30th Annual Film Festival – Film Synopsis 2023

Film Synopsis 2023


After the Rain directed by Ofelia de Pablo & Javier Zurita.  Documentary Short.  17 minutes.  Spain.   Three stories of struggle and overcoming in post-conflict Columbia against the backdrop of male violence, the FARC conflict, and respect for the rural environment.

The Apprentice directed by Raul Campos Martin.  Short.  15 minutes.  Spain.  A young man begins his apprenticeship as a mobile phone repairman.  What he finds on one of his customer’s phone will be a tough reality check that makes him rethink his view of the world.

Ashkasha directed by Lara Maitz.  Animated Short.  6 minutes.  Spain.  Ashkasha is a living being guided by curiosity.  This causes her to lose her head and get trapped in the depths, where she is submerged on a discovery journey.

At the Back of Beyond directed by Ryan Farrell.  Animated Short.  2 minutes.  An animation exploring the director’s feelings of isolation and loneliness as he returned to school for his MFA amid COVID and lockdowns.

The Author directed by Jorge de la Cruz.  Short.  6 minutes.  Spain.  A screenwriter is creating a movie in the darkness of his room, but something happens every time one of the characters says or does something politically incorrect.

Back to Bed directed by Carlos Cobos Aroca.  Short.  7 minutes.  Spain.  One rainy night, after a blackout, Sarah receives strange voice messages through an application warning her about events that are yet to happen.

Bichos directed by Ares Sirvent.  Short.  6 minutes.  Spain.  Tano, an old man with Alzheimer’s Disease, begins to see bugs glowing on the wall that apparently  are not there.

Black is Beautiful directed by Marco Antonio Ortega.  Documentary Short.  33 minutes.  When the Black Lives Matter movement grew in awareness, Marcus Baskerville head brewer of Weathered Souls Brewing Co. wanted to shed light on the growing problem of inequality and police brutality.  https://www.blackisbeautifulfilm.com/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d670WTWMYRA.

Border Cowboys directed by Jose Francisco Sanchez.  Documentary.  60 minutes.  RGV.  In the shadow of the border, school spirit and a drive to succeed are thriving within a Brownsville high school soccer program.

Breaking the Code directed by Michael Flanagan.  Documentary.  47 minutes.  RGV.  Born to rural Texas farmers in 1943, Vernon Fisher’s childhood exposure to painting was only as “something you did to houses.”  By the 1980s, he was exhibiting alongside Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, establishing himself as one of the most important artists of the century.

Calf directed by Jamie O’Rourke.  Short.  14 minutes.  Ireland.  A sinister farm accident leaves Cait with a terrible decision to make.

Confessions of a Good Samaritan directed by Penny Lane.  Documentary.  95 minutes.  Director Penny Lane’s decision to become a “Good Samaritan” by giving one of her kidneys to a stranger – someone she’s never met, and never will meet – launches her on an intimate and unexpectedly funny quest to understand the nature of altruism.

Conquista directed by Robert Espericueta & Joshua Moroles.  Documentary.  45 minutes.  RGV.  In 2012, a man calling himself “Conquista” walked into the Menil Collection Museum in Houston, Texas and spray painted over a rare 1929 Picasso painting worth a staggering $78 million.

Credit directed by Patrick Kirton & Susan Kirton.  Short.  15 minutes.  An aging, once major movie star contemplates his relevancy in Hollywood.  He meets a young mega popstar in a story of redemption.

Curtain Call directed by Christian Jacob Ramon.  Short.  18 minutes.  RGV.  In a competitive high school theater program, a passed over high school senior finds herself overshadowed by a precocious freshman.  Mired in jealousy, she must come to terms with the fact that she isn’t as talented as she wants to be.

Echoes directed by Jackie Barragan.  Experimental Short.  8 minutes.  RGV.  A poetic examination of the decimation and dispossession of the indigenous peoples of the area as well as the ecological disaster of the Rio Grande as a consequence of its use as a political border.

Femme Frontera Showcase: 

     Con Vista al Rio directed by Persia Campbell Juarez.  The frustration of a rebellious border teenager will lead him and his younger sister to put themselves in grave danger, right along the wall that divides Mexico with the United States.

     Bailarina directed by Veronica Palofox Juarez.  Alicia only recognizes herself through her reflection in the mirror and the notes playing from her music box. Meanwhile, Alzheimer’s consumes the rest of her existence.

     Aurora and the House of Lights directed by Angela Matiz.  Aurora is 25 years old. She plays frantically in an arcade in order to win a giant teddy bear. She can’t stop because that would bring her back to reality, to what happened the day before. If she wins the teddy bear, everything will be okay, she will heal and be safe. But denial is only the first stage.

