Writer / Producer
Austen was a kid growing up in the Pacific Northwest when she showed her short
stories to Ken Kesey, he told her she was a writer, and mentored her early work.
An NCAA Scholar Athlete on the University of Oregon Women’s Track Team,
Austen went on to work under Seamus Heaney in the Graduate Creative Writing
Program at Harvard University, where she also studied law. The first American to
receive a fellowship to the International Court of Human Rights, Austen was one of
three students who founded the Harvard Human Rights Journal. Fresh out of Law
School, Austen was in Prague helping establish Vaclav Havel’s new government.
Over a bet in an Irish pub, she penned a play that was picked up and
produced. Austen’s plays have been honored with numerous awards, and
commissioned by and seen at theatres around the country and in Europe, including
the Steppenwolf, Goodman, and Royal Court. Austen’s film scripts have received
the Richard Vague Prize, been Sloan and Rainin-Finalist selections, and her films
have been Film Independent, Sundance, and Skywalker Sound Lab Recipients,
and received grants from the Sundance Institute and the Brico Forward Foundation.
Austen wrote, with director Kirill Mikhanovsky, and was lead producer of GIVE ME
LIBERTY, which premiered this year at Sundance (NEXT) and Cannes (Director’s
Fortnight), where it received an over ten-minute standing ovation. GIVE ME
LIBERTY opens in theatres worldwide in August. It is the first film Austen has both
written and produced, but probably not the last.