Rio Grande Valley in Documentaries and Movies

We’re starting this new page.  We want to highlight documentaries that feature or take place in the Rio Grande Valley.  Although, we are going to try to the limit the immigration/border crossing stories because there’s waaay too many films about that particular topic.  But we may eventually add them.

We also want to highlight movies that were either filmed in the Rio Grande Valley or take place in the Rio Grande Valley.  (Mainstream, screened in theaters, available to stream or purchase)

If there’s any that we have missed, please feel free to email us!



Andy Paris:  Bubblegum King directed by Dino Reyes, John Paris, Gabriel Ramirez.  2010. The fascinating true story of Andrew J Paris, the Bubble Gum King and how he, as a single businessman, cornered the latex market for the entire western hemisphere and ruled the bubble gum world.  Screened at CineSol Film Festival 2010.  Available on iTunes and Amazon Prime.

As I Walk Through the Valley directed by Ronnie Garza & Charlie Vela.  2017. “As I Walk Through The Valley” unfolds over four decades of music in the southernmost tip of Texas: The Rio Grande Valley. An often overlooked river-delta which recently finds itself as a central talking-point in the national conversation about the border. AIWTTV examines the histories and stories of musicians playing in the underground scenes throughout the decades told by the people who lived it.

Chulas Fronteras directed by Les Blank.  1976.  “Chulas Fronteras” examines the origins and social significance of the traditional Tejano (or ‘Tex-Mex’) music that developed along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Going Varsity in Mariachi directed by Alejandra Vasquez & Sam Osborn.  2022.  In world high school mariachi, musicians from South Texas reigns supreme. Under guidance of coach Abel Acuña, the captains of Edinburg North High School team must turn shoestring and diverse inexperienced musicians into state champions.

Mariachi High directed by Kim Connell and Ilana Trachtman.  2012.   In a part of America that rarely makes headlines, there is a small town with a group of teenagers who will captivate your ears and warm your heart. Watch a year in the life of the champion mariachi ensemble at Zapata High School in South Texas.  Screened at CineSol Film Festival 2012.  Featured on PBS.  Available on iTunes, Amazon Prime.

On the Divide directed by Maya Cueva and Leah Galant.  2021.  ON THE DIVIDE follows the story of three Latinx people living in McAllen, Texas who, despite their views, are connected by the most unexpected of places: the last abortion clinic on the U.S./Mexico border. As threats to the clinic and their personal safety mount, our three characters are forced to make decisions they never could have imagined.  Screened at CineSol Film Festival 2021.  Featured on PBS.

Our Quinceanera directed by Fanny Veliz Grande.  2020.  An uplifting, award-winning documentary. A high school principal in a Texas town hosts a yearly Quinceañera for underprivileged students. The entire border town gets together to teach these girls that with the power of community any dream can come true.  Screened at CineSol Film Festival 2019.  Winner of Best Documentary.  Available on Amazon Prime.  You can purchase it on or  click here to purchase on

Remember My Soul directed by Jillian Glantz.  2019.  “Remember My Soul” unearths the history of Sephardic Jews in South Texas and explores how their contributions to regional customs and culture have shaped the identity of people in the borderlands.  Screened at CineSol Film Festival 2019.

The Collapse directed by Joshua Moroles & Robert Espericueta.  2021.  This true story is told through the eyes and first-hand accounts of Robert Espericuta, one of the four fishermen, who helped save the only three survivors from that night on September 15th, four days after 9/11.  Screened at CineSol Film Festival 2021.  Winner of Best Documentary.

The State of Texas vs Melissa Lucio directed by Sabrina Van Tassel.  2020.  Melissa Lucio was the first Hispanic woman sentenced to death in Texas. For ten years she has been awaiting her fate, and she now faces her last appeal..  Available on Hulu, iTunes, Amazon Prime.

Train to Nowhere:  Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation directed by Paul Kakert.  2010.  When the bodies of 11 Central Americans and Mexicans were found inside a railcar in Denison, Iowa, the nation took notice. The documentary offers an honest, yet compassionate look at the 2002 deaths of the 11 undocumented immigrants.  Screened at CineSol Film Festival 2011. 

