With just $7,000, filmmaker Robert Rodríguez shot the 1992 indie classic film “El Mariachi,” which launched his career and set him on a trailblazing path.
With films such as “Sin City” and the “Spy Kids” series, Rodríguez has helped boost the visibility of diverse characters on the big screen and opened the doors for Latinos in television with his channel “El Rey.”
The Austin Film Society on Dec. 2 will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of “El Mariachi” with a rare marathon screening of what’s called the full Mexico trilogy — “El Mariachi,” “Desperado” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico.” A Q&A with Rodríguez will follow the final film. The evening at the AFS Cinema will be capped with a special after party featuring a live performance by Rodríguez and his band, Chingón.
Rodríguez has lots to celebrate. The AFS advisory board member also wrapped up the filming of his reality show “Rebel Without a Crew.” The show challenges five emerging filmmakers to shoot a movie with the same money and time constraints that Rodríguez had 25 years ago with “El Mariachi.”
Tickets for the entire event cost $75 and $65 for Austin Film Society members. Individual movie or party tickets are also available at austinfilm.org. Catch “El Mariachi” at 2 p.m.; “Desperado” at 4:15 p.m. and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” at 6:30 p.m. After party begins at 8 p.m.
For nearly 20 years, the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival has been bringing movies to Austin that you can’t find in most U.S. theaters as well as films featuring important points of views that are regularly missing from the big screen.
Don’t miss the chance to catch nearly 100 films representing 24 countries May 4-8. All films, which will screen at various locations including The Marchesa Hall & Theatre and the Salvage Vanguard Theater, are in English or with subtitles. Find free screenings at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.
Cine Las Americas opens on May 4 with a 6 p.m. reception for members and badgeholders at the Marchesa Hall & Theater followed by the Peruvian thriller “Magallanes,” which was nominated for Best Latin American Film at Spain’s most prestigious film awards. The movie tells the story of a taxi driver (Damián Alcázar) and former soldier who serves as a chauffeur for a retired colonel who was his commander. A secret begins to emerge when Celina (Magaly Solier) takes a ride in Magallanes’ cab.
Costa Rican dramedy “Viaje” closes the festival at 7 p.m. May 8 at the Marchesa Hall & Theater. It explores how two millennials who meet at a costume party and spark up a spontaneous rendezvous look at commitment and attraction.
As Cine Las Americas evolves, the fest will make an effort to include other types of audio visual art, said festival director Jean Lauer. Last year, aside from the feature films, documentaries and shorts that are typically screened, they also presented music videos for the first time. This spring, the festival will feature two music video showcases in partnership with the Austin Music Video Festival at The North Door. Local performers Patricia Vonne and AJ Vallejo are among the music video directors featured. Lauer said she hopes Cine Las Americas will eventually also showcase works such as video installations as part of the festival.
For now, new festival partnerships are bringing more diversity to the film selections. Cine Las Americas teamed up with Señorita Cinema, the only Latina film festival in Texas, to present a special selection of 10 Latina-directed short films curated by the Houston-based festival. The roadshow selection will highlight Señorita Cinema’s best films from the past five editions.
It opened their eyes to injustices. It spurred some of them into public service careers. And it infused them all with cultural pride.
When the Chicano Civil Rights Movement swept across the country in the 1960s and 1970s, Austin’s Mexican-American community united to fight for quality education, political representation and a respect for their rich culture.
It was a time when Austinites like Margaret Gómez, who later became Travis County’s first Latina elected official, questioned, “What’s really going on here?”
The latest installment of KLRU-TV’s Austin Revealed series, an oral history project launched in 2014 that aims to encourage discussion about the city’s future, focuses on the Chicano Civil Rights Movement in Austin and weaves together the compelling stories of trailblazing Austinites, like Gómez, who were part of an era that helped shape today’s Austin.
“Austin Revealed: Chicano Civil Rights” airs on KLRU-TV on March 31 at 7:30 p.m. The PBS affiliate also partnered with the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center to host a special screening and discussion of the documentary on March 31 as part of the center’s César Chávez celebrations. Doors for the screening open at 6:30 p.m. and the film starts at 7 p.m. An RSVP on klru.org is required for the free event, where co-producers Joe Rocha and Eve Tarlo will be present.
During research for a previous “Austin Revealed” installment highlighting notable African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, producers uncovered many rich stories about the Chicano community struggles of that time. “We knew we wanted to come back to the Chicano story,” says Maury Sullivan, KLRU-TV’s senior Vice President for Community Engagement.
The first-person accounts of more than 20 Austinites, including former Brown Beret activist Susana Almanza and former state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, help piece together a holistic history that sheds light on the movement’s sacrifices, failures and achievements.
Austinites recalled being disciplined in schools for speaking Spanish and the struggles of being a Mexican-American local business owner. The documentary highlights Austinites who helped shape politics, art, education and activism. “(During the Chicano Movement) there was a lot of togetherness and a lot of energy to work for that effort,” Gómez says in the film.
From police brutality to education reform, the documentary remains timely, says co-producer Rocha. “There are some laughs, but also some tears and anger,” Tarlo adds.
New Austinites, Rocha says, will also see why we now have parks and streets named after some of these community leaders. “There’s a stamp in Austin left by these folks,” he says. Many of the featured Austinites remain active community leaders. “They’re inspiring and they’re still fighting,” Tarlo says.