Five Filmmakers to Learn From at Austin Film Festival 2022

The picks of the panels in this year’s conference

Director Darren Aronofsky and cinematographer Matthew Libatique on the set of The Whale (Photo by Niko Tavernise / Courtesy of A24)

Austin Film Festival isn't just about watching films. It's also a conference with an emphasis on the filmmaker's craft, with a particular emphasis on the writing process. Last week we highlighted this year's marquee movies; now, it's time to head away from the screens and start taking notes as cinema's brightest creators share their inside tricks.

Austin Film Festival: Oct. 27-Nov. 3. Writers Conference: Oct. 27-30. Passes and info at

Nikyatu Jusu

A rising star in horror directors, her feature debut Nanny took the Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2022, was quickly snapped up by Blumhouse, and plays AFF Friday night before its release on Nov. 23. No surprise that Jusu is this year's New Voice Award winner: Catch her in conversation after reading our interview with her, "The Terror of Motherhood in Nanny" (Culture, Oct. 21).
Fri., Oct. 28, 1:30pm
Central Presbyterian Church

Darren Aronofsky

Talk about landing a leviathan. AFF will open this year with the latest from the director of The Fountain and Black Swan, intimate and Oscar-ready drama The Whale, starring Brendan Fraser – but he'll also be sticking around for a discussion of the film and his extraordinary career. Catch a one-on-one chat between festival Executive Director Barbara Morgan and the AFF 2022 Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award recipient (and don't miss the morning conversation with the writer of The Whale, Samuel D. Hunter, in the same room).
Fri., Oct. 28, 3:15pm
Stephen F. Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel

Chris Fedak

No one directs action like Michael Bay (that's why they call it Bayhem, bay-bay). But, like everything else with a movie, it all starts with the script. In "Writing Action: Ambulance," scripter Chris Fedak will explain how he turned a taut 80-minute Danish thriller into two-plus hours of L.A. havoc that's being described as a game changer in how to capture carnage.
Fri., Oct. 28, 1:30pm
Austin Club Ballroom

James Gray

Another AFF award winner, this time walking away with the Bill Wittliff Award for Screenwriting. With his new semi-autobiographical drama Armageddon Time screening Friday night at the State Theatre, Gray will talk about the emotional loop from his feature debut, 1994's Little Odessa, to his new film via The Lost City of Z and We Own the Night.
Sat., Oct. 29, 9am
Central Presbyterian Church

Dede Gardner

Aside from taking home this year's Polly Platt Award for Producing, Dede Gardner will be present for one of this year's most anticipated films, Women Talking, a quiet yet searing tale of a religious community decimated by sexual abuse. Before the screening at the Paramount that evening, double-Oscar winner Gardner will talk about the film and her involvement with such era-defining titles as 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight.
Sat., Oct. 29, 3pm
Stephen F. Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel

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More Austin Film Festival
The Social and Personal Turbulence of <i>Armageddon Time</i>
The Social and Personal Turbulence of Armageddon Time
James Gray explores his own flawed youth in this autobiographical coming-of-age film

Trace Sauveur, Nov. 4, 2022

The Austin Film Festival Brings the Terror of Motherhood in <i>Nanny</i>
The Austin Film Festival Brings the Terror of Motherhood in Nanny
New Voice Award winner Nikyatu Jusu looks at horror with a Black woman's gaze

Jenny Nulf, Oct. 21, 2022

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Austin Film Festival, Austin Film Festival 2022, AFF 2022, Nikyatu Jusu, Darren Aronofsky, Chris Fedak, James Gray, Dede Gardner, Nanny, Armageddon Time, The Whale, Ambulance, Women Talking

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