Cinematexas Deserved More Coverage

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 17, 2007

Dear Editor,
    As a Cinematexas board member from 1996 through 2005 and the administrator of the Department of Radio-Television-Film at UT, I found it supremely ironic that the Chronicle finally ran its first and only cover story about Cinematexas – to report on its demise [“The Advance's Retreat,” Screens, Sept. 14]. What about all those years when it was a vibrant cultural event? Not even guest appearances by the likes of Werner Herzog, Todd Haynes, and Jim Jarmusch previously aroused your interest.
    Even worse journalism was exhibited by your reporter Marrit Ingman when she failed to contact anyone in RTF for the article. For the record: Much of what she reported about RTF support for Cinematexas, especially the comments of former programming director Ivan Lozano, was just plain wrong. RTF funded Cinematexas from its inception with an annual cash gift of at least $6,000 and many thousands more in in-kind support (free phone, copying, shipping, and rent). For years RTF paid about half of the annual salary of the festival managing director, who taught a festival programming class that provided a built-in cadre of student volunteers for Cinematexas. RTF cultivated private donors for Cinematexas, several of whom became crucial supporters. Cinematexas occupied office space that became increasingly valuable to the College of Communication, which is housed in 30-year-old buildings designed for one-third their current population. Despite the festival’s recent decline in vitality, RTF staved off the college’s decision to evict them for more than two years while warning Cinematexas to seek alternative office space. The final request to vacate, with months of lead time, should not have come as a surprise. Finally, RTF has archived in its Media Library every UT student film shown at Cinematexas and is grateful to the Austin Film Society for preserving the rest of the films that are an important part of Cinematexas’ legacy.
Susan Dirks
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