The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

CineFestival features local filmmaker’s work

By Diana Sanchez/@_DianaMarie185

Local filmmaker Sam Lerma launched a $5,000 Kickstarter project in 2013 to seek funding for his fictional short film, Squeezebox. That same year,  the community, cast and crew members helped fund his film.

This year’s CineFestival, one of the city’s longest running Latino film festival, featured Lerma’s short film on Feb. 25 at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.

“We had a full house, people enjoyed the film and they were very complimentary after the screening,” Lerma said.

One of the advantages of CineFestival, he said, is that “you will see people from other cities, and collaborate with different communities and people in the film industry.”

The  film festival runs from Feb. 21 through Feb. 28 attracting filmmakers from all over the country. The festival boasts world, regional, and U.S., premieres culminating with the Premios Mesquite honoring the festival’s standout entries in Latino documentary and narrative filmmaking.

CineFestival formed during the height of the Chicano Movement where a group of filmmakers, activists, artists and audiences came together from New York City, Mexico City, Los Angeles and now to the Westside of San Antonio to represent Latino culture and film.

CineFestival_141333_ML_2-25-15Lerma said he wants to improve the Latino film scene in San Antonio by producing more films and staying involved in the community

“I feel I wouldn’t be doing a service to my local film community by leaving,” Lerma said. “We need people to stay here and help support the growing film community and continue to build it up.”

Lerma, an educator and director of production at the Film School of San Antonio at Harlandale High School, said he has his hands full, but feels lucky to do what he loves and teaching others the craft of filmmaking everyday.

Lerma’s ideas for his featured film at the CineFestival, Squeezebox, transcends from his childhood memories. He said his greatest memories were of riding around town on his bike viewing the colors of murals on buildings and listening to Tejano music that played through the streets.

Many of the characters and events for his film were inspired by his grandparents, family, friends and the overall San Antonio culture.

Lerma said he drew inspiration from the city to help create his lead actor, “a character we all know and love,” played by Pedro Castaneda.

“I use to go to my friends house and his dad would be playing the accordion every time I went over,” Lerma said. “He wasn’t a musician. He just liked to play, and that’s what gave me the idea for this film.”

Here’s a sampling of the films that will play for the remainder of the festival:

Fugly – 8 p.m. Thursday

John Leguizamo stars as Jesse Sanchez, an up and coming comic. Combining narrative, live stand up and animation, the film follows the journey of a Bronx born nerd in the ‘70s through his struggles as an actor and with women. Director Alfredo de Villa will attend the screening.

A Place to Stand – 7 p.m. Friday

The story of famed Chicano author Jimmy Santiago Baca’s transformation from functionally illiterate convict to poet, novelist, and award-winning screenwriter. Based on the writer’s powerful memoir of the same name.

Senior Cinema: Flor Silvestre – 9 a.m. Friday

The granddaughter of a common laborer falls in love with a firebrand son of a landowner. They join the revolutionary movement, where their lives are altered by vengeance and sacrifices. Only one is left to carry on the revolutionary work with their young son in tow. The film is considered one of the best works by Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema,  directed by Emilio Fernandez, screening at .

La Guapa – 4 p.m. Saturday

The main character “La Guapa” is forced to become an assassin by her ex-husband to gain back custody of their 10-year-old daughter. It’s a losing battle for La Guapa as with every “hit” she gets closer to her goal, she becomes emotionally distanced from her daughter. Directed by Kenneth Castillo, film will be screening at

Gueros – 7 p.m. Sunday

The film is set during the student strike at the National University in Mexico City. A group of bohemian college students drive around the capital searching for a legendary folk singer. Shot in black and white, the film has racked up awards since its international debut, including the Berlin Film Festival. Directed by Alfonso Ruizpalacios.

Day passes for the CineFestival are $10 per day. For more information on additional film screenings, panels, and Q&A discussions visit the CineFestival official site.

About the Author

Diana Sanchez
Diana Sanchez
Diana Sanchez is a communications-business major. She attended San Antonio College where she received her associates degree in liberal arts. At SAC, Diana worked as a staff writer for the student newspaper The Ranger. In 2013, Diana began blogging and creating her own public websites for herself and some friends. Diana has a passion for social media, music and marketing.

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