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Richard Linklater and Austin designer Michael Hsu reveal details on arthouse collab

Austin Film Society venue will display director’s memorabilia as well as cinematic light installations

Theater lobby with barrel-vault, people gathered around tables and chairs, glass doors to ticket office
Rendering of AFS Cinema
Michael Hsu Office of Architecture and Design Trait

Calling the project the “next leap forward” for the Austin Film Society, film director and AFS co-founder Richard Linklater, along with Austin architect Michael Hsu, last Friday revealed new design details and spoke about the intent of the new AFS Cinema, on which Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, Designtrait, and Linklater are collaborating.

AFS plans to add a second theater to the Marchesa Hall venue near the ACC Highland campus, where it has been screening films for a while (the film society has a long-term lease on the property, said CEO Rebecca Campbell).

Establishing a full-time, twin-screen cinema will enable AFS to realize one of its longtime visions and to expand its top-notch programming of repertory, international, and arthouse film programming,

The building will be revamped to include an an entry vestibule, a full-service bar with a featured food menu, a lounge, and gathering spaces.

It will also feature a number of unique displays and designs, including vintage movie posters and soundtrack album covers from Linklater’s personal collection. There will be and new marquee and cinematic lighting designs and gathering areas, as well as a redesign of the facility’s special events.

Both Hsu and Linklater spoke to the concept behind the new design, which they intend to be a place that provides a special theatrical experience for the “adventurous filmgoer”—a “special Austin place” that Linklater envisions people hearing about, wandering into, and perhaps discovering a new love of film.

While they are “ready for everything” in terms of film formats, said Linklater, the cinema’s focus will be on films that really need to be a “theatrical experience.”

Hsu added that the lounges in the theater will allow people to gather before and after films, honoring AFS’ vital role in the creation and cultivation of Austin’s unique, active film community and helping continue its work in celebrating movie-going and filmmaking culture and history, and, of course, screen a lot of movies.

The theater, for which fundraising efforts and plans were announced about a year ago, should be open in “a couple of months,” said Hsu.

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