This article was written by BenitoLink intern Eden De Alba
The Poppy Jasper International Film Festival has been entertaining audiences across San Benito and Santa Clara counties since 2003. This year, running April 12-19, the festival includes four local filmmakers—Alfredo Avila, Anita Reyes, David Butterfield and Eugenia Renteria Vargas—whose works will be shown at San Juan Bautista’s mission farm RV park and Hollister’s Granada Theater.
“The Poppy Jasper International Film Festival is about building togetherness in the community and giving them a chance to hear from independent voices,” Festival Director Mattie Scariot said.
The festival will feature 241 films from several countries including Japan and the United Kingdom, as well as dedicated days to minorities such as Mexico day, LGBTQ day, and Iran day, starting and ending at the District Theater in Gilroy. The program’s goal is to change the way the community sees itself through film.
Salinas resident Alfredo Avila’s Drama short film “Amiguin” is the second film of a four-part series about a depressed man’s process of grieving his deceased brother. The film was based on Avila’s own experience with the death of his brother from COVID-19. It will screen April 17 in the 2-4 p.m. block at The Barn at Mission Farm in San Juan Bautista. Like Reyes, Avila is a longtime performer with El Teatro Campesino.
Avila said he is excited to be participating in the festival.
“It feels really good,” he said. “Especially because it’s the most local festival to us and I was able to help out at the barn with some of the cleanup after the recent floods. It was so cool to see community members come together to clean up the area.”
Avila began to teach himself filming at age 21 in Brazil after borrowing cameras from his school. As the writer, editor and cinematographer for “Amiguin,” he is also the winner of the best documentary award at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival for his feature film “God’s Tenants.”
“For me, this film is as if it was a documentary,” he said. “I put in real stories and real experiences. Films are important because they connect people through stories and I hope that this film can be a piece that connects us all together.”
Morgan Hill resident Anita Reyes’ film “Work Whatever You Got” is a music video featured in Josefina Lopez’s new play “Twenty Pounds of Happiness,” about four women celebrating their bodies on the beach. It will be shown April 17 during the 2-4 p.m. block at The Barn at Mission Farm in San Juan Bautista. Reyes is a veteran performer with San Juan Bautista’s Teatro Campesino.
Hollister resident David Butterfield’s film “Beginnings” is a drama dedicated to veterans and is about a veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. It will be screened April 13 in the 2-4 p.m. block at the Morgan Hill Community Playhouse.
Since joining the film festival in 2018, Scariot is happy with the festival’s progress and sees filmmaking as an important and viable career.
“You don’t have to make the next Batman movie, but you can learn to make movies in your own community,” she said. “You can learn and still achieve your dreams, so grab a camera and start filming.”
The complete Poppy Jasper International Film Festival film guide is available here.
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