Luminaria Accomplished

[Typed up just after midnight following Luminaria — Saturday, March 14. Edited with very minor changes the following Wednesday night … having achieved full recuperation.]


I spent hours today pounding the pavement in the Hemisfair Park. My dogs are barking. My blisters have blisters.

I never really got a chance to check out much of the action beyond Hemisfair Park. I bought new batteries for my little digital camera. I might have taken four pictures.

I’m licking my wounds (figuratively, you understand) and chilling to some Edward Vesala … and trying to decide if I want to cook some dinner. I had two tacos for breakfast and some overpriced parmesan french fries from some vendor this evening over by the Magik Theatre.

There were some unfortunate technical glitches in the film realm, but most people were understanding. What bothered me most was the 25 dollar ticket I found on my windshield from parking in a lot where I was told would be fine.

I shouldn’t complain, really, things went relatively smoothly. It’s just that my feet really hurt and I can’t help but skew bitchy.

So, let me shift gears to the pure upbeat.

It was great to see everyone who came out!

And I want to thank all the filmmakers who submitted their proposals and were accepted. Let me run down the list, in the arbitrary order in which they screened outside in the Plaza de Mexico.

Pete Barnstrom. “The Tower.” Here’s a man who understands that an audience appreciates brevity. It’s a lovely, off-kilter piece. And who would have guessed that Pete would have braved the crush of crowds to put in an appearance? I though he was like me. You know, where “maybe” means “no.” It looks like sometimes it means “yes.”

Kimberly Suta. “Ennis Does Southtown.” What’s not to love? It stars everyone’s favorite lactose-intolerant vegetarian gay cowboy, Ennis P. Degollado, played with camera-hogging aplomb by the ubiquitous and outrageously talented Jade Esteban Estrada. Kimberly was in attendance. As was Jade.

Roman Garcia. “Fast Food.” I could be wrong, but I believe this is Roman’s first film. It’s a sweet little family project staring him, his kids, the family place in the country, and a doomed rooster who encounters a shotgun on his (the fowl’s) way to the dinner table. Not only did Roman drive in from a gig in Austin, he also brought us a back-up DVD player. Thanks, man!

Patty Sandoval Sralla. “Out of Breath.” This is, I believe, another first film. Patty wanted to make a short documentary to draw attention to a medical condition which she’s learning to live with. She roped in the talented Dora Pena to help her shoot and edit the piece. A true collaboration. A solid little documentary. I hope that they can find funding to expand it. Patty was there. As well as Dora.

Mombassa Code. They performed their free form jazzy noodlings while a video played — a video someone in extended ensemble produced. They played two 20 minute sets. I think I saw Rebecca Dietz out there dancing and playing with fire during one of the sets. Ray Palmer, of the band, had set up a microscope with a lipstick camera to get some tight shots of a frisky amoeba which was also projected live on the huge 30 foot screen while they played. Ray, you and your guys did great. But I’d like you to check your equipment boxes tomorrow. I do believe you walked off with my orange extension cord. You don’t want to get known for sticky fingers, do you? Thought not.

Wes Barlow. “No Soliciting.” I still haven’t sat down and watched this piece all the way through. But I do know it’s brilliant. What a visual feast! What post-modern buffoonery! What a mind-bindingly hip and Hefnerian location! A color film set in the 1950s with silent movie title cards! Way cool. And Paul Scofield as a doomed mime … priceless. Barlow was there, basking in the tsunami of praise lavished upon him by his begrudgingly jealous filmmaking colleagues in attendance.

Erik Bosse. “Awaiting the Equinox.” For those coming in late — Erik Bosse, that’s me. And, in a certain sense, I was in attendance. My collaborator and actress, Deborah Keller-Rihn, also showed up. I was afraid she might not. She curates events at the Centro Cultural Aztlán, and they presented their Floricanto show earlier in the afternoon. But no, there she was with her other half, Ramin. I hope she got a chance to see the outdoor screening of our piece. I wasn’t able to. But I do know that the redundant indoor screening was a failure. The DVD refused to play. Fucking technology. I hate home-burned DVDs. Tune in to the previous blog posting. I gave a link to a YouTube version of my humble little piece.

Allison Herrera. “The Enneagram.” I liked this piece a lot. I remember talking to Allison about this. She was so excited to make something artistic. Her previous work has been narratives and a documentary or two. In short, very linear pieces. Here she allowed herself to be more free. I think she had fun with this. I hope so. Because it conveys a real senses of the playful and the carefree. And it was, as always, great to see Allison in the crowd.

