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.
“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.