Second Annual Film Festival Had Raging Success

By Amanda A. Taylor | Staff Writer

Princess Leia, Darth Vader and over 1,000 movie fans swept across the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance for the second annual South Texas Independent Film Festival held Sept. 8 through Sept. 10.

For those unfamiliar with the three-day festival, STXIFF showcases the work of visionary filmmakers from around the world with a spotlight on local and regional films.

    “We have a lot of people here who are in the film industry, but they’re mostly scattered,” said Magdiel Alfonso, Arts Coordinator for the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library. “Events like STXIFF is a great way to get all these talented people in once place.”

    The event spotlighted independent films like “Crave,” “Is That a Gun in Your Pocket” and “Day 6,” along with vendors, live demonstrations, panel discussions, workshops and cosplayers — such as the aforementioned Princess Leia and Darth Vader.

    “STXIFF is important to our region because it’s not just about watching films, it’s about the industry and creating jobs that will boost the economy,” Alfonso said. “It improves everyone’s lives and we have guests here from out of town renting hotel rooms and cars.”

    The kickoff event featured a premiere screening of “The Devil’s Warehouse” on Thursday, with workshops, short features and full-length feature films on Friday and closed with exclusive movie screenings, a trade show, more workshops and red carpet awards show on Saturday. Besides tickets to the $50 awards ceremony, the festival was free to the public.

    “Edinburg is proud to be on the forefront of promoting and supporting the arts,” said Mayor Pro Tem Richard Molina during a welcome reception. “Festivals such as these are necessary because they provide opportunities for working members of the film industry and for the hundreds of competent locals trying to break into the industry.”

    This year’s festival saw celebrity judges such as visual effects artist Jenna Sunde (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), director Joe Menendez (“Legends of the Hidden Temple,” “From Dusk Till Dawn”), producer Reuben Lim (HBO, YouTube Studios), editor Shaddai Berron (Treehouse Edit), South Texas producer/writer Javier Chapa (“Harvest of Redemption,” “Aztec Warrior”) and costume designer Jessica Mauricio (“Avatar,” “Bones”).

    The judges gave bronze camera trophies valued at $2,000 to the six award-winning films: “Die Formel” for Best in Cinematography, “Vicious” for Best Short Film, Abril Cira from “Day 6” for Best Acrtess, and “Crave: The Fast Life” raked in three awards for Best Ensemble Cast, Best Actor (Rene Alvarado) and Best Feature Film.

    Among the celebrity guests was Sandra Avila, a feature film and TV producer from Los Angeles, CA.

“My hometown is Edinburg and when I found out this festival was getting started, I was more than happy to be a part of it,” Avila said. “This is an election year, and it’s more important than ever to share the stories that are accurate about our community, culture and families.”

    Alfonso said plans for next year’s event are already underway to make it even bigger and better. For more information on STXIFF, visit stxff.us.