Veronica Rodriguez. “El Ride.” I’m pretty sure I know what Veronica looks like. I believe she was one of the pretty girls who starred in Tyler Ibarra’s most recent film. If that’s her, I didn’t she her around the Instituto. Maybe she was out of town. “El Ride” is a wonderful short film. Funny, tight, and just about perfect. The piece played last year at a NALIP slam. I was one of the judges, and as I recall the night, we three judges were unanimous. It’s a sweet and cute little narrative piece that will leave you a slightly better human being once you’ve seen it.

Alston Cox. “My New Neighborhood.” Alston’s been concentrating on her painting these last couple of years. And I’m a huge fan. She brings this weird combination between De Chirico’s surrealism and a more formal naturalism. Alston’s film work has ranged in the past from tightly scripted narratives to ephemeral experimental pieces. It’s nice to see this straightforward documentary on her new neighborhood. I wish I had time to talk with her Saturday night, but I was pretty busy.

Lynette Marshall. “At Here Door.” I first met Lynette during the 48 Hour Film Project. To the best of my knowledge, the piece she made back then was her first ever film. It had a playful charm to it. This new short film has more of the same. It might be a bit rough around the edges, but it’s shot and lit well. Nice acting.

AJ Garces. “Death Rattle.” True, AJ didn’t produce this specifically for Luminaria. But I do believe that the crowds in attendance for the two Luminaria screenings had a chance to see the premier of this amazing and beautiful film. I suspect it will spend some more time in post-production as AJ tinkers some more on the edit. However, it is, hands down, the purest piece of cinema to come out of San Antonio that I have personally seen. And, AJ, thanks so much for stepping in and giving us a hand as projectionist in the Frida Kahlo Gallery. I, too, have been similarly conscripted for these sorts of events.

PrimaDonna Productions. “The Art of Disaster.” A wonderful and smart short film that came out of a summer student project Nikki and the PrimaDonna team ran called, I believe, “Scene from Both Sides.” The PrimaDonnas and their extended families were out in force supporting the arts.

Scott Greenberg. “Travel.” A beautifully shot little existential piece which Scott’s been working on for some time in collaboration with folks in Chicago. Unfortunately Scott could not be there Saturday night. He couldn’t turn down an out of town production gig. It’s a damn solid piece. I’m sure it will get the respect it deserves once it finds its way into the film festival circuit.

Haunted House Studio. “Schicken Chit.” Carlos busted his ass putting this one together. It was produced specially for Luminaria. And, dammit, it hit the same technical glitches as mine. But what breaks my heart is that Carlos had so much more riding on his piece than I did on mine. He brought in a large cast. Extras, even. Tracked down locations. Secured the rights to the local music he wanted for the sound track. He had a committed crew. Even a professional photographer taking production stills. What a shame. It’s a funny piece with some great performances. Fucking DVDs! And even after all that, Carlos, you still bought me a beer … and at those outrageous Luminaria prices. That’s the Valley Way — self-reliance and principled self-respect. My apologies, Carlos. I owe you much more than a beer.

Eddie Gonzalez. “Messenger.” This was another first time filmmaker. Eddie’s background is as a screenwriter. When I initially scheduled the film screenings, I had not seen all the submissions. And because of two reasons, I scheduled Eddie’s piece to screen only on the indoor screen. First, I was under the assumption that the run-time was 20 minutes. And, second, I was afraid that as a first time film, it might be fairly rough, in a technical sense. Actually it’s a nice little, personal piece. Maybe about 14 minutes. It’s a one character film. The actor handled this monologue quite well. The camera work was nice. Solid audio. A couple of slight missteps in the editing. But, if I had it to do over again, I’d have placed it on the outside screen as well. I hope Eddie appreciated that his film played throughout the night on a large flat-screen monitor. I saw that he was there, but I didn’t get a chance to talk much with him. Good job, Eddie!

Veronica Potter-Hernandez. “A Man, His Music, and His Legacy.” My Luminaria Film Committee co-chair’s wonderful personal documentary about her grandfather, an important composer and musician. The best part of the night was when Mayor Hardberger (who initiated this Luminaria event) stopped by the Instituto. He squeezed into the Frida Kahlo Gallery, and because the place was packed, not a seat to be had, he took a seat on the floor and stayed awhile. The film which was playing? Veronica’s. Veronica (and I know you’ll be reading this), that’s so fucking cool!

