The Texas Hall of Fame awards ceremony always takes place on the night SXSW begins, and honors Texans who have contributed significantly to the film industry in some capacity. The evening has a reputation for being much more fun than the usual dry awards presentations. From 2002-2005, the evening's emcee was former Texas Governor Ann Richards, who added her trademark wit and humor to the proceedings. Richards was a longtime supporter and advocate of Texas film. In addition, she narrated a rollicking documentary about a favorite Texas food, Barbecue: A Texas Love Story, that played SXSW in 2004. In 2006, Richards had to back out of the ceremony due to illness. As you probably are aware, she died in September of esophageal cancer. The show may never be quite the same.

Austin Film Society (AFS) has decided to dedicate the 2007 award ceremony to its most memorable emcee, and the theme of next year's ceremony will be "A Tribute to Ann Richards." Journalist Liz Smith, a longtime friend of Richards, will host the event next March. The Texas Hall of Fame didn't have to go far to pick some of its recipients for 2007, either: Richard Linklater, who founded AFS, and producer Elizabeth Avellan of Troublemaker Studios (you know, the movies directed by her estranged husband Robert Rodriguez). Other Hall of Fame honorees will include Betty Buckley and Bill Paxton (both from Fort Worth). Lily Tomlin and actress/playwright Anna Deavare Smith are also expected to attend. For those of us who can't be there, AFS has kindly posted a video made at the 2006 ceremony, in which various attendees send their best wishes to Richards.