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. 

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
El Dia de Los Muertos
El Dia de Los Muertos
El Dia de Los Muertos

It's a day to celebrate death, and a day to celebrate life. It's Dia de los Muertos, when Mexican-Americans in East Austin remember deceased loved ones with music, dancing, religious services, and food at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

Links:

Visit the web site of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

Teachers! Check out this lesson plan for Dia de los Muertos activities.

Director
Wade Couturiaux
The Juan and Only
The Juan and Only
The Juan and Only
Directors
Melissa Woodward,Laura Kincaid,Jack McWilliams
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
Chispas
Chispas
Chispas
Director
Nisha Madhani
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
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
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
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
The Light of Montopolis
The Light of Montopolis
The Light of Montopolis

Florence Ponziano turned her house in the Montopolis neighborhood into "The Comfort House."  Part living art museum, kids' playground, rest stop for the weary, and home sweet home. 

Directors
Lauren Pruitt,Caitlin Diaz,Jordan Garcia,John Fitch
Llevame al Rio
Llevame al Rio
Llevame al Rio

La Llorona, "The Weeping Woman" is a notorious Mexican ghost tale.  Part cautionary tale, part social commentary, part curfew enforcer for the children, the story is told all through central and south Texas, too.  Montopolis residents tell their versions and their brushes with "La Llorona"! 

Directors
Rita Chapa,Geoff Yano,James Ruiz
Helado
Helado
Helado

Nothing like the ice cream truck on a hot Texas day.  Our crew rides along with ice cream truck drivers through the neighborhood.  What's your favorite?  A cherry chill cup? 

Directors
Megan Bennett,Traci Duran,Tony Faia,Landry Gideon
fEAST
fEAST
fEAST

An abstract portrait of East Austin to a techno soundtrack--a little dreamy, a little gritty. 

Directors
Araceli Jamie,James H. Ruiz
Meander
Meander
Meander
Directors
Toni De Atzlan,Diane Zilliox,Ed Boisvenue,Trevor Gureckis
Lucha Libre
Lucha Libre
Lucha Libre

Lucha Libre is the Mexican tradition of masked wrestling.  Stars of Lucha Libre are legendary.  But how do you get into the business?  Every week wrestlers, pro and amateur, come to QFC Lucha Libre to train and for matches. Meet professionals Mascarita Suprema, Monje Diabólico, Blacteria and hopefuls training hard to make it.

Directors
Jeff Yano,Jerry Garcia
La Casa Lopez
La Casa Lopez
La Casa Lopez

When the developers came knocking, Senora Lopez said no. She spent her whole life working to buy her house, and she's going to die there. Even as the rest of the block is razed, and plans progress for a high-rise, her bungalow on Ninth Street stands as testament to her force of will.

Directors
Andrew Cadelago, Lauren Hardy, Isaac Simon
Nubian Queen Lo La
Nubian Queen Lo La
Nubian Queen Lo La

It is nearly impossible to pass the Chicon-Rosewood intersection in East Austin without noticing the purple, alligator-laden restaurant on the corner. The restaurant's name is Nubian Queen Lo-La's Cajun Kitchen, and its vibrant decor only begins to reflect the spirit of its homeless operator. Relying on the "angels" in her community to help sustain her financially, Lozina "Lo-La" Stephens feeds the hungry and homeless every Sunday and expresses her love every day through her food.

Winner, Best Documentary. The 15 Short Film Festival, Charlotte, NC.

Links:

Directors
Jeff Gipson,Alexander Skalomenos,Joshua Tate,Robert Travis
Lives Torn
Lives Torn
Lives Torn

Luissana Santibañez’s family is torn apart when their mother is arrested and detained in the infamous Hutto immigration detention center, near Houston  Luissana must now care for her three siblings, all U.S. citizens, using her student loans and welfare.  What has happened to Luissana’s family is happening to families all across America.

Luissana’s parents are both Mexican nationals with no green card.  When her father is deported, her mother is forced to find employment to support her family. Luciana’s mother was arrested by ICE officials during a routine traffic accident involving the van in which she was riding.   She has been detained for the past 15 months. If their mother gets deported, the Santibañez children will be forced to move to Mexico, a country and culture they do not know, radically changing their educations and their futures.

Directors
Luissana Santibanez,Jenny Alvarado,Sarah Lim