Austin Film Festival to Honor Ed Wood Writers

Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski to receive Bill Wittliff Award

Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, recipients of this year's Bill Wittliff Award at the Austin Film Festival (Oct. 26-Nov. 2) (Photo of Larry Karaszewski by Andy Marx/Scott Alexander courtesy of his familv)

The ongoing Writers Guild of America strike has focused attention on the importance of writers in cinema, a reality that the writer-centric Austin Film Festival (Oct. 27-Nov. 3) has always known. Now the festival has announced it will celebrate two quiet giants of the art: Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.

If their names are not familiar, that's because ... well, that's the film industry for you. If you follow Hollywood's inner workings, then you may have heard of Alexander as a four-time member of the Writers Guild Board of Directors, while Karaszewski is Vice President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. But it's their creative output that should be a little more familiar, and why they have been named as this year's recipients of the 2023 Bill Wittliff Award for Screenwriting.

They are experts in finding ways to turn the complexities of true life into gripping narratives, whether it be the antics of a low-budget filmmaker in Ed Wood, a pornographer's fight against prudeness and America's moral hypocrisy with their Golden Globe-winning script for The People vs. Larry Flynt, the tricky truths of chameleon-like comedian Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon, the unexpected success of standup turned blaxploitation hero Rudy Ray Moore in Dolemite is my Name, the deceptive story of artists Margaret and Walter Keane in Big Eyes (their second film with Tim Burton after Ed Wood), or the society-dividing trial of the century in American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.

The pair have spent their professional career in cahoots, meeting as freshmen roommates at USC's School of Cinema and selling their first script together a week after graduation. Aside from their biopics, they've also left families laughing with a long career in children's movies like Agent Cody Banks, Problem Child, and Goosebumps. And speaking of horror properties, they have a Stephen King on their résumé with the smash hit adaptation of 1408. Not that that's Alexander's sole claim to horror fame. Starting his credited career as music coordinator on A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, he also has solo writing credits for episodes of Tales From the Crypt and Nineties cult fave Monsters.

Named after the creator of Lonesome Dove, the Bill Wittliff Award for Screenwriting was established by AFF in 1995 to honor giants of scriptwriting. Previous recipients include Buck Henry (The Graduate, Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Frank Pierson (A Star is Born), Nancy Meyers (Private Benjamin), and Scott Frank (Out of Sight).

The 29th annual Austin Film Festival runs Oct. 26 to Nov. 2. Passes and info at

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Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Austin Film Festival, Austin Film Festival 2023, AFF 2023, Bill Witliff Award for Screenwriting

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