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. 

Daniel Gomez
Daniel Gomez
Daniel Gomez
Directors
Alisha Brophy, Jeb Kendrick, Kevin Pinkerton, Wayne Cheong
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
Stories Alive
Stories Alive
Stories Alive
Directors
Christina Kim, Mary Ann McQuillan, Roger Timm
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.

Change
Change
Change

Marshal Rawlins had it rough for a long time. He struggled with drugs and spent time in jail. He lost his parents, and watched his sisters pay for their addictions with prostitution. But finally, something changed inside him, and he started to turn his life around. Even if he didnt achieve all he once dreamed, the lonely man with a bucket collecting change for charity on the intersection of IH-35 and Highway 183 still believes he has much to teach his children and acquaintances.

Director
J.D. Krilo
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
a.k.a. Venus Velvet
a.k.a. Venus Velvet
a.k.a. Venus Velvet
Directors
Alisha Brophy, Kevin Pinkerton
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
Historic Victory Grill and the Holmes Family
Historic Victory Grill and the Holmes Family
Historic Victory Grill and the Holmes Family

Johnny Holmes opened the doors of the Victory Grill in 1945, the first customers being Black servicemen from Fort Hood who were not allowed in the USO or other segregated Austin clubs. This portrayal of the people behind one of Austin's original spots offers a taste of authentic Blues and Jazz and down-home hospitality.

Directors
Carlyn Hudson, Creston Whittington, Benjamin Lyon, Hannah Kitziger
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
Victory
Victory
Victory

Learning to read—and especially spell—English is hard for anyone. For native speakers of other languages, a little extra help is often required. The Victory tutoring program provides that help.

Director
John Johnson
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
Cuevas Produce
Cuevas Produce
Cuevas Produce

Cuevas Produce is a short documentary about a man who serves his community through his business. He works seven days a week, 365 days a year and approximately fourteen hours everyday. He has devoted his life to helping others and treasures his accolades more than gold.

Directors
Heather Saenz, Vanessa Orr, Mariah Taylor
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
Talk 60
Talk 60
Talk 60

JoJoe Johnson made his television debut on Austin Community Access in the second grade. Now, he hosts his own call-in show called “What’s On Your Mind,” where young people can talk about their troubles and concerns. Next, he says, he’ll be a famous television producer—on the way he’s happy hearing what Austin kids have to say.

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
Celebration of our Future
Celebration of our Future
Celebration of our Future

Education should be a lifelong process, one that begins before kindergarten. At the Ebenezer Baptist Church Child Development Center, the staff provide children with a place to play and learn from very early childhood

Directors
Christine Castano, DJ Carwille
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
Americanos
Americanos
Americanos

Museums are a place we can see ourselves for what we are, says Edward James Olmos. At Mexic-arte Museum, visitors can see the many ways Americans—who Olmos explains are all the people who inhabit the North and South American continents—represent themselves and their cultures.

Links:

Director
John Benner
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
Filipino Soul Food
Filipino Soul Food
Filipino Soul Food

Maria Ford is the chef and co-owner with husband Fred ("I have some experience in soul food") of Cebuana Filipino Store. Come in for the lunch special, maybe the Kare-Kare platter or the chicken ginger rice soup, and load up on martial arts videos. Maria cooks the old-fashioned way--cooking slowly and with her own prepared ingredients. In Austin, it is the unique Filipino grocery store/restaurant/video shop combination.

Directors
Rhea River, Jose Perez, Rachael Schroeder
Soccer
Soccer
Soccer
Directors
Jonas-Hall Noreggaard, Brittany Hammer, Sergio Rabczuk
Sanamiento Espiritual
Sanamiento Espiritual
Sanamiento Espiritual
Director
Phyllis Holloway Hawkins