McALLEN — An artist-run community film center and regional archive has emerged in the Rio Grande Valley, with its focus on the creation, exhibition and preservation of community-made cinema, documentary and video art.
Founding members C. Díaz and Andres Sanchez held ENTRE’s first platica session on Oct. 10 at the McAllen Creative Incubator to introduce themselves to the community while also being transparent on what the center will offer.
In explaining why the founding members chose the Spanish word entre for the film center’s name, Díaz said they and Sanchez felt living in the Valley is like living in a liminal space between two worlds.
Though the direct translation for entre is between, it can also mean among, within and enter — which they felt that single word reflected the nature and core values of the film center.
“Just thinking about the space that we stand on, the land that we live on, the land that we are working with and how that translates into our cinematic expression, that’s where the name comes into play in that term as well,” Díaz said as they noted that by reconnecting with land through the language of cinema, the film center can help reimagine the future for the region.
At the heart of the film center, there are seven main focuses: experimental cinema, non-traditional storytelling, archive, analog and digital filmmaking, documentary, non-commercial filmmaking and community-made cinema.
However, although the film center is focused on these forms, the founding members also noted that they do not discourage those who seek to apply the skills learned through ENTRE’s resources toward their own paths, may that be commercial filmmaking for example.
ENTRE aims to create a communal space where everyone can empower and help one another create visual art in terms of cinema, from but not limited to non-traditional documentaries to experimental film, while also serving as a regional archive, Díaz explained.
“We will be collecting, preserving and presenting home movies, photographs, things like that of the region — here in the Valley — so that way we preserve it for our future to come,” they said.
While there are institutions in and outside the Valley that also collects and archives the region’s history, Díaz noted that not everything is preserved or accessible for people to research or explore — which ENTRE wants to offer for the community, while in the process aiding libraries and museum that don’t have the resources to do so on their own terms.
“It’s preserving our history, in our own way, by ourselves, not from other people outside doing that for us,” Díaz said.
‘LABOR OF LOVE’
When she thinks about Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville native Mónica Sosa described in vivid detail one particular memory that was on her mind Wednesday afternoon.
Sosa pictures packing up an ice chest with ham and cheese sandwiches, Doritos, salsitas and some watermelon, then hopping into a blue 1990 Chevy Astro van with her mother and sisters in the front.
Though she can recall these memories, Sosa noted that her family didn’t have many pictures growing up. The photos they do have, Sosa refers to them as capsules.
“They’re little time capsules of these memories [of] just going to the beach,” Sosa said, recalling another photo from the beach where her mother is wearing a lifeguard shirt with big shorts. “Just noticing that there was so many families — parallel experiences, right?”
While the idea for “Boca Chica, Corazón Grande” came into fruition before SpaceX was becoming an entity, Sosa said that there is more of a push now due to the corporation’s development.
“‘Boca Chica, Corazón Grande’ is a labor of love, first and foremost,” Sosa stated, adding that the project became a reality upon meeting with Díaz and collaborating with ENTRE.
To kick off the first of different events, Sosa and ENTRE in participation with Home Movie Day, will hold an open call for home movies, photographs and/or documents centered around Boca Chica Beach’s history and culture on Oct. 22.
The event, which requires participants to wear masks, will be held at the Carlotta K. Petrina Cultural Center located at 1452 E Madison St in Brownsville.
While the event is to mostly do intake and get information, there will also be a VCR available if anyone wants to showcase their home movies that are on VHS in addition to live music and food for people to purchase.
ENTRE and Sosa will be collecting elements for the on-going project “Boca Chica, Corazón Grande” through April 2022.
“Our intention is to really build with [the] community throughout the entirety of this project,” Sosa said. “Although there are components that are being led by either ENTRE or myself, at the end of the day, this is going to be a collective celebration of our land and of our artistic endeavors and histories.”
The founding members stated that ENTRE is an artist-run co-op, citing the International Co-operative Alliance definition: “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.”
Co-op members will meet monthly to discuss ENTRE’s maintenance (administrative and physical), programming and project status. Moreover, decisions will be made through dialogue, consultation and mutual agreement. In other words, everyone involved has an equal say.
By operating this way, it allows the center to hear all voices so all aspects of an issue or idea are explored and considered.
Founding members emphasized that you don’t have to be an artist to get involved, adding that their members are made up of different people with their own set of skills. Members range from artists to technicians to historians, to name a few.
“We’re made up of a bunch of different people, just because it says artist co-op, doesn’t mean you have to identify as an artist,” Díaz said. “Everyone has their own skill sets that can contribute to the film center.”
ENTRE will be offering free and low-cost classes and workshops, as well as providing support for local artists and filmmakers by offering residencies. Just recently on Oct. 13, Díaz facilitated a color remastering workshop to remaster home movies.
At the end of the platica, the founding members opened the floor to the audience for any questions. The hand of 43-year-old Araceli Casares rose.
“I’m so proud of both of you and I’m so excited to find out what I can learn,” Casares said, referring to Díaz and Sanchez. “I’m so excited to see what’s going to happen and I can’t wait to be a part of it every step of the way.”