14th Annual SA Film Fest

It's a step in launching their careers as directors, and an opportunity to showcase some of their best work.

      About 45 directors from San Antonio, Mexico and other cities in the Lone Star State and throughout the nation have continued featuring their latest independent flicks during the 14th Annual San Antonio Film Festival, an event that presents and supports small budget, independent films. The festival was launched this year on Thursday, June 19.

       From horror movies to gangsta flicks and boxing films a la Rocky Balboa, this year's festival was a crowd pleaser and hit among spectators, said Adam Rocha, director of the San Antonio Film Festival.

      "We're more serious about things," said Rocha. "We're bringing in the media and different organizations throughout the city, and you have a city that wants to make it all happen."

       For the first time, the film festival is being held at the Instituto Cultural de Mexico. The event was formerly held at the Southwest School of Art & Craft since its launch in 1994. Rocha said he hopes the exposure of the event at the Instituto will also create more awareness of Latino filmmakers, many of which were selected for this year's festival.

      Buddy Calvo, a 24-year-old local director, was one of the directors whose film was screened at this year's festival. His movie, "Jacob," was filmed on a $250 budget in six days. It's the story about a young man who stakes out in his neighborhood to track down a group of burglars.

      "We have an array of great stories that if we were just given the money, we could produce many other films," said Calvo, whose film will also be featured at the Alamo Drafthouse. "What other people don't have that we do is substance. We just don't have the budget."

     The Free Filmmakers Workshops were also held on Friday, June 20 and Saturday, June 20. About six to 10 movies were shown both days following the workshops. Some of the movies, presented in English and Spanish, were shorts and documentaries, ranging from four to 10 minutes. Other features were full-length movies, which were about 88 to almost 100 minutes. The past three evenings (including the opening day on Thursday) concluded with closing receptions where guests and spectators enjoyed sipping on tequila, followed by after parties at Bar America.

    The event was previously known as the San Antonio Underground Film Festival, but Rocha said its mission, which he describes as coalition-building, hasn't changed.

     "I've been trying to get filmmakers together to network," he said. "These directors are brilliant. They have the passion and the desire. They're hungry."

      The festival concludes on Sunday, June 22 following an awards ceremony, final movie screenings in the afternoon and evening, and after partying at Bar America.

      All screenings are held at Instituto Cultural de Mexico, 600 Hemisfair Park. For info. call (210) 227-0123 or visit the Instituto de Mexico's website. A complete list of the screenings is available at safilm.com. Sunday afternoon screenings begin at noon. Evening screenings begin at 5 p.m. Admission is $5 daytime screenings, $10 evening screenings.