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San Antonio-shot horror film will close CineFestival

“People had made comments that it would be nice to know a bit more about the supernatural elements, and I was like, OK, I’ll see what I can do about that,” said Zuniga, 39. “I made a quick back story that became quite interesting, and it became the script for ‘Body.’”

“Cuerpo,” which Zuniga said loosely falls in the horror genre, will wrap up the 43rd edition of CineFestival at 7:30 pm Sunday. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s annual festival runs Wednesday through Sunday.

Shot entirely in San Antonio, “Corp” is set in and around a South Texas mission in the 18th century.

“I like to say it’s more of a drama exploring the relationships and clashes between the Spanish settlers, the monks tying to set up the missions and the local natives,” Zuniga said. “So there’s the main conflict being the possession of some land and who truly owns it, and the horror element being there is something there already that they have unwittingly uncovered and it’s now awake.”

The movie builds to a bloody, open-ended conclusion that sets things up for the sequel Zuniga has already written.

One of his goals was to set a Gothic tale far from the kind of real estate typically associated with the genre.

“This is the new world; there is no such thing as a haunted castle,” he said. “The idea was, this is origin of a South Texas Gothic story, the event where those horror stories, or warning stories you would tell children, come from.”

This is the second CineFestival curated by Eugenio del Bosque Gómez. His goal once again was to put most of the focus on local and regional filmmakers, a framework that had been established by Cristina Ballí, the Guadalupe’s executive director, several years before del Bosque Gómez became director of the festival.

“It was time for a makeover, and I think she actually had a very good idea,” he said. “She changed it to this Texas focus. We do keep that focus, and I also like to curate a program that includes films from other places made by Latino or indigenous filmmakers and sprinkle it with a little bit of international films.”

There are some premieres at the festival. But that has become a little less significant as digital debuts become more common, del Bosque Gómez said.

“Because things make it online so quickly, one of the things I’ve done with the program is not worry so much about premiere status,” he said. “We include films from the past two years.”

The 2021 films in the mix include “Jockey,” which won plenty of buzz for Clifton Collins Jr.’s portrayal of an aging jockey forced to confront the punishing toll his profession has taken on his body; and “Mothers,” which was co-written by San Antonian Marcella Ochoa and is about a pregnant woman who experiences strange symptoms and visions after she and her husband move to a migrant farming community in California.

Where: Guadalupe Theater, 1301 Guadalupe

When: Wednesday-Sunday

tickets: All-access passes cost $40. Admission to most individual screenings cost $8, though a handful are free. Tickets available at guadalupeculturalarts.org.

Free movies: These screenings throughout the festival are free: a family program including “Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon” and “Carlitos Chupacabra,” noon Thursday; screenings of international shorts at 2 pm Thursday-Friday; US shorts at 4 pm Thursday-Friday; Texas shorts at noon Friday and Sunday; shorts by young filmmakers at 10 am Saturday; and “Mothers” at 6 pm Friday. In addition, the Mezquite Awards ceremony at 6:30 pm Sunday is free.

highlights

“Pepe Serna: Life is Art”: Director Luis Reyes’ documentary digs into the career of Serna, a Corpus Christi native who has appeared in more than 100 films, including “Scarface,” “American Me,” “Silverado” and “Red Dawn.” 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“Darling”: Isabel Castro’s documentary is about Doris Muñoz, a manager who specializes in Latino indie musicians. 8 p.m. Thursday.

“Eat it:” Gian Cassini’s documentary follows his quest to try to get to know his late father, a hitman and drug trafficker who left Cassini and his mother when he was a child. 8 p.m. Friday.

“Jockey”: Clifton Collins Jr. plays an aging jockey trying to figure out what comes next as his body starts to fall apart, making it clear that he won’t be able to ride much longer. Directed by Clint Bentley. 4 p.m. Saturday.

“A Run for More”: Ray Whitehouse’s documentary follows transgender woman Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe’s 2019 campaign for a seat on San Antonio’s City Council. 6 p.m. Saturday.

“An Awesome Action Movie”: This Mexican comedy directed by Luis Antonio Rodriguez is about two wannabe filmmakers who kidnap a famous actor (Héctor Soberón), attempt on using the ransom to finance their movie. That becomes more complicated when they discover he is broke. 9 p.m. Saturday.

“What We Leave Behind:” Filmmaker Iliana Sosa’s documentary captures her grandfather’s construction of a house in rural Mexico, something that fills his time after he is no longer physically able to travel across the border into El Paso to visit family as he had done monthly for years. 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

“Body”: The final film was shot in San Antonio by writer/director Mark Zuniga, and is a Gothic horror story in which a dispute over land ownership takes a supernatural turn. 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

See the full schedule at guadalupeculturalarts.org.


No matter what a film’s release date might be, one of the most important things that the festival offers to filmmakers and audiences alike is the chance to see movies on a big screen with other people.

“The energy of the theater, that’s something that exists and is real,” del Bosque Gómez said. “The Guadalupe Theater has its own energy when it’s empty, but when you fill it and project a film or present a performance, it really does come alive.”

“Body” is one of the films premiering at the festival. Del Bosque Gómez said he was impressed with the ambition of the project as well as the way it showcases the talents of Zuniga and his cast and crew.

“It’s a genre film, it’s a period piece — all of those things are very difficult to pull off,” he said. “We think it deserves a special place in the program.”

Zuniga has made a number of short films and has worked on feature film projects. “Body” is the first full-length feature he’s made on his own. It means a lot to him that it was chosen for the festival and given such a prominent spot in the schedule.

“I cannot think of a better place to have the premiere than in San Antonio and at CineFestival,” said Zuniga, who was born and raised in Mercedes. “I think it’s a perfect fit.”

Sunday’s screening will be the first opportunity that he has had to watch it with an audience.

“It’s exciting and nerve wracking,” he said. “You never know how they’re going to react. Are they going to enjoy it, give you puzzling looks? Is it going to be completely quiet and maybe you get a pity applause? I’m very curious to see.”

dlmartin@express-news.net | Twitter; @DeborahMartinEN

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