The Austin Chronicle

Through a Student's Lens, Quirkily

Texas Documentary Tour presents '10 under 10'

By Anne S. Lewis, May 9, 2003, Screens

Loose a group of fresh-eyed, UT student docmakers on a class film-project mission, and be prepared to see a quirky side of your fair city that you never knew existed. Did you know, for example, that our own guv, Rick Perry, has an eccentric cousin named Jake Perry, a plumber who also happens to be a fanatic collector of way too many cats? The breakfast he serves his brood -- bacon, eggs, broccoli, and coffee -- may or may not be the youth elixir for a feline that, at age 35, got the nod from the Guinness book. (All true.) Then again, it could be that watching all those cat films in the luxe comfort of Perry's cat home-theatre is what makes an aging, hairless kitty loathe to give up the ghost.

Perry's cats will probably not be in attendance at the screening of "South Paws," directed by Tony De Aztlan, Jay Holzer, Diane Zilliox, and Michael Ferstenfeld. Theirs is one of 10 Radio-Television-Film student films to be screened May 14 at the "10 Under 10" program, presented by the Texas Documentary Tour. Each of the jury-selected films is under 10 minutes long, and most had budgets of under $10. Not that you'd know the latter from watching them: These films are very well made, a testament to the high level of professionalism being handed down from UT's documentary department. As professor Ellen Spiro, head of RTF production and the producer of "10 Under 10," sees it, "Witnessing these students -- in all their flawed brilliance -- come up with truly inventive ideas and bring them to completion is one of the most satisfying things imaginable. These films are bursting with talent and creative forces, and this screening is a way for folks to see just how much fun we are having."

Below is a glimpse at what the reel of "10 Under 10" has to offer.


D: Homero Sanchez, Kendra Dorty. A casual, just-the-facts tour of the county morgue, guided by those for whom the often grizzly, vile-smelling catalog of autopsies and death certificates constitutes just another day at the office.


D: Marianela Vega Oroza. A poetic and personal animated journey of one woman's struggle to deal with being a foreigner in Texas.


D: Nicky Stoyanov, Trae Stanley. A highly visual, fast-paced inside look into the B-Boy scene, where young men perform incredible feats of movement and dance.


D: Matt Drenik, Kevin Terrill, Apolinar Garza. The Holly Power Plant in a residential East Austin neighborhood raises questions about safety, race, and responsibility to a community. The film follows the efforts of community activists to shut down the plant.

"I, Sor Juana"

D: Loreto Caro-Valdes. This experimental short explores the fascinating life of the 17th-century Mexican nun Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, often called the first feminist of the Americas.

"The Kiely Family: foster care"

D: Lauren Banta. An RTF award-winning documentary about a family who selflessly and joyously adopts and raises a family of disabled, "hard to place" foster children.

"Press Start"

D: Jerin Crandell. A multilayered and hilarious romp through the history of video games from the first-person perspective of a brain-fried video-game addict.

"Pretty as a Picture"

D: Laura Dunn, Diane Zander. Enter the sinister world of female etiquette training, where girls are taught how to be ladies, often in opposition to their natural inclinations of self-expression.

"South Paws"

D: Tony De Aztlan, Jay Holzer, Diane Zilliox, Michael Ferstenfeld. See description at left.


D: Ashley Cook, Miguel Gomez. Filmmakers Gomez and Cook realized early in the process of making this film about the Hill Country Nudists that to really do their subjects justice, they would have to be a part of the community they were documenting. Hence, this hilarious documentary is the first Texas film to be shot entirely in the altogether.

"10 Under 10: Short Documentaries from the University of Texas Dept. of Radio-Television-Film" will be presented as part of the Texas Documentary Tour on Wednesday, May 14, 7pm, at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown (409 Colorado). Filmmakers will be in attendance. Advance tickets are available online at for AFS members. Tickets will go on sale at 6:15pm on the day of the show. Admission prices are $6 per show for the general public; $4 for AFS members, KLRU members, and students. The Texas Documentary Tour is a co-presentation of the Austin Film Society, the University of Texas RTF Dept., The Austin Chronicle, KLRU-TV, the SXSW Film Festival, and the Four Seasons Hotel.

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