Austin Film Society

Photo Credit: Hannah Hadidi | Daily Texan Staff

For young film enthusiasts, going to the movies can be somewhat of a financial burden. The Austin Film Society is looking to change that with the inception of the Ed Lowry Student Film Program. The program allows high school and undergraduate student society members to attend all of its regular screenings for free. 

The idea for the program came about during SXSW when Louis Black, co-founder of the Austin Chronicle and board member of the Austin Film Society, honored the late Ed Lowry in a speech. Black spoke of how Lowry led him to pursue film through a previous UT program, CinemaTexas. The program made screenings affordable and accessible to students. 

According to Holly Herrick, associate artistic director for the Austin Film Society, it was this speech that sparked the interest in bringing back something similar to CinemaTexas. 

“After hearing [the speech], we thought this is the perfect opportunity to recreate a program to inspire students in a way much like [Lowry] did for [Black],” Herrick said. “The goal is to create an opportunity for passionate students and give them this through an Austin Film Society exhibition.” 

Students have to show proof of enrollment and be current members of the Austin Film Society in order to participate. Radio-television-film senior David Roberts was previously a member of the Austin Film Society, but is no longer active because of the financial commitment. He said the institution of the program might encourage him to join again.

“If [the screenings had been] free, I could have gotten much more out of it,” Roberts said. “The great thing with this program is that people our age don’t have to be wealthy and don’t have to be part of some elite group to watch the old movies.”

Herrick said the program is devoted to shaping the next generation of filmmakers by giving them the opportunity to see nearly 250 screenings per year and participate in Austin’s film culture. She hopes the program will inspire students to continue to seek out and create great films. 

“We want the next generation to have rich cinematic base,” Herrick said. “[The program] will show them the power of the theatrical environment and hopefully inspire students to pursue cinema, if not as a career, as a lifelong love.” 

While the Oscars took place last Sunday night, the awards season is still not over — at least not for Texas. 

The Austin Film Society, a non-profit film organization, will host its 14th annual Texas Film Awards on March 7 by inducting four honorees and one film into the Texas Film Hall of Fame.

Sponsored by the Austin Chronicle, South by Southwest and Texas Monthly, the Texas Film Awards will celebrate this year’s most distinguished actors, filmmakers and artists. In addition to hosting the awards at the Austin Studios on East 51st Street, AFS will hold an official Texas-themed after-party at the same location, showcasing local music and food.

Rebecca Campbell, executive director of AFS, said the society will honor many Texans and Texas-related films.

“[The awards] are a way to raise awareness of Texas’ contribution to the film industry, culture and history and to support the next generation of film artists,” Campbell said.

Two of the four honorees — Austinite Amber Heard, known for her film role in “Friday Night Lights,” and Louis Black, co-founder of the Austin Chronicle — are former UT students. AFS also selected country singer and actor Mac Davis and David Gordon Green, director of “Pineapple Express,” as honorees at this year’s event. The film “From Dusk till Dawn,” directed by Robert Rodriguez, was chosen as the only film to be added to the Texas Film Hall of Fame this year. 

“For each year’s class of honorees, we generally mix it up between actors, directors, writers and other behind-the-camera creatives,” Campbell said. “It’s an eclectic group that bears talent, accomplishment and Texas in common.”

While tickets to attend the film awards are sold out, tickets to the after-party are still available online for $50. All proceeds benefit the AFS programs and services that empower the future generation of Texas film through the AFS grant. According to Campbell, $100,000 is given to emerging artists each year. 

“We’ve given $1.35 million in cash over the years,” Campbell said.