Emerald Fennell's Saltburn to Open Austin Film Festival

Promising Young Woman followup leads first title drop

Saltburn. the new film from Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell, will open this year's Austin Film Festival

Saltburn, the highly anticipated second film from Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell, will be the opening night film for this year's Austin Film Festival (Oct. 26-Nov. 2).

Premiering at the Telluride Film Festival tonight, Fennell's thriller screens in Austin ahead of its theatrical release on Nov. 24. Seemingly influenced by both Patricia Highsmith and E.M. Forster, Saltburn stars Barry Keoghan (Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Banshees of Inisherin) as an Oxford student whose infatuation with a classmate (Jacob Elordi, Euphoria, The Mortuary Collection) leads him into the clutches of his warped aristocratic family – as if there's any other kind.

That's just one of 14 titles in this first wave for the festival. The list also includes six world premieres, including The Trap, the feature directorial debut of Lena Headey adapted from her BAFTA-nominated short of the same name. Also making his directorial debut is The Good Place and Watchmen writer Cord Jefferson with his new satire, American Fiction.

Austin Film Festival runs Oct. 26-Nov. 2: more details at austinfilmfestival.com. Here's the first lineup announcement in full:


D: Cord Jefferson
Orion MGM

Cord Jefferson's hilarious directorial debut, which confronts our culture’s obsession with reducing people to outrageous stereotypes. Jeffrey Wright stars as Monk, a frustrated novelist who’s fed up with the establishment profiting from “Black” entertainment that relies on tired and offensive tropes. To prove his point, Monk uses a pen name to write an outlandish “Black” book of his own, a book that propels him to the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.
In attendance: Writer/Director Cord Jefferson
Cast: Jeffery Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Adam Brody, with Issa Rae and Sterling K. Brown


D: Emerald Fennell
US/UK, MGM/Amazon Studios

Academy Award® winning filmmaker Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) brings us a wicked tale of privilege and desire. Struggling to find his place at Oxford University, student Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) finds himself drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), who invites him to Saltburn, his eccentric family’s sprawling estate, for a summer never to be forgotten.
In attendance: Writer/Director Emerald Fennell
Starring: Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Alison Oliver, Archie Madekwe


Written/Directed by: Brian Helgeland
USA, Paramount+

Finestkind tells the story of two brothers (Ben Foster & Toby Wallace), raised in different worlds, who are reunited as adults over a fateful summer. Set against the backdrop of commercial fishing, the story takes on primal stakes when desperate circumstances force the brothers to strike a deal with a violent Boston crime gang. Along the way a young woman (Jenna Ortega) finds herself caught perilously in the middle. Sacrifices must be made and bonds between brothers, friends, lovers, and a father (Tommy Lee Jones) and his son are put to the ultimate test.
In attendance: Writer/Director Brian Helgeland
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Foster, Jenna Ortega, Toby Wallace


D: Alexi Pappas, Jeremy Teicher
USA, Utopia Distribution
World Premiere

In an exclusive artist-in-residency program overseen by an enigmatic patron (RZA), artists in turmoil face a make-or-break ultimatum: unlock their full creative potential or abandon art forever. Yet, the unexpected intrusion of an outsider (Matt Walsh) jeopardizes the program's delicate balance.
Starring: Ciara Bravo, Cleopatra Coleman, Haley Joel Osment, Alexi Pappas, Matt Walsh & RZA


D: Lena Headey
World Premiere
Content in her life of solitude, Michelles’ simple world is interrupted by a stranger seeking to belong.
Starring: Michelle Fairley, James Nelson Joyce


D: Chase Joliet
World Premiere

After a devastating divorce, Travis is forced to move back into his childhood home with his eccentric, newly sober mother.


D: António Sequeira

A bittersweet story about a small-town family adjusting to their new life, and some uncomfortable truths after their son leaves to attend university overseas.


D: Michelle Steffes
World Premiere

In this coming-of-middle-age dark comedy, June Stevenson drags her estranged sisters on a road trip up the Pacific Coast in order to make amends with their difficult father before he dies. Along the way, she distracts herself with picturesque landmarks, craft breweries, and picturesque men in craft breweries, but ultimately, she must face the fact that there’s more to her family’s fractures than she thought. Inspired by a real road trip.


D: Jack Martin
World Premiere

An overlooked engineer is sent to Alaska to investigate an eccentric scientist's claim that capturing lightning could be the next monumental source of renewable energy.


D: Brad Katzen
South Africa
World Premiere

A hyper-stylized stoner-comedy set amidst South Africa's vibrant streets in Soweto: a small-time pot dealer's dreams go up in smoke when his clueless friends sweep him up in a wacky kidnapping caper and their fiery hostage, a feisty young woman, flips the script on them with her own plans.


D: Andrew Shea
World Premiere

A large, blended family is thrown together unexpectedly against the surreal and nostalgic backdrop of their childhood hero's death.


D: Vera Egito
North American Premiere

October 1968. During the Brazilian dictatorship, students and professors of the Left Student Movement face attacks by the Communist Hunting Command coming from across the street, in a pivotal night known as the Battle of the Students.


D:Margo Guernsey
In 1974, a group of women and their supporters organize their ordination as Episcopal priests in an act of civil disobedience and challenge the very essence of patriarchy within Christendom.


D: Sarah Holland

After coming out to her parents, an Asian American teenage girl takes off on a road trip to meet her online crush with the help of her nerdy best friend.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Richard Whittaker
That's One Pricey Burrito: Chuy's Sells for $605 Million
That's One Pricey Burrito: Chuy's Sells for $605 Million
Austin original acquired by Darden Restaurants, Inc.

July 18, 2024

Pale imitation of what made the original such an unexpected smash of a disaster movie

July 19, 2024


Austin Film Festival, AFF, AFF 2023, Saltburn, Emerald Fennell

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle