At the risk of sounding cheesy, there’s nothing better than diversity. Multiple points of view stimulate thinking and broaden our horizons. Different voices with different experiences enrich us and help us grow.
Unfortunately, in the world of mainstream entertainment, there isn’t much outside of superheroes, lame comedies, and Oscar bait biopics.
Enter Austin’s many multicultural film festivals and their dedication to introducing us to a wide variety of cultures through the magic of movies. Whether you’re hungry for Asian American drama or looking for the latest in New French cinema, Austin has a festival tailor-made for your personal taste, and sense of adventure.
Note: Some of the trailers linked below are NSFW. Watch at your own risk.
1/ Austin Jewish Film Festival
Nov. 2-8, 2019
A fixture of the local film scene for 17 years, Austin Jewish Film Festival celebrates the rich heritage and culture of the Jewish people, through film and the conversations they inspire.
This year’s opening night feature, “The Keeper,” tells the story of Brent Trautmann, a German soldier turned soccer star at the end of World War II. Soaked in conflict between a country’s desire to excel in sports and the fresh memories of Nazi oppression, expect “The Keeper” to be a stirring start to 2019’s program.
Opening night will take place at The Long Center on Nov. 2 with the balance of the festival going down at Regal Arbor @ Great Hills cinema.
Tickets are still available at austinjff.org.
2/ Austin Polish Film Festival
Nov. 1-3 and 8-10, 2019
Active in the local film scene since 2005, Austin Polish Society works to educate Austinites about Poland’s rich culture. A huge part of this mission is Austin Polish Film Festival. Rich with history, Polish movies are a staple in the word of international film.
While the organizers are still working on the slate for 2019, last year’s opening film was “Me And My Father,” the heart-wrenching story of a young man reconnecting with a father stricken with Alzheimers.
“A Cat With A Dog,” a slice of life drama involving a family of creatives, followed making for a potent one-two punch. This year’s Austin Polish Film Festival runs Nov. 1-3 and Nov. 8-10 at AFS Cinema.
Visit austinpolishfilm.com for more info.
3/ Austin Film Society’s New French Cinema Week
April 22-26, 2020
If you’ve never seen a New French film, then Austin Film Society’s yearly festival is a great way to immerse yourself in this distinct and beautiful genre. The week will include a wide range of movies from the jarring zombie film “The Night Eats the World” to “Sofia,” a beautifully realized story of a young mother hiding her pregnancy in modern day Morocco.
Last year’s event featured nine films, an opening night reception, guest DJ sets, and other screenings. And nearly none of the movies shown will ever reach U.S. distribution, making New French Cinema Week a wonderful chance to see something truly unique and inspiring.
For the full slate, visit austinfilm.org.
4/ Indie Meme Film Festival
Every April, Indie Meme Film Festival brings the diverse world of South Asian cinema to the movie hungry masses. This year’s event packed 20 films from seven countries in nine languages into a four-day weekend. The opening film, “The Last Color,” told the story of a a nine-year-old’s quest to help an elderly widow rediscover the spice of life.
“Kaamyaab” closed the 2019 festival in style. The film centers on an aging Bollywood actor who, after retiring, realizes he starred in 499 movies. When he undergoes a quest to hit number 500, “Kaamyaab” is the sort of life-affirming crowd pleaser the festival is known for. Indie Meme Film Festival runs over the course of one weekend in April at AFS Cinema.
Visit indiememe.org for more information.
5/ Cine Las Americas
A cinematic love letter to films made by Latinos and indigenous people from the Americas, Cine Las Americas digs deep into Austin’s rich heritage for movie gold. May 2020 will be the festival’s 23rd anniversary, a huge accomplishment. Last year, the festival screened 114 movies representing 25 countries–an astounding number considering the event only runs four full days.
From heart-warming documentaries like “Midnight Family‘ to taut thrillers like the Jury Award-winning “Ocho De Cada Diez,” Cine Las Americas captures the spirit of Latino film in a special way. The majority of the films screen at AFS Cinema and the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.
Check out cinelasamericas.org for the full schedule.
6/ Austin Asian American Film Festival
Dedicated to furthering awareness of the rich world of Asian American cinema, Austin Asian American Film Festival is four days of pure movie magic. In 2019, over 25 films screened during the festival, with several receiving awards from both the jury and the audience. Coming of age story “House of Hummingbird” took Best Narrative Feature, while “Soni” took the audience prize.
Asian film is marked by daring visuals and out-of-the-box storytelling, making every screening an adventure. Next year’s Austin Asian American Festival should be no different. Like most of the festivals on this list, it takes place at AFS Cinema.
Visit aaafilmfest.org for all the latest on the festival.
7/ Capital City Black Film Festival
As of this writing, you just missed this sensational celebration of black cinema from all over the world. Over 50 movies were shown at the 2019 festival from every genre imaginable. Attendees were able to screen a sneak preview of Jacob Estes’ “Don’t Let Go” before catching the quirky slice-of-life drama “La Vie Magnifique de Charlie” on opening night.
And it’s not just screenings. Capital City Black Film Festival offers industry panel discussions, social activations, special awards presentations, and much more. Packed to the walls with quality movies from inventive and daring filmmakers, the festival is a movie buff’s dream Labor Day weekend. Most films are screened at Austin Convention Center.
Visit capcitybff.com for all the details leading up to next year.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
What’s your favorite local film festival?