Versatile filmmaker Jonathan Demme will receive the Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking award from the Austin Film Festival this year, as the screenwriter-centric fest celebrates its 20th anniversary.
Demme, who got his start in film in the early 1970s working as a writer and director for legendary producer Roger Corman, won an Academy Award for direction for his psychological horror “The Silence of the Lambs” and has directed such emotionally powerful films as “Philadelphia” and “Rachel Getting Married.” Coming up for Demme is “Zeitoun,” about post-Katrina New Orleans and based on the book by Dave Eggers.
The festival will also honor small-screen master Vince Gilligan with the Outstanding Television Writer award. Gilligan came to acclaim as writer and executive producer on former AFF awardee Chris Carter’s “The X-Files” but has received his most overwhelming critical acclaim for creating AMC’s groundbreaking “Breaking Bad.” His forays into feature film writing include the Will Smith vehicle “Hancock” and the Drew Barrymore rom-com “Home Fries.”
The festival will also hand out its inaugural Heart of Film award to producer Barry Josephson. An AFF regular, Josephson has produced a host of TV shows and movies, including former award-winner Hart Hanson’s “Bones” and “The Finder,” as well as the Disney film “Enchanted” and the upcoming “Enchanted 2.”
“In our 20th anniversary year, we are asserting that we are, and have always been, the foremost writers’ festival,” AFF co-founder and executive director Barbara Morgan said. “We are beyond proud to be honoring filmmaking legend Jonathan Demme, TV’s most sought-after creator, Vince Gilligan, and acclaimed producer, Barry Josephson — and we have many great surprises ahead.”
Demme, Gilligan, and Josephson will accept their awards at the festival’s annual award luncheon, held Oct. 26 at the Austin Club. The festival has already announced its first wave of talent, which includes John August (screenwriter of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”), Alec Berg (writer/executive producer of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Peter Craig (screenwriter of “The Town”), Akiva Goldsman (screenwriter of “A Beautiful Mind”), Rian Johnson (writer-director of “Brick” and “Looper”) and Austinite Rob Thomas (creator of “Veronica Mars”). AFF runs from Oct. 24-31.