South Texas Underground Film Festival
This past weekend, we screened Devil’s Path at South Texas Underground Film Festival (STUFF - I love this acronym) in Corpus Christi TX. This is their seventh year having the festival. And this year, they screened their lineup with The Alamo Drafthouse Theatre, something they had worked long and hard for. On the festival’s website they tell you what their mission statement is. “South Texas Underground Film’s sole mission is to engage and inspire the community by screening films without discrimination, creating new films, teaching the art of filmmaking and networking with fellow filmmakers.”
From my view…mission accomplished.
When I was a kid growing up in Corpus, we never had anything like this. If you wanted to explore film and the arts, you pretty much had to go to Austin. There wasn’t anything of this kind where I grew up. Support for the arts in South Texas was also few and far between. I remember my father, who was a struggling artist for many years, tell me about the difficulties and struggles for artists to get support. He and his artist friends struggled for years to maintain a gallery in the heart of downtown Corpus Christi in the 80s. So coming home to screen the movie at a film festival like this was really special for me. I was aware of the struggles that they’ve probably endured in trying to provide their community with something so vitally important.
Robert and Mariella Perez started the festival in 2012 and have been expanding it every year since, growing their foundation and making a name for themselves in the world of indie film festivals. I wanted to take a moment to spotlight this festival because I feel a lot of newer film festivals don’t always get the attention and recognition that they deserve. Corpus Christi is a smallish city in Texas and is mostly considered a little beach town. Surfers, seafood, and breakfast tacos are usually what come to mind when I think of Corpus.
So what Robert and Mariella are doing is really groundbreaking because they are adding another element to this city that includes art and culture from all over the world. They are pouring their heart and soul into helping to open their community up to some really breathtaking talent and storytellers, some of which are local filmmakers. The amount of work, energy, and love that these programmers have put into creating a safe space for filmmakers of all walks of life to share their work with South Texas is nothing short of amazing.
I’ve been to a number of film festivals over the years for various projects. They all have their own personality and way of creating an open place for filmmakers to be heard. Maybe it’s because Corpus Christi is my hometown, maybe it’s because I’m feeling nostalgic, but this particular festival really moved and touched me in a way that I felt it important to share. Everything they do is on their own, with little support and yet somehow they were able to bring together a lineup of incredible films and also bring together filmmakers from all backgrounds. South Texas Underground Film Festival is a festival that clearly prides itself on diversity, inclusion, and not being afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to their programming.
If you dig film festivals and independent films, keep an eye out for this film festival. Something tells me they will be getting bigger and more competitive in the coming years and it’s about time. They deserve to be recognized for the incredible contribution to their community.
So please, check out the program (link below) and support these amazing indie filmmakers that STUFF brought together for an inspiring weekend of storytelling. And if you’re a filmmaker, please consider submitting your film to this festival. They are so warm and welcoming and are a great avenue for filmmakers to show their movies and let their voices be heard without discrimination. Not to mention they serve breakfast tacos at the filmmaker brunch! Could you ask for anything more? But seriously, this film festival is one of the best festival experiences I’ve ever had. I hope I have the chance to screen another movie with them in the future. It was an honor to be part of their lineup. Truly.
Just a sample of some of the incredible talent at South Texas Underground Film Festival:
RICH KIDS (dir. Laura Somers)