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. 

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
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.

Links:

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.

Links:

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.

Links:

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."

Links:

Directors
Jennifer Gardner, Bryan Lozano
LBJ High School - A Look at Two Sides
LBJ High School - A Look at Two Sides
LBJ High School - A Look at Two Sides

LBJ High School in East Austin has a magnet program and a non-magnet program in one building. The magnet school draws kids from all over Austin, while the non-magnet is mainly local students. Students from both schools discuss their high school experience.

Directors
Vanessa Orr, Mariah Taylor
Soccer
Soccer
Soccer
Directors
Jonas-Hall Noreggaard, Brittany Hammer, Sergio Rabczuk
Hands Off My Home
Hands Off My Home
Hands Off My Home

Darwin Hamilton struggles with the City of Austin over an eminent domain abuse case of his property at 912 East 11th St.

Directors
Jessie Pollak, Gerald Martinez, Alex Skalomenos
Raised on Public Access
Raised on Public Access
Raised on Public Access

JoJoe Johnson hosts a call-in show for teens on cable access TV. Even though he sometimes has to field calls from racist viewers, he would never consider quitting, and considers it a tremendous opportunity to hone his communication and hosting skills.

Director
Henry Gayden
Fire Island
Fire Island
Fire Island

At Fire Island Hot Glass Studio, Matthew LaBarbera and Teresa Ueltschney work together to build their glass-blowing business and develop their art. Sometimes it's hard, but they love it when customers appreciate their work, and appreciate the chance to make a living doing what they love.

Directors
Sunhee Cho, Mike Cintron, Lisette Garza, Drew Masada
Making the Grade
Making the Grade
Making the Grade
Directors
Taylor black, Sweta Vohra, Caroline Hoffman, Lindsay Stillman
Tattooing from the Heart
Tattooing from the Heart
Tattooing from the Heart

Some people do their art on paper, canvas, or glass. Arnoldo Carrillo does his art on skin, where his intricate, lifelike tattoos inspire admiration and repeat business. He knows that he loses some business because some people won't go over to the East side. Too bad for them, they miss Arnoldo's art as well as his ideas on life.

Visit the web site of Arnoldo's businesss, Shades of Grey Dermagraphics

Directors
Eric Jenkins, Steven Ray
Bubba Stewardship Barbershop
Bubba Stewart Barbershop
Bubba Stewart Barbershop
La Botanica
La Botanica
La Botanica

John Cazeras is the owner of the Green and White. This East Austin landmark has changed roles over time. Formerly a neighborhood grocery store it now offers more esoteric goods, from herbs and incense to lucky candles and arcane artifacts. His clientele is growing. La India or La Mistica is one of his regular customers. She also has her own business in the store. She can break a curse or give you a reading. A film by Caitlin Diaz, Araceli Jaime,Lauren Pruitt, and Jazmine Ulloa.

Directors
Caitlin Diaz, Araceli Jaime, Jazmine Ulloa
A Look at the Locals
A Look at the Locals
A Look at the Locals

Travelogue spoof meets mockumentary when the Crackers (""I'm John!"" ""I'm Jane!"") give a tour of East Austin. The filmmakers play the sunny, clueless hosts daring to cross I-35.

Links:

Directors
Jonathan Culp, Alissa Davis
Cowboy Donley
Cowboy Donley
Cowboy Donley

The father of Tejano music and the first Mexican-American rock n’ roll star in Texas, Manuel “Cowboy” Donley is a Lone Star legend. In this documentary, he shares his memories of the old days in Austin, as well his continued skill with a guitar.

Directors
Colin Lessing, Chad Sandahl
The History of the Green and White Store
The History of the Green and White Store
The History of the Green and White Store

The Cazares family has owned their grocery for three generations. In the beginning it was a place where Mexican-Americans could avoid discrimination and find the foods that reminded them of the old country. Now, it is a place where people can find the candles, powders, herbs, and other ingredients they need for esoteric spiritual pursuits.

Director
Elizabeth Lepe
Church of the Friendly Ghost
Church of the Friendly Ghost
Church of the Friendly Ghost
Directors
John Gross, Ginny Patrick
Letters for Las Manitas
Letters for Las Manitas
Letters for Las Manitas
Directors
Jeff Gipson, Joshua Tate, Yuta Yamaguchi
Sanamiento Espiritual
Sanamiento Espiritual
Sanamiento Espiritual
Director
Phyllis Holloway Hawkins