Austin Film Festival Lands The Whale

Brendan Fraser's Venice smash to open fest, Oct. 27-Nov. 3

Brendan Fraser in The Whale, this year's opening night selection for Austin Film Festival 2022

Austin Film Festival is bringing home a leviathan: The Whale, the new feature from Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky and starring Brendan Fraser, will open part of this year's AFF (Oct. 27 – Nov. 3).

The tale of an obese man (played by Fraser) who comes to terms with the emotional roots of his eating disorder, The Whale has become an Oscar contender after a rapturous reception at the Venice Film Festival - most especially for Fraser's performance.

It's not the only Venice favorite that AFF has added to the 2022 lineup, as it already announced that Women Talking, Sarah Polley's adaptation of Miriam Toews' novel about a religious sect dealing with rampant sexual abuse, will be part of the schedule.

Armageddon Time

However, Venice isn't the only festival out there, and AFF has also announced that it will be screening Armageddon Time, the Cannes favorite by filmmaker James Gray (The Lost City of Z, Ad Astra) that draws heavily on his own childhood as a Jewish boy in 1980s Queens. The writer/director will also be on hand as this year's recipient of the Bill Wittliff Award for Screenwriting. He will join an esteemed club that includes Buck Henry (The Graduate), Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, Raiders of the Lost Ark), Nancy Meyers (Father of the Bride, Private Benjamin), and Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton).

Elsewhere in today's announcement, shocking documentary The Fire That Took Her by Patricia E. Gillespie looks at the horrifying case of Judy Malinowski and her beyond courageous efforts to put away the man who mutilated her, making her one of the few people to ever testify in the trial for their murder.

For the Love of Friends

There's a different kind of struggle against death in For the Love of Friends, Cara Consilvio's recounting of Brent Nicholson Earle's epic American Run for the End of AIDS, a mammoth run around the entire perimeter of the Lower 48 to raise awareness about the AIDS pandemic.

The Wild Man

Plus, putting the Austin into Austin Film Festival, local filmmaker Riley Cusick gets the world premiere of his second feature, The Wild Man, starring the king of indie alternative horror, Larry Fessenden.

Austin Film Festival 2022 runs Oct. 27-Nov. 3. Tickets and passes at
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D: Darren Aronofsky
From Darren Aronofsky comes The Whale, the story of a reclusive English teacher living with severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. Starring Brendan Fraser and based on the acclaimed play by Samuel D. Hunter.
In attendance: Writer Samuel D. Hunter


D: James Gray
From acclaimed filmmaker James Gray, Armageddon Time is a deeply personal reflection on the strength of family, the complexity of friendship and the realities of class and privilege, seen through the eyes of a young Jewish boy growing up in 1980s Queens. The film features an all-star cast including Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong.
In attendance: Writer/Director James Gray


D: Jonathan Dekel
Checkout follows Dov (Josh Pais), a desperate spy who must convince his peers he is telling the truth about a legendary terrorist. Trying one last time to become the myth he always thought he would be, Dov faces the harsh realities determined to retire him. He'll do anything to change their minds. Checkout is a dark comedy based on real lies of real Mossad spies.

D: Patricia E. Gillespie
Mother-of-two Judy Malinowski, was doused in gasoline and set on fire by her crazed ex-boyfriend – becoming one of the first people to testify at their own murder trial. The Fire That Took Her goes inside the landmark case to ask a timely question: How much must women suffer in order to be believed?

D: Sylvia Caminer
Follow Her is a psycho-sexual thriller. Jess Peters, a struggling actress and live streamer, has finally found her hook: secretly filming creepy interactions she encounters via online job listings, and using the kinks of others to fuel her streaming success. For her next episode, she’s been hired to write the ending of a screenplay in a remote, lavish cabin. Once there, the alluring self-proclaimed screenwriter hands her a script in which the two of them are the main characters. This client isn’t what he seems, and even though the money is great… the real payment here could cost her life.

D: Cara Consilvio
In 1986, to awaken America to the AIDS crisis and to honor the friends he lost, Brent Nicholson Earle runs the perimeter of the United States. In The American Run for the End of AIDS, Brent runs almost a marathon a day for 20 months straight. After enduring blisters, exhaustion, ignorance and fear, he returns home to his own HIV diagnosis. Though the run finishes, Brent’s activism never stops.

Golden Delicious

D: Jason Karman
When basketball-obsessed Aleks moves in across the street, Asian-Canadian teen Jake finds himself trying out for the basketball team to get his attention in this classic coming-of-age drama set in the digital age.

D: Riley Cusick
A son takes care of his father with a deteriorating mental condition where he believes he's a wild animal. World premiere.

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