23 years of SAFILM Fest cinematic celebration

The San Antonio Film Festival (SAFILM) is preparing to celebrate their twenty-third year by screening more than 150 films, including features, documentaries, and shorts.

SAFILM Fest will take over the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, located at 100 Auditorium Circle, Aug. 1 through Aug. 6. Individual screening tickets are $10-$15, with VIP, Weekend and Day Badges also available at www.TobinCenter.org.

Since its inception, SAFILM executive director Adam Rocha aimed to expose local and up-and-coming talent rather than traditional Hollywood fare. Rocha, who founded the festival when he was just 22 years old, believes that providing homegrown talent a legitimate platform will yield bigger opportunities in the future.

“This year, we have 30 San Antonio filmmakers in the festival. We do not aspire to be that big. We aspire to be what we are: homegrown,” said Rocha to La Prensa. “Since the start of the festival in 1994, the exact purpose is to learn about the film industry. We offer that as a launchpad for San Antonio filmmakers to put them next to [films] with multi-million dollar budgets.”

With a frugal SAFILM Fest budget of $65,000, the Texas Commission on the Arts was stunned to see the local festival thriving. Compared to similar film festivals Austin and Dallas, who both boast a budget of an estimated $2 million, Rocha has the humble understanding that he is not doing it for the money.

As a high school teacher for the Northside Independent School District, Rocha also sees the festival as a teaching tool for younger students. Back by popular demand, SAFILM and the historic Pearl join forces to bring the second annual San Antonio Children’s Film Festival. There will morning screenings and a free puppet show at 9:45 a.m. Doors open at 9:30, screenings start at 10 a.m. Wednesday, August 2 through Saturday, August 5 at the STUDIO at the Pearl in the Full Goods Building.

“I had a single mom and she was at work all the time at a trailer park. I would live in those 1 hour and 30-minute worlds on TV. It is important for kids to broaden their scope,” continued Rocha. “I think movies are a dreamlike state where we can live vicariously through the characters and relate to them; and as a child at one point, it was understanding the world I lived in.”

SAFILM will open the fest with the Texas premiere of “Wind River,” Taylor Sheridan’s directorial debut starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson on Tuesday, August 1 at 6 p.m., and closes with the family-friendly animated film “Leap” with voiceovers by Elle Fanning, Mel Brooks, Maddie Ziegler and Kate McKinnon on Sunday, August 6 at 6 p.m.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg will also be present for this year’s special SAFILM Saturday Night Awards Ceremony at the Tobin. The festival is offering a special free community screening of the award-winning film “A Classy Broad: Marcia’s Adventures in Hollywood” on July 31 at 6 p.m. at the Pearl Studio. Along with the screening, panels featuring notable film industry names will begin on Friday, August 4 and Saturday, August 5 to educate and inspire those with their own celluloid dreams:

“SAG-indie” Filmmaking with Darrien Michele Gipson

Friday, August 4, Alvarez Studio 9:15 a.m – 11:45 a.m


Making a Career in Show Business with Legendary Producer Marcia Nasatir


Saturday, August 5, Alvarez Studio 9:30 a.m – 11:00 a.m.


Seal the Deal with Hollywood Agent Harry Ufland

(Known for repping Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Sheen)

Saturday, August 5, Alvarez Studio 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.


The Editor’s Cut: Feature Films VS. Docs with Anne Goursaud


Saturday, August 5, Feik Family Rotunda 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

What started with a young kid exploring movies, transformed into a tale about a man inspired to edify the public on the importance of the art form. In return the UT Film School Alumnus only asks for support of the growing festival.

“This is a way to understand your neighbor and I think that is what the world needs is more understanding and empathy for your fellow man. Educating anyone whether through film or other forms of art, it is important to appreciate [variety].” concluded Rocha.

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