East Austin Stories

Blurring the Lines
Blurring the Lines
Blurring the Lines

While East Austin is home to both African-Americans and Hispanics, both groups don't always intermingle. Community activists Juan Valadez and Boyd Vance decided to do something about it. By inviting both communities to celebrate cultural festivals like Mexican Independence Day and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, they hope to make East Austin feel more like one big community than many fragmented groups.

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Directors
Wade Couturiaux, Rob Ripperda, David Tilman, Ryan Williams
A Taco for Me
A Taco for Me
A Taco for Me
Director
Raul Ramirez
Crafting the Tradition
Crafting the Tradition
Crafting the Tradition

A glimpse into the Julia Hernandez's craft store that caters to quinceañeras in East Austin. Julia, a self-employed bussiness woman has built her little store up from a small booth at the local flea market. Today she, and her one employee, Veronica Barahona, offer a wide range of quinceañera materials and hand made supplies...from dresses to table decorations.

Directors
Juan Elizondo, Michelle Mejia, Rachael Schroeder
World's Fastest Mexican
World's Fastest Mexican
World's Fastest Mexican

Is Austins Charlie Machado the worlds fastest Mexican? Thats what people call him in the motorcycle-racing world, where he routinely reaches speeds of 200 miles an hour—in 7 seconds or less. When hes not racing, Charlie loves working on his bikes, and teaching his son Chuy to renovate and rebuild high-performance cars and bikes.

Director
Daniel Del Favero
Community Policing
Community Policing
Community Policing

In any city, relations between communities and police can sometimes be tense. However, any community cares about safety. It is because of this that Austins police department has started a program to make its officers known and trusted by the community, rather than a source of fear.

Directors
Matthew Gray, Sammy Luciano
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
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
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
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
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
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
Bikes Across Borders
Bikes Across Borders
Bikes Across Borders

Along the Texas-Mexico border, a bike is more than just a fun, convenient, free way to get around. For factory workers along the border, it provides an alternative to the company bus. Here's what happens when a group of East Austin bicycle activists decided to deliver a truckload of bikes to their neighbors to the south.

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Directors
David Tillman, Ryan Williams
Debt and Roomates
Debt and Roomates
Debt and Roomates

Any roommate situation has its ups and downs. And that’s all the more true when people who live together are struggling financially. In this film, Fletch, David, and Cisco explain how hard it can be to sort out a communal debt.

Directors
Damon Garrett, Michael Pope
reagan high
5, 6, 7, 8... A Story of the Reagan High School Dance Team
5, 6, 7, 8... A Story of the Reagan High School Dance Team

The girls on the Reagan High School Dance Team get up early in the morning, and practice all week. But when they show the crowds what they've got, it's all worth it.

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Directors
Aileen O'Conor, Esme Ramirez, James Stafford
Behind the Velvet Ropes
Behind the Velvet Ropes
Behind the Velvet Ropes

Venus Velvet is the burlesque review stage name for Marita De La Torre. Marita plays at that personality for fun but is also a serious advocate of children and the arts as director of LUPE Arte, Latina Unidas Por El Arte.

Director
Alisha Brophy
The Walls of East Austin
The Walls of East Austin
The Walls of East Austin

Across East Austin, murals and graffiti walls and buildings. Sometimes, like the mural on the Carver Library, they represent a community effort to beautify their neighborhood. Other wall-art, like graffiti, is a message from an individual artist. But all contribute to the vibrant visual atmosphere of East Austin.

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Directors
Andrew Faldt, Adrian Rodriguez, Terrence Tang
Clarence
Clarence
Clarence

"Every song tells a story," says Clarence Pierce of East Austin blues band The Eastside Kings. While he normally lets his guitar do the talking, in this documentary he accompanies his music with stories.. "However you want it to sound, you work on it and perfect it…you got the Blues."

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Directors
Jennifer Gardner, Bryan Lozano
Ruth's Ladder
Ruth's Ladder
Ruth's Ladder

In more than 20 years of helping the homeless get back on their feet, Ruth Robinson has learned that you cant help everybody. But for those who just need a place to stay, a good meal, and a little time to sort things out, her Community Crossroads Home on East 12th Street is a haven. Maybe its because Ms. Robinson knows what its like to just need a little help through the hard times.

Directors
Russel Baldonado, Wes Stone
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.

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Director
Carlos Cruz
Rocha's Ghost
Rocha's Ghost
Rocha's Ghost

In Roman Rocha's Spanish class, verbs are conjugated and floors collapse. He dims the lights and students' eyes open wide, ready for another tale of local mystery. Martin Middle School's Rocha says he makes ghost stories "a reward" for work, but, weaving two languages in the tale-telling, his "kinesthetic" teaching never stops. Everyone will remember that a bruja (witch) makes candles out of corpses. Pencils scratch and doors creak. That whooshing sound is Roman Rocha, sneaky as a phantom, passing East Austin's lore on to another generation.

Directors
Caroline Hoffman, Maure Kennedy, Laura Kincaid, Melissa Woodward
Graphic Glass
Graphic Glass
Graphic Glass

Rejina Thomas sold her first painting when she was 15. Now, the award-winning glass art and etching she does in her East Fifth Street studio is collected and shown internationally. Vivacious and opinionated, Thomas shares her Graphic Glass studio, her art, and her advice to young artists: “Don’t wait for the money. Hurry up and do it.

Nothing Like Mama's
Nothing Like Mama's
Nothing Like Mama's

“Mama” Sustaita never uses a recipe to cook her pies, cakes, and tamales for her family, neighbors, and bake sales. She doesn’t need to—she learned it all from her own mother. In this documentary, she shows off some of her unwritten techniques.

Director
Jon Benner
La Tierra de Mis Hijos
La Tierra de Mis Hijos
La Tierra de Mis Hijos

People leave their homes and move to the United States for many reasons. As Francisco Rodriguez explains, the move may be difficult, but it also comes with rewards.

Directors
Raul Erivez, Eric Jenkins, Andrew Lasky, Amy Mullin, Steven Ray
Bubba Stewardship Barbershop
Bubba Stewart Barbershop
Bubba Stewart Barbershop