Barbara Jackson. “Luminaria del Rio.” Barbara is my neighbor. She lives about two blocks away. She and the husband moved from one beautiful King William house to another, somewhat larger, beautiful King William house. Her piece was projected on the west wall of the Instituto de Mexico. Still images and video footage of the play of light and shadow on the southern-most stretch of the river walk — it played on a loop along with:

Rebecca Dietz. “Asylum.” Rebecca also lives not too far from me. She, like Barbara, is mostly known as a photographer. Her Luminaria piece is a four minute loop. There are four video insets of the same woman in a flowing white gown tearing and crumpling stacks of paper in her lap. The paper is dropped down, out of frame. Rebecca’s original proposal was for this piece to run on a loop rear-projected in a downtown doorway with a pile of crumbled paper beneath the screen. There is an audio track that goes with this piece — the sound of paper crumpled and torn. Because we hadn’t arranged for a PA system, I stripped out Rebecca’s audio in the DVD I made with both artists’ works on a loop (truth be told, Pete made that DVD — thanks, Pete!). In retrospect, I wish Rebecca’s piece could have been presented in accordance with her initial proposal. It would have been quite striking. Rebecca was wandering around during Luminaria, in her other guise as a fire dancer. Clearly I need to know more about this Rebecca Dietz.

Justin Parr. “Portrait of the Artist as a City; Autobiography of Life in San Antonio.” Justin is one of the very important young members of the local art community. I’ve seen him do conceptual pieces, multi-media work, and, of course, photography. In fact, his art photography appears in about every San Antonio group show. He’s also shot for SA Current. He runs FL!GHT Gallery, one of our high hip venues. He is a major contributor to Emvergeoning, the best San Antonio art blog. So Veronica and I were happy to help with the logistics of his Luminaria installation — thousands of his photographs, running looped on a digital projector, and shot up on an old house in Hemisfair Park, catty corner to the Magik Theatre. I’m glad Justin was able to get away from his projector for a bit. He took a tour of Luminaria and posted some great photographs on the Emvergeoning site.

Joseph Hladek. “The Last Judgment.” I have to admit I haven’t seen this piece all the way through. When Joseph sent in his proposal, Veronica and myself petitioned the rest of the film committee to approve his proposal. There are a lot of things which me and Veronica politely disagree upon. The aesthetic importance of Joseph Hladek is not one of these. We’ve both seen the clarity of his unique vision. The two of us might not have much weight in the greater San Antonio art community, but we try our best to be advocates of the work of Joey Hladek. Here’s a sample: Keep up the great work Joseph!

Also, the San Antonio chapter of NALIP (the National Association of Latino Independent Producers) sponsored 90 minutes of “The Best of San Antonio Student Films.” Screened were work from NESA, Harlandale Animation, ComArts, Jefferson’s Mustang Cinema, Saint Mary’s Hall, Say Si, and San Anto TV. A wealth of stellar shorts by high school kids.

This has been a tiny slice of what was offered Saturday night. The above video work played on three screens and two buildings utilizing seven video projectors. All was presented within Hemisfair Park. Keep in mind that there were over 1,100 artists represented in the downtown area during Luminaria. Six hours, more or less, along Alamo Street. From Peacock Alley down to the Magik Theatre. We had music, poetry reading, fine art, theater, performance art, multimedia installations, film, video art, dance, fireworks, and a laser show. Toss in a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t fit into any categories. Not to mention some wonderful assholes who crashed the party with their guerilla work. Also, we shouldn’t forget that Dar and Andy Miller of the SAL (San Antonio Local) Film Festival were showing some wonderful local short films up at the north side of the event, Gallery 118. Also, Joey Carrillo brought film to the Citywide component of Luminaria. In association with Cine Studio Joey created the Film Day SA Festival. He screened some wonderful locally produced work at the downtown campus of UTSA. We also had Leslie Raymond’s UTSA New Media students presenting their excellent work for Luminaria. Add the video component of so many iconic San Antonio artists, such as Luis Valdera, Michele Monseau, Laura Varela, Guillermina Zabala, and on and on, and I can only say that that whole weird uncodified world of film / video / animation / media / projected work / time-based visual media / blah / and blah blah… well, it was all over the place Saturday night. It was a true orgy of strange bedfellows, because it’s also very true that we don’t all get along — nope, not at all. But let’s cram it all under the umbrella of time-based visual media, and with that quick simplification, we all kicked ass this 2009 Luminaria.

Kids, take a bow. Well done.

Let’s all start thinking of 2010.


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