Truly Texas Mexican directed by Anibal Capoano.  2021.  Over time and during conquest, “comida casera,” home cooking of Texas Mexican families sustained indigenous identity and memory. Cooking deer, cactus and tortillas, women led the cultural resistance against colonization. This road movie weaves through Texas cities, names the racism that erased Native American history. It celebrates a new type of encounter, one with a table where All are welcome.  Screened at CineSol Film Festival 2021.  Available on Amazon Prime.

Valley of Tears directed by Hart Perry.  2003.  “Valley of Tears” begins in 1979 with a farm strike in South Texas. When pistols were flourished and strike leaders arrested, migrant worker Juanita Valdez recalls: “We realized for the first time Mexican-Americans had rights, that we were the majority….that we were Americans.” It took over 20 years to document this dream come true.  Screened at CineSol Film Festival.

World’s Biggest directed by Amy C. Elliott.  2010.  Desperate for tourism, hundreds of small towns across the U.S.A. claim the “world’s largest” something, from 15-foot fiberglass strawberries to 40-foot concrete pheasants. World’s Largest, a feature documentary, visits 58 such sites and profiles Soap Lake, Washington’s five-year struggle to build the World’s Largest Lava Lamp. By documenting these roadside attractions, World’s Largest captures the changing, perhaps even vanishing, culture of small-town America.  Screened at CineSol Film Festival 2010.




A Night in Old Mexico directed Emilio Aragon.  2013.  Starring Robert Duvall, Joaquin Cosio, Jeremy Irvine, Michael Ray Escamilla.  After being forced to sell his family ranch to developers, a financially strapped, but proud senior citizen, and his estranged grandson, find themselves targeted by drug dealers in search of a missing money bag.    Filmed in Rio Hondo and Brownsville.  Available on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.

Back Roads directed by Martin Ritt.  1981.  Starring Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Keith.  A prostitute and a drifter find themselves bound together as they make their way through the rural South, doing what they have to do to survive.  Filmed in Brownsville.

Cemetery of Terror directed by Ruben Galindo Jr.  1985.  Starring Hugo Stiglitz, Jose Gomez Parcero, Bety Robles.  On Halloween, a group of medical students steal the corpse a serial killer from a morgue and raise him from the dead, inadvertently putting themselves and a group of young neighborhood children in danger.  Filmed in Brownsville.

Cruzando directed by Mando Alvarado & Michael Ray Escamilla.  2009.  Starring Mando Alvarado, Michael Ray Escamilla, David Barrera.  Many earnest films have been made recently about the struggles of Latin American migrants trying to cross into the U.S. for a better tomorrow; CRUZANDO isn’t one of them. This madcap adventure follows the journey of two Mexican no-hopers. CRUZANDO chronicles the real-life hazards of such a trip but is as much a comedy as it is a drama.  Filmed in PSJA.

Endgame directed by Carmen Marron.  2015.  Starring Rico Rodriguez, Efren Ramirez, Justina Machado, Valente Rodriguez..  A troubled middle-school boy from a poor Texas border town finds himself through his school’s chess team.  Filmed in Brownsville.  Available on Peacock and Amazon Prime.

Get the Gringo directed by Adrian Grunberg.  2012.  Starring Mel Gibson, Dean Norris, Peter Stormare, Tenoch Huerta.  A career criminal nabbed by Mexican authorities is placed in a tough prison where he learns to survive with the help of a young boy.  Filmed in Brownsville.  Available on Amazon Prime and Apple TV. 

Gone Hollywood directed by Demetrius Navarro.  2011.  Starring Fernando Carrillo, Erlinda Navarro, Valente Rodriguez.  Al gets an inheritance from his dad- but there’s a catch, he must go back home to reopen his dad’s bar. Along the way, he finds laughter and a woman who might change the course of his life.  Filmed in Elsa.  Available on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.

Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone directed by Michael D. Olmos.  2022.  Starring Charlie Clark, Danny Trejo, Pepe Serna, Renee Victor, Sal Lopez.  In a Texas border town, car salesman Charlie moonlights as masked Lucha libre wrestler “Green Ghost.” When assailants arrive seeking an otherworldly emerald, Charlie discovers that he has super powers that he must harness to save humanity.  Filmed in Brownsville. on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.

Harvest of Redemption directed by Javier Chapa.  2005.  Starring Vanessa Alvarado, Rosa Anzaldua, Arturo Ayala.  Harvest of Redemption was inspired by a true story which occurred in the Texas Rio Grande Valley in the 1920’s. It is a coming of age story about a young Latino’s struggle as he grows up and attempts to overcome the resentment incurred after witnessing the brutal murder of his father as a young child. His journey is threaded with the very vivid and real colors of life including love, hate, faith, revenge and ultimately Redemption.

La Banda del Carro Rojo directed by Ruben Galindo Jr.  1978.  Starring Mario Almada, Fernando Almada, Pedro Infante Jr.  Drug dealers try to cross the US border.  Filmed in Brownsville.

La Nina de la Mochila Azul directed by Ruben Galindo Jr.  1979.  Starring Adalberto Martinez, Pedro Fernandez, Maria Rebeca.  A charming family film about first love. Amy and her friend Raul  live in a fishing village in Texas. Raul falls in love with Amy, an orphaned child living with her uncle Andrew who, despite being a drunkard, has been a father figure to her. However, the poor conditions in which Amy lives lead local authorities to try to separate them. A serious accident at sea will change the life of Amy, Andrew, and Raul, whose goodness will be the key to Amy’s happiness. Filmed in Brownsville.

Pepe & Santo vs. America directed by Javier Chapa & Steve Garcia.  2009.  Starring Adam Jacobo, Rafael Amaya, Jimmy Gonzales, Charlie Clark.  Pepe travels to America with Santo (The Patron Saint of Immigrants) in search of his grandmother’s dying wish…”The Mexican Dream.” Filmed in Brownsville.  Available on Amazon Prime.

Pink Punch directed by Beto Gomez.  2004.  Starring Jose Yenque, Rodrigo Oviedo, Jamie Camil, Omar Chaparro, Adal Ramones, Cindy Vela.  Jimmy Morales is a young boxer which works as well at the family business, a funerary frequently used by the local mafia. One night he witnesses a murder and the killer, Germán Corona,let him run away, but later they find each other again in jail, to where Jimmy falls due to his father bets. They last encounter will happen outside the jail and will mark them both forever.  Filmed in Matamoros.

She Came to the Valley directed by Albert Band.  1979.  Starring Ronee Blakely, Dean Stockwell, Scott Glenn, Freddy Fender.  A family moves to a border town near the Rio Grande and opens up a store. Unfortunately, Pancho Villa and his man storm the town and rob the place. The wife is left to fend for herself, so she gets in touch with the man who works for Villa.  Filmed in Mission.

Swamp Lion directed by Torben Bech.  2022.  Starring Michael Ray Escamilla, Luis Bordonaba, David Barrera.  A father begins drug trafficking to pay for his son’s cancer treatment.  Filmed in PSJA. on Amazon Prime and Apple TV. 

Tejano directed by David Blue Garcia.  2018.  Starring Patrick Mackie, Roland Uribe.  When his grandfather suddenly becomes ill, Javi, a south Texas farmhand resorts to the extreme: he turns to a Mexican cartel to make some quick cash. But when the cartel breaks his arm and forces him to smuggle a cast made of cocaine across the Mexican border, Javi learns how far he will go for family.  Filmed in Harlingen.  Available on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.

Welcome Paisano directed by Rafael Villasenor Kuri.  Starring Rafael Inclan, Maria Sorte, Teresa Ruiz.  After being living in the USA a Mexican gardener with his family returns to his country of origin.  Filmed in Brownsville.