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News > 2013 Film Competition is Open – A Note from Bears

2013 Film Competition is Open – A Note from Bears

Happy 2013, filmmakers! Over the New Year’s holiday I found myself enjoying two very different cinematic celebrations that filled me with renewed excitement for the year ahead. First, on New Year’s Eve, I had the privilege of introducing a series of shorts at Austin’s New Year, a City of Austin Cultural Arts Division public festival of music, film and other live entertainment on Auditorium Shores. Six local groups (including SXSW and Austin Film Society) were invited to showcase films from 2012 on the giant Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow screen. Austin Film Festival concluded the evening with three films that played last year’s Festival, LOVE, EMILY (written and directed by Kevin Harger, co-written by Chris Bourke), INCIDENT AT PUBLIC SCHOOL 173 (written and directed by Andrew Tilley), and the Animated Short Academy Award® Shortlisted HEAD OVER HEELS (written and directed by Timothy Reckart). The night was cold, and a bit rainy, but the crowd huddled together to laugh and smile as one. There was a lot going on all around us, loud retro-soul from one stage, police sirens out on the street. Fortunately, somehow, I had happened to select three shorts that told their stories in images rather than words, and the effect was rather unquestionable. The audience virtually tripled by the time the last short finished and I heard several teens walk away with a new resolution, to make films of their own this year.

The next day I finally made it to LIFE OF PI, a film that came out while I was still recovering from AFF 2012 and the last thing I wanted to do was see a movie. The film is beautifully shot, and I think I cried more than I have since Frodo stepped up at Rivendell and volunteered to carry the One Ring, ‘though he did not know the way.’ What makes LIFE OF PI so fantastic is that it is a story about telling a story. I won’t ruin it for you, but the book-end device of the film (and, of course, the book it is based on) is a man telling another man his life story, a story that only he can tell, and one that he is entrusting to someone else to tell to the world. Our stories only exist as events or ideas until we tell them. It is then that they take on meaning. The meaning comes from the audience, who bring with them their own particular experiences and understanding in interpreting the story. That’s what I think I enjoyed most about the 2012 AFF, hearing the audiences discuss the films we had chosen. I knew what they meant to me, but to see them through the eyes of a new viewer, that was magical.

Which is a long way to say that I’m pretty excited the film competition for the 2013 Austin Film Festival officially opens today. No, there is no rush (the cost is $50 until the Earlybird deadline of May 1), but if you’ve got a story you want to share, we want to help you find your audience. You can submit your film three ways.

1) Online through  Just click here.

2) Online though our website, where we can offer you a $5 discount.

3) Through the mail by downloading the entry form.

Both the online entry and downloadable form can be found on our website at:

Also on this page you can find links to the rules for this year, the FAQ for the film competition, and the awards available for entrants. This year, we’ve INCREASED the CASH prizes attached to every Jury Award category.

I am also really excited to announce this year’s new Competition Category: DARK MATTERS FEATURE. As this year’s festival ends on Halloween, it seemed like a good time to showcase films in the Horror genre. DARK MATTERS FEATURES must be feature-length narratives, 60 minutes or longer, and easily identified as belonging to the horror genre or a particularly dark suspense, thriller or sci-fi film.

As the Director of Programming, I really look forward to viewing your films, and am available to answer any questions you have during the entry process. Just email me at

Remember, Austin Film Festival searches submissions for the best stories. We are looking to include the most original and inspiring entries from all over the world in the festival, regardless of race, religion, or lifestyle. Please do not hesitate to submit a film that may not portray so-called ‘traditional’ characters or life choices. A great story shares a universal truth from a distinctive viewpoint. We can’t wait to see what you have to show us.

Hope you all have great 2013 full of great film and great filmmaking.

Bears Fonte, Director of Programming