San Antonio Film Festival Kicks Off Its 21st Year With A Move To The Tobin 

click to enlarge A pro wrestler searches for a legendary lost treasure in Little Red and the Rhode Island Strangler. - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • A pro wrestler searches for a legendary lost treasure in Little Red and the Rhode Island Strangler.

San Antonians love their movies and it shows with the growing count of film festivals, contests, slams, series and special screenings that continually pop up all across the city during any given month.

From Texas Public Radio's summer film programming to competitions like the San Antonio 48-Hour Film Project to the countless outdoor big-screen showings at places like Mission Marquee Plaza, Travis Park and Main Plaza (not to mention new players in the game like the inaugural Alamo City Film Festival later this year), one might think San Antonio has quite an appetite for cinema.

"It's exciting," Adam Rocha, San Antonio Film Festival director, told the San Antonio Current last month in anticipation of the 21st annual San Antonio Film Festival, which runs through August 2. "Everyone needs a diversion from everyday life. In our industry, it comes in the form of filmmaking and festival-building."

While Rocha admits technology has afforded cinephiles more choices than ever when it comes to deciding how to consume movies, he said film festivals and other public gatherings of the like are still viable because of the highly enjoyable experience of watching a film alongside an energetic audience. It's one of the reasons Rocha still does what he does. He welcomes others to do the same.

"Competition is good because it toughens up my game," Rocha said. "I hope people go to all [the local film events] so they can know who has the best one.

Find out what kind of lineup Rocha and his team have assembled this year as the SAFF takes place at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts for the first time. Below is a preview of some of the indie films screening over the next five days. For a full schedule, visit

A Question of Humanity

Originally from San Antonio, documentarian Heather Angel Chandler embedded herself in Uganda in October of 2013 after she learned about a fatal neurological disease known as Nodding Syndrome that affects children between the ages of five and 15 in East Africa. Chandler, 38, a former TV news reporter for KABB, was immediately interested in capturing the real story of this mysterious disease and reporting on a treatment facility, Hope for Humans, battling it on the frontlines. "I really want moviegoers to understand how amazing, strong and positive these children are," Chandler told the Current. "Despite all the unbelievable challenges they are going through, they still somehow have the will to go on." 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 29

Little Red and the Rhode Island Strangler

Writer/director Matt Sample, 32, introduces audiences to a pair of unlikely fellow adventurers, a young runaway tracking space aliens and an eccentric former pro-wrestler in search of a lost treasure in the desert. "I've always been interested in how people use fantasy to escape from the problems they encounter in everyday life," Sample told the Current. "I would like to take the audience on a similar journey." 5 p.m. Thursday, July 30

Dutch Book

click to enlarge Dutch Book - COURTESY
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  • Dutch Book

Currently studying screenwriting at Columbia University, New York-based director/writer James Repici's crime thriller tells the story of a Tampa teenager who hatches a plan to pay off his father's gambling debts. Repici, 35, wrote the film while working as an auditor five years ago. "I remember desperately wanting out of my finance job, which to some degree parallels [the main character's] desire to get out of his hopeless situation," Repici said. Click here to watch the trailer. 7 p.m. Friday, July 31

Moments of Clarity

click to enlarge Moments of Clarity - COURTESY
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  • Moments of Clarity

Winning awards for Best Director and Best Actress at the Boston International Film Festival in April, this madcap comedy adventure follows two young women, one the daughter of an agoraphobic and the other the daughter of a pastor, as they set off on a journey to a church youth group jamboree. "Material like this is rare," said first-time feature film director Stev Elam, 42. "I hope audiences find it both funny and touching." 5 p.m. Saturday, August 1

San Antonio Shorts

Also on the SAFF slate this year are a number of short films by local filmmakers. These include The Uncanny Valley (dir. Mike Fisher), a love story between a robot and a woman from outer space; La Aventura de Hector el Huevo (dir. Claire Norris), an animated film about a hero cascarón; Invisible People (dir. Demar Gunter), a documentary on Joan Cheever and The Chow Train, her nonprofit mobile meal service for the homeless; and A Band of Thieves (dir. Fidel Ruiz-Healy), a "suburban Western" that follows a teenage girl causing havoc in town after her allowance is taken away.

San Antonio Film Festival

Through August 2, Various screening times, $10-$15 single ticket, $99-$125 festival badge, Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, 100 Auditorium Circle, (210) 223-8624,



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