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. 

Church of the Friendly Ghost
Church of the Friendly Ghost
Church of the Friendly Ghost
Directors
John Gross, Ginny Patrick
Sir Dukes
Sir Dukes
Sir Dukes
Directors
Brooks Bennett, Ellen Risch, Xotchitl Paredes
Juan in a Million
Juan in a Million
Juan in a Million

The taco: it's a perfect for breakfast, lunch, or a snack. One of the many fine Tex-Mex establishments in East Austin is Juan in a Million, where the people are friendly and the tacos, migas, and menudo won't leave you hungry.

Links:

Director
Trey Green
Bubba Stewardship Barbershop
Bubba Stewart Barbershop
Bubba Stewart Barbershop
Popcorn
Popcorn
Popcorn

His grandma called him Popcorn ‘cause his eyes were so big. And those eyes saw a lot as he grew to adulthood in East Austin. The beatboxer, breakdancer, and former drug dealer has seen murder, death, and the desperate things people will do for crack. Now, although he’s straightened his life out, he’s seeing the younger generation make the same mistakes he did.

Director
Daniel Del Favero
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
Generation Digital
Generation Digital
Generation Digital

It only took a couple of cameras and some digital editing software to turn a bunch of sometimes troublemakers into budding filmmakers. The footage Mike Cueva, Angel Pedraza, and the rest of Raiders Films shoot of their classmates is broadcast all over Reagan High School, inspiring pride among jocks, cheerleaders, theater people, and computer people alike. With the help of their teacher, Trent Sharp, they explain why digital media are the voice of their generation.

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Directors
Alexis Carreiro, Ruth Ann Knudsen
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
Mt. Olive Baptist Church
Mt. Olive Baptist Church
Mt. Olive Baptist Church
Directors
Trey Bennett, Michelle Berg, Daniel Hanna, Jason King, Sylvia Le
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
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
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