East Austin Stories

Since 2000, as the forces of gentrification and development make profound changes in neighborhoods of East Austin, University of Texas RTF students have made short documentary films about the communities, families, individuals, institutions, and businesses east of I-35.

East Austin Stories is the name of the ongoing class in documentary filmmaking; the annual, free, public screening of new films in neighborhood venues; and this collection of all of the short films. 

Playing Against the Sun
Playing Against the Sun
Playing Against the Sun

This documentary explores the intensity and eager enthusiasm of soccer Coach Juan Flores. Juan is a true believer in purity and the greatness of the sport; he coaches to create opportunities for young girls who come from diverse backgrounds and feels that soccer is a gateway to success.

Directors
Jonas-Hall Noreggaard, Brittany Hammer, Sergio Rabczuk
The Juan and Only
The Juan and Only
The Juan and Only
Directors
Melissa Woodward, Laura Kincaid, Jack McWilliams
Geno's Too Hot to Trot
Geno's Too Hot to Trot
Geno's Too Hot to Trot

What is soul food? Even Gene Tumbs and Sandra Black, who cook it up on East Eleventh Street, have a hard time describing it. Sandra says it's a matter of seasoning, having just the right amount of onion and bacon. Gene says all it takes is some good, finger-licking gravy, like what Sandra uses to make her famous smothered pork chops. But whatever it is, diners say they're doing it right.

Links:

Directors
Lauren Bigley, Adam Robinette
Chispas
Chispas
Chispas
Director
Nisha Madhani
NIOSA
NIOSA
NIOSA

While Austinites have to travel to experience A Night in Old San Antonio, many find that the music, performances, and fun of the celebration of Mexican culture is well worth it.

Director
Danny Tamez
Capirotada
Capirotada
Capirotada

Yolanda Solis is a fourth-generation Mexican-American. Alejandro Mendez is a recent immigrant from Mexico. Both face the quintessential American challenge: surviving junior high. In this documentary, they talk about their families, their lives, their perceptions of other races, and what their Mexican heritage means to them.

Directors
Melissa Aellos, Laura Donnelly
Life During Wartime
Life During Wartime
Life During Wartime

Manuel Almarez remembers what it’s like to be in a combat zone—sometimes all too vividly.

Director
Damon Garrett
Eastside Pride
Eastside Pride
Eastside Pride

Perla Arpero is a senior at the recently re-named Eastside Memorial High School. Eastside is a troubled school fighting for its existence and that has a profound effect on the students. Perla talks about her hopes for her school and her community. Made by Jazmine Ulloa and Rita Chapa.

Directors
Ulloa Jazmine, Rita Chapa
Rude Mechanicals
Rude Mechanicals
Rude Mechanicals

The Rude Mechanicals strives to be a different kind of theater company, one that works collaboratively to create unique artistic works.

Director
Adrian Rodriguez
A Moment
A Moment
A Moment

Father J.C. Cain and Father Prado spend their lives in spiritual pursuits. But sometimes, spiritual experiences strike them without warning. Here, they tell the story of one mystical encounter.

Links:

Director
Alec Dahl
Holly
Holly
Holly

When the Holly power plant was built in the 1960s, no one in the city government cared that it was being located in a residential neighborhood in the heart of Mexican-American East Austin. In 2001, an accident at the plant reminded the city that the danger is still real, and raised the buried questions of environmental racism to the surface.

Directors
Apolinar Garza, Matthew Drenik, Kevin Terrill
Familia Aztlan
Familia Aztlan
Familia Aztlan

The artists at Aztlan Dance Company use tradition as their inspiration, but they don't let it constrain them. Instead, Director Roen Salinas and company start with dances from across Latin America, from Mexican folklorico to Argentina's tango, and use them to build their own choreography. The result is a unique statement that pays homage to the past while moving Austin's dance scene into the future.

