Texas Film Awards 2023 to honor Fort Worth-based movie head honcho
Awards season is in full swing, and not just in Hollywood. On March 3, the Austin Film Society (AFS) brings back its annual Texas Film Awards to honor both rising stars and Texans who have significantly impacted the independent film industry. Fittingly, this year's ceremony takes place on a movie-set-turned venue, Willie Nelson's Luck, TX.
For his impact on global cinema as a creative producer and executive, Warner Bros. Pictures Group Co-Chair and CEO Michael De Luca will be honored, according to a release. A resident of Fort Worth, de Luca boasts over three decades in the business, three Academy Award nominations for Best Picture of the Year (The Social Network, Moneyball, and Captain Phillips), and three Emmy Award nominations (for producing both the 89th and the 90th Academy Awards and for producing Escape At Dannemora).
Among his many esteemed positions in the industry over thirty years, De Luca served as one of the youngest heads of production in Hollywood history when he was appointed President and COO of New Line Productions at age 27. There, he helped launch lucrative franchises (Friday, Blade, Austin Powers and Rush Hour), release major hits (Seven, Wag the Dog, Pleasantville, Magnolia, I Am Sam and Boogie Nights), and produced the film adaptation of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which grossed over $1 billion internationally.
Emmy and Critic's Choice Award nominated actor Jonathan Majors will receive this year's Rising Star Award. Majors grew up in Cedar Hill, Texas and has starred in films including Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Jeymes Samuel’s The Harder They Fall, and Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods. Majors also starred in the series Lovecraft Country, for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award, and was most recently in J. D. Dillard’s Devotion. He will next appear in Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, in theaters on February 17, and Ryan Coogler’s Creed III, in theaters on March 3.
Previous Rising Star Award recipients include Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart, Unbelievable), Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One, the X-Men franchise), Jesse Plemons (Fargo, Breaking Bad), among others. The award honors an actor who has made a lasting impact with their work early in their career.
The ceremony on March 3 will also see independent cinema’s “first couple,” Janet and John Pierson, inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame. The honor will celebrate their impact on the independent film industry, and especially on the Austin and Texas community in helping to grow the SXSW Film & TV Festival to what it is today. Among their many projects as exhibitors and subsequently producer's reps/financiers for independents in the 1980s and 90s, the Pierson's also created the IFCtv show Split Screen, which involved 100 independent filmmakers and seeded new projects including The Blair Witch Project, American Movie and How’s Your News? The show has a permanent streaming home on the Criterion Channel.
In the release announcing the 2023 honorees, AFS also announced this year's master of ceremonies, Texas native and actress Edi Patterson. Known for her roles in films and series including Knives Out, The Righteous Gemstones, Partners, and Vice Principals, Patterson performs in improv and sketch comedy shows for the Groundlings Main Company where she is a member. She is also a member of improvisational theater company Impro Theatre.
Taking place in Luck, Texas, the 2023 Texas Film Awards will feature a red carpet and cocktail party, followed by dinner and an awards ceremony. Sponsored by Blue Suitcase and Arts+Labor, the annual event directly supports regional filmmakers and sustains AFS’s efforts to catalyze Austin and Texas as creative hubs.