Monday, December 28, 2015

STUFF: Independent Filmmakers' Delight!

When adjunct faculty, grad students, and others are looking for venues to expose their creativity and art — especially when it comes to film — they should look no further than STUFF, the South Texas Underground Film Festival, located by the beautiful southern beaches of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Robert and Mariella Perez, the masterminds behind STUFF, worked harder than ever to present their fourth dazzling weeklong festival, and it showed in the unique, varied, and intriguing choice of films presented throughout the week of November 30th through December 6th, 2015, all free of charge. These films came from all over the world, and while some were personally presented by its directors or creators, others were shown with as much fanfare, though directors from Australia, Finland, or places in South America could not attend. 

Friday, December 11, 2015


Great friends form friendships for different reasons, and these are prolonged because there is a spark that, once connected, cannot be broken. Julio César Guerrero and Lupe Rivera were activists together, and through all the years — the raza, the causa, the struggle — they shared their friendship always.

Though I did not know Mr. Rivera, I have come to appreciate him through Julio César's fond memories of him, and of the materials he’s sent me. In all this I kept seeing references to Lupe's love of food and making people happy with food.

His niece Marge Rivera Bermann captures that essence well when she ties wisdom with food: “...he seemed to never age. His experience brought him great wisdom and I loved to listen to him. I'll never forget the smell of barbacuo wafting through the house in the wee hours of Sunday morning as well as his empanadas de calabaza - the biggest and the best!"

So what better way to remember his friend than through a story of one of Lupe's favorite pastimes? Thank you, Julio César. I am sure Lupe is smiling where ever he may be. 

I was notified this summer of the passing of Lupe Rivera, a dear friend I met in the Quad-Cities area in the late sixties. QC is a cluster of cities located three hours west of Chicago and divided by the Mississippi River, which forms a natural border between Iowa and Illinois.

Guadalupe M. Rivera, 06/11/1933 - 5/5/2015

This is the largest metropolitan area in Illinois next to Chicago with Rock Island on one side — home base to the famous Rock Island Line — turned into a popular folk song by singer Johnny Cash, and Silvis, home of Hero Street, USA, subject of books and documentaries about a group of Mexican American soldiers on the other: these men lost their lives during WWII and the Korean War. On the Iowa side, too, there is Davenport, the city where Chicano rocker Ritchie Valens played his last concert before his plane crashed in the winter of 1959.

This entire area was a hub for large farm equipment manufacturers such as John Deere, International Harvester and CASE, which supported most of the local economy through good UAW Union salaries, benefits, and pensions. Despite the racism and discrimination in the railroad yard and foundries of the times (which still persist today), people of color could enjoy a basic middle class income that contrasted with the low wages and lousy working conditions of families employed in the agricultural fields of surrounding areas.