In the 1980s, Austin’s Westwood Place, a new development at the intersection of South Lamar and Lamar, became a hub for cinema and entertainment.
It opened in 1985 and in the next decade it became the epicenter of Austin’s cinema scene, with the first Westwood cinema ever built in 1990.
The new film studio, Westwood Cinemas, now operates over 2,000 screens, and it is one of the city’s biggest tenants, renting out theaters to other companies and festivals.
In 2018, Austin received the No. 1 spot on the American Film Institute’s “100 Best Movies” list for best film studios in the country.
But for the last decade, Westgate’s films have suffered a string of negative reviews.
“I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?'” says film critic Chris Coyle.
“That’s when it all started.”
Coyle, who writes the weekly blog, Austin Cinema, is an outspoken critic of the film industry and the Austin community.
But he and others in the film community feel that there’s something rotten about the way the city has responded to Westgate.
“You hear these kinds of complaints that we don’t have enough films to go around, that we’re too small and we don�t have enough people, but that really is the reality of the industry,” says Coyle’s partner, film critic Ben Thompson.
“It really is a shame that the films that really get people excited and excited about what they want to see are coming out of Austin, which is one part of the problem.”
“The film industry is dying” in Austin A group of Austin residents started a petition on Change.org last year, asking Austin City Council to approve a film festival in Westgate for the first time since 1992.
The petition was signed by more than 4,000 Austin residents, including the owners of the Westgate cinema.
“The Westgate Cinema is an iconic institution in the city and Austin as a whole,” the petition reads.
“In 2016, we opened our doors to the world, and we are now the second largest independent film studio in the world.
As a result of the events of 2016, it is our hope that our presence in Westwood Village and Austin will not only provide us with a better living environment, but also serve as a positive symbol of the success of independent film in the Austin area.”
The petition is supported by filmmaker and film critic Robert Lopez, who co-founded the Austin Independent Film Festival and has produced films such as The Long Walk to Freedom, which was nominated for the 2018 Academy Award for Best Picture.
“We need to bring our vision and our commitment to Austin, and that is to have a vibrant, inclusive, vibrant film community that supports the arts,” Lopez said in a statement.
“This is a historic moment and a chance to take the Westwoods to the next level.”
The film festival will feature films by the likes of Michael Haneke, Michael Bay, James Cameron, David Lynch, and more.
“Austin has always been a vibrant city, and the city is coming back,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler.
“What Westgate has done in the last year is phenomenal.
I can’t tell you how much this is important to Austin.”
However, Austin has been hit by a number of high-profile deaths of independent filmmakers.
In 2016, filmmaker Chris Caine died after being attacked outside of a Westwood location.
In 2017, director John Hughes died at the age of 68.
Last year, filmmaker Mark Millar passed away after battling cancer.
And last month, Austin filmmaker Amy Tan died after taking her own life.
Austin has seen several recent high-impact deaths of indie filmmakers, including writer and director Paul Feig, who passed away in October 2017.
“Westgate has changed Austin forever,” said Coyle in a press release.
“These films were all meant to bring together people who have never met before, who could not possibly see themselves together in any other context.
We hope that this film festival, which will bring together hundreds of people and create a safe and vibrant environment for independent filmmaking, will allow these talented filmmakers to continue their work.”
In a statement to ABC News, the Austin City Department of Economic Development and Tourism said, “Westwood Cinemases is a very proud and iconic Austin institution, and our goal is to help revitalize the area and bring it back to its former glory.”
“This festival will provide a place for artists and filmmakers to be seen, heard and heard again,” the statement continued.
“Through this event, we will also continue to bring new film and television projects to Austin and the greater Austin area.
Austin City’s role as the birthplace of independent cinema is one that is long overdue.
This festival will bring people together and showcase new films and filmmakers from all over the world.”
But many film critics are worried that