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Richard Linklater to intro first series at new theater

AFS Cinema announces opening and programming in space created by Austin design stars

A cool-looking snack bar with a marquee that has film schedule on it and film collectibles displayed underneath
Snack bar and film schedule at the new AFS Cinema
David Brendan Hall for the Austin Film Society

The Austin Film Society recently announced the official opening of its new theater, AFS Cinema (it’ll be Friday), as well as its plans for initial screenings and series (more about that in a minute).

Designtrait and Michael Hsu Office of Architecture’s redesign and addition of a second theater to the organization’s arthouse cinema and event hall—the formerly named Marchesa Hall near the ACC Highland campus, where it had been screening films for a while—will enable AFS to realize one of its longtime visions and to expand its top-notch programming of repertory, international, and arthouse film programming,

Linklater, who founded the film society in 1985 and continues to be actively engaged with it, collaborated with the local design firms on a venue intended to honor AFS’ vital role in the creation and cultivation of Austin’s unique, active film community, continue its work in celebrating movie-going and filmmaking culture and history, and, of course, screen a lot of movies.

Director and Austin Film Society founder Richard Linklater at AFS Cinema
David Brendan Hall for the Austin Film Society
David Brendan Hall for the Austin Film Society
David Brendan Hall for the Austin Film Society

The building was redesigned to include an entry vestibule, a full-service bar with a featured food menu, a lounge, and intimate gathering spaces. It also features a number of unique displays, including vintage movie posters and soundtrack album covers from Linklater’s personal collection. There’s also a new marquee, and the facility’s special events space has been remodeled as well.

David Brendan Hall for the Austin Film Society
David Brendan Hall for the Austin Film Society
David Brendan Hall for the Austin Film Society
David Brendan Hall for the Austin Film Society

At a presentation of plans for the venue in March, the filmmaker (and sometime programmer!) called the project the “next leap forward” for the Austin Film Society. He added that the venue is meant to be a place that provides a special theatrical experience for the “adventurous filmgoer”—a “special Austin place” that he envisions people hearing about, wandering into, and perhaps discovering a new love of film.

David Brendan Hall for the Austin Film Society
David Brendan Hall for the Austin Film Society

With the opening of the new theater, AFS will return with its classic programming, including repertory series, new restorations, documentaries, independent films and premieres. Expect the return of beloved long-running repertory programs such as Essential Cinema and Doc Nights as well.

Additionally, AFS has added a program of new releases and will be offering full-schedule runs of the best in international and independent films that are new in theaters.

“Texas Film Christening” is the title of the first series to be shown at the new theater. AFS will screen five classic films that “show the depth and breadth of Texas film culture and history,” according to a film-society statement.

The series includes 35mm screenings of Rio Bravo, Tender Mercies, August Evening, and Sugarland Express. In addition, Linklater will introduce a screening of the director’s cut of The Last Picture Show (a digital restoration) on May 27.

(l-r): Becky Jeanes, lead architect with Designtrait; Austin Film Society CEO Rebecca Campbell; Jay Colombo, partner at Michael Hsu Office of Architecture
David Brendan Hall for the Austin Film Society
Filmmaker and AFS founder Richard Linklater speaking at a preview of AFS Cinema
David Brendan Hall for the Austin Film Society