More Events Are Popping Up in the RGV
By Karen Villarreal
Although cities are made up of individuals of many backgrounds and beliefs, collectively a geographic location gives off a vibe, an attitude, a culture that epitomizes a city or region’s specific annual festivals and events. We know that Austin, for example, is the live music capital of the world due to its annual ACL and SXSW, and you can’t think Mardi Gras without New Orleans coming to mind.
A handful of experiences are similarly unique to the Rio Grande Valley, and though we have festivals of all types, South Texas is steadily gaining a reputation in the realm of filmmaking, with the Cinesol Film Festival and Film Race going on its eleventh year, and the City of Edinburg making great strides with the annual South Texas International Film Festival.
Edinburg Arts, a division of the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library, promotes the Visual Arts in the Rio Grande Valley through events like the South Texas International Film Festival. STXIFF is an opportunity for independent filmmakers around the world to compete in the categories of Regional Film, Short Film and Feature Length Film. This year, STXIFF will feature film screenings from Portugal, Germany, Australia, Mexico, and the US. We are represented locally by such films as As I Walk Through the Valley, a documentary about the RGV underground music scene over the last four decades that was shot on a consumer grade DSLR camera – and world premiered at SXSW 2017.
Charley Vela, who filmed AIWTTV with Ronnie Garza, says they are always asked where they got the money to do the film. “We’re like, ‘What money?’” He estimates that their budget ended up being close to $3,000, including travel for interviews and small equipment beyond the camera they already had. “It was very barebones, but that stuff doesn’t matter,” says Vela. “There was a film shot last year all on an iPhone and it won some awards, because really all that matters is the story.”
Beyond providing RGV locals an opportunity to watch independent films and thus give small filmmakers a stage to showcase their hard work, creativity, and skill, STXIFF is focused on helping individuals with an interest in the craft take their talent to a professional level. The three-day event will feature workshops on editing and special effects makeup, a seminar on lighting, and an acting Q&A with RGV native, Valiente Rodriguez, best known for his role as Ernie Cardenas on the sitcom George Lopez.