Peter Hedges’ Pandemic-Set Drama ‘The Same Storm’ to Open 2021 Austin Film Festival

Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Peter Hedges’ drama “The Same Storm” is set to open the 2021 Austin Film Festival and Writers Conference (AFF).

Festival organizers announced Thursday that the pandemic-set movie starring Noma Dumezweni, Mary-Louise Parker, Sandra Oh, Elaine May, Raúl Castillo, Ato Blankson-Wood, Corey Michael Smith, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ron Livingston, and Alison Pill will lead off the 28th annual event, which runs from Oct. 21-28.

AFF’s full feature film slate includes 26 world, North American and U.S. premieres, including the world premiere of filmmaker Spencer King’s “Time Now” and the U.S. premiere of “Cicada,” written and directed by Chung-ryoul Lee. Other marquee presentations include Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch;” the Cambodian sci-fi title “Karmalink” from XYZ Films, by writers Jake Wachtel and Christopher Larsen; and “Captains of Za’atari” by writer/director Ali El Arab.

A24 is set to expand its partnership with the festival, adding Mike Mills’ “C’mon C’mon” and “The Souvenir Part II” to the lineup. Neon returns to the fest with six titles, including the Joachim Trier rom-com “The Worst Person in the World” and Céline Sciamma’s “Petite Maman,” as well as the world premieres of “The Grand Bolero” and “I Can Feel You Walking.” Also joining them will be “The Time of the Fireflies” and “Torao.”

The annual festival will be presented in person, with enhance health and safety protocols. Attendees and guests ages 12 and older are required to provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of picking up any festival credential to attend all AFF events. Current policies can be found on http://www.austinfilmfestival.com/covif-19-policies/.

The lineup for year’s Writers Conference was also revealed Thursday, with a roster of prominent film and television screenwriters on the bill. AFF will present conversations with recent Academy Award nominee Will Berson (co-writer of “Judas and the Black Messiah”), Brad Ingelsby (Emmy-nominated creator of “Mare of Easttown”), Lisa Joy (Emmy-nominated co-creator of HBO’s “Westworld” and writer/director of WB’s “Reminiscence”) and Linda Yvette Chavez (co-creator of Netflix’s popular series “Gentefied”).

The festival also announced the inaugural Writing for Video Games Track, with panelists representing local development studios and institutions. Conversations this year will include creators Susan O’Connor, Lucas Loredo, Evan Narcisse, Erin Firestine, Donald Harris and Frank Barbiere.

The conference will also fete its previously announced 2021 awardees: Stephanie Allain (recipient of 2021’s Polly Platt Award for Producing), Scott Frank (recipient of 2021’s Bill Wittliff Award for Screenwriting) and Michael Schur (the Outstanding Television Writer Award winner).

Tickets and passes are currently on sale at www.austinfilmfestival.com

(Pictured: Mary-Louise Parker in “The Same Storm”)

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