Austin Film Festival announces two diversity initiatives

Austin Film Festival
Among the industry professionals nnamed Austin Film Festival's advisory council on diversity and inclusion are, left, Peabody winner writer/producer Wendy Calhoun, and, right, VJ Boyd, co-creator of “Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector.”

The Austin Film Festival announced Wednesday the beginning of two initiatives to increase diversity and equity through its programs.

The first, the Uplifting Storytelling Initiative, will include targeted fellowship opportunities within the festival’s film and script competitions and in events at the annual writers conference. The festival also plays to expand its Digital Storytelling Education Program in school in Austin and elsewhere in Texas.

To help with the new effort, the festival has named an advisory board with considerable experience. They are:

  • VJ Boyd, co-creator of “Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector” and writer/producer for such shows as “Justified” and “S.W.A.T.”
  • Wendy Calhoun, a Peabody winner and writer/producer for such shows as “Empire” and “Prodigal Son.”
  • Noah Hawley, writer/producer of such shows as “Fargo” and “Legion.”
  • Chuck Hayward, writer/producer for “WandaVision” and other shows.
  • Ali LeRoi, director of “The Obituary of Tunde Johnson.”
  • Jenny Marchick, head of development for features at Dreamworks Animation.
  • Rebecca Windsor, vice president and head of Warner Bros. Television Workshop.

The festival also announced the Blackmagic Collective Emerging Filmmakers Fellowship Award. The winner of the award will be invited to the 2022 festival and receive a Blackmagic Design Pocket 6K Pro, a guaranteed screening slot at the BMC Film Festival in Los Angeles and a guaranteed seat in the fellowship running from January 2023 to November 2023. The fellowship will be available to narrative and student short entrants in the AFF Film Competitions, and it’s targeted at members of the BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, female-identifying and disabled communities.

The Austin Film Festival and Conference, which focuses on screenwriting, will start Oct. 27 and run through Nov. 3.