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Austin Film Festival's On Story

Austin Film Festival
101 episodes   Last Updated: Mar 15, 23
Austin Film Festival's On Story Podcast is the companion to Austin Film Festival's television show, On Story. Get an uncensored inside look at the creative process of film making through the eyes of some of the entertainment industry's most prolific writers, directors and producers.


This week on On Story, it's all about Women Talking, and I'm not just referencing our powerhouse guests, Academy Award-winning producer Dede Gardner and Oscar-nominated writer-director Sarah Polley, but also their newest film collaboration and adaptation, Women Talking. Women Talking is a drama feature based on Miriam Toews' critically acclaimed novel of the same name. Inspired by true events from a sequestered community in Bolivia, the film follows a group of women in an isolated religious colony as they struggle to reconcile their faith amidst a series of assaults committed by the colony's men. This raw and vulnerable look at domestic violence is ultimately a story of women's resilience, and it's beautifully portrayed by leading actors Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessica Buckley, Judith Ivey and Frances McDormand. Austin Film Festival was thrilled to include this powerful film in our 2022 film slate. But a little more on the women talking in this post-screening Q&A. AFF was honored to award Dede Gardner with the 2022 Polly Platt Award for Producing, an Austin Film Festival award intended to recognize producers with a keen sense of story who have demonstrated a commitment to fostering new talent. Throughout her career, Gardner has produced many Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning films, including pioneering work such as Minari, If Beale Street Could Talk, Moonlight, The Big Short, Vice, Selma, 12 Years a Slave, And Terrence Malick's Palme d'Or winner, The Tree of Life. Her recent television releases include HBO's limited series, The Third Day, as well as the Amazon series, The Underground Railroad, and Outer Range. Joining Gardner is Women Talking's writer-director, Sarah Polley. Formerly an actress known for her leading role in the television series, Ramona, Polley made her directorial debut with her film, Away from Her, which was Oscar-nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Polley also received the Writer's Guild of America Award for Best Documentary Screenplay for her doc, Stories We Tell. Most recently, she executive-produced and wrote the Netflix limited series, Alias Grace, which she adapted from Margaret Atwood's novel. In short, Sarah Polley is a master at taking existing stories and filtering them through a lens of her own. AFF moderator Marissa Padden spoke with Dede Gardner and Sarah Polley after their screening at this year's Austin Film Festival to give our audience an insider's look at the art of adaptation and to host an honest conversation about tackling stories with difficult subjects. Sh! The women are talking, it's time to listen. Clips of Women Talking courtesy of United Artists Releasing.
Austin Film Festival was proud to recognize Nikyatu Jusu during our annual Awards Luncheon as the 2022 New Voice Award recipient, an award intended to spotlight unique and captivating new voices in film, television, and new media. Nanny is a psychologically complex horror-thriller which follows Aisha, a recently-emigrated woman from Senegal who is hired to care for the daughter of an unbalanced white couple living in New York's Tribeca neighborhood. Through her work, Aisha begins to unravel, begging the question: When does the American Dream look more like a nightmare? Barbara Morgan sat down with Nikyatu Jusu at a post-screening Q&A at the Austin Film Festival.  Clips of Nanny courtesy of Amazon Studios.
This week on On Story we welcome writer Samuel D. Hunter, and director Darren Aronofsky for a deep-dive (no pun intended) into AFF’s 2022 Opening night film, The Whale. Samuel D. Hunter, recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant Fellowship, is known for his award-winning plays such as The Case for the Existence of God, A Bright New Boise, Greater Clements, and many more critically acclaimed titles. Darren Aronofsky is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker known for his indie box office phenomenon, Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman. His previous directorial work includes the award-winning films The Wrestler, The Fountain, and Requiem for a Dream.  Based on Samuel D. Hunter's acclaimed play with the same title, The Whale stars Brendan Fraser and follows the story of a reclusive English teacher living with severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. Andy Volk, Austin Film Festival's Senior Film Programmer, sat down with the creatives for a post-screening Q&A at the Austin Film Festival. Clips of The Whale courtesy of A24.
