. Tickets and passes at austinfilmfestival.com, and follow all our coverage at austinchronicle.com/austin-film-festival.


MARQUEE FEATURES

MEMORIA
D: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
A woman from Scotland, while traveling in Colombia, begins to notice strange sounds. Soon she begins to think about their appearance. Starring Tilda Swinton, Elkin Diaz, Jeanne Balibar, Juan Pablo Urrego. (Texas premiere)

PETITE MAMAN
D: Céline Sciamma
Nelly has just lost her grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home. She explores the house and the surrounding woods. One day, she meets a girl her same age building a treehouse. Starring Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Nina Meurisse. (Texas premiere)

THE HUMANS
D: Stephen Karam
Erik Blake has gathered three generations of his Pennsylvania family to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside and eerie things start to go bump in the night, the group’s deepest fears are laid bare. The piercingly funny and haunting debut film from writer-director Stephen Karam, adapted from his Tony Award-winning play, The Humans explores the hidden dread of a family and the love that binds them together. Starring Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun, Richard Jenkins, Amy Schumer, June Squibb, Jayne Houdyshell. (Texas premiere)


DARK MATTERS

IT HATCHED
D: Elvar Gunnarsson
Pétur’s and Mira’s plans about opening a guesthouse in remote West Iceland come to a halt when Mira lays an infant size egg and an ancient demon escapes from under the basement floor. Starring Gunnar Kristinsson, Vivian Ólafsdóttir, Þór Túliníus, Björn Jörundur, Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Halldór Gylfason, Darren Foreman, Magnús Ómarsson. (World premiere)


DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

WITH THIS BREATH I FLY
D: Sam French, Clementine Malpas
At the height of the international occupation of Afghanistan, two women – Gulnaz, raped and impregnated by her uncle, and Farida, on the run from an abusive husband – are imprisoned on charges of “moral crimes” by an Afghan justice system that is supported by billions of dollars of aid money from the European Union. Shot over ten years, With This Breath I Fly follows these two courageous women as they fight for their freedom against a patriarchal Afghan society determined to keep them bound to tribal culture, while exposing the complicity of the European Union in censoring their voices, and how the international press – and our documentary – forever alters the course of their lives. With This Breath I Fly was produced in cooperation with the Afghan Film Project, a non-profit dedicated to fostering Afghanistan’s film industry and nurturing the next generation of Afghan filmmakers. (World premiere)


NARRATIVE FEATURES

EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED TO TELL MY DAUGHTER ABOUT MEN
D:Lorien Haynes, Barbara van Schaik, Maryam d’Abo, Susannah Harker, Jodhi May, Erin Richards, Robin Gurney, Katie Flynn, Laura Merians, Amy Gardner, Gia Carides, Talia Balsam, Tara Fitzgerald, Kate Danson, Sienna Guillory, Saffron Burrows, and Lucy Brown
A woman tells her daughter about every man she’s ever been with – in the hope her daughter won’t make the same mistakes. Starring Jason Isaacs, James Purefoy, Nathan Fillion, Richard Wilson, Ben Lawson, Alex Desert, Alan Cumming, Lex Shrapnel, Charlie Field, Jonathan Firth, Joe Sims, Belinda Stewart Wilson, Issy Knopfler, Clara McGregor and Lorien Haynes. (World premiere)

GHOSTS OF THE OZARKS
D: Jordan Wayne Long, Matt Glass
Set in a post-Civil War Arkansas circa 1866, the film follows a young black doctor who is summoned by his uncle to a remote town in the Ozarks only to discover upon his arrival that the utopian paradise is not all that it seems to be. Starring Tim Blake Nelson, Angela Bettis, Thomas Hobson, Phil Morris, Tara Perry, David Arquette, Graham Gordy, David Aaron Baker. (World premiere)

RAGGED HEART
D:Evan Mcnary
A rusted out, supernatural drama set in the rural town of Athens, Georgia. After his estranged daughter tragically dies, a washed-up musician comes to believe her ghost is haunting him with a request. Desperate to redeem himself in her eyes, he sets out on a mission that will (hopefully) let her rest in peace. Starring Patterson Hood, Josh Mikel, Jim White, Kate McManus, Eddie Craddock. (World premiere)

SWAMP LION
D: Torben Bech
After their son is diagnosed with advanced cancer, a trucker driver and supermarket cashier – Jim and Bee – struggle to climb the mountain of medical bills. In their greatest hour of need they are forced to come up with $ 250,000 in order to afford treatment. In this emotional and financial crisis, Jim ultimately decides to traffic drugs across the US/Mexican border. Starring Michael Ray Escamilla, Bre Blair, Luis Bordonada, Karen Sours Albisua, David Barrera. (World premiere)

THE BIG BEND
D: Brett Wagner
Two families, the Prices and the Talbotts, meet for a long overdue reunion in the remote West Texas desert — where events quickly don’t go as planned. Harboring secrets and facing private crises, they explore one of the wildest places in America, testing the boundaries of marriage, friendship, and parenthood, and doing their best to survive the experience. Starring Jason Butler Harner, Virginia Kull, David Sullivan, Erica Ash. (World premiere)

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