Austin Film Festival
The red carpet for Texas Independent Feature Audience Award Winner I'll Be There courtesy of Austin Film Festival. Credit: Jack Plunkett

The Austin Film Festival has announced the 2023 audience, jury, and screenplay award winners. Highlights include Sunlight written by Ailbhe Keogan and directed by Claire Dix, and American Fiction written and directed by Cord Jefferson.

Known for recognizing writers’ and filmmakers’ contributions to film and television, the Austin Film Festival and Writers’ Conference has been going on for 30 years. The 2023 festival took place from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2 in Austin, Texas. Next year’s festival and conference will be held from Oct. 24 to 31, 2024. 

Keogan and Dix’s Sunlight won the narrative feature jury award, while American Fiction won the marquee film audience award. T-Minus Zero by Troy Anthony Miller and J.R Smith won the drama feature screenplay award presented by The Writers Guild of America, East.

In total, there were 11 jury award winners, 11 audience award winners, and 17 script competition winners this year.

See the full list of award winners below, courtesy of the Austin Film Festival.

Austin Film Festival Jury, Audience and Screenplay Award Winners


Narrative Feature Sunlight, written by Ailbhe Keogan, directed by Claire Dix 

Documentary FeatureFirst We Bombed New Mexico, written by Lois Lipman and Joel Marcus, directed by Lois Lipman 

Comedy Vanguard Feature Egghead & Twinkie, written/directed by Sarah Kambe Holland 
Dark Matters Feature presented by Vertigo Entertainment Inhabitants, written/directed by Matt McClung 
Narrative Short – Arman & Elisa, written/directed by Kiyan Agadjani  
Student ShortSeraphim, written by Joanna Fernandez, directed by Oscar Ramos 
Documentary ShortSafe Place, directed by Samuel-Ali Mirpoorian 
Animated ShortCuriosa, written by Matthew Dicky and Tessa Moult-Milewska, directed by Tessa Moult-Milewska 
Produced Digital SeriesThanatos, written/directed by Andrew C. Fisher 

Enderby Entertainment Filmmaking Fellowship Award English Tutor, written/directed by Jaho Koo 

Texas Short Filmmaker Award presented by Aduro Studios and Film – 40Hands, written/directed by Craig Robert Elrod 

Film Jury winners were selected by jurors including Roy Lee (Barbarian, It, The Ring), Katie Silberman (Booksmart, Set It Up), Ashley Lyle (Yellowjackets), Jade-Addon Hall (20th Century), Carly Wray (Watchmen) and Kemp Powers (Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse). 

Following each screening, audience members cast their votes for the Audience Awards, recognizing the audience’s Festival favorites among the 2023 film slate. 


Marquee Film: American Fiction, written/directed by Cord Jefferson 

Narrative Feature: Autumn, written/directed by António Sequeira 

Documentary Feature: Born To Fly, directed by Brennan Robideaux 

Dark Matters Feature: Wild Eyed and Wicked, written/directed by Gordon Shoemaker Foxwood 

Comedy Feature: For When You Get Lost, written by Jennifer Sorenson, directed by Michelle Steffes 

Texas Independent Feature: I’ll Be There, written by Cindy McCreery, directed by Andrew Shea 

Narrative Short: Barely Breathing, written by Neal Reddy, directed by Derek Evans 

Narrative Student Short: A Conspiracy Man, written by Valerio Ferrara, Alessandro Logli, Matteo Petecca, directed by Valerio Ferrara 

Documentary Short: Safe Place, directed by Samuel-Ali Mirpoorian 

Animated Short: Starling, written/directed by Mitra Shahidi 

Produced Digital Series: Restorage, created by Caleb Davis, E’an Verdugo, directed by E’an Verdugo 

The 2023 Script Competition winners were chosen from a record field of 11,500 scripts entered in the Screenplay, Digital Series, Playwriting, and Fiction Podcast Competitions. The winners were selected by a distinguished panel of industry judges including, Tatiana Suarez-Pico (Hunters, Penny Dreadful, Iron Fist, Snowfall), Christina Hodson (Bumblebee, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, The Flash), Tripper Clancy (Stuber, I Am Not Okay With This, Die Hart), & Herschel Weingrod (Trading Places, Kindergarten Cop). 


Drama Feature Screenplay Award presented by The Writers Guild of America, East –  

T-Minus Zero by Troy Anthony Miller and J.R Smith 

Drama Teleplay Pilot AwardState of the Art by Austin Elliott 

Drama Teleplay Spec AwardThe Great: “Death Becomes Him” by Marguerite Spellman 

Comedy Feature Screenplay AwardA Forest Through The Trees By Ryan Ederer 

Comedy Teleplay Pilot AwardArthur and Lancelot by Victoria Zeutzius 

Comedy Teleplay Spec AwardWhat We Do in the Shadows: “The Chupacabra” by Jordan Obey 

Scripted Digital Series Award Psychic by Aiden Moretti 

Fiction Podcast Award The Crime at Camp Ashwood by Laura Hunter Drago 

Short Screenplay AwardGood Evening, Marshall (Good Evening, Geraldine) by Jessica Mosher 

Playwriting Award The Housing Situation on Neptune by Nijae Draine 

Horror Screenplay Award presented by Vertigo Entertainment Paradise by Daniel Byers 

Sci-Fi Screenplay Award ROY G. BIV by Sebastian Davis 

Rooster Teeth Fellowship Awards, BIPOC categoryTurn the Heat Up by Helen K Thomas 

Rooster Teeth Fellowship Awards, Women & Animation categoryUlster by Allison Mick 

Enderby Entertainment AwardBlack Mouth Cur by Kai Kido 

AMC One-Hour Pilot AwardBlind Mice by Aaron Milus 

Josephson Entertainment Screenwriting FellowshipsBlack Waters by Kate Imy (Feature Film) and The Hellmouth by Francesco Staluppi (TV) 

Find out more about the Austin Film Festival on its website.

Also Read: Screenwriters to Watch 2023, With the Austin Film Festival

Main Image: The red carpet for Texas Independent Feature Audience Award Winner I’ll Be There courtesy of Austin Film Festival. Credit: Jack Plunkett