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Arts & Culture

San Antonio Filmmaker Comes Home With An 'Awakening'

A San Antonio filmmaker comes home from Austin for his entry in the San Antonio Film Festival. That film maker is Joe Rocha and the origins of the film go back quite a few years.

"Growing up in Texas I really didn't know the history of Chicanos. I'd learn a little bit from my dad here and there, but it's just something that wasn't, when I was a kid, taught in schools. One of the guys in the documentary says 'you can't be proud if you don't know where you've come from.'" 

Fast-forward to the present, in a time where Rocha works in video for Austin PBS station KLRU. There he directed a film called El Despertar which means, The Awakening.

"Despertar is part of a series that we've worked on here at KLRU called Austin Revealed," he says.

The Revealed series shines a light on under-exposed parts of Austin's history. This particular one was all about the history of the civil rights struggle for Austin Latinos.

"In the past, we've worked on African-American Civil Rights, done an oral history on Asian Americans in Austin," Rocha says.

And now in Despertar he was able to look back on a period his parents experienced firsthand.   

"In the education system folks were punished for speaking Spanish. Mexican-American history wasn't covered at the time," he says.

Though he now lives in Austin, there was no question where Rocha wanted to submit his first film.

"I'm from San Antonio and to me, it's going to be the SA Film Festival.  My dad would always tell me when I was a teenager and I wanted to do film: 'hey, you need to apply to this film festival.'  So it was kinda like 'here ya go, dad!,"  he laughs.

With his film playing on Saturday night at 7 p.m., he's come full circle. And yes, his dad will be there at the Tobin Center to watch it with him.

Find more on El Despertar here.