Austin Film Festival annually recognizes outstanding filmmakers and screenwriters for their accomplished body of work and contributions toward furthering the art and craft of filmmaking. (Scroll down for the list of past honorees.)
We have a master-list-in-progress of possible screenwriters and filmmakers to honor and we add names to it every year – and sometimes remove them: RIP John Hughes… . Several factors are considered before deciding upon honorees to invite – how their style fits with our plans for that year’s program, their collective body of work, how their work has elevated and contributed to the culture of film and/or television, and, in the case of the Film and Actor Awards, their recognition of the importance of screenwriting.
While we have our list, we thought we’d ask some of our Conference participants – past and present – to tell us who they would honor – living or dead – with one of our awards and why?
First up is screenwriter/producer Pen Densham. Pen is the founder and co-chairman of Trilogy Entertainment Group, the author Riding the Alligator, and screenwriter of ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES, MOLL FLANDERS, and HOUDINI.
Great question — off the top of my foggy head — Eric Roth — he has made written some deeply human and unconventional scripts that are worthy of time.
No longer living?
I had the privilege of seeing a brand new print of Sunset Boulevard with Billy Wilder. Fox made the print so he could see it one last time.
Frank Darabondt set up the screening. I watched with Billy in a wheelchair silhouetted in front of me against the screen. It was a touching and powerful life moment for me.
Sunset Boulevard is truly a writer’s script – and astonish-lying our business has not changed. It felt vital and in the moment – to my Hollywood experience.
Billy is amazing for many reasons – not just that he wrote all these powerful scripts in a second language. But he also wrote timeless drama and comedy – Some Like It Hot is still alive and kicking!
Years ago I used to stuff myself full of books on what I wanted to learn. I remember reading a book of great movie line quotes – to my astonishment — Billy Wilder quotes outnumbered by far every other writer included.
Past Austin Film Festival & Conference Honorees
Distinguished Screenwriter Award recipients: Caroline Thompson, David Peoples, Steven Zaillian, John Milius, Shane Black, Harold Ramis, Barry Levinson, Frank Pierson, Richard LaGravanese, Lawrence Kasdan, Buck Henry, Robert Altman, Bill Wittliff, Paul Schrader, James L. Brooks, Paul Mazursky, and Horton Foote.
Outstanding Television Writer Award recipients: Hart Hanson, David Simon, Mitchell Hurwitz, Greg Daniels, David Milch, Garry Shandling, David Chase, Tom Fontana, Darren Star, Mike Judge, Glenn Gordon Caron, and Gary David Goldberg.
Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award recipients: John Lasseter, Robert Rodriguez, Ron Howard, Danny Boyle, Oliver Stone and Sydney Pollack.
Extraordinary Contribution to Film – Acting Award recipient: Johnny Depp.