Play Festivals and Events

Austin Film Festival: Your Guide To the 8-Day Event

If you love film and storytelling, you’ve probably heard about the Austin Film Festival. One of the most prestigious film festivals on the planet — and the largest specifically for screenwriters — this festival draws thousands to ATX each year. It’s a place where aspiring screenwriters and filmmakers can get their works seen and where avid filmgoers can discover their next favorite piece.

Want to know more about the Austin Film Festival? Read on to learn more about what happens at the festival and how you can take part. We’ll cover the basics of the event and show you the different ticket options if you want to attend.

What is the Austin Film Festival & Conference?

austin film festival: people sitting in movie theater

The Austin Film Festival (AFF) is a nonprofit organization that hosts a yearly film festival and conference in October in Austin, Texas. The organization’s original mission was to promote screenwriters who were traditionally underrepresented in the industry. Today, the organization and its annual film festival is the largest screenwriters conference in the world. 

The event features more than 200 panelists including screenwriters, filmmakers, and industry professionals. Past participants include big names like Peter Hedges, Natalie Portman, and Jason Reitman — who has won both the Jury Award and Audience Award. It’s not only about film and television anymore either. The film festival and writers conference features storytelling and submissions for other mediums including podcasts, teleplays, and plays.

The Austin Film fest celebrates the creative process with various awards. There are separate film, script, and digital series competitions and awards include best narrative feature, narrative short, and screenwriting accolades among others. The coveted Jury Award qualifies the award winner for an Academy Award hosted in Los Angeles. Many awardwinenrs, semifinalists and other nominees also land gigs and network with industry professionals during the festival. There are also audience awards voted on by attendees of the festival.

The Austin Film Festival Schedule

The Austin Film Festival takes place in October — typically at the end of the month. The event spans eight days including four days of panel discussions and daily film screenings. There are also parties you can attend to rub elbows with and meet all kinds of industry professionals and aspiring storytellers. 

The conference and film festival take place at the same time. The panels are held during the first four days while movies and parties occur each of the eight days. There are also roundtables, meet and greets, and workshops. These cover a range of topics from tips on writing short films and animated shorts to dialogue, story structure, and character development.

The films are screened at several different theaters including the Paramount Theater, Long Center Rollins Theater, and Vesper Austin. They range from independent films (indie) and digital series to documentary features and documentary shorts. The panel discussions are usually held at the Driskill Hotel — one of the best hotels in Austin — 800 Congress, St. David’s Church, and the Omni Hotel — a fabulous ATX resort.

How To Attend 

A visit to the Austin Film Fest starts with purchasing a ticket from the main website: These are called badges and film passes and they offer varying degrees of access to the event. Some tickets provide access only to the film screenings while others offer exclusive access to parties, panels, and priority entry so you don’t have to wait in big lines. Aspiring writers can also enter submissions to be featured at the film competition. 

Here are some of the different ticket types and benefits registrants can choose from:

  • Producers Badge: Starting at $625 and grants full access to the priority line for theater entry. Also includes access to all parties plus access to early sign-ups for panels and discussions.
  • Conference Badge: Starting at $395 and offers budget access to all panels as well as select access to parties and networking events.
  • Weekend Badge: This badge starts at $275 and gives access to all eight days of film screenings and panels at the conference on Saturday and Sunday only. You’ll also get access to four parties and the Finale Pitch Party.
  • Lone Star Badge: Prices start at $150 and you’ll get access to all eight days of film screenings and panels on Saturday only.
  • Film Pass: Starting at $60, you’ll get access to all of the film premiers during the eight-day festival. This ticket does not offer access to any parties, panels, or discussions.

In addition to individual tickets, there are group passes for larger organizations, teams, or friends to attend together. In addition, there are discounts for students to make the event more affordable. If you’re a Texas student filmmaker, be sure to also check out AFF’s Young Filmmakers Program, which supports students between 9 and 18 years of age. The program consists of four key initiatives including a summer film camp, competition, festival, and training program.

With so many different ticketing options, you’ll be able to attend regardless of your budget. Choose the affordable film pass to get access to all of the films or go big and buy the Producer’s Badge if your goal is to mingle and learn from every panelist. Choosing the right ticket is all about identifying what you want to get out of the event and balancing that with your budget. 

Discover Events in Austin

Austin Texas ATX sign

Looking for other upcoming events to attend in Austin? The capital of the Lone Star state has tons of options. From the infamous SXSW festival and the ATX Food and Wine Festival to the Austin City Limits Festival, there’s something for everyone. This town is all about having fun — whether you want to indulge in the delightful culinary scene or check out the best live music in town.

Austin is a thriving city with no shortage of things to do. From incredible film and theater opportunities to food and culture, you’ll never be bored here. If you’re a true film buff, be sure to check out our guide to the best movie theaters in Austin. It features a theater  experience for every type of film buff. Visit for the weekend, stay for a month, or make the move here and discover everything Austin has to offer.

Erika Marty
Erika Marty

Erika is an avid traveler who has been to more than 60 countries where she finds food, activities, and hidden locales for touring like a local. When she’s not writing, she enjoys mountain biking, hiking, and planning her next adventure.

Learn more about Erika