Film, music and civic collaboration collided at the first annual Crossroads Festival in Brownsville, Texas. The three-day event coincided with the 87th annual Charro Days. Charro Days is a fiesta where sister cities, Brownsville and Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico celebrate their unique heritage and shared border of the Rio Grande.
Rene Rhi, who earned his MFA from the Department of Radio-Television-Film, founded the Brownsville Film Society and helped bring this new film festival to life. Rhi invited Moody College of Communication film students and alumni to screen their films.
“The festival gave our students the chance to show their work to an audience from Texas, California and Mexico,” said Noah Isenberg, Department of Radio-Television-Film chair. “Brownville really is at a crossroads between Latin American and the U.S., and that was palpable on every level.”
A dancer’s foot tip-tapping throughout Ballet Folkolorico performances, the smooth bellows from the mariachi band and thoughtful conversations about filmmaking in South Texas – these are just a few snippets of sound and inspiration the festival produced.
Marisela Campos (left), Elias Hinojosa and Andrés F. Torres Montaguth
“It took me leaving (Brownsville) to miss it so much. We should encourage and embrace what we already have (here) and show young people and kids that this is a playground for creativity,” said Elias Hinojosa said, a 2019 graduate who screened his short film, “Widow.”
Marisela Campos graduated in May 2019. Her family originated in Brownsville before settling in Victoria, Texas. The opportunity to screen her undergraduate thesis film, “LUPE,” helped bring things full circle.
“I was so proud to show my film in the place that inspired me to tell stories about my community,” Campos said.
After leaving UT-Austin, Rhi went on to become the youngest director of CineFestival San Antonio, and he also started Lobo Films, a Los-Angeles based company with ties to the City of Brownsville. Rhi recently helped co-sponsor The Burnt Orange Party at Sundance Film Festival in January 2020. He hopes to bring alumni, students and faculty together for networking opportunities and to build connections.
Rhi recently spoke with Moody College about his career path and his plans for the creative community in Brownsville, Texas.