Austin Film Festival announces first slate of features

‘Memoria’ and ‘Petite Maman’ are two of the highest-profile offerings


The Austin Film Festival has announced its first wave of films, which include the Texas premieres of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Memoria,” starring Tilda Swinton, and Celine Sciamma’s “Petite Maman.”

Also playing are: “Everything I Ever Wanted to Tell My Daughter About Men,” directed by an ensemble of 15 women; “Ghosts of the Ozarks,” directed by Jordan Wayne Long and Matt Glass; “It Hatched,” directed and written by Elvar Gunnarssson; “”Ragged Heart,” directed by Evan McNary; “Swamp Lion,” directed and written by Torben Bech; ‘The Big Bend,” directed and written by Brett Wagner; “The Humans,” directed and written by Stephen Karam; and “With This Breath I Fly,” directed by Sam French and Clementine Malpas.

Writer and producer Michael Schur will be recognized as the Outstanding Television Writer, while Stephanie Allain will get the Polly Platt Award for Producing. Schur created the NBC comedy “The Good Place” and co-created “Parks and Recreation.” Allain is one of the most prolific African-American producers and helped launch the careers of John Singleton, Craig Brewer and Justin Simien.

In “Memoria,” Swinton plays a woman who is trying to discover the cause of a sound that only she can hear. The film from the Thai director Weerasethakul won the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival — so it’s a must-see for Austin art-film lovers.

“Petite Maman,” meanwhile is Sciamma’s followup to “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.” It’s a French drama about a mother and daughter, and like “Memoria,” has been picked up for distribution in the United States by Neon.

“The Humans,” which will be having its Texas premiere, focuses on a family that gathers for Thanksgiving in Manhattan but begins to have second thoughts when things start to get mysteriously bumpy.

In “Ragged Heart,” first-time filmmakers Evan and Debrah McNary follow a washed-up musician who is haunted but his estranged daughter’s ghost.

“The Big Bend” stars Jason Butler Harner, Virginia Kull, Erica Ash and David Sullivan in a West Texas drama about two families who meet for a reunion.

In “Swamp Lion,” director Bech focuses on how far a father will go to save his son, who has cancer.

“With This Breath I Fly” will be timely since it follows two women in Afghanistan as the fight for their freedom in a patriarchal society.

Tim Blake Nelson, David Arquette and Phil Morris star in “Ghosts of the Ozarks,” in post-Civil War Arkansas, where a black doctor is summoned to a remote town.

“It Hatched” is an Icelandic horror film from a first-time director and promises to provide a few thrills at the festival, which runs from Oct. 21 through 28.

For more information on the films and programs at the festival, which focuses on screenwriting, visit

Charles Ealy
Charles Ealy
Charles Ealy is a former movies editor for The Dallas Morning News and Austin American-Statesman.

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