Austin is one of the country’s fastest-growing cities, a tendency that is perhaps most noticeable in the service sector, particularly in its gastronomy and music industry. Nevertheless, what some people might not know is that Austin also has a prosperous film scene, reflected in its over 20 world-class film and television festivals.
Whether it was Linklater’s Slacker that started an artistic movement, or the continuous state support to filmmakers, Austin has become a premier destination for TV and film directors in the likes of Terrence Malick, Chelsea Hernandez and Robert Rodriguez. If you want to discover Austin’s entertainment industry and encounter indies you won’t find at your local movie theater, take a look at these film festivals in Austin and become lost in the intricate web of new genres and styles of cinema.
Founded in 1987, South By Southwest is Austin’s biggest film festival, where film, music, education, and culture meet. Most events take place at Austin Convention Center, while other smaller events and conferences are held in downtown area for nine days. The film festival has had innumerable stars and filmmakers throughout the years as keynote speakers during the conferences, including Alejandro Jodorowsky, Tilda Swinton, Danny Boyle, Christine Vachon and Henry Rollins.
Not only is it an amazing hub for film screenings, exhibitions and music and comedy showcases, the festival also provides great networking opportunities with people in the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, SXSW has already run its course this year, but stay on the lookout for next year’s program.
📆 Mar 10-19
Another incredible plan to add to your calendar, Cine Las Americas International Film Festival highlights the diverse and vibrant cinema of the Americas. With a focus on Latin American, U.S. Latino and Indigenous films, the festival offers a unique opportunity for filmmakers to showcase their social and cultural perspectives with audiences in Austin and beyond.
The festival screens feature films, documentaries, shorts and experimental works that explore a wide range of themes, including social issues, historical events and cultural identities. If you’re eager to explore the diverse cultures and voices of the Americas, Cine Las Americas offers an unforgettable experience that celebrates the power of cinema and fosters connections between communities.
📆 Jun 7-11
The Austin Asian American Film Festival is an annual event dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the diverse range of stories and experiences within the Asian American community through the medium of film. The festival features a carefully curated selection of narrative and documentary films, highlighting talents of Asian American filmmakers and shedding light on the issues, cultures and perspectives of Asian Americans.
The 15th AAAFF is scheduled for June and the program includes movies like Adele Lim’s Joy Ride and Celine Song’s Past Lives. Check out their website to get Early Bird Badges for in-person events.
📆 Jun 21-25
Prism Film Fest is an initiative started by the All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival. It is a significant component of the larger aGLIFF festival and focuses specifically on showcasing films, media and artwork that represent and celebrate the diverse experiences and perspectives of the LGBTQ+ community. The festival features a range of genres, including narrative films, shorts, documentaries and experimental works.
By attending Prism Festival, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a vibrant and supportive community and engage with stimulating films. Whether you identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, an ally, or someone who appreciates diverse storytelling, Prism Festival offers a space for celebration, reflection and connection.
📆 Aug 23 – 27
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AUTS is another great film festival in Austin that every year selects a wide collective of indies, from narrative and comedy to horror, sci-fi and documentary. The festival’s mission is to make film festivals fun again and not to take life too seriously. If you get tickets to the screenings, you can enjoy photos on the red carpet and network with independent filmmakers, directors and screenwriter. Besides being a hub on everything cinema, it’s also a great social event and best of all, the festival donates its yearly proceeds to the Autism Society of Texas.
📆 Oct 15
The Austin Film Festival is an experience that no movie buff should miss. As one of the most esteemed and recognized film festivals in the industry, AFF offers a unique and immersive environment with stellar programming and a chance to engage with the community.
AFF is a hotbed for creativity and innovation, where groundbreaking films and rising talents are discovered. For eight nights, you can get insight into the craft of filmmaking, screenwriting and the business of the film industry. This year, the festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary, so make sure to show them some love and find a gem of a movie while you’re at it.
📆 Oct 26 -Nov 2
The Austin Polish Film Festival is your passport to the realm of the Polish film industry. The APFF presents a captivating selection of Polish films every year, providing a rare opportunity to explore the vibrant and diverse Polish cinema scene. From thought-provoking dramas to heartwarming comedies, the festival curates a range of films that offer insights into Polish culture, history and contemporary society.
In addition, the APFF often welcomes Polish filmmakers, directors and actors as special guests. This provides a remarkable opportunity to attend Q&As and engage in conversations. Whether you’re a film enthusiast of simply curious about Poland, the APFF promises an enriching and memorable experience for you to enjoy this fall.
📆 Nov 2-5
When a film festival vows to highlight filmmakers across the world who defy conventions and champion art, it immediately has our attention. Formerly known as Austin Arthouse, this inviting and engaging film festival was created by Giselle de la Rosa and Elizabeth Tabish due to their love for arthouse films.
They wished to share with Austin films that hold “creativity and potential for impact”. The festival screens a wide range of feature and short films and this year’s virtual screening is scheduled for December. If you’re into alternative storytelling and independent cinema, The Arthouse Film Festival should be on your radar this year.
📆 Dec 26-31
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Another culturally enriching event, the Austin Jewish Film Festival celebrates Jewish heritage and explores the Jewish experience through film. It showcases a diverse selection of films from around the world, including thought-provoking documentaries, compelling narratives and engaging shorts. Many films center on Jewish values, traditions and challenges, thus, providing a platform for dialogue and cultural exchange.
📆 Early November – TBD
The Austin Spotlight Film Festival is dedicated to not only showcasing emerging filmmakers, but also helping out anyone who’s looking to start their filmmaking journey. A panel of 12 international judges select a wide variety of films every year including narrative, comedy, horror, documentary and even music videos. Finally, the top-rated film is given the Spotlight on the festival’s website and social media platforms. Their annual selections are highlighted on their socials, so stay on the lookout for dates and program details.