SAL Ovation! Take a Bow, Darlene Miller!

It was killer weekend for film events in San Antonio.

Friday there was a screening of one of my favorite movies, Bajo California: El Límite del Tiempo, with the writer/director, Carlos Bolado, in attendance. I only found out about this Thursday. It was at the Instituto Cultural de Mexico in the Hemisfair complex. (If you can track this down, watch it. Film as art is such a rare commodity, and sadly it is so often found to be created by non-American filmmakers.)

I had to forgo meeting Carlos Bolado. I had the San Antonio Local Film Festival on my calendar since its very inception.

I'll get to SAL in a moment.

But to continue the litany of film stuff … there was also the Manhattan Shorts Film Festival. It had its kick-off Friday night over at Urban-15. There were screenings Saturday night. Also, Sunday afternoon.

Also, there was the Adelante Film Forum, put on by the San Antonio chapter of NALIP (the National Association of Latino Independent Producers) — a two day series of workshops. I signed up.

And, as a part of the Adelante, there was a screening of Jumping Off Bridges, by Kat Chandler and Stacy Schoolfield. Saturday night at El Tropicano Hotel. I've been wanting to see Stacy and Kat's movie for over a year, but I keep missing the opportunities — this time around I had agreed to volunteer at the Manhattan Shorts screening that night.

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I got off work a bit early so I could get to the Aztec Theater to help out for SAL. Again, I opted to take the bus. It's very convenient. I'm four blocks from the bus stop, and the bus drops me off two blocks from the Aztec. And even though I think the new bus price of a dollar is outrageous, it's the way to go. No expensive parking garage. No circling block after block, hoping for a meter (free after 6 pm). Just a little bas ride.

Dar showed up a bit after me. A few of her other volunteers were milling about, waiting for her to park her car.

Soon the complimentary beer and wine arrived. A keg of beer, and loads of wine bottles. As the volunteers were given their assignments — box office, refreshments, ushers, photogs, and such — I took to my role as the liaison to the projection booth. There were three DVDs I needed to make sure to get up to the guys working the tech up in the booth. Brant Bumpers had an extended version of his Heinz promo spec commercial. Brant showed up just a few minutes after me. I put the DVD into my pocket and looked around for either Bryan or Michael. We still didn't have a copy of the post-SAL feature, Dr. “S” Battles the Sex Crazed Reefer Zombies. When Michael finally arrived, he leaned down and whispered into my ear, “Bryan's at home burning the DVD — he's three-quarters done.” And then Michael lifted his eyes and spied, I dunno, the San Antonio equivalent of Swoosie Kurtz. “Sweetheart! I haven't seen you in AGES!” And I'm left staring at my empty hands. And then there was Pete. His doubly-accepted film fest promo hadn't worked on the Aztec's system. I asked Dar. She told me he was bringing a newly burned DVD. I called up Pete. “Yeah, we're just about to leave. Is there any food there?” he asked. I explained there was just beer and wine. But it was free. I guess he and Lisa had fled when the babysitter arrived, and hadn't yet had dinner. Dar came up and said I needed to see the award. She's already told me about it. She had an artist friend, Albert Rivera, who works in metal design the piece. Shaped like a laurel leaf crown, but made out of prickly pear cactus.

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The problem is, Dar couldn't find it. We checked under the beverage table. Looked in the box office booth. Finally she realized it must still be in her car, and off she went (no doubt glad to escape, even for just a few minutes, from all the demands of volunteers, Aztec employees, well-wishing audience members who had begun appearing, and a few members of the press.

I went into the theater proper to see if Andy Miller and Erin Zayko were okay with the arrangements. They were the MCs of the event. Andy had a stack of note cards, and he wondered if there would be enough ambient light to refer to his notes. There would be a spot light hitting him, and it might be hard to read. He seemed unfazed and said he'd just make a point to memorize his notes.

Back downstairs, I saw Lisa. She said Pete was parking the car. I took the DVD and headed up to the projection booth. If there is one complaint I have about the Aztec, it's that trying to get the attention of the folks inside the projection booth is a real pain. It's a big, split-level space inside there. And I found myself having to hammer pretty loud to get them to unlock and let me in.

But we began on time. Dar had some preliminary bits screening while the house lights were still up. A sponsor's promo. It was followed by Carlos' music video. And then Pete's SAL promo trailer. I did a quick and dirty head count and came to about 150. The theater holds about 485, I began to worry for Dar. She needed more paying patrons to cover the cost of the venue. Hopefully more people were still coming in.

And then the show began. Andy and Erin gave some basic introductory remarks. Andy then motioned to the guys up in the booth to begin the screening. Sam Lerma's SAL promo, They'll Suck You Dry, was supposed to play with the lights down. But the house lights remained up. I did my best to set things straight, but it took awhile. But by the time the first short film began, Bryan Ramirez's excellent narrative, Nunca Sabes, things were as they should be.

And as I have seen Nunca Sabes four or five times already, I headed down to the lobby to see what was going on.

Bryan Ortiz showed up, bleary-eyed from four days of sleepless editing, with his newest cut of Dr. S, fresh from his DVD burner. Here is a shot of Dar, Bryan, and Druck — the Mistress of SAL, standing beside the brains behind Film Classics Productions, a very winning combination Friday night.

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But it wasn't just Bryan. Other people were still coming in. At some point, the volunteers had to start turning people away. That means there was almost 500 people! Very fucking impressive. I say that from my position of a novice impresario.

Great job, Dar!!

I could give a write up about the films, but it's late. Maybe some other time.

At the intermission, I took the DVD of Dr. S up to the projection booth. And on my way back down, I saw someone I knew. I stopped to chat. At a lull, I heard, from behind me, “Well, if it isn't Mr. Bosse.” I turned around to see filmmaker Jessica Torres. She was seated with three other members of the iChingoa team from the 48 Hour Film Project. The young woman seated beside her made some mention that I had attributed someone else's name to her on one of my blog entries. I apologized and made sure to get her name in writing. She was Sarai Rodiguez. Of course! You'll remember her from the short film, Trick or Tweet. You know, where she plays the witchy girl whose witchy mom turns her beau into a little chicken. Sorry about that, Sarai.

When Dr. S began, the audience responded very favorably. I only wish someone would have grabbed the microphone before the lights went down and ask if all the zombies in attendance would please stand. There were loads of actors (not to mention “actors”) playing zombies in Bryan's movie. And I only saw two people show up in zombie make-up.

I eschewed the invites to an after party or two. I had to get up early for day one of the Adelante Film Forum.

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Pete and Lisa Barnstrom were kind enough to drive me home. Here's Pete slowing down just enough to allow me to hop into the passenger seat as he fended off the paparazzi.

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A very successful evening.

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