A Look At Eight Films Screening At CineFestival 

click to enlarge Sarah Swinwood plays an aspiring actress in Recommended by Enrique
  • Sarah Swinwood plays an aspiring actress in Recommended by Enrique

click to enlarge sa_20150218_cover.jpg

Children of Giant

Returning to the director's chair after six years, Hector Galán transports audiences back into cinematic history with a documentary about the making of the Academy Award-winning film Giant, which was shot in Marfa, Texas during the summer of 1955. Through archive footage and interviews with authors, journalists and the like, Galán conveys the story effectively with a particular focus on how Giant became a social-issue hot button during that time. The doc is especially interesting when Galán turns the camera on the Mexican-American residents, who were cast as extras in the film as kids. 7pm Sat, Feb 21

Now en Español

Those who enjoy peeking behind the curtain to see how TV shows are produced will get a kick out of this humorous and touching documentary about the five women who dub the ABC series Desperate Housewives in Spanish. Joining these women at their Hollywood studio and watching them work, director/writer/producer Andrea Meller gives audiences an entertaining narrative about friendship, family, the challenge of being a Latino actor living in L.A. and how the American Dream is what each person makes of it. 2:30pm Sun, Feb 22

Squeezebox

A musician's ominous dreams intersect with reality in San Antonio-based filmmaker Sam Lerma's trippy short thriller starring Independent Spirit Award-nominated actor Pedro Castañeda (August Evening). When accordionist Manuel Casillas (Castañeda) purchases a strange box containing a substance that devours whatever it touches, the conjunto legend must face his fears, which include one scary-ass cat. Consider it a metaphysical sci-fi/fantasy done South Texas style with a little more eerie imagery tossed in for good measure. (Full disclosure: this writer made a small donation to the production of this film early last year). 7pm Wed, Feb 25

Red Leather Gloves

San Antonio-based director Ray Santisteban collaborates with writer Ben Olguin in this earnest short documentary about Olguin's career as an amateur boxer in Houston in the 1980s, an experience he translated into a collection of poetry with themes of "survival, resilience, and the indomitable spirit of humanity." Olguin describes his book as an honest look at the "ugliness of fighting" and explains how he uses the written word to overcome the pain he both suffered and inflicted. 7:20pm Wed, Feb 25

click to enlarge Arlene Chico-Lugo stars as Adina in Daniel Armando’s drama What It Was - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Arlene Chico-Lugo stars as Adina in Daniel Armando’s drama What It Was<

Recommended by Enrique

An aspiring actress (Sarah Swinwood) and a mysterious Mexican man (Lino Varela) arrive in Del Rio, Texas under different circumstances — the actress to star in a low-budget horror movie, and the man to meet with someone for an undisclosed reason. Filmmakers Daniel Garcia and Rania Attieh, both of whom studied in San Antonio 15 years ago, have created an unusual, dark and thought-provoking comedy and have done so by making perceptive directorial decisions. The filmmaking duo screened their film H. at the Sundance Film Festival last month. They are nominated for a 2015 Independent Spirit Award under the category Someone to Watch. 8pm Wed, Feb 25

Imperial Dreams

When rehabilitated ex-con Bambi (John Boyega) is released from prison, he returns back home ready to care for his young son and start a new life as a writer. The plan, however, is a challenging one with bad influences attempting to pull him back into a destructive cycle of crime and a system working against everything he's doing to keep his son safe. Director/writer Malik Vitthal explores familiar themes, but his version is heartbreaking and authentic and can stand with the best of them. 6pm Thu, Feb 26

What It Was

When her mother voices her disapproval of her lifestyle choices, Adina (Arlene Chico-Lugo) leaves L.A. behind for the Bronx, where she revisits her sexual past and becomes involved with two women. Director/writer Daniel Armando is first and foremost an observer, allowing the audience to join Adina on this journey of self-exploration as the camera follows along like a curious onlooker. Narratively speaking, the drama is formless and a bit sappy at times, but Armando's poetic sensibility and tenderness and Chico-Lugo's screen presence elevate it just enough. 9pm Thu, Feb 26

La Guapa

Forced to become an assassin by her drug-dealing ex-husband and baby daddy Cesar (Anthony L. Fernandez), Alex (Grace Serrano) gets in over her head to appease him so she can get her daughter back. Forget about going to the cops, who already think Cesar has something to do with the hits, Alex, for whatever reason, thinks becoming a murderer is the logical option. Director/writer Kenneth Castillo delivers a cliché and unnecessarily convoluted screenplay that ties all the players together in one unimpressive cop melodrama where the motivations are unclear, the score is inept and the acting is shaky at best. 4pm Sat, Feb 28

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