Directors
Andrew Lasky, Manny Mendoza
Por Media de mis Heridos
Por Media de mis Heridos
Por Media de mis Heridos

Since 1986, Casa Marianella has sheltered, among others, young men fleeing lethal gangs in Central America. This film shows how wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador and the waves of U.S. political asylum and deportation that followed gave rise to violent pandillas. Human rights activists explain how the issue has been distorted through binoculars of hype and machismo. Government crackdowns, they say, only punish the victims -- people like Osman, Jorge and Marlon, who have found refuge at Casa Marianella. Bearing los heridos (the scars) of gang membership, they are struggling to their feet in Austin, as students and as workers, sending support to their families back home.

Directors
Damien Brockmann, Maure Kennedy, Juan Valadez
The King Holds Court
The King Holds Court
The King Holds Court
Director
Amber Rademacher
Grito 2002: Celebration Salsa
Grito 2002: Celebration Salsa
Grito 2002: Celebration Salsa

Salsa is a lot of things for a lot of people. For Leila, it’s a way to show off her Mexican culture. For Carlos, it’s just something his whole family does. At Huston-Tillotson College, the celebration “Grito 2002” is also a way for African-American and Hispanic students, who don’t always mingle, to develop friendships.

Directors
Alexis Carreiro, Ruth Ann Knudsen, Jamie Lagesse, Josh Neu
Cemetary of Steel
Cemetary of Steel
Cemetary of Steel

Sculptor Barry George builds his art out of found objects and metalworking techniques he picked up traveling the world. In his sculptures, wood, steel, cardboard, and wire are transformed into political statements and images of beauty.

Links:

Directors
John Johnson, Alec Dahl
Nokoa News and the Observer
Nokoa News and the Observer
Nokoa News and the Observer
Directors
Damien Brockman, Mary Ann McQuillan, Jack McWilliams, Chris Obel
American Dollars and Cokes
American Dollars and Cokes
American Dollars and Cokes

Arturo Escamilla came to this country for "American dollars and cokes", that is, to make a better life for his family.

Directors
Raul Ereivev, Josh New, Jordan Peterson
Laying the Foundation
Laying the Foundation
Laying the Foundation

Champion boxer Ann Wolfe wasn't always on top of the world. On the contrary: boxing gave her a way out of poverty, personal tragedy, and homelessness. Now it gives her a way to share something with East Austin kids, and to live her philosophy that it's the people whose lives you touch that really make a difference. (And as an added bonus, it gives her a way to make fools of a lot of guys who think women can't box.)

Directors
Amy Khoshbin, Matthew Carey, Aaron Castillo
How Roller Derby Saved My Life
How Roller Derby Saved My Life
How Roller Derby Saved My Life

Roller Derby is alive and well in Austin and Rebecca Gutierrez (aka radioACTIVE) is here to talk about it. While it didn't exactly save her life, it definitely gave her another way to have some fun. Meet radioActive, Cherry Crush, and the other Hot Rod Honeys who are part of the txrollergirls.com scene.

Directors
Wayne Cheong, Jeb Kendrick
Skillpoint Alliance
Skillpoint Alliance
Skillpoint Alliance

This film documents the work of Skillpoint Alliances Community Technology Training Centers that have served more than 4,000 low-income and unemployed adults, while helping build the Information Technology capacity of the two under-resourced high schools--Reagan High School and Travis High School. The documentary narrates CTTCs work through the stories of past and current students, instructors and individuals who coordinate the program. You will hear stories of how these student lives have changed for the better because of the CCTC program.

Directors
Pete Elam, Emmet Campos
Yellow Bike Stories
Yellow Bike Stories
Yellow Bike Stories

One of the many great things about East Austin is that there are plenty of places to walk and bike. For many people, riding a bike is the ultimate form of freedom. It gets you where you need to go, you get some exercise, you're never stuck in traffic, and even if you have a crash, you've got a great story to tell.

Links:

Director
Danielle McMillen
Transitions
Transitions
Transitions

Life is a process of changes: finishing school, going to college, having children, making a living. As Robert Mendoza and Cuquita Rangel explain, every change comes with rewards and struggles.

Directors
John Henicke, Markell Pool
It's Just Art
It's Just Art
It's Just Art

Is art "just art"? At the George Washington Carver Museum, people say it's a lot more than something pretty to hang on the wall. Rather, it's a way African-Americans can present their own visions of the world, and reflect their pride in their culture.

Links:

Director
Carlos Cruz