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It’s impossible to recount all of the incredible experiences that have taken place at our annual Festival and Conference. From surprise announcements from writers at our daily conference panels to chance encounters on the red carpet and career-making moments over drinks at the Driskill bar, these eight days are jam-packed with a special kind of magic you can only get once a year on a late-October weekend in a place like Austin, Texas.
Despite the tireless prepping, planning, and plotting our team pours into each Festival, it’s those serendipitous surprise moments you could never prepare for that are always the most memorable. We’re honored to share these special moments with you all year after year, and we hope you’ll join us for another week of entertaining, inspiring, and unexpected events that make our annual Festival and Conference a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
Here are a few of our favorite memories from the 2018 Festival & Conference:
1. When Ed Solomon gave his shoes to an attendee at a retrospective screening of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
It’s hard not to love Ed Solomon, but our adoration increased tenfold when the Men in Black writer took off his red sneakers on the spot and gave them to a registrant who complimented his shoes at our screening of his cult classic film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Read the full story behind the Magical Solomon Shoes here!
2. When Larry Wilmore called Tony Gilroy his spirit animal
When we invited TV legend Larry Wilmore and esteemed screenwriter Tony Gilroy to Austin as our 2019 awardees, we knew we were in for some fun, but we couldn’t have predicted how well these two would get along. Check out this magic moment when the two discuss their writing process, leading to Larry dubbing Tony his official spirit animal.
3. When Mike Judge made a surprise appearance at the closing night premiere of Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner
We’re no stranger to surprise guests on the red carpet, but when the mastermind behind TV classics Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill and the workplace comedy Office Space appeared, we were downright giddy.
Following the screening, Judge joined Reitman on stage for a Q&A. When asked if his dystopian comedy Idiocracy had done some unintended foreshadowing, Judge had a simple response—“Won’t happen again.”
4. When a registrant challenged a panel of Icelandic strongmen to a battle of strength
Our red carpet has never looked smaller than when the stars of the Icelandic strength training documentary Fullsterkur joined us for the film’s big screen premiere. Standing at a towering 6’9 was the currently-crowned ‘World’s Strongest Man’ Hafthor Bjornsson (best-known for his infamous role of The Mountain in HBO’s Game of Thrones) alongside fellow strongman competitor and four-time title winner Magnus Ver Magnusson. But their titles didn’t stop the audience member who challenged the heavyweight champions to a strength contest with a hand gripper…and won! We didn’t see that one coming.
5. When our panelists sat down for a frank conversation on self-doubt in Hollywood and “the enemy within”
Longtime panelists and working writers Jason Headley, Christina Hodson, Pamela Ribon, and Oren Uziel join us each year for an intimate panel where they take an honest look at the harder side of Hollywood, and this year was no different.
Leave it to these four to cook up the kind of no-holds-barred discussion that one registrant called “hands-down the most existentially f***ed up and transcendent thing I saw all weekend.”
6. When we caught writer Mick Garris riding a vacuum at our 25th anniversary screening of Hocus Pocus on Halloween night
We’re suckers for a good holiday party, and what better way to celebrate Halloween than with a 25th anniversary screening of the spooky cult classic Hocus Pocus presented by the film’s writer Mick Garris? True to form, we caught Garris on the red carpet riding a vacuum broomstick cycle before heading inside for a pre-screening costume contest-turned dance party in the Paramount Theatre. Happy Halloween to us!
7. When producer Michael Grillo leaked the revival of Tilda Swinton’s character in Avengers: Endgame during an AFF panel with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Our ears perked up when producer Michael Grillo let it slip that Tilda Swinton was set to reprise her role as The Ancient One in Marvel’s epic franchise finale Avengers: Endgame while discussing the film with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Spoiler alert Mike!
Our staff is hard at work prepping for the 2019 Austin Film Festival, and we can only guess what surprises this year has in store for us. We hope you’ll join us, and make some memories of your own!