The 18th Annual San Antonio Film Festival [SAFILM] was held from June 18th through June 24th, 2012 in several theaters across the city.
Since 1994, San Antonio Film Festival founder and Executive Director, Adam Rocha, has been trying to build more opportunities for local filmmakers. The event also brings national and international filmmakers too. This year the festival had filmmakers from all over the world, with more feature films than shorts.
The festival is accompanied by free workshops during the conference that started June 21st. This year one of the panelists was screenwriter Alvaro Rodriguez (Machete, From Dusk ‘Till Dawn 3, Allied Forces, Plain Flower, and El Mariachi). The conference panels addressed different topics, including screenwriting, documentary production, acting direction, and incentives for filmmakers from multiple sources.
There were more venues across the city participating and the collaboration with the movie theaters is helpful to this event. The festival had screenings throughout the city at the Instituto Cultural de Mexico, Pearl Brewery, and three Santikos Theaters: Palladium, Bijou, and Rialto.
Here are some highlights of films from Austin filmmakers that participated in the festival, as well as other films shot locally and or internationally.
Echotone [90m] Directed by Nathan Christ [Austin,TX]
-Rialto 2938 NE Loop 410 San Antonio, TX 78218 9:15pm on Friday, June 22nd
This film has been in a multitude of film festivals, including the Austin Film Festival  among many others. I highly recommend seeing it on the big screen and enjoy the musical performances too.
Internationally known as ‘The Live Music Capital of the World,’ Austin’s music culture has led it to become one of the world’s most sought-after destinations. As nearly two dozen high-rises pop up throughout the city amidst a post-Bush economic downfall, how does the working musician get along? This lyrical documentary provides a telescopic view in the lives of Austin’s vibrant young musicians as they grapple with questions of artistic integrity, commercialism, experimentation, and the future of their beloved city. Echotone is a cultural portrait of the modern American city examined through the lyrics and lens of its creative class.
Bat City USA [51m] Directed by Laura Brooks [Austin, TX]
Bat City USA delves into Austin’s complicated relationship with a colony of Mexican free-tailed bats under the downtown Congress Avenue Bridge. Each year, thousands of people get a fascinating, close-up glimpse of the world’s largest urban bat colony amid the colorful downtown Austin, Texas setting. The film reveals how the bats moved into the bridge and survived eradication plans by hostile residents. Viewers discover how the bats eventually became a beloved part of what makes Austin unique and weird, mainly through the efforts of Merlin Tuttle, founder of Bat Conservation International, who convinced residents of the benefits of the bats.
Inocente [40m] Producer Albie Hecht New York, NY
-Palladium 17703 W IH-10 San Antonio, TX 78257 3pm on Friday, June 22nd
Inocente is a personal and vibrant coming of age story about a young artist’s determination never to surrender to the bleakness of her surroundings. At 15, Inocente refuses to let her dream of becoming an artist be caged by being an undocumented immigrant forced to live homeless for the last nine years. Color is her personal revolution and its sweep on her canvases creates a world that looks nothing like her own dark past.
Inocente is both a timeless story about the transformative power of art and a timely snapshot of the new face of homelessness in America: children. The challenges are staggering, but the hope in her story proves that her circumstance do not define her, her dreams do.
Portion [79m] Directed by Gisberg Bermudez [Los Angeles, CA]
-Rialto 2938 NE Loop 410 San Antonio, TX 78218 12:30pm Friday, June 22nd
-Palladium 17703 W IH-10 San Antonio, TX 78257 9:15 pm Saturday, June 23rd with Red Carpet/Q&A
Despite being so close to home, Mexican illegal immigrant Luis (Bruno Bichir) feels a world apart from his beloved mother, who resides on the other side of the Rio Grande and gets gravely ill. His legal status, a potential border wall and a river have put miles between them. Set in the Southern border town of Roma, Texas ‘Portion 71’ tells the story of Luis and his American wife, Sarah (Tammy Minoff) a dedicated wife and mother, who holds an emotional grudge and a tragic secret. A work permit grants Luis the opportunity to work in the United States, but immigration law forbids him to re-enter should he leave the country. His heart is torn apart knowing his mothers condition.
Trash Dance [65 min] Directed by Andrew Garrison [Austin, TX]
This film was screened during the 2012 SXSW Film Festival. I highly recommend seeing it on the big screen and see how the City of Austin employees transform their everyday tasks into great art.
Sometimes inspiration can be found in unexpected places. Choreographer Allison Orr finds beauty and grace in garbage trucks, and in the men and women who pick up our trash. Filmmaker Andrew Garrison follows Orr as she joins city sanitation workers on their daily routes to listen, learn, and ultimately to convince them to collaborate in a unique dance performance. Hard working, often carrying a second job, their lives are already full with work, family and dreams of their own. But some step forward, and after months of rehearsal, two dozen trash collectors and their trucks perform an extraordinary spectacle. On an abandoned airport runway, thousands of people show up to see how in the world a garbage truck can “dance.”
Hellion [7m] Directed by Kat Candler Austin, TX
All hell breaks loose when Petey is left with his hell raising brothers. But things go from bad to really, really bad when Dad gets home.
Lilia [18m] Director Sam Lerma, San Antonio, TX
This short was screened during the Cine las Americas International Film Festival in April 2012 and was well received by festival attendees.
A story about a man’s struggle to keep his family together after losing his job and the desperate measures people take to keep a family together.
Generation Me [129m] Directed by Ericka Marsalis-LaManna [Austin, TX]
– Palladium 17703 W IH-10 San Antonio, TX 78257 3pm on Sunday, June 24, 2012
Generation Me is a deliciously inappropriate comedy about a pop/R&B singer named Malia Jade and the relationship mishaps that often occur in this crazy era of social network obsessions.
The Awards Ceremony was held on Sunday evening at 7pm at the Santikos Palladium. Portion is the Grand Prize Winner, by director Gisberg Bermudez.
Director Sam Lerma won the award for Best San Antonio Filmmaker for the short, Lilia.
Inocente won the Best Documentary Short during this years festival.
Address for the theaters:
Palladium 17703 W IH-10 San Antonio, TX 78257
Bijou 4522 Fredericksburg Rd. San Antonio, TX 78201
Rialto 2938 NE Loop 410 San Antonio, TX 78218
Instituto Cultural de Mexico 600 Hemisfair Park San Antonio, TX 78205
Pearl Brewery 200 E Grayson St San Antonio, TX 78215
For more information and other awards, visit www.safilm.com