The Austin Chronicle

Austin Arthouse Film Festival Goes Global for Its Second Virtual Year

Making your screen into an arthouse

By Adrienne Hunter, December 24, 2021, Screens

When Giselle de la Rosa and Elizabeth Tabish first met on the set of a commercial shoot, the two creatives bonded over some of the things that inspired them most about Austin and film. Central to those conversations were originality and artistry, which they both saw in arthouse film. Not only did the two go on to make films together, but they would eventually create the Austin Arthouse Film Festival, dedicated to showcasing unique films that they felt did not normally receive the platform they deserve. Now in its fourth year, the festival will be digitally available Dec. 26-31.

In its first two years, the festival was an in-person event presenting a wide selection of short films. Shifting to the virtual world in response to the pandemic has enabled them to expand the audience, even reaching international viewers. They are now also able to exhibit feature films, as well as short films, to their ever- growing audience, and this year's festival will see over 60 titles available for digital viewing. The spotlighted films include Wulver's Stane, a feature directed by Joseph Cornelison following a person fighting to hide her past while building herself a new life. Also streaming will be My Dinner With Werner, a short by Maverick Moore about the bizarre friendship between Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski.

De la Rosa and Tabish both said they hope that this year's continued virtual presence will mean more people exposed to films that they wouldn't have the chance to see elsewhere. They're also working on interactive components, such as an online quiz used to curate a personalized watch list, giving each viewer a unique experience for what may potentially be their first exposure to arthouse cinema, and how its endless originality has the potential to expand minds and hearts. "A lot of people ask what arthouse is," Tabish said. "I wish we had a more succinct answer for it, but it's the sort of cinema that's not going to be in the box office. It's films that are made for the sake of art."

She added, "There aren't always platforms for those types of films and they don't always make money. The passion that directors put into those projects is clear, but there is typically a rare occurrence of some sort of financial payoff. So we want to support them and help them continue to make their films."

Creating that support and community for these innovative filmmakers is something that de la Rosa and Tabish view as integral to the Austin Arthouse Film Festival. They believe that these films hold so much creativity, vision, and potential for impact; it's their goal to curate a platform that allows for audiences to be exposed to those qualities. De la Rosa explained, "If I can marry celebrating art, artists, and film with helping people to see things differently, that will make me very fulfilled."

Austin Arthouse Film Festival, Dec. 26-31. Virtual passes $30. Full lineup and info at

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