AFS Announces Filmmakers for its Artist Intensive Program

Rising directors meet with industry experts to finesse future films

Déjà Cresencia Bernhardt, Paloma Hernandez, and Barbara Cigarroa, the three filmmakers selected for this year's Austin Film Society Artist Intensive retreat.

After a two-year hiatus due to Covid, Austin Film Society is bringing back its annual Artist Intensive Program. The three up-and-coming filmmakers selected will meet with industry mentors to gain invaluable feedback, rehearsal opportunities, read-throughs, resources, and excitement for their projects.

Paloma Hernández, a Mexican-American editor, writer, and filmmaker, will present her project Pastiche. Having already won an AFS North Texas Pioneer Grant in 2019, Pastiche portrays a struggling art student who accidentally stumbles into an art forgery scam and finds herself in a whirlwind of criminality that puts her upstanding character and self-image to the test.

Also on the participant list is Barbara Cigarroa, a South Texas native who currently teaches a screenwriting class at Columbia University and New York University. Her debut feature, El Otro Lado, follows Lucy, a 17-year-old who must learn to navigate the world and her dysfunctional father-daughter relationship. Life as she knows it comes to a head when her two brothers leave an immigrant shelter to move into their already crowded home. Filmmaker Magazine named Cigarroa one of their “top 25 new faces of Independent film." El Otro Lado was selected for the 2019 Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Lab, and the BlackList included the script in its inaugural 2020 Latinx list.

Déjà Crescencia Bernhardt will appear at the intensive with her latest project: Last Hawaiian Sugar, the feature version of her short film of the same name. Taking place in 2016 during the last few days of Hawaii’s ‘Big Sugar’ production, the feature follows Nua, a 15 year old whose social worker with good intentions but problematic decision-making places her in an abusive shelter. A graduate of UT Austin's Department of Radio-Television-Film at UT, Bernhardt now instructs advanced narrative directing at Texas State University.

The three join a list of artist and projects to have benefitted from the program that includes SXSW and Sundance Film Festival selections such as Morrisa Maltz’s The Unknown Country, Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Sundance, SXSW, Gotham award-winner Miss Juneteenth, and Augustine Frizzell’s Never Goin' Back .

This year, AFS’s impressive mentor list includes Noah Hawley (director, writer, and producer of Legion and Fargo), Richard Linklater (You know him. The guy who defined Austin filmmaking), Elizabeth Avellán (producer of the Spy Kids franchise, Sin City, and Machete), Jennifer Phang (writer and director of Advantageous, Half Life, The Flight Attendant, Foundation, and The Boys), and Toby Halbrooks (producer and writer of The Old Man and the Gun, A Ghost Story, and Pete’s Dragon).

Returning with a bang, AFS’s Austin Intensive is sure to facilitate groundbreaking projects. Be sure to keep an eye on these participants — the movers and shakers bursting into the film industry.

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Austin Film Society, AFS Artist Intensive Program, Déjà Cresencia Bernhardt, Paloma Hernandez, Barbara Cigarroa

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