ART Magazine. San Antonio, Texas.
San Antonio Film Festival keeps growing every year. This year, the festival will have screenings throughout the city at the Instituto Cultural de Mexico, Pearl Brewery, and three Santikos Theaters: Palladium, Bijou, and Rialto. This is a huge leap that hopefully will translate the expected results: the festival’s reach is much bigger increasing the participants’ exposure, but also, making the festival accessible for the average person. By doing this, the Festival attempts to reach an audience that might not usually attend a cinema screening. At theaters where independent film is shown regularly, it is often seen that the audience that appreciates this type of film is always smaller than the mainstream audience. However, it says a lot of the culture in San Antonio to support this type of event where a regular audience is exposed to independent cinema.
The first film festivals began around the 1930s. The first major film festival was held in Venice in 1932. One of the major and oldest festivals in the world that is still running is the Cannes Film festival, which begun in 1939. In 1953, the Columbus International Film & Video Festival, also known as The Chris Awards, was the first North-American film festival hosted in San Francisco. It was followed by the establishment of other film festivals such as the New York Film Festival founded in 1963. In 1978, Sundance, the largest Independent Film Festival in the United States was founded. Within Texas, the first Film Festivals to be hosted was the Worldfest in Houston, founded by Cinema Arts in 1961, and the Dallas Video Fest, founded in 1986. Besides Worldfest and Dallas Video Fest, there were not many opportunities for filmmakers. In 1993, the Austin Film Festival was founded followed by the San Antonio Film Festival, which was established in 1994 by Adam Rocha as a video festival that eventually evolved into SA Film Fest. In the same year, South by Southwest, which was founded in 1987 and used to be a music conference, added film and interactive media to their event. From 2005-2011, there was a boom in the founding of Texas’ film festivals: Dallas International Film Festival (2006), Lone Star Film Festival (2006), Cinema Arts Festival Houston (2006), The Marfa Film Festival (2007), Rockport Film Festival (2007), Plaza Classic Film Festival in El Paso (2008), and Hillcountry Film Festival (2010).
Since 1994, Adam Rocha has been trying to build more opportunities for local filmmakers. The event not only allows local artists to screen their films, it also brings national and international filmmakers to show what they have been doing. The festival is accompanied by free conferences in which filmmakers have the opportunity to learn from respected professionals. This year one of the panelists will be Alvaro Rodriguez, screenwriter for films such as Machete, From Dusk ‘Till Dawn 3, Allied Forces, Plain Flower, and El Mariachi. The conferences will deal with different topics such as screenwriting, documentary production, acting direction, and San Antonio and Texas’ incentives for filmmakers. The fact that there are more venues across the city and the collaboration with one of the largest movie theaters in Texas portrays a bright future for this event. This year the festival exposes its potential and really shows what it could become. With filmmakers from Israel, New York, Germany and all over the world, this time the event will have more feature films than shorts and the organizers claim that the quality of the submissions this year is much better than last year’s. SA Film Festival is being sponsored by many large corporations such as AT&T, CW 35, Shiner, Azteca 31, to name a few. So what do we need to make SA Film Festival the next Sundance? The structure is there and we have a long way to go, but it definitely needs us to attend and support the event for it to grow.
For more information and a schedule of the workshops and screenings please go to: http://safilm.com/