     Us in Octaves directed by Alex Mastoon.  In a hyper color summer nightmare, two lovers are haunted by their last act of love: saying goodbye.  Us In Octaves is an official two part narrative music video for veteran producer Caural and told through an all Womxn & Non-Binary cast.

     The Words in Between directed by Katia Kalei Barricklow.  The film explores the intersection of language, identity, and belonging among mixed race, indigenous and immigrant members of Gen Z, who talk about the pain of diaspora and assimilation, but also the power of language to connect them to home.

     The Little Death directed by Autumn Palen.  A woman finds her sexual awakening and her near demise in one fell swoop.

     As Leaves in the Wind directed by Sofia Luz.  A story of two transgender women who migrate from their home countries seeking asylum and opportunities in a new continent. Their lives go through structural changes when they meet and take part in a new support network. Made by them for them.

El Gato Feo directed by Daniel Fabelo.  Short.  15 minutres.  RGV.  Fleeing the violence of Panco Villa’s revolution, a widow finds refuge with a unit of female freedom fighters known as soldaderas… only to discover her estranged sister among them.

Going Varsity in Mariachi directed by Sam Osborn & Alejandra Vasquez.  Documentary.  105 minutes.  RGV.  In high school mariachi, musicians from South Texas reigns supreme.  Under guidance of Abel Acuna, the captains of Edinburg North High School team must turn shoestring and diverse inexperienced musicians into state champions.

The Golden Cage directed by Francisco Lopez & Mitchka Saberi.  Short.  16 minutes.  Santiago and Elena, mother and son, travel to Mexico-US border to reunite after decades apart.

Grey Horse directed by Emil Lozada.  Documentary Short.  11 minutes.  Samuel Grey Horse, an indigenous equestrian from Austin, Texas, is known for rescuing horses from being put down.  After a riding accident lands him in a coma, Grey Horse experiences an afterlife vision that changes his perspective on the world and his place in it.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7B2m65Bbhn0.

Houston United directed by Juan Mejia Botero.  Documentary.  36 minutes.  The soccer team at Margaret Long Wisdom High School in Houston, TX, is made up of 24 players from 12 different countries.  As they compete for the state title, some must face the anxiety of being undocumented in America, alongside challenges on the pitch.

Illustrated Woman directed by Isabel Herguera.  Animated Documentary.  8 minutes.  Spain.  In Ahmedabad, Isabel gives an animation workshop to a group of Mehndi tattoo artists.  She interviews them about their dreams.

Influencer directed by Nerea Torrijos.  Short.  13 minutes.  Spain.  Karen, a young girl obsessed with the influencer of the moment, Kamilah Kay, decides to have surgery to look like her.  Until one day, something horrible shakes up her new life.

The Interview directed by Susana Sampedro & Fernando Tato.  Short.  11 minutes.  Spain.  Sara arrives for a job interview at Cosmo Fashion Magazine.  The interview proceeds normally but soon the atmosphere begins to get weird and the situation turns into something uncomfortable.

Jack Has a Plan directed by Bradley Berman.  Documentary.  73 minutes.  When Jak, a man with terminal brain tumor for 25 years, decides to end his life, his family and friends struggle to accept his decision.  Jack’s best friend documents his three year quest to die a happy man, culminating in a permanent going away party.  https://jackdocumentary.com/https://www.facebook.com/jackdocumentary/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOFoGy6CETI.

The Kill Floor directed Carlos Avila.  Short.  27 minutes.  When the COVID-19 pandemic engulfs a meatpacking plant in his rural hometown, a young Latinx reporter returns to uncover the urgent and deadly circumstances threatening the plant’s workers, including his father.  https://www.facebook.com/p/The-Kill-Floor-Short-Film-100062971012959/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juoWLeCPPLQ.

To Kill the Mother directed by Omar Ayuso.  Short.  19 minutes.  Spain.  An enigmatic date between Dorita, a classy woman, and Noa, a young boy.  It all takes place in a restaurant, on a rainy night on the Gran Via of Madrid.  A conversation about guilt, past and maternity.

Looking Back directed by Michael Charron.  Short.  9 minutes.  George gets more than he bargained for when he discovers a ghost living in the backup camera of his new car.

Mind Heist directed by Daniel Padro.  Short.  15 minutes.  A criminal breaks into a woman’s home.  She was a witness to a murder and his mission is to edit her memories before the lineup.  In the depths of her mind, he finds a truth about himself.

No Ordinary Campaign directed by Chris Burke.  Documentary.  88 minutes.  One couple’s fight to reclaim their future from a brutal disease has snowballed into a movement with resounding ramifications for the ALS community and millions of patients seeking a voice in our broken healthcare system.  https://noordinarycampaign.com/https://www.instagram.com/noordinarycampaign/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHV_vOZWYxA.

