Austin Film Festival reveals opening night film, plus more in line up —
August 11, 2020

Austin Film Festival reveals opening night film, plus more in line up

Austin Film Festival (AFF), the premier film festival recognizing writers’ and filmmakers’ contributions to film, television, and new media, has announced the first and second wave of programming for the 2016 Festival lineup, taking place on October 13-20.

Included is AFF’s Opening Night Film Loving with writer/director Jeff Nichols (Mud, Midnight Special) in attendance, as well as the Texas Premiere of upcoming drama Lion, starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.

The complete list of programming at the 23rd annual AFF, including short films, competition titles, and Conference panels, will be announced in mid-September. Below are the already announced films that will be screened during the festival.

5 Doctors
World Premiere
Writers: Matt Porter, Max Azulay, Phil Primason
Directors: Matt Porter, Max Azulay
Convinced that he’s dying from a bizarre array of symptoms, struggling comedian Spencer Kaminsky returns home to visit his five childhood doctors in a single day, all while desperately trying to avoid the friends and family that he left behind.

Brave New Jersey
World Premiere
Writers: Michael Dowling, Jody Lambert
Director: Jody Lambert
A small New Jersey town in 1938 is overcome with mass hysteria on the night of Orson Welles’s legendary 1938 ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast, the hoax which fooled millions into believing America was being invaded by Martians.

Crunch Time – Season 1
World Premiere
Writers: Andrew Disney, Bradley Jackson
Director: Andrew Disney
In a highly classified location, a gang of misfit grad students are interrogated by government operatives. Why? Because the world is about to end, and it’s all their fault. How did it all start? With a last ditch effort to win back love… by way of an extremely dangerous, untested, lucid dreaming machine.

Diani and Devine Meet the Apocalypse
World Premiere
Writers/Directors: Etta Devine, Gabriel Diani
When all power and communication systems mysteriously shut off, couple and performing comedy duo Gabe and Etta pack up their troubles and hit the road with their trusty dog, Watson and their miserable cat Mrs. Peel in search of a safe haven to wait out the possible extinction event.

Forushande (The Salesman)
Texas Premiere
Writer/Director: Asghar Farhadi
After their old flat becomes damaged, Emad and Rana, a young couple living in Tehran, are forced to move into a new apartment. Eventually, a sudden eruption of violence linked to the previous tenant of their new home dramatically changes the couple’s life, and creates a simmering tension between husband and wife.

Gimme Danger
Texas Premiere
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Gimme Danger presents the story of iconic punk legends the Stooges and their legendary frontman Iggy Pop. Director Jim Jarmusch tracks their emergence and adventures and misadventures while charting their inspirations, challenges, and long-lasting legacy.

Good Fortune
North American Premiere
Directors: Joshua Tickell, Rebecca Harrell Tickell
Good Fortune tells the heartwarming rags to riches life story of John Paul DeJoria, the poster boy of “conscious capitalism” and follows him as he uses business to make the world a better place.

North American Premier
Director: Tao Ruspoli
Recovering from a very public divorce, independent filmmaker and Italian Prince Tao Ruspoli takes to the road to talk to his relatives, advice columnists, psychologists, historians, anthropologists, artists, philosophers, sex workers, sex therapists, and ordinary couples about love, sex & monogamy in our culture.

World Premiere
Director: Justin Agnew
ProGamer explores the emerging world of electronic sports by following professional Starcraft II gamers Naniwa and White-Ra, who navigate worldwide gaming tournaments and their own personal lives

Quaker Oaths
World Premiere
Writer/Director: Louisiana Kreutz
In order for Emily and Joe to get a divorce, they will need to take a trip across the country and convince each wedding guest to cross their name off of the wedding certificate, per Quaker tradition.

Opening Night Film
Texas Premiere
Writer/Director: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, Nick Kroll
“Loving” celebrates the real-life courage and commitment of an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), who married and then spent the next nine years fighting for the right to live as a family in their hometown. Their civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, went all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 1967 reaffirmed the very foundation of the right to marry – and their love story has become an inspiration to couples ever since.

The Big Spoon
World Premiere
Writers: Mallory Culbert, Carlyn Hudson
Director: Carlyn Hudson
Cast: Zach Knighton, Nick Stevenson
Long-term couple Mallory and Ben plan to enjoy a romantic weekend alone in Mallory’s house, but their plans are ruined when Elle, Mallory’s flighty roommate, shows up with a surprise lover. As tensions rise, each couple is forced to question the strength of their relationship.

The Harvest Run
World Premiere
Writers/Directors: Steven Balvanz, Aaron McAdams
The Beckleys, a third generation farming family, gear up for the annual Harvest Run – a demanding seven-month journey that is essential to producing America’s annual yield of wheat and corn. Faced with the insurmountable hardships of the American economy and climate change, the year’s run proves more challenging than ever.

Holding Patterns
World Premiere
Writers/Director: Jake Goldberger
Cast: Freddie Highmore, Odeya Rush, Haley Joel Osment, Christopher Meloni
Mid-twenties, unmotivated, and still living at home with his mother and stepfather, Charlie Brenner is given a surprising boost of confidence when he meets Amber (Odeya Rush,) a local barista. As they become closer, the line between friendship and intimacy is blurred, and the situation forces both of them to examine where they are in their respective lives. Charlie’s situation is further complicated by the sudden appearance of his estranged father.

Texas Premiere
Writer: Luke Davies
Director: Garth Davis
Cast: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara
Adapted from the non-fiction book A Long Way Home, Lion follows the challenges a young Indian boy faces after taking a wrong train, being separated from his family, and being adopted by Australians. Twenty-five years later, armed only with sparse information and Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family.

The Man Who Was Thursday
North American Premiere
Writer/Director: Balazs Juszt
In a mind-bending metaphysical thriller, disgraced local parish, Father Smith, is called to Rome for spiritual rehabilitation. Upon Smith’s arrival, his spiritual mentor, Charles, tasks him with a mission to go underground to ascertain the mysterious leader of an archaist group of renegades.

No Retreat
World Premiere
Writers: J.D. Singer, Nicholas Zafonte
Director: Nicholas Zafonte
Fifteen years after graduating college, two college friends reconnect at a weekend writers’ retreat. As they struggle to attempt one last shot at a creative lifestyle, the drama of old regrets, insecurity, and unfinished romantic business takes its toll.

Suburban Cowboy
World Premiere
Writer: Ryan Colucci
Directors: Ryan Colucci, Dragan Roganovic
Cast: Frank Raducz Jr, Alandrea Martin, Louie Iaccarrino, Matty Finocchio, Jeff Newman
In this gritty story based on real events, a Long Island drug dealer find himself in over his head once one of his soldiers robs a dealer with a connection to ruthless Serbian gangsters. Now responsible for the debt, he is forced to take drastic measures.

Widely known as “The Writers Festival,” Austin Film Festival is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the art, craft, and business of filmmakers and screenwriters. This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department and the Texas Commission on the Arts. All attendees and events are based on permitting schedules and are subject to change and/or cancellation without notice. Badges and passes are available for purchase online at or by phone at 1-800-310-FEST.

About Merideth Cox 239 Articles
Merideth is a music writer who has covered bands from her hometown in Colorado to London to Bangkok to Shanghai and finally back to Austin. Led Zeppelin changed her life. So did Dolly Parton. You can read her music reviews at

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