This week on On Story we’re joined by David Self, the writer behind films like Road to Perdition and Thirteen Days. In this episode, Self dissects his career breaking into the industry to writing crime and historical dramas.  David Self, having been born into an itinerant family of community college and high school teachers, he broke with family tradition and spent most of his waking hours trying to break into Hollywood. In 1994 he found success and was hired to pen the remake of the 1963 film The Haunting for Steven Spielberg. His credits also include Road to Perdition, Thirteen Days, and Wolfman. Crime and thriller film, Road to Perdition, is an adaptation of the DC Comics graphic novel series of the same name. Starring Tom Hanks, it follows the story of  a mob enforcer's son in 1930s Illinois who witnesses a murder, forcing him and his father to take to the road down a path of redemption and revenge. Thirteen Days is a tale of truths about how the Kennedy administration struggled to contain the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The Haunting is a story about how a study of fear escalates into a heart-stopping nightmare for a professor and three subjects trapped in a mysterious mansion.  Moderator Barbara Morgan sat down with David Self for a panel about his work at the Austin Film Festival.   Clips of Thirteen Days courtesy of Beacon Pictures. Clips of Road to Perdition courtesy of DreamWorks Films & Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Clips of Wolfman courtesy of Universal City Studios
This week on On Story we’re joined by writer & showrunner Glen Mazzara as he discusses the ins and outs of the industry, and how his experiences developed him into a versatile writer.  Glen Mazzara is a writer and producer whose work includes AMC’s The Walking Dead, The Shield, and Damien. Damien, a TV Drama based on the classic horror film, “The Omen”, follows the film’s protagonist, Damien as he copes with his life after finding out he is the prophesied Antichrist. The Shield, a Primetime Emmy Award-winning Drama series following the lives and cases of dirty cop Vic Mackey and the LAPD unit under his command. The Walking Dead, a post-apocalyptic drama made television history, winning 2 Primetime Emmys and becoming the only drama in television history to hold the #1 title for five consecutive years.   Moderator Harrison Glaser sat down with Glen Mazzara for a panel about his work at the Austin Film Festival. Clips of The Walking Dead courtesy of AMC Entertainment Clips of The Shield and Damien courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
This week on On Story, Miss Juneteenth writer/director Channing Godfrey Peoples discusses her feature directorial debut and her work as a multi-hyphenate independent filmmaker.   Peoples is the writer-director of the 2020 drama Miss Juneteenth, which follows a former beauty queen and single mom as she prepares her rebellious daughter for a life-changing pageant. Having grown up in Fort Worth, Texas, Peoples attended pageants where “Miss Juneteenth” is a real contest held there. A gripping story of poverty, the film has appeared on dozens of critics’ year-end top ten lists, including TIME, Washington Post, and IndieWire, among others.   Moderator Ya’Ke Smith sat down with Channing Godfrey Peoples for a panel about her work as a multi-hyphenate independent filmmaker at the Austin Film Festival.   Clips of Miss Juneteenth courtesy of Ley Line Entertainment.
This week on On Story writer Derek Kolstad, creator of the John Wick franchise reflects on his thrilling career, how he weaves emotion and humanity into action set pieces, as well as crafting characters you cannot help but root for. Derek Kolstad is the writer/creator of the popular John Wick franchise with the latest installment: John Wick: Chapter 4 set to be released in 2023. He also wrote on Marvel’s hit limited series The Falcon and Winter Soldier, which has been nominated for 5 Primetime Emmys. 2021 also saw the release of Derek’s action-thriller Nobody. Nobody sheds light on a docile family man struggling with aging and encroaching feelings of irrelevance as his children grow up. His new tv adaptation of the popular video game, Splinter Cell, is currently in production and will be airing on Netflix in the following year.  Most recently, Kolstad produced the film The Princess for Hulu, which follows the action-packed story of a strong-willed princess who refuses an arranged marriage alliance to an especially cruel sociopath. Barbara Morgan sat down with Derek Kolstad for a panel about his work at the Austin Film Festival.   Clips of John Wick courtesy of Thunder Road Pictures Clips of Nobody courtesy of Universal City Studios
Hey podcast listeners, this week on On Story we’re foraging for insight into Pig with writer and director Michael Sarnoski.   Michael Sarnoski is a writer, director, and a producer best known for writing 2020’s Pig. The film, starring Nicholas Cage, tells the story of a man searching for his pig, while dealing with the effects of prolonged grief. As director, Sarnoski revealed that he only had around twenty days to make the movie and there was no budget for re-shoots or delays. He is currently slated to direct the upcoming A Quiet Place: Day One, the anticipated prequel in the A Quiet Place series.    We sat down with Michael Sarnoski for a panel about the film at the Austin Film Festival.
This week on On Story we’re talking to Hustle & Flow producer, Stephanie Allain for a conversation on producing. Stephanie Allain is a producer, known for her work in both film and television. Her work includes Hustle and Flow, Beyond the Lights, and Dear White People, a political commentary turned dramedy.  Hustle & Flow follows a street hustler’s attempt to make it in the hip-hop industry, featuring several BET award-winning performances and appearances by rappers like Ludacris and Juicy J.  Beyond the Lights tells the story of a mentally-unstable woman who has been shoved toward stardom by her domineering mother and finds her trajectory changed when a young cop stops her from taking her own life.    Dear White People follows the stories of a group of black students trying to navigate life at a predominantly white, elite university.   In 2021 Allain attended the Austin Film Festival, where she received the Polly Platt Award for Producing.   Moderator Casey Baron sat down with Stephanie Allain for a panel about her work at the Austin Film Festival.   Clips of Hustle & Flow courtesy of Crunk Pictures LLC. Clips of Beyond the Lights courtesy of Blackbird Productions, LLC. Clips of Dear White People courtesy of Homegrown Pictures.
This week on On Story we welcome screenwriter Eric Roth as he talks about about his process of adapting stories from beloved properties.   Eric Roth is a producer and writer, best known for penning the screenplays for 2021’s Dune, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and the Academy Award® winning adaptation, Forrest Gump.  Dune, tells a sci-fi driven hero’s journey of a young man traveling to the most dangerous planet to save his family’s future. The film took home 6 Oscars during the 2022 Academy Awards. Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt, follows the heart-wrenching story of a man living his life in reverse. The critically acclaimed film Forrest Gump, adapted from the Winston Groom novel of the same name, and which starred Tom Hanks, itself won 6 Oscars and became the top- grossing film in America during its theatrical run.   Clips of Forrest Gump courtesy of Paramount Pictures Clips of Dune courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Clips of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button courtesy of Paramount Pictures