On Guard:  A Story of American Youth directed by Allen Otto.  Documentary.  84 minutes.  Set in El Paso, Texas, the film takes viewers into the hierarchal hallways of Bel Air High School where a determined, all-female team of students are brought together by their passion for the All-American sport of Color Guard.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEuQSOzh58I.

One Day at a Time directed by Pricila Colunga & Eli Elan Gonzalez Jr.  Documentary Short.  9 minutes.  RGV.  Go through a day of the eyes of an old man.

Operation Tin Man directed by Tania Romero.  Documentary.  30 minutes.  RGV.  Film follows mental health and Gold Star Family advocate Mario Ybarra Jr., the son of fallen soldier from Weslaco, Texas who suffers intergenerational trauma from losing his father in Vietnam.

Quiet directed by Hector Romance.  Short.  18 minutes.  Spain.  A father desperately searches for his daughter Joe, missing from the building where he works.  His loss will reveal a terrible past.

Qosqo directed by Emma Wheeler Volz.  Documentary Short.  12 minutes.  A film about heritage and history, an ancient Incan city, and the life of a person who calls it home.

Parking directed by Pepe Castro.  Short.  12 minutes.  Spain.  David and Clara can’t find a parking spot when their Google assistant suddenly alerts them of a nearby parking lot.  They follow the directions and enter a dark alley.  They see the “Parking” sign in the background and they prepare to enter…

Pete and Re-Pete directed by Martha Van Garza.  Short.  10 minutes.  RGV.  A zombie attack on three elderly men takes an unexpected turn when the zombie turns out to be an old friend.  Again.

raulrsalinas and the poetry of liberation: un trip directed by Anne Lewis and Laura Varela.  Documentary Short.  25 minutes.  The short explores imprisonment in the jail machine, community destruction and gentrification, the overwhelming force of cultural memory in sanity and salvation, the need for societal transformation.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44wT257sC7g.

Regeneracion: The Donkey Lady Show Presents Ricardo Flores Magon directed by Marisela Barrera.  Experimental Short.  28 minutes.  RGV.  San Antonio’s Donkey Lady  interviews Mexican anarchist/writer/publisher Ricardo Flores Magon as her special guest.

Shakespeare in Smoke directed by Francesco Cocco.  Short.  9 minutes.  Spain.  A cigarette break during office hours turns into an unexpected journey made of past, present, and future dreams.

Signal directed by Joey Mathews.  Short.  Experimental Documentary short.  6 minutes.  Experimental documentary in the mind of songwriter and producer, David Stukenberg.

Smile As You Kill directed by Michael Sarrow.  Feature.  87 minutes.  With only a few months to live, a desperate man kidnaps a successful advertising director and makes one demand.  Create an online campaign to pay for treatment… or share his fate.  https://www.smileasyoukill.com/.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKk66EvClKE.

Solo un Ensayo directed by Hugo Sanz.  Short.  9 minutes.  Spain.  Two sisters are hiding inside a closet.  The little sister thinks they are rehearsing for a game, but the older one knows that a terrible threat lurks outside.

Strings directed by Rodrigo Moreno-Fernandez.  Short.  13 minutes.  RGV.  Despite her inability to play, Penny has big dreams of becoming the world’s greatest axe player.  In a dark alley, a dark presence approaches her with a proposition:  give up three souls and all her dreams will come true.

Third Country directed by Roberto Collado Anzaldua & Augusto Contreras.  Short.  19 minutes.  RGV.  Valeria disregards her mom’s threat to take her motorcycle from her and becomes involved in the protests against the separation of young immigrant children from their parents at the border.

Ultimate Sacrifices:  CPT Jennifer Moreno directed by Daniel Leonard Bernardi.  Documentary.  60 minutes.  US Army Captain Jennifer Moreno is remembered by her mentor, battled buddy, and sister as they talk about her background, career, and sacrifice.  https://www.eldoradofilms.net/films/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHFkPlz05wM.

Whatever It Takes directed by Pamela Oliver Munoz.  Short.  13 minutes.  RGV.  A young man with a severe nut allergy attempts a white collar crime to cough up cash for healthcare when he bumps into a Russian woman with schemes of her own, in this romantic musical.

Witchfairy directed by Cedric Igodt & David Van de Weyer.  Animated Short.  15 minutes.  Belgium.  Rosemary, a young fairy, leads a boring life at the fairytale castle.  She’s rather be a witch so she can scream and get really messy.  Her mother doesn’t allow that, so Rosemary takes her stuff and sets off to the mysterious witch forest.