A VIP at the Gala — Yeah, That'd Be Me

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Saturday I finally got a chance to put in an appearance at CineFestival at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.

I arrived early, because there was a student screening at 9am. But I eventually discovered that it had been moved to the Alamo Drafthouse. Just the student portion. Damn. I’d been wanting to pimp the Josiah festival to a captive audience of teen filmmakers. I could have driven out to the hinterlands (the Drafthouse is way out by Sea World), but, because my Locos documentary was screening at ten, I decided to stay.

Good thing, I guess. Because the person who was supposed to be volunteering to run the dvd player for the screenings at the gallery space had flaked.

Forgetting those student screenings far far away, the CineFestival films were showing in two locations. The main theater at the Guadalupe complex, as well as the gallery space a block to the north. Belinda — one of the main people at the Guadalupe — walked me over to the gallery and gave me a mini tour. The building used to be an old HEB warehouse. It’s damn impressive. Five big studios. And a large gallery space. The gallery had been turned into a screening room.

She showed me the basics with the room’s lighting and the audio / visual equipment.

Veronica Hernandez, my NALIP colleague, was there with her two little girls. They had just rescued a puppy wandering in the neighborhood and the girls were hugging it.

“What’s its name?” I asked.

One of the girls told me. Lulu, I think she said.

“Oh, god,” Veronica muttered. “They’ve already given it a name.” She turned to her daughters and reminded them that this was not their new pet. They were simply saving it from getting run over.

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A couple of other people showed up. But by the time I began the 90 minute block of short films (including mine), half a dozen people were there to watch the films.

(I found out that many people had been directed to the Alamo Drafthouse when they stopped off at the Guadalupe’s box office … even though they wanted to see the Taste of Texas short films, and not the student short films. There was a point where I headed over to the box office and spoke to the individual who had misguided these people. I won’t name names, but this individual seemed unconcerned. “What was I to know? A short film is a short film.” Hmm….)

Dora and Manual showed up with two of their kids. They helped out volunteering at the gallery space.

There were some workshops happening in one of the studios while films were screening in the gallery space.

The first workshop started off with no one showing up. It was for kids. And the panelists were Ozuna (from Harlandale), Gisha (from Say Si), and Gregg Barrios (local writer, who had headed my novel writing group for awhile). What made no sense to me was that Ozuna and Gisha were teachers in kids media programs. As was festival coordinator, Victor. Why couldn’t they rally the troops? I was very dejected with this sad display. Gisha got on her cell and called over to Say Si to see if someone could bring some kids over.

There was a forum I attended. It was run by Jesse Borrego and Susanne Mason. Mason had directed a documentary, Writ Writer — Jesse had narrated the piece. Because the deceased subject of the documentary, Fred Cruz (a prisoner who educated himself in the law to help fellow inmates), had a San Antonio history, many of the questions were about Cruz’s life. And, really, I wanted some information about the process of producing a documentary. But It was still interesting.

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I watched another block of short pieces, and then headed over to the main theater to see Alex Cox’s digital feature, Searchers 2.0. I like it. And maybe later I’ll write some about it.

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The next big film was Propiedad Ajena. Russ showed up. And we went in to watch it. Fifteen minutes into the piece, I knew it wouldn’t be delivering anything rewarding or surprising. I was a slick Mexican feature length telenovela. A multigenerational soap operatic love story that chased me out to Giovanni’s, just a block away. (Giovanni’s Pizza, at 913 S Brazos, makes the best pizza on town, don’t even bother trying elsewhere.) Luckily the place was open. I hadn’t had anything since a Mexican pastry for breakfast (thanks Dora!). I ordered a couple of slices and grabbed a Jones soda. I spent about an hour hanging out and talking trash with Giovanni. He’s an old school leftist from NYC (still with deep ties to family in Italy) — he’s my neighbor, a few blocks to the north. He knows everyone in the San Antonio arts scene, and we dished the dirt back and forth until I realized I really should return to the film.

I paused outside the theater to take this blurry photo of the people lined up for the next show. The joint was hopping!

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I had no trouble wiggling back into the theater. I had a VIP pass. Back inside, I thought I’d made it with perfect timing. The film seemed to be winding up. But, no. What I thought was the last gasp of a third act false ending was actually the second act third act pivot. I have another forty minutes of this overwrought nonsense. But at least I was well-fed.

When the lights came up me and Russ headed out. The following film had sold out. And while I expect my VIP pass would have let me in, he had no such credentials.

We eventually found ourselves at the gallery space for the Saturday night gala party.

And because I had to get up early the next morning for a shoot, I stayed until about 2am.

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