COVID-19 Impact

Marquee Texas film festival goes virtual due to ongoing pandemic

Marquee Texas film festival goes virtual due to ongoing pandemic

Jeff Nichols
Texas filmmaker Jeff Nichols is a frequent guest at the festival. Photo courtesy of Austin Film Festival

More movies will be enjoyed from the couch, as the Austin Film Festival becomes the latest big event in Texas to go virtual. It will be the first time the festival does not take place in person in its 27-year history.

On July 28, organizers announced it is joining the ever-growing list of festivals forced to pivot due to health concerns. 

Known officially as the Austin Film Festival and Writers Conference, the eight-day event runs October 22-29, and includes both online screenings and virtual panels with Hollywood heavyweights. 

AFF's film lineup will be released at a later date, but the release says it will be a mix of "marquee premieres and selected films from this year’s competition." 

"Viewers will have the opportunity to tune in live to experience the exciting atmosphere of film premieres or alternatively to enjoy films on demand and on their own schedule," AFF notes. Badge holders can also tune into filmmaker Q&As, among other perks.

This year, organizers are using the virtual format to add another full day of programming to the writers' conference. (Bonus? No waiting in lines to get in.)

Attendees can participate in panels with industry insiders such as Lindsay Doran (producer, Sense and Sensibility); Scott Frank (writer, Get Shorty); Kevin Willmott (cowriter, Da 5 Bloods); and Tracey Scott Wilson (writer, Respect). Guests will speak on topics ranging from current affairs to how to turn your passion into a full-time career. Like the film lineup, the full schedule of panels and roundtables is slated to be released at a later date.

The annual Austin Film Festival Pitch Competition and Roundtable — a conference favorite — will also return. Despite its new virtual format, AFF says organizers are working hard to maintain the spirit of the competition, keeping it "immersive and interactive."

Badges are on sale now, and begin at $30 for the Virtual Film Pass, which grants access to both movies and the Q&As with filmmakers. The Virtual Badge, priced at $175, includes films, filmmaker Q&As, panel discussions, roundtables, and film premieres. Attendees can also tack on the Austin Film Festival Pitch Competition and Roundtable for an additional $25 each. Students may access the Virtual Badge at a discounted rate of $150.